There are many factors that affect a woman’s chance of falling pregnant. Below are six things you can change right now to optimise your fertility chances.
1. Healthy weight
being underweight or overweight may cause women to have irregular or missed periods. And being extremely underweight could make women stop ovulating altogether. Obesity can increase the risk of pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, birth defects and labour complications such as the need for a c-section. Therefore, it’s important to be at a healthy weight when you’re trying to conceive.
If you fall into either of these categories, a dietitian can help you achieve a healthy weight. They can guide you on how to eat right, by not over or under-eating and make sure you’re getting plenty of nutrients. They can also provide you the right tools to optimise stress management, sleep, exercise, as well as assess all blood and pathology that you have done and provide recommendations based on those results. Often, even a small weight gain or loss is enough to get your body ready to conceive, as long as it’s done in a healthy way.
2. Sperm health
All the pressure and focus is usually on the female when trying to conceive a child. I think people forget that males are responsible for 50% of the process. In many cases of infertility, it’s the quality of the male’s sperm that is the problem. Therefore, it’s important for males to test their sperm to look at the volume, morphology, motility, vitality and normality. It’s very easy to improve and optimise the quality of a male’s sperm through diet, supplementation and lifestyle modification. Your GP, men’s health specialist or dietitian can assist you with this.
3. If you smoke, quit
Smokers are more like to conceive than non-smokers and are more likely to have fertility problems. Interestingly, passive smoking is only slightly less harmful to fertility than active smoking. Smoking affect every stage of the reproduction process, including egg and sperm maturation, hormone production, embryo transport, and the environment inside the uterus. It also causes DNA damage to both the eggs and sperm. For men, smoking can cause a lowered sperm count and motility, and other abnormalities.
4. Take pre-natal supplements
Although a healthy diet is the best way to get the vitamins and minerals your body needs — but even if you eat a healthy diet, you might fall short on key nutrients. If you’re pregnant or planning to conceive, prenatal supplements can help fill the gaps, particularly because female nutrient requirements increase during times of pregnancy and breastfeeding. Prenatal supplements are designed to provide your body the right quantities of specific nutrients that are important leading up to and during pregnancy to reduce the risk of birth defects and optimise the health for mother and child.
5. Stress management
Stress can cause problems with fertility. The reason being is that chronic stress affects the functioning of the hypothalamus — the gland in the brain that regulates your appetite and emotions, as well as the hormones that tell your ovaries to release eggs. If you’re highly or constantly stressed, you may ovulate later in your cycle or not at all.Stress is also harmful to sperm and semen quality, affecting its concentration, appearance, and ability to fertilise an egg.
6. Avoid BPA
BPA, which is also known as Bisphenol A, is a toxic chemical found in plastic items, such as water bottles, food containers and even in the lining of aluminium cans. Some studies have shown that high BPA exposure can interfere with male and female hormone regulation, thus impacting on fertility. For women, BPA can inhibit the embryo’s ability to attach to the uterine wall. This failure to implant causes an early onset miscarriage even before she knows she is pregnant. For men, long-term BPA exposure has been linked to lowered sperm count and poor motility.