It takes most couples up to a year of trying before they are able to successfully conceive. Interestingly there are steps you can take to improve your chances, which for men aim to improve the quantity and quality of sperm and improve ovulation for women. Below are a few healthy habits that will help improve your chances of a successful conception.
Regular intercourse is undoubtedly needed for conception to take place, especially around the time of ovulation as this is when an egg is present and ready to be fertilised.
Regular exercise can help both men and women in achieving a healthy weight and reducing obesity which is a key factor affecting fertility. Studies have found that vigorous exercise can reduce the risk of ovulation problems in women and allow for conception to take place.
This can be particularly helpful for women with PCOS as exercise lowers blood sugar levels and insulin, which are challenges that prevent them from ovulating.
Stress has wide ranging effects on the body, including fertility. For women, extreme stress causes problems in the short term such as irregular periods. When stressed we can also fall into other unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking and struggle with sleep and libido. While it’s something we have little control over at times, if you’re trying to get pregnant, we’d recommend looking for strategies that help manage stress and improve your mental health.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep has an integral role in maintaining good overall health and can affect fertility in a number of ways. Not getting enough can worsen mental health, disrupt hormone levels, make weight loss difficult, which all can make conception less likely. A study investigating the effect of sleep disturbance on female fertility found that women who sleep for less than 7 hours a night are 15% less likely to fall pregnant than women who sleep for more than 8. Therefore, to boost fertility both men and women should aim for a minimum of 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.
Where possible you also want to limit harm. Below are some harmful habits you should try and reduce.
A harmful habit that you should endeavour to stop is smoking. It can damage male sperm and reduce ovarian reserve in women which can make conceiving tricky.
While consuming a glass or two of alcohol on occasion won’t affect your overall fertility, alcohol consumption can make conception more difficult. This is because it changes levels of the reproductive hormone “oestrogen” in women, reduces ovarian reserve (or the number of eggs left) and changes ovulation. It is something to be mindful of, and you should try to limit your intake, or stop, when trying for a baby. Not only that, but if you fall pregnant, mistakenly drinking alcohol can result in complications such as your baby being born with a low birth weight, prematurely or with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder. There are also negative consequences for male fertility as alcohol reduces testosterone which is a hormone affecting the quality and quantity of sperm.
A diet that contains high sugar is likely to be problematic for fertility. It is yet another factor affecting the quality of sperm and can damage eggs in women. Also, for women with PCOS, it can disrupt hormone levels such as testosterone and make ovulating difficult.
For a preconception appointment and to learn about how you can improve your chances, book a consultation with one of our specialists.