Making babies the old-fashioned way
According to the World Health Organization, roughly one in six couples will struggle with infertility and about 70 percent of them will turn to fertility drugs or in vitro fertilization -- but it doesn't have to be that way.
"Many couples struggling to achieve pregnancy can conceive naturally by following some simple guidelines before resorting to expensive and potentially hazardous fertility medications," said Dr. Amos Grunebaum, a double board certified OB/GYN based in New York City. "Infertility can increase stress among couples and, unfortunately, often times leads them to prematurely opt for fertility drugs or IVF. In many cases, fertility can be improved and pregnancy can be achieved naturally by following some simple steps."
Dr. Grunebaum's tips include:
Pinpoint your fertile window
As you might already know, in order for conception to take place, you must ovulate and at least one vital sperm needs to fertilize the egg within 12-24 hours of the egg being released from the ovary. Because sperm can only live for five to six days in the female reproductive tract and only a small number of sperm will even survive the long journey, it is recommended that couples plan to have intercourse several times in the days leading up to ovulation as well as on the day of ovulation. To do this optimally requires that you have a good idea of when you will ovulate each cycle.
Ovulation Predictor Kits are a popular method for predicting ovulation. OPKs detect the presence of luteinizing hormone (LH) in your urine. Approximately 12-36 hours before ovulation occurs, the amount of LH in your body "surges." By testing with OPKs, you can identify this LH surge, which allows you to know that ovulation is just around the corner and that you are in your fertile window.
Restore your hormonal balance
If you have irregular periods, your path to parenthood might end up being a long, tiresome journey. For women with chronic irregularity, it is likely that there is an underlying hormonal imbalance that is impacting the frequency of ovulation and/or menstruation. The herb commonly known as Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus), included in the fertility-enhancing supplement FertilAid for Women, is frequently used to help women restore hormonal balance and cycle regularity. The active compounds found in Chasteberry help to promote fertility by decreasing prolactin levels in the body.
Check his swimmers
Did you know that up to 40 percent of males suffer from low sperm count? Now, if the idea of heading to the urologist for a sperm count test is a bit intimidating to your partner, you might suggest that he get an at-home sperm test, like SpermCheck Fertility. SpermCheck is a fast, accurate, affordable and simple method for determining if his sperm count is within "normal" range (above 20 million sperm per milliliter of semen is the accepted standard for "normal" sperm count) in the privacy of your own home.
Transform your diet
Leave those junk foods on the shelf, and try to incorporate more whole grains, vegetables, colorful fruits (for the antioxidant compounds found in these foods) and lean sources of protein in your diet.
Shed those extra pounds
Your optimal BMI (body mass index) is between 18.5 and 25. A BMI above 25 decreases your chances of getting pregnant and increases pregnancy complications. It is best to lose the unwanted pounds before actively trying to conceive, as weight loss causes toxins (that had been stored in your fat cells) to be released into your body. To ensure the healthiest pregnancy possible, you will want to achieve your optimal weight before becoming pregnant.
Quit using tobacco and drink alcohol only in moderation.
Exercise but don't overdo it
A healthy lifestyle definitely includes regular exercise, so if you're more couch potato than marathon runner, stepping up your exercise habits will go a long way in improving your overall health and enhancing your fertility.
According to many fertility experts, chronic stress can certainly be a fertility buster, as it causes the body to be in "fight or flight" mode constantly, which suppresses reproductive hormones. Again, yoga is your friend here, as is acupressure or acupuncture.