Health and Well Being with Josie Walters (part 1)

05 September 2016

What we eat, how much we consume, our level of activity and the environments we live in, can affect our health and wellbeing and ultimately our ability to conceive, maintain a healthy pregnancy and more importantly maintain a lifestyle for our health and wellbeing and that of our families and future generations.
FertilitySA is aware of this growing body of evidence indicating the significance of general health and wellbeing, its benefits in achieving a natural healthy pregnancy and in improving ART outcomes. We look towards promoting the fertility and future health outcomes for the entire family and recognise the importance of healthy lifestyle changes.
My interest regarding health and wellbeing in reproductive health, stems from my recent Fertility Nursing background, my involvement in the FertilitySA health and wellbeing support group and my own diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) in my late teens. My diagnosis came after struggling with irregular cycles, hormonal changes and weight gain since the age of 13-14. The oral contraceptive pill was the answer initially to help regulate monthly cycles, but it wasn’t until later I understood the ongoing health implications of PCOS and the importance of maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle; not only for my fertility outcomes but the future health outcomes of myself and my family.
Between the ages of 22-30 years, I became increasingly unwell with changes in my health, including increasing weight, low thyroid function, elevated cholesterol and insulin resistance. Glucose tolerance tests indicated borderline high glucose, elevated insulins and an impending risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It was not until I started to research more into my health and had a supportive General Practitioner, with a particular interests in women’s health, that I became more informed of my condition and my predisposition to conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and infertility.
This was my warning, that turning point where you realise you are being given a chance to make a change and alter future outcomes. I commenced a chronic disease management plan through my GP.  This is a medicare funded health care plan, entitling people with a chronic condition such as PCOS  to access allied health professionals including dieticians, exercise physiologist and psychologists. It initiates a management plan with your GP where goals are set and progress frequently reviewed.

It has been a long and challenging journey, one that is likely to continue throughout my life and something I will continually need to work at and review. Over the last three years I have managed to become fitter, healthier and lose 30kg. Even after a 5% weight loss I saw dramatic changes to my overall health. My cycles became regular, I had more energy and vitality and so far I have avoided further changes in my glucose, insulin and cholesterol levels. I am yet to know the benefits of these changes on my ability to conceive naturally but it is my hope that I have created changes that will benefit me in the future.
The motivation behind lifestyle change is greatly affected by our goals in life. Achieving parenthood is one of those pivotal moments in our lives that drive us to make change, however lifestyle changes are also one of the hardest changes to implement. Making a plan, committing to it and having the support of others around you often leads to success.
It is my hope that this could be a regular space where we can share information regarding lifestyle and fertility, be a source of support and discuss subjects that are relevant to you and your partner. I look forward to your feedback and suggestions for upcoming topics.
Whilst this week came from a more personal perspective, I am hoping it has communicated the importance of recognising the need for lifestyle change in achieving a healthy ongoing pregnancy but also in maintaining your health for you and your family’s future.



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