Genotype was what bedeviled relationships and made some love birds go their separate ways, or even stay together and bear the burden of caring for children with the sickle cell disease. Now, women have to worry about something else – their blood group.
Your blood group could affect your fertility. It appears a woman’s ovaries and egg quality are dependent on her blood group.
Titilayo was just 30 years old when she started trying to have a baby but it did not work out as per the timeline she had set for herself. So, she went to see the doctor and some tests were ran on her, and they all came back well…or so they thought. She waited out two years, before she sought a second opinion, and that was when some more detailed tests were done.
From her blood group, which was O, coupled with her age, her doctor suggested some tests should be done to determine Follicle stimulation Hormones (FSH) level, and it came back way over the 10 benchmark. With further tests, it was confirmed that she had low ovarian reserve.
For information sake, a follicle is a small round cavity – the egg grows in the middle of this. During ovulation, follicles containing maturing eggs push towards the surface of the ovary. There, the follicle opens up to allow the egg to drift out. This hormone is released by the pituitary gland, a pea-sized gland in the brain. Although the FSH plays a vital role in pregnancy, by stimulating the follicles so they release the eggs, high levels of it are a sign of infertility…as was the case with Titi.
In effect, her eggs appeared way older than a woman of 32 years of age. She had always known that her blood group was ‘O’ and had even enjoyed in the fact that it was one of the most common blood groups in the world, so should she ever need blood transfusion, it would be an easier type to get, unlike her husband, who was of the one sublets of the ABO blood groups.
However, she was surprised that her blood group had predisposed her to lowered fertility. She couldn’t help but marvel at the irony! Years before, she had left her boyfriend of two years, because they were both of the AS genotype, which increased their chances of having children with the sickle cell disease. Thankfully, she met her husband not long after that break up, and after a year of dating, they were in marriage counseling. The fact that he was of the AA genotype was a very welcome development.
Fast forward to two years after their wedding, and they were still TTC, only to discover that it was all related to blood group. She was fed up over how much role her blood was playing in her life’s choices, but there was hardly anything she could do about it.
The doctor educated Titi on this phenomenon of how blood type affects conception chances. To reassure her first of all, he told her that while it was true that her chances of conception were slightly lower than of some other women with say A or B blood group, the lowered odds were almost negligible and went unnoticed by a lot of women in the same blood group.
Not wanting to take Titi’s story at face value, I dug up a research done by scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York and Yale University, where it was discovered that the blood group of a woman could lower her chances of conception.
The study found that women who were blood type O were twice as likely to have an FSH level greater than 10, as those in any other blood group. The findings held true even when a woman’s age was taken into account and the fact the women came from two different clinics.
One of the doctors leading the study, Dr Edward Nejat, from the department of obstetrics and gynaecology at Albert Einstein College, said: “In both groups of women that were seeking fertility treatment, those with blood type O were twice as likely to have an FSH level over 10 than those with blood types other than O. Women with A and AB – women with the A blood group gene – were protected from this effect of diminished ovarian reserve.
However, he noted that FSH levels were just one marker of fertility and more studies were needed.
Eventually, Titi and her husband did have a baby girl, but only after they made some critical lifestyle changes, including losing weight. Titi was slightly overweight, so she had to get that under control by getting on a baby friendly diet, filled with fresh organic food, which helped her to absorb key antioxidants and nutrients that were beneficial while trying to conceive and she also reduced intake of processed foods, which have a negative impact of fertility. This did double duty as it not only boosted her fertility, it also helped her to lose unhealthy weight.
Recently, Nicole wrote about the art of BBT charting. It worked for Titi, who even swears by how it helped her ensure she got some action right when it was required.
While she was at it, she continued with the prenatal vitamins she had been taking for the past two years, but with more determination and dedication than before, as she now knew exactly what she was up against.
And did she have sex; they were at it even when it was not her fertile window. Why? You can blame the novelty of timed sex. But really, having sex regularly during fertile period helped a lot. And that was it. Ten months into their treatment, they got pregnant with their daughter.
Her story really amazed me! So, apart from genotype, Rhesus factor, and age, a woman still has to deal with blood group.
Well, I guess, that’s why we are built stronger *winks*