Age is a big factor in fertility – women are at their most fertile between the ages of 20 and 25, and fertility takes a sharp dip from 35 onwards. Whatever your age, though, making the following lifestyle changes will improve your chances of conceiving.
Even if you’ve been with your partner for some time, it’s worth getting tested for chlamydia, the UK’s most common sexually transmitted disease. It’s possible to have it for years without symptoms and left untreated, it can cause inflammation and scarring in the Fallopian tubes, preventing eggs from passing through the tubes or being fertilised. You can book a free test directly with your sexual health clinic.
Smoking can reduce your chances of getting pregnant by around 40 per cent. Several substances found in cigarettes have a harmful effect on the lining of the uterus and on egg quality. Smoking also depletes the body’s reserves of certain important vitamins and minerals. The good news is that your chances of conceiving improve quickly after giving up. See your GP if you need help.
Cut back on booze
Drinking doesn’t stop you getting pregnant, as thousands of women can testify! And there’s no clear evidence that the occasional glass of wine affects fertility. However, too much alcohol can affect the quality of the eggs you produce and deplete the body of essential fertility-boosting vitamins and minerals such as zinc. Try to drink no more than five units of alcohol a week. Remember, one unit is a small, 100ml glass of wine, or a pub measure (25ml) of spirits. Alcohol use is not recommended once you are pregnant.
Excessive amounts of stress hormones interfere with the release of the female sex hormones. Plus stress tends to reduce the libido. It’s hard to avoid stressful situations, but you can change the way you react to them. Complementary therapies such as acupuncture and hypnotherapy can be a good way of helping you manage anxiety and stress. Regular activity can also help, with your body naturally releasing calming endorphins.
Know your cycle
If it’s been a while since you did biology, you may need a quick refresher to make sure you’re having sex at the right time! If your cycle is regular, you’ll ovulate 14 days before your period is due to start. Aim to have sex two days before you ovulate and every other day for the rest of the week. If your cycle is irregular, you might consider investing in an ovulation kit (available from pharmacies).
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