WHAT ARE THE ODDS?
For a young couple, your chances of conceiving by having sexual intercourse around the time of ovulation are about one in five every month. Fertility problems are not suspected until the couple has tried and failed to conceive for at least one year
Work out the length of your menstrual cycle. Day one is the first day of your period and the last day is the day before the next period begins.
If you have 28 days between periods, ovulation typically happens on day 14, and the most fertile days are days 12, 13 and 14.
If you have longer cycles, say 35 days between periods, ovulation happens on day 21 and the most fertile days are days 19, 20 and 21.
If you have shorter cycles, say 21 days between periods, ovulation happens on day 7 and the most fertile days are days 5, 6 and 7.
TAKING CARE OF YOU
Not everyone experiences fertility problems, but if you do, you are often left dealing with feelings of anxiety, worry, sadness, distress and anger. Having fertility treatments like IVF can add to the stress.
YOUR EMOTIONAL WELLBEING
If you have difficulty getting pregnant, you will likely experience a mix of emotions:
You may also end up being diagnosed with a condition like PCOS, endometriosis or premature menopause, which can add to your distress. Talking to a doctor, counsellor or psychologist can help you to cope with these emotions.
If you choose to undergo IVF, consider having fertility counselling, preferably before starting the treatment, to prepare you for the emotional times ahead as well as to cope with any unsuccessful treatments or other issues.
About 35,000 women per year in Australia and New Zealand go through the emotional rollercoaster of IVF treatment. In the 40 to 44 age group, only 6.6 perent of IVF cases are successful.
While the evidence is not conclusive, studies have shown that high levels of caffeine consumption might prolong the time it takes to get pregnant. One study showed women who drank more than 500mg of caffeine daily took 11 percent longer to conceive than those who had less. Professor Robert Norman, an expert in reproductive medicine at the University of Adelaide, advises cutting out coffee and caffeinated drinks if you are trying for a baby.
Sufficient intake of antioxidants aids female and male reproductive function. Eat a variety of fruit and veggies in a range of colours.
Avoid trans fats, found in store-bought cakes, potato chips, fast food, powdered soups and margarine. Instead, opt for extra-virgin olive oil, avocado and coconut oil.
Spinach, asparagus and broccoli are high in B vitamin folate, which can help prevent neural tube defects like spinal bifida. It has also been found to reduce the risk of ovulation problems.
ZINC AND SELENIUM
These are both important minerals for female and male fertility. Sunflower seeds are packed with zinc. For selenium, Brazil nuts are the best source.
Citrus fruit, strawberries, broccoli and tomatoes are all good sources. Vitamin C can help your body absorb iron more easily, and iron is a particularly important mineral for women who want to become pregnant.
Reducing the glycaemic load may boost sterility. Replace white foods like rice, pasta, bread and sugar with wholegrain options. Find out more on gisymbol.com or read The Low-GI Diet Handbook by Jennie Brand-Miller.
LESS ANIMAL PRODUCE
Choose plant sources of protein, eg. nuts, beans and seeds, and only go for animal protein occasionally.
Vitamin B12 has been linked with prevention of miscarriage. A deficiency in B12 can be an issue for vegans. Boost your levels with a supplement.
Recent studies suggest vitamin D supplementation could be beneficial for couples who are trying IVF. Vitamin D is also important for egg cell maturation and sperm quality.