Generally, 85 percent of couples will be able to conceive within the first year, and 50 percent of couples will succeed in conceiving a baby within six months. Dr Ann Tan shares how you can increase your chances of having a healthy baby. This includes adopting a set of new rules like dietary and lifestyle changes, to help protect your fertility.
- Start young
The older the woman, the lower the chance of conception per cycle from 20 to 25 percent in her peak fertile years to less than five percent after 40 years old. The older the man is, there is also a decrease in his semen quality. Depending on his health status and hormonal levels, the earlier one can start on the pregnancy journey for either party, the higher the chances of conception.
- Achieve a good BMI
Maintain a healthy weight as this will boost your baby-making chances. A healthy BMI is between 19 to 23. Obesity or anorexia have a negative impact on fertility due to the hormonal dysfunctions that they cause. One such symptom is irregular menstruation.
- Make love regularly
Having active unprotected intercourse two to three times a week is ideal to facilitate conception. This works well for those with regular cycles. For women with irregular cycles, ovulation is either not occurring, or unpredictable. In both instances, a visit to a fertility specialist will help the couple to identify their needs and assist them to enhance their chances of conception. The fertility specialist may prescribe clomid (which stimulates the release of hormones necessary for ovulation to occur), or recommend artificial insemination when semen quality is inadequate.
- Start eating right
Couples with a history of infertility can achieve an 80 percent success rate if they alter their lifestyles and diet. Having adequate protein, iron and antioxidants like vitamin E and selenium improve the ability of sperm to swim (a skill necessary to reach the egg). Eat five daily servings of fruit and vegetables, fish and nuts to ensure your body gets a wide variety of DNA-protecting nutrients and minerals. Not getting enough nutrients can affect your menstrual periods, which makes it tougher to predict ovulation cycles.
- Exercise regularly
Regular exercise is essential to ensure physical fitness is optimal. Regular exercise also helps the woman relax and helps maintain the male testosterone levels, too.
- Say goodbye to alcohol
Alcohol and smoking is detrimental to conception – and that applies to both men and women. It decreases sperm count, and inhibits the absorption of nutrients like zinc (one of the most important minerals for male fertility).
- Check infections and vaccinations
It is important to ensure that your immunisations against Rubella and Hepatitis B are still valid. Please take note that a vaccination against chicken pox is considered potentially harmful during pregnancy.
Recurrent vaginal infections, either with candida or group B streptococcus, will also reduce the likelihood of conception, as the sperms are not able to penetrate through the inflammatory cerival mucus.
- Monitor existing medical conditions
If you or your spouse are on any medications for the treatment of a medical condition such as diabetes, hypertension or hypercholesteremia, there is a potential for decreased fertility too, due to the negative influence on the quality of the sperm or egg. Optimal control of the medical disorder with their respective physician should be achieved before trying for a pregnancy to minimise the impact.
- Finally, be patient