When to seek extra help
Generally, if you and your partner are under early 30s and in good health,
it is okay to try on your own for one year before consulting a fertility specialist.
But if you're are 35 or older, your periods are more than 35 days apart, or suspect fertility issues,
it is advisable to seek help sooner. Fertility is an issue that involves both men and women.
So when a couple is having problems, both should seek consultation.
When a healthy couple has frequent, unprotected sex, they usually conceive within a year. But
this may not be the case for certain couples. If you have been trying for a baby for a while but
have not got pregnant yet, don't be discouraged. These are some simple things you can do to up your chances of having a baby:
Know when you're fertile
It's one thing understanding how ovulation works. Figuring out when it's happening to your body is a different thing entirely.
But timing is everything. Once you've determined your ovulation, have sex once a day to increase the odds of conception.
There are a few ways you can try:
Make healthy lifestyle choices
- Keep track on the calendar
If you have a consistent 28-day cycle, your ovulation is likely to begin about 14 days after your last period began.
So use a calendar to mark the fertile days. One problem with this is that this may be inaccurate for women who have irregular cycles.
- Watch for changes in cervical mucus
Look for clear, slippery vaginal secretions - this is a sign the ovulation is happening. This is a good indicator of fertility.
After ovulation, the vaginal discharge will become cloudy and sticky. Or it may disappear entirely.
- Measure your basal body temperature
Basal body temperature is your body's temperature when you are fully at rest. Usually, ovulation will cause a gradual rise
or sudden jump in temperature. You can assume that ovulation has occurred when the slightly higher temperature remains steady for three days or so.
- Use an ovulation monitoring kit
These are over-the-counter kits that test your urine for the surge in hormones that occurs before ovulation.
A problem with this is that these kits can be expensive.
It's a given that a healthy body makes it easier for pregnancy to happen. Start by maintaining a healthy weight
(think a BMI between 20 and 30). Also, stock your kitchen with nutritious foods and prenatal vitamins or supplements,
like folic acid (vitamin B9), which aids a baby's development.
Exercise is also a great way to relieve stress (which can get in the way of getting pregnant). So start and stick
to a fitness plan now. Yoga, swimming and brisk walking are great ways to get your body in shape. The best part is -
you might be able continue with these exercises even when you are pregnant!
Go for preconception planning
If you and your partner have any pre-existing health issues, or just want to put your minds at ease, consider
consulting your doctor to assess your overall health, lifestyle habits or even to investigate your family health history for genetic disorders.
Your doctor may recommend prenatal vitamins, make sure you're up-to-date on your immunizations, ask about the type
of medications you may be taking and even do a pap smear or test for sexually-transmitted diseases.
What NOT to do
- Smoke - This is a big no-no as tobacco changes the cervical mucus, which may keep the sperm from reaching the egg.
Smoking may also increase the incidence of miscarriage if you do manage to get pregnant. So if you are a smoker, you have to quit before you try for a baby.
- Drink alcohol - Some experts believe that drinking more than a glas of wine a day may reduce your chances of conceiving.
This has been supported by a recent study in the British Medical Journal. So if you want to conceive, avoid alcohol completely.
- Take certain medication without your doctor's go-ahead - Certain medications can make it difficult for you to conceive,
so do consult your doctor if you're on such medications.
- Take caffeine - An occasional cup of coffee is okay, but research has shown that too much caffeine can reduce
your ability to absorb iron (which you need for pregnancy).
- Harbour negative thoughts - Don't let stress of trying for a baby get to you because your body will not perform well
as a result of it. Also, women who suffer from depression are twice as likely to have problems with fertility as women who don't.
So if you have a personal or family history of depression, do consult a psychiatrist. If you have take medication,
your doctor will help you find an antidepressant that's safe to take while you're trying to conceive.