More UK couples than ever are seeking assistance with their fertility. According to NHS figures, “one in six or seven couples will have difficulty conceiving”. Assuming that you have no known fertility problems, the tips below may help Mother Nature along.
1. Learn about ovulation and your monthly cycle
Learning about your own monthly ovulation cycle, could give you an increased chance of falling pregnant. Knowing when you are ovulating means you can coincide making love with your most fertile days. Clearblue’s home ovulation test “detects the rise of the ovulation hormone LH (Luteinising Hormone) 24-36 hours prior to ovulation and identifies the 2 best days to conceive in any given cycle.” As a mother who has conceived two children in this way I can certainly testify that it works!
2. Take folic acid
Even if you have a good diet and a healthy lifestyle, if you are planning to conceive, a folic acid supplement is important. The Food Standards Agency recommends that if you are trying to get pregnant “take a daily 400 microgram folic acid supplement from the time you stop using contraception to the 12th week of your pregnancy.” Folic acid reduces the risk of your baby having spina bifida and neural tube defects. If you have already had a pregnancy affected by neural tube defects or are diabetic, consult your GP as you will need higher doses of folic acid.
3. Watch your weight
We all know that being overweight can be a problem if a woman is trying to conceive but did you know that conception is also problematic if you are underweight? Fat in our bodies is essential, particularly when women are looking to become pregnant. In an ideal scenario a BMI of between 20-25 gives you the optimum chance of falling pregnant. GP’s recommend exercise and healthy eating and if you are underweight, aim for a higher BMI by eating plenty of food containing so called ‘good’ fats such as avocados and nuts.
4. Avoid caffeine
Although evidence linking caffeine intake to fertility is inconclusive, (some studies have suggested that high levels of caffeine can reduce your risk of conceiving and others haven’t) It is probably worth reducing your caffeine intake just in case. In one Dutch study that followed 9,000 women with existing poor fertility, results showed that by drinking more than four cups of coffee a day it cut their chance of conceiving by as much a 26%.
5. Cut out alcohol altogether
It used to be the case that in the UK, women who were trying to conceive were told that 1-2 units a week was safe. Today however, the Government appears to have changed it’s mind on this issue and women are now told to ditch the booze altogether. In March 2008 the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) published guidelines recommending that women should not drink at all during the first trimester and extended this guidance to women who were trying to become pregnant. Drinking heavily whilst trying to conceive or in the early days of pregnancy can lead to a serious disorder called foetal alcohol spectrum disorder, a lifelong disorder that can lead to low birth weight and learning difficulties. (www.drinkaware.co.uk)
“A study at the University of Western Australia found that women are more likely to conceive at periods when they’re relaxed rather than stressed. Another study at Trakya University, Turkey, found that stress reduces sperm count and motility, a finding that implies that relaxation may boost fertility in men, too.” (Independent online, 28/7/09)