There’s nothing more certain to increase a woman’s chances of getting pregnant than regular sex without a condom. A variety of studies confirm that if regular unprotected sex is practiced, eight out of ten women under the age of forty will conceive within a year. Conception is, of course, dependent on how fertile a woman is. Fertility levels are sensitive to various factors and there are ways they can be improved.
Four Ways To Increase Fertility
- Reduce or cut out alcohol completely: regular heavy drinking can have a big impact on fertility levels and reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption can radically increase the chances of getting pregnant. Though even if a woman is a social drinker, rather than a heavy drinker, it may still be difficult to break the habit. There’s no universal medical agreement on what constitutes a safe alcohol level, but a majority of doctors recommend complete abstinence for the first three months of pregnancy, once achieved.
- Smoking: reducing, or, again, eliminating the habit is never a bad idea, and is a particularly good one if a woman wants to conceive. There’s global medical consensus on the harmfulness of the carcinogenic toxins present in cigarettes on fertility levels. Women who smoke tend not to conceive as efficiently as non-smokers and, once conception is achieved, there’s a very high risk of damage to the genetic material of the egg, increasing the possibility of miscarriage and birth defects.
- Lose weight: there’s a link between obesity and fertility. Being overweight can have a negative effect on key hormones and increase the chances of menstrual dysfunction. Psychologically, being overweight can adversely affect a woman’s self-image, making her feel less attractive to her partner.
- Venereal health: sexually transmitted diseases can seriously interfere with fertility. Chlamydia and gonorrhoea can cause infection of the fallopian tubes and urinary tract, which can result in PID, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, which is dangerous for the reproductive organs. So it’s a good idea for a woman to ensure she’s free of STDs while trying to conceive.
But it isn’t just up to the woman to ensure she’s healthy and fertile, she might be as fertile as a Nile Goddess, but if her male partner is having problems, or suffering from male infertility, then, when it comes to hearing the patter of tiny feet, all bets are off. Avoiding alcohol, reducing or eliminating smoking, getting tested for STDs, and losing weight is also recommended for the potential father. He should also actively try to increase his fertility in the following ways.
Four Ways To Increase Male Fertility
- Exercise: a man should exercise regularly to maintain general health and energy levels. Doing so can increase testosterone levels.
- Reduce stress: like his partner, a man has to be in the mood for sex, and work, financial or other worries can cloud his mind so much that, however alluring she is, worries can’t be pushed sufficiently far away for a man to satisfy his partner. Prolonged stress increases levels of cortisol, which adversely affect testosterone. Basic relaxation techniques, or other forms of stress management, available everywhere, can help,
- Supplements: there are various supplements, such as fenugreek, on the market, or waiting at the local fruit market, which should be investigated. Vitamin C is a famous booster of the immune system, but there are studies that suggest it may also improve fertility. Some studies have also linked vitamin D deficiency with low testosterone levels, so consume foodstuffs such as red meat, oily fish, breakfast cereals, and eggs to increase vitamin D.
- There is far more medical consensus as to the importance of zinc in male fertility, with a high intake of this mineral associated with increased testosterone levels and increased sperm count. So, meat, fish, eggs, and shellfish should be regular features on a prospective father’s daily menu.
If fertility is a serious problem, perhaps because of low sperm count, difficulty with ovulation, fallopian tubes, or endometriosis, there are fertility treatments that can increase the chances of getting pregnant.
Popular Fertility Treatments
- IVF or In Vitro Fertilisation and Egg Donation: IVF has become almost synonymous with the phrase ‘fertility treatment’ and is globally popular. Basically, it’s the process of fertilising a human egg outside the female body then placing the early embryo, or blastocyst, inside the woman’s uterus to develop. With rapid advances in the various techniques and technologies involved over the last three or four decades, IVF has become relatively routine, with complications being minimised. It’s no guarantee of becoming pregnant, and more than one cycle of treatment may be needed, but it has a high global success rate, with over 500,000 deliveries annually. The sperm of the woman’s partner can be used for insemination of the egg when it’s removed — if he has a low sperm count sperm can be removed directly from the testicles — or sperm from a donor, either known or selected by the couple. The egg of another woman may be used in place of the woman’s eggs, a process known as egg donation. An egg donor may be sought if the woman’s ovulatory capacity is affected by a genetic disorder, a particular illness, or some other difficulty.
- Embryo Adoption: this is an often cheaper alternative to standard IVF treatment, though the process does closely follow standard IVF treatment. The donated embryo is a ‘spare’ embryo taken from another couple’s IVF cycle and can be implanted in the uterus without the need for ovarian stimulation. It’s ideal for couples who would like to adopt a child but want to experience the process of pregnancy and birth.
- Other treatments: there are a number of hormonal medications that can stimulate ovulation such as clomiphene, but these are best discussed in consultation with a doctor. Who might suggest surgery for an infertility problem, perhaps the unblocking of fallopian tubes.
Generally speaking, if a woman is under thirty-five years of age she should think about IVF treatment after a year of trying without success to conceive. Between the ages of thirty-five and forty IVF should be considered after six months of regular unprotected sex without conception. If over forty years old a reproductive endocrinologist should be consulted to discuss the viability of IVF or other fertility treatment. And at all ages, those wanting to conceive and have children should look after their general health and deal with any specific concerns that may be hindering them from reproductive success.