New Year often heralds a time for change and for many couples, this may be the phase when they make the decision to start trying for a family. Here, Dr Geetha Venkat, Director of Harley Street Fertility Clinic, lists five ways to ‘prepare’ your body for conception and pregnancy this New Year:
Have a pre-conception check up
It’s by no means a ‘must’, but a pre-conception check-up is a good place to start if you’re thinking of trying to conceive. These consultations can be particularly helpful if you have an existing gynaecological condition you’re concerned about, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis or thyroid problems.
It’s also important to have a sexual health-check pre-conceiving – this is essential for good health, for both your baby and yourself. Long-term, untreated STIs can have a serious effect on fertility and up to 25% of infertility cases are down to a previous STI.
Get to know your cycle
Gaining a better understanding about how your body works can be a big help when you are trying to fall pregnant. Your cycle should be a consistent length each month and not fluctuate hugely. In other words, if you have a cycle every month (around every 26-35 days), you have a regular cycle. If you have an irregular menstrual cycle and often miss periods, you may be dealing with irregular hormonal fluctuations or polycystic ovaries.
Have more sex
Although this may seem obvious, one of the most common reasons for couples having problems conceiving, is that they are not engaging in regular sexual intercourse.
After ovulation, an egg is only viable for about 24 hours. So, if you are waiting until you ovulate to have intercourse, chances are you are going to miss the opportunity to get pregnant that month. Since sperm can live in the reproductive tract for 3-4 days, having regular sex means that when an egg is released there will be sperm waiting.
I tell my patients to have regular intercourse, meaning 2-3 times a week generally starting after your period stops. A winning New Year’s resolution all round!
Try to relax
The mind-body connection is of vital importance. There is some truth in the “relax and it’ll happen,” phrase. The more stress you add to your body, the higher chance it will affect your cycle and your ability to conceive. Try gentle exercise such as going for a swim or a walk or use relaxation methods like yoga or meditation.
Smokers are more likely to have fertility problems. When you smoke, more than 7,000 chemicals spread through your body, which hinder ovulation, damage eggs and sperm motility. Ask your GP for a referral to a Smoking Cessation Service ahead of trying for a baby. Alternatively, contact Harley Street Fertility Clinic for details on our new pharmacist led, tailored smoking cessation service.