From ovulation to birth control , the most effective sex positions to “ fertility windows,” getting pregnant can prove to be a minefield of facts, fads and questions which send stress levels through the roof and ironically do more harm than good when it comes to your chances of conception success. Plus with IVF and other fertility treatments getting bad press, knowing what you can do yourself is more important than ever.
If the royal baby news has left you feeling broody and perhaps inspired you to get a wiggle on with hearing the pitter patter of tiny feet in the not-so-distant future, we're here to help clear up the conception confusion. Naturopathic Doctor and fertility and nutrition expert Susannah Makram reveals 15 factors to bear in mind should you be on the path to pregnancy...
1. Use your fertile dates
"When trying to conceive, frequent sex during a woman's fertile period is recommended – which, according to a study done by the New England Journal of Medicine, is the six days immediately prior to ovulation."
2. Regular sex is key
"Sex prepares the woman's body for childbearing and raises the hormonal level associated with it. Research suggests that having sex every day can improve sperm quality and could boost the chances of getting pregnant, but this has not been proven in fertile men."
3. Obesity matters
"Being obese can reduce the quantity and quality of sperm in men. Health problems secondary to obesity, such as heart disease and diabetes, may affect a man’s ability to get an erection. An extra four or five points on a man's BMI (body mass index) can age his testosterone levels by 10 years."
4. “Fertility windows” are real
"The 'fertility window' is a scientific fact. Fecundity is the physiological capacity to conceive."
5. ...but only for women
"Women eventually reach menopause and stop releasing eggs but a man can usually produce sperm throughout his lifetime."
6. You can be a better host
"You can extend your 'fertility window' - two days before the ovulation day - by creating a vaginal 'sperm-friendly' environment that assists in protecting the sperm and extending sperm lifespan. Regular sex actually helps to create this environment. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the optimal pH for vaginal mucus to be hospitable to sperm is between 7.0 and 8.5."
7. Age is a factor
"It is not only the number but also the quality of a woman’s eggs that is reduced by the passing years. Over time, a woman's eggs can end up with too many or too few chromosomes - the strands of packaged DNA that contain our genes. The chromosomal abnormalities lead to infertility, stillbirth or birth defects such as Down's syndrome."
8. Egg freezing might not work
" Freezing eggs for future use, a technique still in the early stages of development, does not guarantee baby making success."
9. Miscarriage doesn't have to hold you back
"An estimated 8 - 20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. In the past, women who miscarried were told to wait 2 to 3 months. Today the thinking has changed, since several studies show no increased risk with shorter intervals between pregnancies."
10. Staying active will help
"According to the WHO, sexual health is a physical, mental and social wellbeing in relation to sexuality. Although scientific facts remain, age is more than a number. Grandparents are increasingly contributing to childcare arrangements so it is worth considering fitness with regards to keeping active and healthy if you intend to look after young children."
11. The health conditions that affect fertility
"Ageing affects ovulation, but so do other health conditions. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the most common cause of infertility in women, interferes with ovulation, as does primary ovarian insufficiency (POI). Endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) can block the fallopian tubes and uterine fibroids can hinder fertility in several ways."
12. Pregnancy and PCOS
"Pregnancy IS possible with PCOS if it's managed properly. This means following your specialist’s advice and taking any necessary prescriptions prior to conception, then maintaining a healthy lifestyle and close monitoring during all three trimesters of your pregnancy."
13. Which sexual position’s best?
"There is no scientific evidence to recommend one sexual position over another for conception. The angle of the vagina is designed to take semen where it needs to be and cervical mucus helps sperm along. Sperm are chemically motivated to get to the egg!"
14. The Pill won't cause problems
"The Pill hasn't been shown to affect a woman's fertility negatively. Some women do experience post-Pill amenorrhea and don't have a period for a few months after stopping their birth control regimen. Every woman is different, so her body may just be adjusting to the change in hormones. If three months pass with no period, she should consult a specialist."
15. ...But it may mask them
"What's true, however, is that women on the Pill may discover that they have ovulation problems that affect fertility only when they stop taking it: the Pill can mask the symptoms of irregular or absent periods. But this method of birth control itself isn't the root of any fertility issues."
Susannah is a Naturopathic Doctor of Nutrition and Osteopath who uses functional medicine, special testing and clinically applied nutrition to provide tailored care and management for fertility concerns of both men and women. You can find out more about Susannah, who she can help and about the expert team she works with here www.susannahmakram.com .