Lots of factors can affect your fertility, from lifestyle to timing. Try these tips to improve fertility and give yourself the best chance of conception.
1. Eat plenty of fibre
Fibre is a secret weapon for hormone balance, especially for helping to get rid of excess oestrogen. High levels of oestrogen can be a factor in fertility problems - Low progesterone may lead to symptoms of high oestrogen so always get your hormones tested when trying to conceive.
In one study, eating an extra 10g of cereal fibre per day cut the risk of ovulatory infertility by 44% for women aged 32 and over.
2. Timing is everything
The golden window of opportunity for getting pregnant is short.
There are approximately 6 days every month when conception is most viable. Ovulation is the best chance but factors such as stress and hormone imbalances can make it harder to know when you're ovulating.
A woman can only get pregnant during the ‘fertile window’ in the menstrual cycle.
There are a few ways to work out when you’re ovulating. Keeping track of your ovulation on an app or a journal will help you work out when your best opportunity for conception is.
Pregnancy is technically only possible if you have sex during the five days before ovulation or on the day of ovulation. But the most fertile days are the three days leading up to and including ovulation. Having sex during this time gives you the best chance of getting pregnant.
By 12-24 hours after ovulation, a woman is no longer able to get pregnant during that menstrual cycle because the egg is no longer in the fallopian tube.
There’s almost no chance of getting pregnant if you have sex before or after the fertile window (but if you’re not trying to get pregnant, don’t rely on this – contraception is your best option!).You may also have heard that it’s best to leave a few days between sex sessions when you’re trying to conceive but this is bad advice, according to some fertility experts. You don’t need to wait for sperm to “build up” again. It’s all about the concentration of the sperm - not how often you have sex.
3. Birth control can affect fertility
Being on birth control shouldn’t harm your future fertility but it can cause temporary delays to conception.
If you're currently on hormonal birth control or you've recently come off it, it can take a while to get back to a regular menstrual cycle and regain optimum fertility.
For most women, it can take at least a few months for your menstrual cycle to return after stopping oral birth control. This is often shorter for other types of hormonal birth control such as rings, patches, and IUDs. But if you’re not having periods or they’re completely erratic after you’ve been off birth control for a while, talk to your health care professional.. They might decide to do some fertility tests to see if there’s an underlying issue that’s affecting your cycle.
4. Avoid toxins
Toxins are everywhere these days. They're commonly found in the environment, your personal care products, cleaning products, plastics, and even some foods.
Studies have shown that the effects of these toxins can be devastating for fertility. Toxins can disrupt hormone production and cause damage to the reproductive system (for both you and your partner).
You may not be able to control the toxins you're exposed to outdoors but you have more influence when it comes to toxins inside your home.
5. Quit smoking
If you smoke, quitting can improve your fertility. According to studies, smokers generally take longer to conceive.
The chemicals in cigarette smoke can damage sperm and egg cells. It can make it harder for fertilised eggs to be successfully implanted, according to this study. Hormone balance can be affected too.
Men who smoke can experience lower sperm quality and reduced sperm count but this can be reversed if they quit.
If you don’t smoke but your partner does, passive smoking can still affect your fertility.
6. Look at your lubricant
Some lubricants contain ingredients that can damage sperm cells. If you’re using lubrication during sex, check your go-to brand isn’t one of these culprits. Water-based lubricants can be a big problem here.
When you’re trying to conceive, always choose a lubricant that has sperm-friendly ingredients or you could be inadvertently sabotaging your chances of getting pregnant.
7. Get your thyroid levels checked
Even a slight anomaly in how your thyroid gland is functioning can impact your ability to conceive easily. So get your thyroid levels checked when you’re looking to get pregnant, especially if you’ve been trying for a while without success.
8. You don’t need to elevate your legs
If you’re spending a ton of time with your legs in the air after sex, it might be a waste of time. There’s no real evidence that keeping your legs in the air helps to improve your conception chances.
9. Drink less coffee
You don’t need to ditch your coffee fix completely when you’re trying to conceive but you’ll probably want to keep limits on how much you’re drinking. Stick to one or two cups a day.
When it comes to caffeine, be aware that tea, sodas, and energy drinks also count. If you’re drinking these on top of coffee, you can easily consume more caffeine than you realise.
10. Get plenty of sleep
Lack of sleep can have major effects on your hormone production. This is true for your partner too. If he’s not getting enough sleep, it can increase the chances of infertility. In one study, men who got less than 6 hours of sleep per night were more likely to struggle with their fertility.