If you are trying to conceive, then it is worthwhile looking at ways that you can improve your health and in turn, your chances of conception. So what can you do? Read on for our top tips.
Make sure that you have a good balanced diet that includes enough protein, iron, zinc and vitamin C. Studies have shown that not having enough of these nutrients can be linked to lengthened menstrual cycles. Try to enjoy a varied and nutritious diet including as much fresh vegetables and fruit as possible. Make sure that you also get enough protein rich foods such as meant, fish, low-fat dairy products, beans and eggs. If you are concerned that you may not be getting enough nutrients, consider taking a recommended daily vitamin supplement. Speak to your pharmacist or GP for their advice.
This advice applies to both men and women! For a woman, a healthy body will benefit you in nourishing your baby. For a man, healthy eating will protect sperm production.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Women who are underweight may not produce enough hormones to ovulate every month or to sustain a pregnancy. At the other end of the scale, women who are overweight carry excess body fat. Excess body fat can lead to an overproduction of certain hormones that disrupt ovulation. If you cycles are less regular this may cause you to ovulate less frequently which lessens your chances of becoming pregnant.
Try to aim for a healthy BMI of between 22 and 26. This can be achieved by a healthy diet, regular exercise and reducing the amount of processed food that you eat. Talk to your GP before embarking on any major change in eating or exercise habits!
Cut out smoking, alcohol and recreational drugs
We are all aware of the damage caused by smoking but did you know that the toxins in cigarettes can damage a woman’s eggs and can also cause premature aging of the ovaries. Damaged eggs could lead to problems with fertilization and implantation. So the bottom line is to stop smoking. If you are having difficulty in giving up smoking, contact your GP or smoker support lines for help.
Drinking alcohol may be linked to a decreased ability to get pregnant. Alcohol lowers estrogen which may impact on the implantation of eggs. Remember also that alcohol can damage the foetus in the uterus and so it best avoided during pregnancy.
Recreational drugs can be dangerous to your health and to your unborn baby’s health. Avoid these drugs while trying to get pregnant and when pregnant.
What about the boys? For the man in your life, smoking and alcohol can contribute to lower sperm production or motility so he too should watch his intake while you are trying to get pregnant.
Relax and Avoid Stress
Stress can have serious affects on your health and put strain on your body. Excessive stress may lead to a disruption in your hormone production and/or your menstrual cycle. Try to learn ways to manage stress by changes in your lifestyle, relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga or other methods. Dealing with stress will not only help your emotional health but also your physical health therefore increasing your chances of becoming pregnant.
Get To Know Your Cycle
Understanding and knowing your menstrual cycle is important when you are trying to conceive. Ovulation (when your eggs are released from the ovaries) usually occurs around day 14 of your cycle (start counting day one as the first day of your period). You are fertile in the four to five days before ovulation so knowing your ‘fertility window’ can help you to know when you are likely to become pregnant and therefore when it is the optimum period for sexual intercourse.
Ovulation can vary from woman to woman so it is a good idea to get an ovulation kit (available from your pharmacist) to help you to identify when your fertile days occur.
Take Folic Acid
Folic acid can reduce the risk of Neural Tube Defect for you baby. Neural Tube Defect can cause the brain, spinal cord or the covering of these organs to fail to develop fully. Spina Bifida is the common condition caused by Neural Tube Defect.
Folic acid is available through foods but there are only a number of foods that contain folic acid and so it is difficult to get enough folic acid through food alone. Taking a supplement for folic acid is highly recommended. You should take folic acid from about 2 months before you conceive and then for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Speak to your pharmacist or GP for advice on the duration and amount of folic acid you should take.
Enjoy Regular Sex!
It sounds obvious but we’ll mention it anyway! The more numbers you have in the lotto, the better your chance of winning so the same can be said of sex. Regular sex is also a fantastic way of busting stress levels and burning calories as well as being enjoyable and intimate. Try to ensure that you have sex every day during your ‘fertility window’ and throughout your cycle.
Get your man to mind his testicles too. Sperm production is better when the testicles are a couple of degrees cooler than the rest of the body. Your partner should avoid tight underwear or jeans and excessively long hot baths if you are trying to conceive.
When you do conceive and begin your pregnancy journey, do not give up all the new habits you have learned. Continue to eat well, reduce stress, maintain a healthy weight, cut out smoking and alcohol and stick to the other good habits in this article. Remember, conceiving is just the first step of your journey and staying fit and well during your pregnancy will be invaluable to you and to the health of your baby. In fact, why not make these changes permanent and live a healthy balanced lifestyle for ever!
Best of luck!