Although in some cases people may have conditions which render them infertile, many couples have problems conceiving because of preventable factors; simply making a few small changes to the way you live, can dramatically increase the chances of conception. A few of these are outlined below:
It is important to eat a healthy and balanced diet to ensure good general health; however, diet is particularly important when you are trying for a baby. Take care to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, as these are packed with essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients, which provide the nourishment the body needs to function properly. A healthy diet should also contain plenty of wholegrain foods; complex carbohydrates such as wholegrain pasta, bread and rice should form the bulk of the daily diet; these foods provide fuel for the body and prevent fatigue. Proteins and fats should also be taken in, but saturated and trans-fats should generally be avoided. Calcium is also important as it contributes to healthy, strong bones.
During pregnancy, it is also important to keep an eye on diet as some foods may cause harm to the baby. Doctors recommend that patients take extra care when preparing food and make sure that fruits and vegetables are washed carefully and meat and eggs are cooked thoroughly. Some foods should be avoided during pregnancy; these include: mouldy cheese, certain types of fish (tuna, swordfish and marlin because they have high mercury content), liver and pate.
Body weight is very important as it can affect women’s ovulation; women that are significantly under or over weight often do not ovulate as regularly as they should; this can reduce the possibility of getting pregnant. Women should have a BMI (body mass index) of between 19 and 25; if you have a BMI that is under or over the healthy weight range, the doctor may recommend that you lose or gain weight. Men with a BMI of over 29 will also usually be advised to lose weight. Fertility treatment is often only offered to couples in the healthy weight range.
Smoking and drinking
Smoking and drinking excessively can hinder both female and male fertility. Alcohol is particularly damaging to male fertility as it affects the quality of the sperm. Couples are advised to stop smoking and cut down on drinking considerably, when trying for a baby. During pregnancy drinking and smoking should both be cut out (the odd glass of wine is allowed, but regular drinking can seriously harm the baby); smoking during pregnancy often causes premature birth and can result in complications during both pregnancy and birth.
Stress can reduce fertility because it reduces libido; this means couples have sex less often which reduces the possibility of them conceiving. Stress can also affect mental health and can contribute to conditions such as depression. Doctors recommend methods such as massage and counselling to try and reduce stress.
Illegal drugs can have serious implications for fertility as well as being damaging to unborn children during pregnancy. Couples that are trying to conceive should avoid drugs such as cocaine and marijuana at all costs. Some prescription medications may also affect fertility; it is best to check with your GP if you should continue taking any medications you are on.
General health checks
Infertility may be caused by a number of health conditions so it is important to undergo regular health checks; this will help doctors to identify any underlying conditions and treat them.
Women that are trying to get pregnant are encouraged to take folic acid supplements; folic acid helps to prevent the development of conditions such as spina bifida.