Simple steps to boost your fertility
While it is true that fertility seems to have decreased over the last 100 years, much of this can be attributed to our lifestyle as well as our impatience, thus giving a false perception of modern ‘infertility’. Doctissimo’s got some advice to help you keep your attention on what is important, and to help you and your partner boost your fertility.
The fact is that on average, one couple out of every six tries for a baby for at least a year before succeeding (despite a number of your friends supposedly hitting bingo on the first go!). In general, a healthy and normally fertile woman only has a 20% chance of falling pregnant during each menstrual cycle. Our first piece of advice is therefore essential:
1. Be patient. Often, it’s no use consulting a doctor about fertility before having tried for a baby unsuccessfully for one year of regular sexual intercourse. Patience and time often have a more positive effect on your fertility than worry, passion or a visit to the doctor.
2. Make love regularly. Frequent sexual intercourse optimises your chances of making a baby. Be aware that sperm, on average, have a life span of about 72 hours once ejaculated and that the quality of sperm is influenced how often it is produced. Stocking up sperm over a week or so in wait for a ‘fertile’ period is unproductive. Better to have sex regularly to keep the sperm fresh – some doctors advise sex every 2-3 days around the 10 days of maximum fertility.
3. Stop strict dieting. Women on strict low-calorie diets may lose weight but the hormonal impact of these diets can also reduce their fertility. If you want to lose weight before getting pregnancy, then organise things accordingly and do your diet a few months before trying for a baby.
4. Eat healthily. Skipping meals and eating too much sugar is not good for your waistline, or your fertility level. The increased blood sugar levels cause overly high secretions of the hormone adrenaline, which counteracts progesterone, a hormone that prepares the uterus for pregnancy. Whether you're overweight or underweight, both will notably reduce your chances of conceiving – and that even in spite of hormonal treatment for fertility.
5. Keep your man cool. That doesn't mean putting him in the fridge but encouraging him to wear loose fitting, preferably cotton, trousers. Tight trousers and synthetic underwear can overheat the genital area and testicles, which in turn affects the quality of his sperm. Read more on male infertility.
6. Choose the best season. Fertility levels vary during the year. Sperm count is higher at the start of spring and end of autumn, and sperm mobility is higher at the end of summer, beginning of autumn. The ideal season to try getting pregnant is therefore the beginning of winter. Make the most of the bad weather to spend maximum time under the covers with your man.
7. Beware of painkillers. Some painkillers (particularly nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories) have an effect on prostaglandins. These hormones play a role in uterus contraction. Taking these types of painkillers during ovulation is therefore not recommended as the fertilized egg may have trouble implanting into the uterus.
8. Smoke less. While women know that it’s better to stop smoking during pregnancy, few are aware that tobacco reduces your chances of actually getting pregnant. Whether male or female, smoking is harmful to reproduction. Research has demonstrated that the probability of a woman who smokes getting pregnant is 30% lower than a non-smoker. This percentage increases if both partners smoke.
9. Control your alcohol consumption. Excessive alcohol consumption harms human fertility, and can have serious effects on the foetus before you even know that you are pregnant. If you are a regular or heavy drinker, it’s thus a good idea to cut back considerably once you’ve decided to try getting pregnant, for both your fertility and your future baby. Read more about alcohol and pregancy.
10. Reduce your caffeine intake. Excessive caffeine intake may also educe your chances of conceiving. That’s right, it has been proven that consuming about 200mg of caffeine per day can reduce a woman’s chances of conceiving by as much as 27%. Low to moderate caffeine consumption doesn’t appear to have a negative impact, so there’s no need to cut out caffeine completely, but if you down a few cups of coffee, a couple of tea and a can of cola per day, you may want to cut back a little. Have a look at our article about the effects of cola consumption on semen quality.
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