Starting a family is exciting! Once you have made the decision, you’d probably like to get pregnant straight away. Following are helpful tips that will assist you in your quest for a baby – and what you can do if, despite doing all the right things, it’s still not happening.
- Practice sexual safety when you are not yet ready to start a family. Infections such as Chlamydia and Gonorrhea can damage the reproductive organs in men and particularly in women.
- Don’t wait any longer to start trying! The chances of becoming pregnant decrease as the woman in the relationship becomes older. At age 25 the chance of becoming pregnant within 12 months is 90%, by 35 this has fallen to 75%. At 40 years the chance is 50% and only 10% at age 45. The possibility of a miscarriage increases with age too, with rates as high as 50% in women over age 40.
- Quit smoking. Both men and women have reduced rates of fertility if they are smokers.
- Quit drinking. Again, this applies to both the men and the women. Even moderate levels of alcohol use have been shown to reduce the chances of achieving a pregnancy.
- Give up any non-medical drug use. Marijuana, heroin and cocaine in particular have been shown to reduce fertility, in both men and women.
- Watch your caffeine intake. Women who drink more than 2 coffees per day (250 mg of caffeine) take longer to become pregnant. Don’t forget there’s caffeine in tea and some soft drink as well.
- Watch your weight. This applies mostly to women. Women who are either underweight or overweight have reduced fertility.
- Exercise, but don’t over do it. Women who regularly perform very strenuous exercise may have irregular or absent periods, and great difficulty in becoming pregnant. Wind it back until your cycle returns to normal.
- Have regular sex. Sex twice to three times a week throughout a woman’s cycle pretty much guarantees that you’ll hit the fertile time, even if you don’t know how to figure out when it is. Ejaculation 2-3 times a week is actually good for semen quality. Frequent ejaculation reduces the damage that can occur when free radicals are produced. Free radicals are produced when unused sperm are broken down by the body. Don’t overdo it though. Sex more than every second day can actually lower the sperm count even further in men who have a marginally low count.
- Have a check up with your GP. Undiagnosed diabetes, thyroid disease, coeliac diease and many other conditions reduce fertility in both men and women. Explain that you want to have a baby and want to make sure you are as healthy as you possibly can be. For the women, while you are there get your GP to do your pap smear if you are due for it, and do a blood test to see if you need a rubella vaccine booster.
- Know your cycle girls! Learning how to tell when you are fertile and when you aren’t will help you to make sure that you do have sex when you are most likely to become pregnant. It also helps you to look after your general gynecological health if you know how it is all supposed to work. I recommend the book “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler, but there are other good books out there too.
- Take a pregnancy multivitamin. Technically speaking this won’t increase your chances of becoming pregnant. There is really convincing evidence though that taking a multivitamin that contains folate and is specifically designed for pregnancy use can reduce the risk of a number of serious birth defects, reduce the risk of undersized babies, and even reduce the risk of that child getting cancer in their childhood. We prefer the brand Elevit which is available at most pharmacies.
What To Do If You Still Don’t Fall Pregnant
If you have been trying to become pregnant for more than a year (or more than 6 months if you are over 35) it’s time to get more help. Your GP can help, and might choose to refer you to a gynaecologist with a special interest in fertility treatment.
You can also choose to have a fertility assessment visit with Sr. Denise Donati at Fertility Solutions Sunshine Coast. Denise is a highly experienced fertility nurse who can teach you what you need to know to try to improve your chances, and start the ball rolling with tests to identify any problems that might need treatment.