Fertility issues are more common than you might think - 1-in-7 UK couples have difficulty conceiving according to NHS data. Age is one factor, the latest ONS figures show that half of women haven’t had a baby by the time they are 30. Women are born with a set number of eggs, which decreases as they age and the quality of these eggs also declines with time. If you have been trying to conceive for more than six months there are some simple ways you can maximise your chances of natural conception before considering medical intervention.
Here are my top tips for boosting your baby making chances at home:
Limit Fast Food Consumption
Avoiding fast food is a good idea if you're trying to have a baby. One study showed that trans-fat intake was associated with lower levels of fertility. Other research found that a diet rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, protein from vegetables, whole grains, low-glycemic carbohydrates, dairy food, and iron is associated with a higher chance of getting pregnant. Consuming a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats is the best way to prepare your body to conceive.
Have Regular Sex
Studies show that couples who have sex every other day have more chances of conceiving than those who have sex less often. Timing is another thing to consider - the peak of fertility can vary even in women with regular cycles. Ovulation predictor kits or cycle tracking can help work out when the time is right. Once you think you are likely to be ovulating, having sex as regularly as possible during this period of time will increase your chances of success.
Cut Back on the Cappuccino
Cutting back on caffeine is reasonable whilst trying to conceive. High levels of caffeine consumption (more than 5 cups of coffee per day) have been associated with decreased fertility. Consider swapping ordinary coffee for decaf. A good alternative to tea is rooibos (red bush) tea which is naturally caffeine free and full of antioxidants.
Don’t Stress Out
Trying to get pregnant can become stressful and this can in turn can make it more difficult to conceive. Stress can affect the part of your brain called the hypothalamus which regulates your hormones and menstrual cycle. Stress could cause you to ovulate later than usual, or could mean you don’t ovulate at all. Try yoga or meditation for relaxation and most importantly speak to your partner – you are in this together and can offer one another vital support on your journey to conceive.
Know When to Get Help
If you’ve been trying to conceive for a long time without success, even though you’ve been doing everything right, then there could be physiological problems at play. Some women don't ovulate due to conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), diminished ovarian reserve (DOR), hormonal problems, premature menopause, fallopian tube obstruction, endometriosis, or physical abnormalities in the uterus. Male infertility can be due to a lack of sperm, sperm abnormalities, or sperm movement issues. Problems in the testicles due to an injury, cancer, surgery, blockage, or infection can also influence the semen quality. Some men may also experience ejaculation problems or they don't produce enough hormones to make sperm. Contact your GP in the first instance who can make some initial investigations before referring you on to a specialist.
Written by Dr Michael Eisenberg at twoplus fertility. Check out the 'twoplus Sperm Guide' which is a comfortable device used during sex that can direct sperm to the cervix and is designed to keep the sperm inside. For more information, visit: www.twoplusfertility.com