So, you’ve found a partner, set up a cosy home and now you’re ready to have a baby, but it’s just not happening. Thought that getting pregnant would be easy-peasy? Think again.
Statistics show that one in six couples have trouble conceiving, the most common cause being “unexplained infertility” rather than hard medical reasons such as blocked fallopian tubes or ovulatory failure. However, a study done by the University of Surrey gives hope that “unexplained infertility” is not as inexplicable as previously believed. It shows that couples with a history of infertility, can achieve a phenomenal 80% success rate by altering their lifestyle, eating healthy and taking nutritional supplements.
When traditional baby-making methods aren’t resulting in a plus sign, try these simple steps to increase your fertility and your chances of getting pregnant:
• Have sex. Sound obvious? There’s a little more to it. Yeah, timing when to get busy is a little unsexy, but since you’re going to have sex anyway … you might as well make it count! For baby success, you need to have sex during the most fertile time of the month. There’s a four to five day window, starting two days before actual ovulation, during which you can conceive. Try a couple of times during this period. How can you tell when you’re ovulating? Pick up an ovulation kit at the pharmacy, or keep tabs on your vaginal discharge – when there’s more than usual, and it’s similar to the consistency of egg whites, you’re probably ovulating. Around ovulation, sex is best undertaken once every 48 hours, to maintain a high quality of sperm.
• Stick to a healthy diet. Choose foods rich in whole grains, plus a rainbow’s worth of colourful fruits and vegetables. Eat foods rich in Omega -3 fatty acids such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel. Avoid trans-fats as well as saturated fats.
• Eat more dairy. A Harvard University study indicated that women, who eat one serving of full-fat dairy a day, reduce their infertility by more than a quarter.
• Cut down on carbs. Some experts believe that a diet high in carbs, like white bread and pasta, can affect conception. These foods raise blood sugar quickly, causing an insulin surge that can impair fertility.
• Take prenatal vitamins. You’ve probably heard that it’s a good idea to take prenatal vitamins when you’re pregnant but, according to fertility specialists, doing so before, can up your chances of getting pregnant. Key nutrients for conception are folic acid, vitamin B12 and selenium. Research done by the Royal Free Hospital in London indicates that this could more than double your pregnancy chances.
• Keep tabs on your weight. Women with a BMI of 25-39 – which is considered overweight or obese – had a twofold increase in the time it took to get pregnant. With a BMI of less than 19, the time to conception was increased fourfold!
• Skip the lube. If you can’t do without, get a fertility-friendly lubricant developed by doctors.
• Kick the smoking habit. Smoking is toxic to the reproductive system. Now is the time for your partner to quit smoking too. Not only shouldn’t you be exposed to second hand smoke, but smoking lowers sperm count and quality.
• Exercise moderately. Although now is not the time to run a marathon, research done by the University of North Carolina found that women who exercise are three times more likely to conceive than those with sedentary lives.
• Curb caffeine and alcohol intake. Alcohol can alter oestrogen and progesterone levels. Many experts agree it’s best to be on the safe side and forego alcohol as soon as you’re trying to conceive. Women who are coffee and soda drinkers: stay under 200 to 250 mg of caffeine a day.
• Go on holiday! Many women fall pregnant on holiday. Why? This is when they relax. Stress can increase levels of cortisol which can temporarily shut down your reproductive system.
Expect to wait at least 4 months before dietary and lifestyle changes have an effect. Infertility is a medical condition. If you are desperate to start a family, have made the necessary lifestyle changes, and still have difficulty falling pregnant, it may be time to see a fertility specialist.
See more healthy living tips at the Fedhealthy blog.