Trying to Conceive

Fertility facts

Understanding more about how your body works will help you make informed decisions when trying to conceive.

Lifestyle factors can affect the development of the egg either negatively or positively

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Diet, lack of certain nutrients, and lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol and lack of exercise, can affect the quality of a woman’s eggs, her hormonal balance and her ovulation. Adopting a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables can help increase your chances of pregnancy.

 

Your fertile window is the days in your menstrual cycle when pregnancy is possible.

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Ovulation occurs once a month, between 12 and 16 days from the start of a woman’s period, if she has a regular menstrual cycle of 28-30 days.

After ovulation, an egg survives for less than 24-hours, so it needs to be fertilised at this precise time. Sperm can survive up to five days while your egg can only survive for one day. The theoretical fertile window is thus 5 days, which includes the four days before ovulation and the day of ovulation.
 

Women are born with all their eggs

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Women are born with all their eggs (about 1 million immature oocytes). At puberty, only about 300,000 remain, and of these, 300 to 400 will be ovulated.

The egg survives for less than 24 hours after ovulation

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The egg lives about 24 hours after ovulation while sperm can survive for up to 5 days in the fallopian tubes. The most fertile days in your cycle are the 4 days leading up to ovulation and the day of ovulation.  

Poor lifestyle choices can reduce your fertility

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Smoking, drinking excessively, not exercising, not getting enough sleep and being overweight can reduce your fertility by causing excessive oxidative stress which can damage cell structures.

Age matters

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For a woman the biggest decrease in fertility begins after the age of thirty. Over time, the number and quality of a woman’s eggs will decline, until there are no eggs left at menopause. 

Prescribed and over the counter drugs can affect fertility

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Check that your prescription and over the counter medicines aren’t contributing to your infertility. If you have been on the pill for a long time you may be low on certain vitamins and minerals. 

Stress can affect your fertility

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Many of us lead busy and stressful lives and trying for a baby can add to this stress. Stress can contribute to a loss of libido, which in turn can reduce the frequency of sexual intercourse. Stress hormones like cortisol may also disrupt signaling between the brain and the reproductive system affecting hormone production and ovulation..

Ovulation disorders

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Problems with ovulation are the cause of infertility in about 30% of women with fertility issues. Ovulation disorders can be caused by Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), thyroid problems, or premature ovarian failure.

Womb and Fallopian tubes

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If the womb or the fallopian tubes are damaged, it may be difficult to conceive naturally. This problem affects around 2 in 10 women with infertility.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

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There are several STIs that can cause infertility. For example, chlamydia and gonorrhoea can damage the fallopian tubes in women, which may make it more difficult to become pregnant.

Avoid using Lubricants

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Vaginal lubricants sometimes contain spermicides, so they can reduce sperm motility and in some cases also damage sperm. 

Adapting your lifestyle

Making simple changes to your lifestyle not only improves your health but can also increase your chances of conception

Regular, moderate exercise

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Exercise is important for maintaining good health and can also improve fertility. Moderate exercise like brisk walking, yoga and pilates will not only help get you get into shape but it can also reduce stress. However, vigorous exercise for more than 5 hours a week has been shown to decrease the chances of pregnancy

Eating a varied and balanced diet

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A balanced and varied diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and reducing animal fats, salt, sugar, and processed foods, is beneficial for fertility.

Maintain a normal weight

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Being underweight or overweight can reduce your fertility. You should aim to have your body mass index (BMI) between 20 and 25. Don’t go on a crash diet. It could affect your ovulation and consequently your fertility.

Don’t drink Alcohol

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Alcohol consumption at the time of conception increases the risk of early pregnancy loss. This is why the advice is not to drink at all. 

Have sex regularly

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Women are most fertile during the days just before and during ovulation. If you have a regular 28-day cycle, count back 14 days from when you expect your next period to start. Plan on having sex every other day around that day.

Get enough sleep

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Your egg cells are like every other cell in the body, if you’re deprived of sleep your body and its cells can’t repair and heal itself.

Stress less

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There are so many people who worry excessively about becoming pregnant and once they release that stress, their body reacts to the new peace by creating a new life. So, try not to worry and enjoy the fun of trying to conceive.

Lay low

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Lying down for at least a few minutes after sex increases the odds that the sperm will be able to fertilise the egg.