YOUR 5 FER­TIL­ITY BOOST­ERS

Ex­perts have iden­ti­fied the five most im­por­tant fac­tors that can have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on your fer­til­ity

Women's Weekly (Malaysia) - - INSPIRE -

1. Age

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.

2. Weight

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

3. Smok­ing

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.

FACT

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

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