Improving natural fertility
By improving your natural fertility you not only increase your chances of conceiving naturally, but you also increase your chances of success with IVF if it’s still required.
A healthy lifestyle can improve your fertility success. Both men and women can make lifestyle changes that may increase their chances of conceiving:
A balanced diet will help ensure your body is healthy enough to become pregnant and nourish a developing baby. A healthy diet can also help to keep sperm production at optimum levels. Being under- or overweight can make you less likely to become pregnant, so making changes to your diet can help to improve your chances. It is also good to limit your caffeine consumption.
Regular, moderate exercise of around 30 minutes a day helps to maximize your fitness and keep your weight in a normal body mass index range (BMI of 18.5 – 25). It also boosts levels of endorphins, the body’s own ‘happy hormones’, which may help to reduce stress.
It is recommended to take appropriate preconception supplements. All women trying for a baby should take 400 mcg of supplemental folic acid (folate) a day to ensure the best chance of a healthy pregnancy and to help prevent conditions such as spina bifida in your child. Many women are also deficient in vitamin D and iodine.
Women who are trying to become pregnant should drink no more than one or two units of alcohol once or twice per week. Men should stick within the recommended daily limit of three to four units. Drinking too much can have a negative impact on semen quality and can harm a developing fetus.
Smoking has been linked to infertility and early menopause in women, and to sperm problems in men. It is also a factor in premature or low birth-weight babies. Quitting smoking may help to improve your chances of conceiving and having a healthy baby.
Medication and drugs
Some prescription medication/drugs can lessen your changes of conceiving, so if you are taking regular medication and trying for a baby, talk to your doctor about suitable alternatives that might be more appropriate. All recreational drugs should be completely avoided.
The testes should be a couple of degrees cooler than the rest of your body for maximum sperm production. It’s not clear whether wearing loose-fitting underwear and trousers, and avoiding activities such as saunas and hot showers will help, but some studies seem to suggest that it might be beneficial.
Obsessing about conception can be counterproductive and leave you so stressed that it affects your ovulation. Consider any strategies that reduce anxiety and help you remain positive. Some people find relaxation techniques or complementary therapies also help them relax.
Live a normal and happy life. There is no evidence that you need to reduce normal levels of exercise or somehow wrap yourself in cotton wool while you are trying to conceive.
Know your cycle
The ovulation time and slightly earlier is the best time to have unprotected sex.
Most women typically ovulate 14 days before their next period starts. If you have a regular menstrual cycle length of 28 days, you will ovulate mid-cycle or 14 days after day one of your previous period (midway between your menses). If your cycle is usually longer, say 34 days, ovulation occurs around 20 days after day one of a period – not mid-cycle.
Some women know when they are ovulating from changes in their body and the way they feel. Some typical signs are breast soreness, heavier and more opaque vaginal discharge and a feeling of tightness in your abdomen. However, many women experience no noticeable symptoms.
Get reliable advice
Remember that your friends and family are not necessarily fertility experts despite their personal experiences. Their advice might be well meaning, but not necessarily accurate.