So you’ve decided you want a baby and you’ve been trying but still haven’t fallen pregnant. What next? A lot of couples get concerned if they don’t fall pregnant straight away. But the fact is, many couples don’t conceive straight away. You might think the next step is to try IVF, but there’s many different options that will help increase your fertility before seeking IVF. We’ll discuss some of the things to try before IVF.
Fact: sperm development takes around 2 months and the maturation of eggs is roughly 100 days before ovulation. That means any changes you make today will impact your fertility in 2-3 months’ time.
1. Lifestyle changes
It seems like a simple one, but you might be surprised how small changes to your lifestyle such as diet and exercise can affect your fertility.
Ensure you and your partner have a healthy diet (eat for health is a good website about healthy eating) and ensure you have at least 8-10 glasses of water a day. To maintain a healthy weight, we suggest exercising 3 times a week for around 30 minutes. Avoid excessive exercise as for some women frequent high intensity exercise may reduce fertility.
There is a clear link between overweight and underweight couples having difficulty in conceiving. For obese women, a 5kg reduction in their weight can make a significant difference to the chances of conceiving.
If you or your partner drink more than two standard drinks a day, it’s suggested you reduce your alcohol intake. For females alcohol consumption reduces the chance of conception and increases the risk of birth defects. For males heavy intake of alcohol can reduce male fertility.
If you smoke tobacco or take illicit or recreational drugs it’s advised both partners stop before conception. For female cigarette smoking is associated with reduction of chance of conception, damage to eggs and increased chance in a miscarriage. For males, reduction in sperm count and increased birth defects are consequences of cigarette smoking. Second hand cigarette smoking (inhaling air around cigarette smokers) also increases the risk of miscarriage.
Certain vitamins can help fertility for both females and males.
For a month around the conception time, the female should take folic acid supplements which has been proven to reduce the risk of neural tube defect in the baby. Having too many vitamins can be harmful and should be discussed with a doctor. Though there is no clear evidence for all males, use of antioxidants and vitamin E, C, zinc and selenium could potentially improve fertility.
Though not proven, natural therapies such as acupuncture, herbal remedies and aromatherapy are often used before conception. It is advised that you speak to your doctor if you’re taking herbal medications.
3. Understand when you’re most fertile
To increase your chances of falling pregnant, you should understand when the female partner is most fertile. Every women is different, but on average the most fertile days are a few days before ovulation. Try having sexual intercourse 1 to 3 days before ovulation or at least every 2 days leading up to the ovulation. Regular ejaculation improves sperm quality in the male.
4. Be patient
Falling pregnant can take some time. If you’re under 35 and have been trying to conceive for 12 months or over 35 and have been trying for 6 months or have a known fertility issue, it’s time you seek medical advice and consider IVF treatment.
5. See your GP
Visit your GP and ask for these specific tests to see if you and your partners health is optimal for conception.
- Check of semen quality.
- Measurement of anti mullerian hormone
- A general physical check up and testing for immunity to rubella, chickenpox, thyroid function, vitamin D.
Your general practitioner will be able to refer you to one of our affiliated gynaecologists.