Whether you’re a man or a woman and you’re hoping to become a parent one day, it’s important that you understand more about your fertility and how you can potentially increase your chances of conceiving naturally. Unfortunately, even in the twenty-first century, infertility remains a fairly taboo subject and we have limited information about it. As a result, there are lots of misconceptions surrounding infertility, one being that it’s purely suffered by women. However, as many as one in six couples face fertility problems when trying to conceive and must therefore turn to IVF or other treatments to help, and 30% of these cases are due to problems with male fertility.
Most people are already aware that as a woman ages, her fertility starts to decline. Once she reaches menopause, she will no longer be able to conceive. However, age isn’t the only factor at play. There are other things that can interfere with fertility and sometimes, as mentioned above, it’s nothing to do with the woman. Men have biological clocks too and their sperm quality starts to decline after the age of 40.
There are ways for men and women to preserve their fertility if they are not ready to have a baby. Eggs, sperm, and embryos can be frozen for later use, although it is crucial to bear in mind that no treatment can 100% guarantee success.
Both men and women should consider their lifestyles. Do you smoke or drink alcohol on a regular basis? If so, it’s important to stop. You should also consider your weight. Overweight men may have unbalanced testosterone, which will make it difficult to conceive. Women who exercise excessively may interfere with their menstrual cycle. With that said, both men and women should aim for a healthy weight by eating a nutritious diet and keeping exercise to a moderate level.
Vitamin C can improve semen quality and Vitamin D may boost testosterone levels. Foods with folic acid will improve the chances of a woman conceiving or having successful fertility treatment and will also reduce the likelihood of birth defects in the baby. Both men and women should aim to eat plenty of fruit, vegetables, oily fish and whole grains, so that their bodies have enough nutrition and antioxidants to help conceive and grow a baby.
Getting enough sleep is also crucial for a healthy reproductive system. Women who do not sleep enough, or have poor quality sleep, may not produce a healthy amount of the luteinizing hormone (LH) which could prevent ovulation and cause irregular periods. Lack of sleep in men can also affect the maturation of their sperm, so sleep is important for both parties. You should aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
Women on birth control who would like to start trying for a baby will obviously need to stop. Condoms can be used right up until you would like to start trying, but if you are on the pill or implant you may have to stop/have it removed sooner. This is because it will take some time for your menstrual cycle, and therefore your fertility, to regulate once you’ve stopped.
If you’d like to start trying for a baby, it would be worth booking in an appointment with your GP for a full health check-up. They will be able to determine whether or not your body is in optimal shape to conceive. What’s more, they will also be able to answer any questions you may have and suggest some vitamin supplements you could potentially add to your diet.