Statistics show couples under the age of 40 who are having regular intercourse have an 80% chance of conceiving within 12 months. However, what happens if you’re in that 20% who’s not so lucky? Fertility problems affect one in six couples worldwide, and not falling pregnant when you’re trying can become all-consuming, causing tension and stress in a relationship. While there’s no one size fits all fertility advice, there are some simple methods proven to increase the likelihood of getting pregnant. We sat down with fertility specialist Dr Walker of the Institut Marquès for her tips...
Don’t Drink Or Smoke
Simple changes like cutting out alcohol can make a real difference when trying to conceive. Although the occasional glass of wine is unlikely to harm your fertility, try to avoid consuming large amounts and stick to the recommended government guidelines. Countless studies suggest teetotallers conceive more quickly and have fewer miscarriages than even very light drinkers. Institut Marquès actually recommend quitting all alcohol a year before undergoing a process of assisted reproduction – which is not only beneficial in relation to your fertility, but for your general health too.
Smoking is also a big no-no. If your partner is a smoker, it’s also worth bearing in mind that smoking can negatively affect a man’s fertility, impacting his sperm production and quality.
Avoid Strenuous Exercise
Whilst regular exercise is great for physical and mental wellbeing, try not to overdo it, as some studies suggest a link between very vigorous physical activity and lowered fertility in women. When a woman is underweight or exercising too much, the hypothalamus (the part of the brain that produces hormones which trigger ovulation) reduces or stops releasing hormones, which in turn can stop a woman from ovulating. For this reason, women should be mindful of how much they exercise. Instead, focus on maintaining a healthy weight all year round to boost your fertility, without doing anything too drastic.
A diet filled with the right nutrients and minerals will boost your reproductive system as well as regulating your hormones. The food we eat affects the blood, the cells and the hormonal system and therefore it’s also important to pay attention to the diet. Your diet should contain nutrients that are important for egg DNA and sperm health such as protein, iron, zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin D – while you should avoid eating too much processed sugar and carbohydrates, or carbonated beverages and foods that contain lots of artificial ingredients. It could also be worth increasing your intake of essential fatty acids such as oily fish, which can help to balance hormones and boost the immune system.
Have Regular Sex
It may sound obvious, but having sex regularly can make a real difference. Not only does it increase your chances of getting pregnant, but an increased amount of sex culminating in an ejaculation for men can improve semen quality. However, sex should never feel like a chore so don’t put pressure on yourself to have it.
Studies suggest there may be a link between stress and infertility as stress can throw your body’s hormone production off-balance, making your menstrual cycle less reliable. It can also contribute to a loss of libido, which in turn can reduce the amount of sexual intercourse a couple has, lowering your chances of conceiving. Try to manage stress through relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga – it really can make all the difference.
Know Your Cycle
By tracking your menstrual cycle, you can figure out when your ‘fertile window’ is. This is the four days leading up to ovulation, when the sperm will be physically nearest the egg as it’s being released, making it the most likely time to get pregnant. If your menstrual cycle usually lasts 28 days then it’s likely you’ll ovulate on day 14 – half way through your cycle. Therefore, your fertile window would be between days 10 and 14.
Avoid Certain Lubricants
If you’re struggling to conceive, it could be worth paying attention to sexual lubricants as some affect the mobility of sperm and make it harder for them to fertilise an egg. Try to avoid products with spermicidal agents and look for a lubricant specifically formulated for couples trying to conceive – this small change to your routine could make all the difference.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
When it comes to falling pregnant, being overweight or underweight may slow things down. Excess body fat can lead to an overproduction of certain hormones that disrupt ovulation. Your cycles may also be less regular, meaning you ovulate less often and thus have a lower chance of conception – which is also a problem if you’re underweight. In addition, too much body weight can have a negative effect on your baby.
Stick To Decaf
The majority of us like to have a cup of coffee in the morning, but excessive caffeine consumption has been linked to infertility by researchers. Studies suggest that caffeine can prevent an egg from maturing properly, and since a less mature egg may not fertilise successfully, this can affect the chances of falling pregnant. Therefore, consider changing your coffee to decaf when trying to conceive.
Institut Marquès is a centre of international reference in Gynaecology, Obstetrics and Assisted Reproduction with offices in Barcelona, Rome, Milan, London and Ireland (Dublin and Clane). The centre has helped people from more than 50 countries to achieve their dream of having a baby. Institut Marquès offers the highest rates of pregnancy success, with 89% patient success per IVF with egg donation cycle.
For more information, visit InstitutoMarques.com