10 fertility dos and don’ts
Expert advice if you're struggling to fall pregnant.
The first step when you have a fertility concern is to contact your GP. Here are some of the questions that you should be ready to ask
If you have tried unsuccessfully to become pregnant it is normal to consult with your doctor. However, you will want to make the most out of your appointment, so you should arrive ready.
There are a number of things you can do to prepare.
Your doctor will need information such as when you started trying to conceive and how often you’ve had intercourse, especially around the midpoint of your cycle — the time of ovulation.
Key medical Information
Include any other medical conditions you or your partner have, as well as information about any previous evaluations or treatments for infertility. Make a list of any medications, vitamins, herbs or other supplements you take.
Include the doses and how often you take them.
Make a list of questions to ask your doctor. Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor to repeat information or to ask follow-up questions.
Below are some examples of questions you could include on your list
• What are the possible reasons we haven’t yet conceived?
• What kinds of tests do we need?
• What treatment do you recommend trying first?
• What side effects are associated with the treatment you’re recommending?
• What is the likelihood of conceiving multiple babies with the treatment you’re recommending?
• For how many cycles will we try this treatment?
• If the first treatment doesn’t work, what will you recommend trying next?
• Are there any long-term complications associated with this or other infertility treatments?
10 fertility dos and don’ts
Do see a specialist
If you want to have a baby and you have been trying unsuccessfully for a year you should ask a specialist for help. If you are over 35, you should only wait six months. The sooner you see a physician, the more likely you are to get pregnant.
Don’t assume IVF is the only way
Many couples believe that if they’re not having any luck conceiving on their own, IVF is the only option left for getting pregnant. IVF can be expensive which makes it a daunting prospect for some couples. It is important to remember that there are a wide range of fertility treatment options available.
Do cut back on coffee
Stop or cut back on drinking coffee. Having more than four cups a day can result in infertility issues.
Don’t drink alcohol
Stop drinking alcohol, especially if you have trouble ovulating. Even one drink a day can increase infertility by 30 per cent; two drinks a day doubles that percentage. The reason? Alcohol increases the hormone prolactin, which inhibits the two hormones necessary for ovulation: FSH and GnRH. If you are pregnant, then you should avoid both alcohol and caffeine completely.
Do watch the temperature
For the male partner, avoiding extreme heat helps optimise living conditions for sperm. As such, men trying to conceive should avoid hot tubs. If you can’t stay out of the tub, at least turn the temperature down to 35°C.
Also, don’t take the term ‘laptop’ so literally. Laptop computers emit heat and should not be placed directly on the lap for extended periods of time.
If you are a smoker, quit immediately. This applies to both men and women. The risk of infertility among smokers may be twice that of non-smokers. If a male partner is a heavy smoker, this will significantly contribute to delayed conception. The good news? It’s estimated that most of the negative effects of smoking on fertility are reversed a year after stopping smoking.
Do check your thyroid
Get your thyroid levels checked. Even if they test within the normal range, if you have a tendency to be constipated, intolerant to cold, have dry skin or thinning hair, and your temperature hovers around 98.2 degrees or less, there’s a good chance that your thyroid is slightly underactive.
Don’t blame yourself
Infertility is more common than you may think. One in six couples experience it. And it can be caused by the female or male partner. In some cases, it’s caused by both. There is no point wasting your energy beating yourself up over something that’s out of your control.
Do seek support
Yes, infertility can be stressful. But stress is not going to help you get pregnant any faster. There are plenty of other women who aren’t getting pregnant either. Ask your doctor or fertility specialist to recommend a local support group.
Alternatively, you could confide in a close friend or family member. At first, it may seem hard to open up, but the support that follows can be rewarding. It is also important to communicate with your partner.
Don’t lose hope
Keep in mind success rates of fertility treatments are high. For many couples, infertility is a temporary crisis. Don’t lose hope.