YOUR 5 FERTILITY BOOSTERS
Experts have identified the five most important factors that can have a significant impact on your fertility
We are born with all the eggs we will ever have. As we grow older, our eggs age too, diminishing in quantity and quality. We cannot control our age, but we can sometimes control when we choose to start a family.
The older we get, the longer it takes to conceive and the risk of not falling pregnant increases. At 30, the chance of conceiving each month is about 20 percent; at 40, it is around five percent.
The age of the father at the time of conception is also an important factor. Assisted reproductive methods such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF) can help, but cannot overcome the effects of age.
Women who are overweight or obese have a lower chance of getting pregnant. Obesity can affect fertility by causing hormonal imbalances and problems with ovulation, particularly for obese women having their first baby.
If you are overweight and planning to get pregnant, committing to healthy eating and regular exercise is the key – even losing a few kilos can make a big difference. Your partner’s weight can also affect your chances of conceiving.
For those who are overweight, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common cause of infertility. It affects up to one in five women of reproductive age (see PCOS, pg 59).
One way to measure whether you are overweight is to work out your BMI. You calculate your BMI by dividing your weight in kg by the square of your height in meters – or go online to search for a “BMI calculator”.
A healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. Having a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered “overweight” and a BMI over 30 is considered “obese”.
Commit to healthy eating and regular exercise
Women who smoke or are exposed to second-hand smoke have a higher risk of infertility. Passive smoking is only slightly less harmful to fertility than smoking. Smoking affects each stage of reproduction, including egg and sperm maturation, hormone production, embryo transport and the uterus. It can also damage the DNA in both the egg and the sperm. If you and your partner smoke, quitting together is a great way to boost your fertility.
4. Heavy Drinking
Heavy drinking can cause irregular or heavy periods and increase the length of time it takes to get pregnant.
Experts recommend no more than two standard drinks a day for healthy women, but if you are already pregnant or planning to get pregnant, abstaining from drinking is the safest option.
5. Timing It Right
The five days before ovulation through to the day of ovulation is the only time you can get pregnant. These six days are the fertile window in a woman’s cycle.
If you have sex six or more days before you ovulate, the chances of pregnancy is virtually zero. If you have sex five days before ovulation, the likelihood of pregnancy is about 10 percent. The probability rises until the two days before and including the day of ovulation.
At the end of the fertile window, the chances of pregnancy decline rapidly. Within 12 to 24 hours after ovulation, you are no longer able to get pregnant in that cycle.
If you are unsure when you ovulate, having sex every two or three days will boost your chances of conceiving.
About 30 percent of fertility problems originate in the woman; 30 percent originate in the man and 30 percent in both partners. No cause is found in one in 10 couples, referred to as “unexplained” infertility.
The five days before ovulation is when you can get pregnant