Boost your chances of get­ting preg­nant

WANT TO TRY FOR A BABY? EX­PERTS TELL LISA SAL­MON THEIR TOP TIPS FOR COU­PLES HOP­ING TO CON­CEIVE

Coventry Telegraph - - FAMILY MATTERS -

AROUND one in seven UK cou­ples – amount­ing to some 3.5 mil­lion peo­ple – have dif­fi­culty con­ceiv­ing.

And while some might end up need­ing tests and med­i­cal sup­port – ac­cord­ing to the NHS, for cou­ples who’ve been try­ing with no luck for more than three years, the like­li­hood of get­ting preg­nant nat­u­rally within the next 12 months is around 25% or less – there are lots of steps men and women can take to help op­ti­mise their chances.

Here, a fer­til­ity doc­tor, phar­ma­cist and clin­i­cal nu­tri­tion­ist share 12 top tips for cou­ples try­ing to con­ceive...

MAX­IMISE YOUR NUTRI­TION

DR PHIL BOYLE, right, a con­sul­tant in re­pro­duc­tive medicine at Dublin’s Neo Fer­til­ity clinic, says it’s im­por­tant to op­ti­mise nutri­tion in prepa­ra­tion for preg­nancy, but warns: “Don’t be taken in by trendy di­ets. While it’s al­ways a good idea to cut down on pro­cessed foods, don’t cut out cer­tain food groups or skip meals. “In­stead, opt for a bal­anced diet rich in nu­tri­ents, vi­ta­mins and min­er­als to help give you the best chances of preg­nancy.” He says tak­ing a sup­ple­ment with a com­pre­hen­sive for­mu­la­tion can also be a good idea. Women should also take some­thing that in­cludes B vi­ta­mins and mag­ne­sium as well as folic acid, he adds, while men can help boost the qual­ity of their sperm with se­le­nium and argi­nine.

DON’T FOR­GET YOUR RE­LA­TION­SHIP

IF you’ve been try­ing for a baby longer than ex­pected, it may take a toll on your re­la­tion­ship.

“Try to ac­tively in­vest in your re­la­tion­ship by tak­ing the time to do the things you both en­joy, and make sure you talk to each other about how you feel,” sug­gests Dr Boyle.

MEN MAT­TER TOO

AL­THOUGH men tend to think they’ll be able to con­ceive for­ever, this isn’t the case, stresses Dr Boyle, who says men need to un­der­stand the im­por­tance of hav­ing good qual­ity sperm for a healthy preg­nancy.

“Af­ter 40, the qual­ity of men’s sperm de­clines. Older men try­ing for a baby may ex­pe­ri­ence a low sperm count, poor motil­ity and dam­age to the DNA,” he ex­plains.

CHECK MED­I­CA­TION

LAURA DOWL­ING, a phar­macy man­ager aka Fab­u­lous Phar­ma­cist, ad­vises cou­ples to pop into their lo­cal phar­macy and have a chat about any med­i­ca­tion they’re tak­ing. “They’ll tell you if they’re safe to con­tinue tak­ing while try­ing to con­ceive and in early preg­nancy, and whether you need to visit your GP to dis­cuss alternatives.”

PLAN AHEAD

STOP tak­ing birth con­trol medicine a cou­ple of months be­fore try­ing for a baby, ad­vises Laura, pic­tured. “There’s no risk in try­ing straight away, it just helps to date your preg­nancy once you con­ceive,” she says. “Many also find it help­ful to track their pe­ri­ods for a few months, to make it eas­ier to pin­point when they’re ovu­lat­ing.”

BE CARE­FUL WITH LU­BRI­CANTS

MANY cou­ples use lu­bri­cants – but check the la­bels or ask your

phar­ma­cist for ad­vice about the best brands to use, as many con­tain sper­mi­cide which can ham­per con­cep­tion.

ACT LIKE YOU’RE PREG­NANT

LAURA says that by fol­low­ing some of the life­style rules you’ll adopt once preg­nant, such as re­duc­ing caf­feine and al­co­hol in­take, you could help im­prove your chances of con­ceiv­ing. “Eat well, sleep well, and party a lit­tle less,” she sug­gests.

MAIN­TAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT

PUB­LIC health nu­tri­tion­ist Gaye God­kin, right, warns that be­ing over­weight de­creases the chances of con­cep­tion in both men and women, as fat cells may dis­rupt the func­tion­ing of the sex glands and in­ter­fere with ‘hor­monal har­mony’.

“To re­duce tummy fat, avoid eat­ing pro­cessed car­bo­hy­drates and aim to elim­i­nate all sug­ars and foods con­tain­ing pro­cessed fats. Re­place these with good qual­ity pro­tein and veg­eta­bles.”

DON’T OVERDO SWEET TREATS

ONLY eat sweet treats in mod­er­a­tion, adds Gaye. Con­sum­ing too many trans­fats, found in foods like cake and bis­cuits, may in­ter­fere with the del­i­cate sig­nalling be­tween male and fe­male hor­mones.

NAIL YOUR IRON IN­TAKE

RED blood cells de­liver oxy­gen to the ovaries, which is im­por­tant as if they re­ceive in­suf­fi­cient oxy­gen and iron, the eggs can be­come less vi­able.

Gaye says stud­ies show lack of iron can cause anovu­la­tion, when a woman doesn’t ovu­late as her egg may be in poor health.

Rich food sources of iron in­clude lamb liver, red meat and fish.

Vege­tar­i­ans and ve­gans may need to keep an ex­tra check on their iron in­take – lentils, kid­ney beans and green leafy veg like kale and spinach are among good non-meat sources – and pos­si­bly con­sider top­ping up with sup­ple­ments if diet alone isn’t pro­vid­ing enough.

FAN­TAS­TIC FISH

OMEGA 3 is im­por­tant to help sup­port sperm motil­ity, and it’s also in­volved in fe­male hor­mone sig­nalling and hor­monal bal­anc­ing, says Gaye.

The body can’t make omega 3 fats, so it must be con­sumed in the diet, and the best sources are oily fish such as mack­erel, sar­dines, an­chovies, sal­mon and trout.

Zinc is an­other es­sen­tial fer­til­ity nu­tri­ent – men need it for sperm health and im­mune func­tion, and women need it to reg­u­late hor­mone pro­cesses. Zinc is abundant in fish, par­tic­u­larly shell­fish and oys­ters.

SWITCH TO DE­CAF

DRINK­ING ex­cess caf­feine can in­crease pro­duc­tion of the stress hor­mone adren­a­line, and Gaye says high lev­els of adren­a­line can in­ter­fere with the in­trauter­ine en­vi­ron­ment, egg qual­ity and male sperm pro­duc­tion. It also de­pletes the body of many es­sen­tial nu­tri­ents re­quired for con­cep­tion, in­clud­ing vi­ta­min C, B and mag­ne­sium. If try­ing to con­ceive, try to avoid or re­duce cof­fee con­sump­tion or switch to de­caf­feinated cof­fee, and elim­i­nate caf­feinated sug­ary drinks from your diet.

It is the dream of most cou­ples – a lit­tle bun­dle of joy – but get­ting preg­nant is not al­ways easy

Tak­ing a few sim­ple steps can make con­ceiv­ing much more straight­for­ward

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