Fertility: Do’s and Dont’s

When trying for a baby; age, nutrition, lifestyle and relationships are just some of the bigger factors to think about, but making small changes can also have a positive impact on your journey. We’ve pulled together some essential do’s and dont’s with fertility expert Zita West to help get you on the right track for conception.

Fertility: The Facts

Consider trying for a baby as soon as you come off the pill – you may be more fertile in the early months after you’ve stopped taking it.

Expect your cycles to be regular when you come off the pill, however there can be disturbances (irregular cycles) for up to 9 months. If your cycles do not return after 2-3 months, seek advice from your GP.

Start to understand your cycles – observe the changes in cervical secretions as they provide the best indicator of fertility. The start of the fertile time is signalled by the first appearance of sticky white secretions. The secretions progressively become wetter, more transparent and stretchy – the perfect conditions for the sperm to survive waiting for the egg to be released.

Find out when your mother went through the menopause – if she’s had an early menopause it may be an indicator that you will too, so think about having a baby earlier.

Focus too much on your temperature – it can start to make you obsessive and is not the best indicator for planning pregnancy as it does not give you any forewarning of ovulation. It only confirms that ovulation has happened (so is too late). Also, temperature is influenced by many factors such as; late nights, sleeplessness and medications. Following your cycle is a much more effective way of tracking your fertile time. Try the First Response Ovulation calculator as an easy way to find out your fertile time.

Compare your cycle to other women’s – every woman’s fertile window is different and is dependent on the length of the cycle, so will vary.

Know when you should take a pregnancy test – you can find out if you are pregnant one day before any other test on the market with First Response – try out our Test day calculator to find out when you should be testing.

Give up hope if your test is negative. Keep trying and you may want to test again in a few days time as your hormone levels may be too low to be detected.

Eat foods as close to their natural state as possible. Consume plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, good quality meats and lots of nuts and seeds.

Consume processed foods or trans fats, and avoid alcohol and smoking when trying to conceive.

Have sex at least three times a week as this keeps the sperm fresh and healthy. Remember that a man’s sperm will last an average of 2-3 days inside a woman’s body (potentially up to a week). So, ensure there is a constant supply of sperm in the fallopian tubes ready for ovulation.

Have oral sex around ovulation – saliva is a digestive enzyme and has a very damaging effect on sperm.

Put pressure on one another - this could just encourage tension in your relationship. It is virtually impossible for a man (or woman) to feel aroused when under pressure. This results in lack of lubrication for a woman or difficulties with erections or ejaculation for a man. It is the same mechanism for men as for women and requires a relaxed mental state.

Give it time – it can often take up to a year to get pregnant.

Let yourself get too stressed – excessive amounts of stress hormones can interfere with the reproductive hormones, suppress ovulation and create a loss of libido. Try relaxation techniques and take 20 minutes out a day to relax as this can really benefit hormonal balance.

Men should avoid heat sources that could affect sperm production - testicles need to be 2 degrees centigrade below normal body temperature. So try to keep clear of jacuzzis, steam rooms, tight boxer shorts, laptops balanced in the lap, marathon running and long distance cycling.

Stop exercising. It is important you maintain a healthy level of exercise and continue what you like doing. It can reduce stress levels, regulate blood sugar, promote good circulation to the reproductive organs and lift mood. Exercising to exhaustion should be avoided. Moderation is the key.

Talk to your partner and be sensitive about their feelings – trying for a baby can be a frustrating and stressful time and it’s easy for communication to break down.

Share too much information with your partner – you don’t need to know EVERYTHING about each other. Try to preserve some mystique to balance your relationship.