If you’re trying to get pregnant, you’ll want to do all you can to ensure your body is ready to conceive. There are some simple steps you can take which will make a difference.
Are you a healthy weight?
We all come in different shapes and sizes, and being naturally curvy or slim isn’t going to affect your fertility. If, however, you are extremely thin, a lack of body fat can affect your menstrual cycle making it difficult to get pregnant. At the other end of the scale, women who are obese may also have problems with ovulation. Maintaining a healthy weight will mean your body is in the best condition for pregnancy.
If you smoke, stop right away – it’s one of the most important things you could do to make a difference. Women who smoke are twice as likely to have difficulty getting pregnant as those who don’t and they reach the menopause earlier. If your partner smokes, encourage him to give up too – women who live with a smoker can take longer to get pregnant.
Limiting alcohol to just one or two units a week when you’re trying to conceive is a good idea. It is sometimes suggested that women who want to get pregnant should give up alcohol altogether, but an occasional glass of wine with friends is unlikely to cause problems.
The research on caffeine and fertility is mixed; despite suggestions that too much caffeine can affect your chances of getting pregnant naturally, the most recent NICE fertility guidelines say there is no consistent evidence that caffeine has an impact. Consuming large quantities of coffee, tea and other caffeinated drinks such as cola is not good for you anyway, so it makes sense to cut back when you are trying to conceive.
Over the counter and prescription drugs
You should be cautious about these when you are hoping to get pregnant. Some common over-the-counter drugs, such as ibuprofen, can affect your fertility. Certain prescription drugs have also been linked to fertility problems so it is a good idea to discuss anything you take on a regular basis with your GP when you are trying to get pregnant.
Don’t go there when you are trying to get pregnant – taking recreational drugs may not only reduce your chances of getting pregnant but could also increase the risk of miscarriage. It is really not worth it.
Eat well for fertility
It can seem as if there’s a news story every week about a different fertility-boosting food, but what really matters is maintaining a healthy balanced diet to ensure your body gets all the vitamins and nutrients that it needs. You should take a folic acid supplement when you are trying to get pregnant, and a multi-vitamin with folic acid is a good idea.
Men and fertility
Smoking, drinking and obesity can all have an impact on male fertility. There is also a link between elevated temperatures in the groin area and fertility problems – which is why men are sometimes warned about sitting with laptops on their laps! If your partner is into bodybuilding, beware of anabolic steroids which have a devastating effect on male fertility.
And of course, the most important thing if you’re trying to get pregnant – and one which people can almost overlook sometimes in their rush to ensure they’ve got everything else right – is to have lots of sex! You are at your most fertile around the time of ovulation, which is usually around fourteen days before your period – and you may recognise that you produce more clear, stretchy cervical mucus at this time. Trying to time intercourse to hit the most fertile time of the month can be stressful though, and generally having sex every two to three days will optimise your chances of pregnancy.
By Kate Brian – author of The Complete Guide to Female Fertility