Every New Year marks new beginnings, new goals, and a fresh start. For some, the goal of parenthood is on their list for 2015.
Here are 10 helpful tips from Dr. Chris Sipe of Fertility Centers of Illinois that can help empower couples to approach conception with confidence and knowledge.
“We want everyone to be excited about starting this new chapter of their lives, and knowledge is power,” explains Dr. Chris Sipe. “Lifestyle changes and basic fertility knowledge can help couples increase their chances to have the baby of their dreams in the New Year."
1. Map Out a Blueprint
If you know exactly what you are working with, you can arrive at your desired destination more quickly. A Fertility Awareness Check-Up can give fast, easy insight to your fertility potential, at an affordable cost of $90 per couple. Men undergo a semen analysis performed by specialized laboratory professionals to evaluate semen count, shape (morphology) and movement (motility). Women undergo two simple blood tests known as FSH and Estradiol to help evaluate ovarian function and fertility potential, as well as an ultrasound.
2. Know Your Fertility Short-Cuts
When it comes to getting pregnant, timing sex with ovulation is imperative. Every month when a woman releases an egg into the fallopian tubes during ovulation, it only survives 24 hours. Sperm can survive in the uterus for up to five days after sex, therefore regular sexual activity during ovulation and in the days leading up to ovulation will greatly increase conception odds. In order to know when you’re ovulating, track your cycle every month using an ovulation calendar. Ovulation kits can also help when trying to conceive. If your period is irregular, you may not be ovulating regularly. If you are concerned about whether you are ovulating regularly, consult a physician to learn more.
3. Combine the East and West for a Balanced Approach
When you’re trying to conceive, or even pursuing fertility treatment, everyone always tells you to relax. The truth is the trying can become, well, very trying. Boost your chances of conception with alternative treatments such as acupuncture, yoga, and massage. Pulling Down the Moon offers all of these options and more, allowing your stress and anxiety to melt into relaxation and bliss. If you’re up for the challenge, they have also created a DIY 12-week holistic program called Fully Fertile to naturally increase fertility, with local chapters near you for support through the process.
4. Keep the Bedroom Fertility-Friendly
You may be accidentally decreasing your chances of conception without even realizing it. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, commercially available water-based lubricants, such as Astroglide, KY Jelly, and Touch, may inhibit sperm motility by 60% to 100% within 60 minutes of intercourse. Opt for canola oil or Pre-Seed oil instead.
5. Work Towards a Fertility-Friendly Weight
Extra weight introduces a host of fertility issues for both men and women. Extra weight causes hormonal shifts that can affect ovulation and semen production, hurting your ability to conceive. Increased weight can also make achieving a pregnancy more difficult, and can cause complications during gestation. The positive news is that losing as little as 5 percent to 10 percent of body weight can significantly improve fertility potential. The ideal Body Mass Index (BMI) falls in the 20-25 range. BMI levels from 25-30 are considered overweight, while BMI levels above 30 are considered obese. See where you fall on the BMI scale and set a New Year’s fertility goal to climb closer to that weight. You may conceive before you know it!
6. Nourish Your Body
A nourished, healthy body is a fertile body. The Mayo Clinic has found that Vitamin C can help in ovulation disorders, while Coenzyme Q10 has been found to increase sperm count and sperm motility. Vitamin E can also improve low sperm count, as does Folic Acid. Regular doses of Folic Acid also aid in the prevention of birth defects. Stock up your vitamin cabinet with nourishing supplements – and stack the odds in your favor.
7. Feed Your Fertility
A Harvard study found that women who maintained a whole food, primarily plant-based diet were able to increase their fertility six-fold. Men aren’t off the hook either – high fat diets have been found to decrease sperm count. Fill your refrigerator and pantry with whole grains, fruits, and vegetables while avoiding thick cuts of meat and refined carbohydrates such as white bread and cookies. If navigating a new dietary world seems a bit overwhelming, consult the help of a nutritionist or dietitian. There are also programs available such as FirstLine Therapy for Fertility that can guide you through a fertility-rich diet while assisting in weight loss.
8. Ask Questions, Lots of Questions
If you’re trying to conceive, know that you aren’t the first to start this journey (this should hopefully provide some comfort). It takes the average couple six months to conceive, and there is only a 20-25 percent chance of pregnancy in any given month. Talk to your friends and your family, and ask about their experiences. If you’re considering talking to a fertility specialist, don’t just look at success rates for babies born. Ask your physician what their experience is in treating patients with similar medical diagnoses (such as endometriosis, low sperm count, polycystic ovarian syndrome, low ovarian reserve), center statistics on twins and multiple births, and possible treatment plans.
9. Have One Glass of Wine
High alcohol intake of more than nine drinks per week is associated with decreased fertility. Low alcohol use (four drinks per week) seems to have no impact on fertility while moderate alcohol use (4-9 drinks per week) appears to be associated with an increased chance of conceiving. Drinking is ok – but don’t drink more than moderately. When pregnant however, there is no known safe level of alcohol. Drinking during pregnancy is not advisable.
10. Rest Up for the Ride
Sleep is the body’s way of healing and resting. When your body doesn’t get the sleep it needs, there can be disastrous side effects, whether you are trying to conceive or not. Research shows that the hormone leptin, which has a critical role in female fertility, is reduced when the body is deprived of sleep. Make it a priority to get at least seven hours of sleep a night. Your body will thank you for it!