The importance of taking care of yourself while trying to conceive

When trying to conceive there isn’t a ‘perfect’ time to get pregnant. The vast majority of couples will conceive within one year of trying and another ten to fifteen per cent will conceive within another year of trying. So, it is good to be aware that only a small fraction of couples may ultimately seek help when they fail to conceive naturally.

Having said that, and as the old adage goes, prevention is always better than cure. So, it pays to make sure that you and your partner take care of some of the basic aspects of fertility to give yourselves the best possible chance of conceiving. These are largely daily lifestyle factors that may affect your fertility as a couple. Such as, smoking, alcohol, caffeine, unhealthy diet, obesity and in case of men exposure to high temperatures such hot bath or tight clothing.

It is well known that smoking can affect both male infertility and female infertility. Heavy smoking or even moderate smoking for many years can affect fertility. It damages the quality of the eggs and sperms. In women it results in reduced ovarian reserves which in turn can affect your chances of getting pregnant. Whereas in men it may result in low sperm count or affect sperm motility or cause high proportion of abnormal sperms. Some of these effects can be reversible. Hence, you should stop smoking at least couple of months before when thinking of starting family. Or, instead of cigarette smoking you can switch to e-cigarettes. These are not ideal, but better than smoking cigarettes or tobacco.

Heavy alcohol consumption or binge alcohol consumption is associated with both female infertility and male infertility. Most fertility specialists and national guidelines recommend abstaining from alcohol consumption. If abstinence is difficult, then you should limit consumption to 1-2 units of alcohol for women and 3-5 units for men.

On the same note excess caffeine consumption is associated with female infertility and male infertility. It may also result in increased risk of miscarriages. So, try consume caffeine in moderation and avoid fizzy processed drinks.

Besides smoking and alcohol, you should also ensure that you are eating healthily. Your diet should be balanced and should provide recommended daily intake of nutrients, minerals and vitamins. Regular exercise has added benefit of ensuring general wellbeing and in coping better with daily stress. It is difficult to avoid stress, but most of us can try and develop better ways of managing it so that the damaging effects of stress on health are minimum. Healthy diet and exercise will also help in maintaining optimum body mass index or BMI. Women should maintain BI of less than 30 and men should strive for BVMI of less than 35. For women of Asian origin or petite women, they should try to maintain body mass index (BMI) between 21 and 25.

In addition to all of these factors, men should ensure that they avoid frequent exposure to hot baths, tight clothing and use of anabolic steroids or testosterone supplements.

All women should take folic acid when trying to conceive. This should continue until 12-14 weeks of pregnancy. There are many brands available and some of these can be expensive. So, at the very least it is important that you take 400microgram of folic acid during this period.

Last but not least, you can maximise your chances of conceiving by knowing your period of peak fertility. Regular sex during periods of peak fertility will maximise your chances of getting pregnant each month. Now that you are aware of all what you could do to give yourself the best chance of conceiving, you should maintain positive mindset and reminding yourself that vast majority of couples conceive naturally and so should you. If you have tried for over a year and have not been successful, then you should consider seeking help of a fertility specialist.

Emma

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About the author

Emma Wight-Boycott MSc is a natural health advocate with a passion for simplifying the science. Emma works with postnatal mums, weekend runners and those with digestive issues to rediscover their health mojo!

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