Did you know it takes at least 12 months to make a baby? The three months prior to conception is a crucial time in the lifecycle of both the female egg and male sperm.
During this time the egg grows from a tiny immature follicle to a large mature egg ready for conception. While sperm is created from scratch, with each batch being slightly different to the batch before and after it.
The interesting thing is that nutrition plays a key role in this process for both men and women. Improving nutrition and lifestyle for as little as 3 months before conception can have an impact on fertility outcomes for both men and women.
We need to start viewing pregnancy as a 12 month process that incorporates the months before conception when the cells that go on to become your baby are being created. A good way to consider this period is “Trimester Zero” as shown in the chart below:
Women are born with a fixed number of immature eggs. The quantity and quality of eggs decreases as women get older. On average there is a decline in female fertility starting in the mid-thirties, with lower fertility after the age of 35. How quickly a woman’s fertility declines will depend on a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors.
Nutrients play an important role in the development of the egg, womb and the hormonal system. Each month, the reproductive and hormonal cycle develop an egg cell, prepare the womb and a wide range of other processes have to be performed to create the right fertile balance.
The female egg takes approximately 90 days to mature before ovulation. So it is important to prioritise a balanced healthy diet full of essential nutrients in the months before conception.
Men must produce between 40 and 300 million sperm cells to be fertile. This is an intensive process and the energy involved in creating these cells is significant. Getting the environment right and developing good quality sperm cells are key factors when trying for a baby. A deficiency in any nutrient may have an impact on male fertility.
The good news is as new sperm is created every 74 days, positive diet and lifestyle changes can improve sperm quality and quantity in as little as 3 months.