Trying to conceive can be an exciting yet stressful time for both men and women. Some are able to get pregnant immediately but, for some, it takes what seems like forever.
Whether you are trying to conceive your first or tenth child, there are some simple things you can do to boost your fertility.
Although there are a lot of claims in the media that certain food types or supplements can boost fertility, many are not backed by science.
Below, we outline ten science-based ways that men and women can improve their chances of conceiving.
1: Maintain a healthy weight
Ideally, most women would love to be the “perfect weight,” but the ideal weight for each individual may not be the ideal weight for fertility.
People who are on either side of the spectrum, overweight or underweight, may find it difficult to conceive.
Weight can affect hormonal regulation and therefore affect ovulation. Maintaining a healthy body weight can help regulate normal ovulation and increase the probability of conceiving.
2: Keep sperm healthy
Most women concentrate on the health of their eggs, timing of ovulation, and egg quality; however, sperm health is also important.
Quantity, movement, and structure are all important components of sperm health, and there are a range of things men can do (or avoid) to help maintain healthy sperm.
In an attempt to keep sperm healthy, men are encouraged to maintain a healthy body weight, eat a healthy diet, prevent sexually transmitted diseases, manage stress, and exercise regularly.
Avoiding smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, avoiding toxins such as pesticides and chemicals are all steps that can be taken to promote sperm health.
Keeping the scrotum cool is a topic of debate and research is not conclusive on the effect of heat and sperm production; however, making sure the testicles do not get too hot (in tight underwear, for instance), may be sensible.
Consider wearing loose-fitting underwear, spend less time sitting, and avoid heat sources such as saunas and hot tubs. It may also be sensible to keep laptops and cell phones away from the scrotum.
3: Prevent sexually transmitted diseases
Avoiding sexually transmitted diseases (STD) is recommended to not only protect overall health, but also fertility. Gonorrhea and chlamydia, in particular, cause fertility problems in both men and women.
There are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of contracting an STD. First and foremost it is a good idea to always use condoms and limit the number of sexual partners.
Individuals in a monogamous relationship should make sure their partner has been tested and does not have an STD.
4: Have sex
If you are in a heterosexual relationship and trying to conceive, it is best to have vaginal sex often, especially during a woman’s fertile time of the month.
On average, the most fertile days of a woman’s menstrual cycle include the 5 days prior to ovulation (release of an egg), the day of and 2-3 days following ovulation. This is 10-16 days after a period if cycles are normally 28 days.
Having sex every day or two increases the chances of catching that fertile time.
5: Choosing lubrication
Some couples may require lubrication for intercourse, but not all lubes are created equal.
Lubricants can be either purchased at the store or found in our own kitchens. If you are looking for a “home remedy,” consider using baby oil, canola oil, or egg whites.
When purchasing over-the-counter lubricants, consider one that has been designed with fertility in mind.
Sperm motility can be inhibited by up to 100 percent when water-based lubricants, such as Astroglide, KY Jelly, and Touch are used. However, some have been created especially for people who want to become parents.
6: Drink alcohol wisely
Both men and women need to exercise caution in choosing beverages in order to increase their chances of improved fertility.
In men, alcohol in excess can decrease the production of testosterone, cause impotence, and contribute to a decrease in sperm produced by the body.
In women, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to certain ovulation disorders, and this affects their ability to conceive.
7: Minimize coffee consumption
In addition to alcohol consumption, caffeine can play a role in infertility when consuming 500 milligrams or more per day; this equates to about 5 cups of coffee.
Recommended daily limits of caffeine consumption is about 200-250 milligrams daily.
8: Do not smoke
We all know that smoking is bad for general health, but it can also affect a woman’s ability to become pregnant. A pregnant women needs to quit smoking.
Smoking in men can lead to decreased sperm production, decreased motility, and cause DNA damage; in women, it can also prematurely age the ovaries.
9: Stop excessive exercise
While exercise is good for overall health, when trying to conceive, vigorous exercise can be more harmful than good.
Excessive (more than 5 hours per week), vigorous exercise can lead to fertility problems due to suppression of both ovulation and the hormone progesterone.
Everyone has differing fitness expectations and levels of physical activity, so speaking with is a doctor is important to determine how much physical activity is best for each individual.
10: Beware of toxins
Certain chemicals can contribute to male and female infertility.
Men and women exposed to pesticides, lead, and organic solvents may experience fertility problems.
Certain professions, such as printers, dry cleaners, industrial or agricultural workers, hair stylists, and dental assistants may increase their risks of infertility due to exposure to certain job-related chemicals.
Anyone who is concerned about their fertility and personal risk factors should speak with their doctor.