We’ve put together a comprehensive list of tricks and treatments to help you conceive and some common reasons why you can’t get pregnant. The tips aren’t just for you either – we’ve also included some handy ways to boost male fertility which your partner should think about doing to help you get pregnant.
Give up alcohol
Stable blood sugar helps with hormone production and drinking alcohol can make your blood sugar level go up and down.
Your partner should also cut down or cut out alcohol to give you the best chance of conceiving – according to statistics, if your partner drinks more than 4 units of alcohol a week, your chances of getting pregnant are lowered by a third.
Smoking decreases fertility in both men and women. Women who smoke are twice as likely to be infertile as women who don’t. Studies also suggest that smoking may adversely affect how the fallopian tubes are working, too, so stub out those ciggies.
Cut out caffeine
Caffeine has been shown to increase the length of time it takes to conceive, so ditch that morning coffee and don’t forget that even tea contains caffeine – switch to a herbal tea instead. If you’re struggling to give up Coke, switch to a caffeine-free variety.
Check your BMI
Being overweight or underweight can make it harder for you to conceive. If you’re overweight you have more fat cells which release the hormone oestrogen. The more oestrogen you have, the less your body produces another hormone, FSH, which is essential for getting pregnant.
At the other end of the spectrum, if you’re too thin you might not be ovulating regularly and may lack the hormones your body needs after fertilisation. Our BMI chart can offer guidance on a healthy weight for your height and build.
Visit your GP
If you or your partner are taking any medication, it’s worth letting your GP know that you’re trying to conceive. Some drugs, like antibiotics and anti-depressants, can affect fertility in both sexes.
Get an STI check
Sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia can seriously affect your fertility, but have no symptoms, so you may not be aware that you have it. It’s worth going to your doctor for a check-up or visit your local GUM (GenitoUrinaryMedicine) clinic.
Take a supplement
There are lots of supplements on the market that will help make sure both your bodies have the proper nutrients they need for sperm production and conception. Try Vitabiotics Pregnacare Conception tablets for women and Vitabiotics Wellman Conception capsules for men. Or you can buy a Pregnacare His and Hers Conception kit.
You also need to be taking a folic acid supplement for the health and growth of the baby. All the big brand preconception vitamins contain the recommended daily amount of folic acid your body needs.
Know your cycle
Women are only fertile for a few days at a time. You can find out when you’re ovulating by using our ovulation calculator, or buying an ovulation kit from your local chemist. Boots does an ovulation test kit which includes 7 tests to tells you the best 2 days to conceive naturally. Having sex on those two days will increase your chances of conception. If you don’t want to buy a kit because it takes the spontaneity out of your sex life, just try to have sex every two or three days.
Try a conception lubricant
You can buy special lubricants from chemists which claim to enhance sperm motility (swimming ability) and make sperm live longer. Try Sasmar Conceive Plus Fertility Lubricant from Amazon.
Exercise releases endorphins which make you feel happy and help you relax. It will also help lower your cholesterol, also good for helping you conceive.
Watch your diet
A balanced diet is important for both you and your partner. You need to be having your five a day, plus calcium-rich foods like cheese and milk, wholewheat bread and meat, Quorn, or eggs for protein. Balance is key. Not too little or too much of anything.
Rethink your sex positions
Choose the right sex positions for conception. Avoid ones where the woman is on top. Try and keep your hips raised for a little while after sex so the sperm has the best chance of going in the right direction!
Try alternative therapies such as reflexology and acupuncture
Reflexology is where a therapist massages points on the feet that correspond to parts of the body. So if you’re trying to conceive, the therapist will focus on the parts of your feet that correspond to your fallopian tubes and ovaries. Many women are convinced that this therapy has helped them to get pregnant when all else has failed.
Research suggests that acupuncture can have a positive effect on women trying to conceive. Therapists use tiny needles on areas of the body to help regulate periods, improve conditions such as endometriosis, balance hormones and reduce stress.
Stress really can stop you from getting pregnant as it can affect your hormones, so try as hard as you can to relax. Do things you enjoy – read books, go swimming, listen to music, watch telly. If you feel yourself starting to get stressed, try and take a few minutes to shut your eyes and breathe so the stress disappears. If you can take days off work and relax on the days around your ovulation, that’s even better!
Ask your GP to refer you to a specialist
If you’ve been trying to conceive for a while, it’s worth asking your GP to refer you to a specialist. General advice is that you should see your GP if you have been trying to conceive for more than a year. If you’re over 36 or know a good reason why you may have fertility problems, then visit your doctor sooner. It may be that you have a medical condition that can be corrected, such as a blocked fallopian tube. Other causes could be endometriosis or problems with ovulation and in men, the most common cause is poor semen quality. It’s likely that these conditions will require specialist help.
The specialist may suggest:
There are medicines that can be prescribed to assist with fertility. The most common is Clomid (there are other brand names for the same drug) which is usually prescribed for ovulation problems, women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), women with irregular cycles and people with unexplained infertility. It’s a tablet, so it’s easy to take and side-effects are not considered to be too bad.
IUI stands for IntraUterine Insemination. First the fastest-swimming sperm are selected, then passed through a fine tube into the womb, coinciding with ovulation to maximise the chances of conception.
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IVF stands for In-Vitro Fertilisation. The woman takes fertility drugs so that her ovaries produce more eggs. Those eggs are removed and fertilised outside her body in a laboratory. After a few days the fertilised embryo is returned to the woman’s body in the hope that implantation will occur and the woman will become pregnant. It’s common for two embryos to be transferred to increase the chances of pregnancy.