If you are ready to become a mum, it is only natural to want to fall pregnant as soon as possible. However, getting pregnant is not always as easy, and you may need to give nature a helping hand.
To increase your chances of conceiving, follow these top tips for boosting your fertility.
Maintain a healthy weight
When it comes to fertility, being too thin is as bad as being too fat. To up your odds of conceiving, aim for a body mass index (BMI) of between 20 and 25.
Sticking to a healthy, varied diet will help you to take in many of the vitamins and minerals you need for optimum well-being, but when you are trying to get pregnant, you may need to take some additional supplements as well. Your doctor may recommend that you take 400 micrograms of folic acid each day to provide yourself with the best possible chance of getting pregnant.
Watch your alcohol intake
Excessive alcohol consumption can cause imbalances in the hormones that control your menstrual cycle, reducing your chance of conceiving. Long term heavy drinking can even cause you to stop ovulating altogether.
Although you should avoid excessive consumption of alcohol, there is no evidence to suggest that sticking to the recommended guidelines of two to three units a day will adversely affect your fertility.
Cigarette smoking can reduce your fertility by affecting the production of the hormones necessary for pregnancy. It also makes it more difficult for a fertilised egg to make its way through your Fallopian tubes to your womb. Quitting smoking will therefore improve your chances of conceiving.
Avoid sexually transmitted infections
When left untreated, sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea, can permanently damage your Fallopian tubes, causing you to suffer fertility problems. If you think you might have a sexually transmitted infection, visit your local sexual health clinic for prompt diagnosis and treatment.
Cut down on caffeine
Studies have shown that the more caffeine you drink, the less likely you are to conceive. While you can enjoy a cup of coffee a day, do not exceed the recommended limit of 200 milligrams a day.
According to recent research, stress may play a role in up to one third of all infertility problems. Whilst the way in which stress affects fertility is yet to be determined, it is likely that hormones such as cortisol, which rise when you are under stress, have an impact.
Avoiding stress – and adopting stress reduction techniques at times when stress is unavoidable – will make it easier for you to become pregnant.
Avoid exposure to harmful substances
Exposure to pesticides, especially those used in the agricultural industry, may harm your fertility. Some solvents and toxins, including those found in paints, can also reduce your chances of conceiving.
If, despite your best efforts, you do not fall pregnant within a year, visit your GP. He or she will be able to run some tests to identify possible fertility problems, and provide you with expert advice on your next steps.