Trying to get pregnant? There’s plenty you can do to give yourself a better chance of conceiving…
1. Work out when you’re ovulating
While there’s no wrong time to have sex, there’s definitely a right time – and it’s not necessarily day 14 of your menstrual cycle. It’s important to work out when you’re ovulating.
If your menstrual cycle is regular, a simple trick is to subtract 14 days from the end of your cycle to work out the day you ovulated. Then aim to have sex every two days, starting a week before your next ovulation date.
If you’re less regular, you might want to try investing in an ovulation test, which can identify ‘peak’ fertility days, indicating the optimum time to try to conceive.
2. Eat well
A healthy, balanced diet is crucial for a healthy body and successful conception. Eating well will help you maintain a normal hormonal balance and certain nutrients, such as vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid, enhance your fertility.
Make sure that your diet contains plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrains and lean white meat or fish. Also try to limit your consumption of sugary and fatty foods, and alcohol.
3. Cut out caffeine
Although Government advice suggests that caffeine in moderation is safe during pregnancy (the Food Standards Agency recommends no more than 300mg caffeine, equivalent to four cups of coffee, per day), it could increase the risk of miscarriage.
A recent study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that women who drank more than 200mg of caffeine a day had double the risk of miscarriage compared with abstainers. Opt for herbal teas instead.
4. Reduce stress
Stress can really hinder your chances of conception, whether it’s stress about your job, home life or the very fact that you’re trying for a baby.
Experts know that high levels of stress in women can change hormone levels and cause irregular ovulation.
To aid relaxation, try meditation, breathing techniques or simply take time out to read your favourite magazine.
5. Herbal remedies
Western herbal remedies such as Vitex agnus-castus (chaste tree) are thought to help to restore hormonal balance in women, and research supports its use in treating infertility. In fact, it’s the most extensively researched herb in connection with hormonal problems.
Take it as a tincture every morning of your cycle, but don’t use it if there’s a chance you could be pregnant.
Yoga helps to strengthen your body and it’s thought to be especially useful for toning the pelvic area, as well as reducing stress and improving blood flow to the reproductive organs.
You could try a DVD to practice at home – such as Yoga 4 Fertility by Brenda Strong – or find a general yoga class near you.
The jury’s still out on whether acupuncture – the application of fine needles into points on the body – can help boost fertility. But a recent analysis of trials measuring the success of acupuncture immediately before or after IVF found a 65% increase in the chance of becoming pregnant.
8. Boost your partner’s fertility
Getting pregnant takes both of you, so ensure that your man is in optimum condition, too. Starting with cutting back on alcohol and stopping smoking. A multivitamin/mineral supplement could also help, as vitamin E and the B vitamins are especially important for healthy sperm.