6 STEPS TO GETTING PREGNANT
Getting pregnant is not as a straightforward process as it may seem. Generally, for couples that are trying to conceive, about 80% to 85% will be able to conceive within a year and the rest may have some challenges in conceiving naturally within the given year. Infertility is therefore described as not being able to achieve pregnancy within 12 months of having unprotected intercourse.
1. Get your timing right
When it comes to getting pregnant, timing is everything. It is important to understand your cycle and know when you’re ovulating as you only have a small window to fertilize the egg. After ovulation, the egg is fertile for only six to twenty-four hours; after which it becomes difficult to conceive. Keeping track of your cycle, how long it takes and when you’re most likely to release an egg is the first step towards getting pregnant. Two signs that can be used to monitor your fertile window are;
- Monitoring basal body temperature - This is based on the fact that after ovulation, most women have a slight increase in their normal body temperature. The temperature rise occurs within a day or so after ovulation and this is because of the hormone; progesterone.
- Cervical mucus or fluid - This is fluid that is secreted by the cervix and shed through the vagina to help provide lubrication, protect the vagina against infection, and also help keep the tissues in the vagina healthy.
2. Increase your vitamin intake. Watch your diet
Reproduction requires large amounts of energy, especially for women. The right nutrition can support reproductive health by providing the energy required by the body and as well as the right macro and micronutrients to support fertility.
3. Take fertility supplements
Foods are a great source of obtaining vitamins and minerals required for normal reproduction, however, taking fertility supplements is an inexpensive way of ensuring that the body is receiving all the right vitamins that the body requires. Not only have dietary supplements been proven to support fertility but also play an important role in preventing adverse birth outcomes. For example, iron is known to play a vital role in behavioural and neural development, and its deficiency can have irreversible effects. The fertility supplement must contain essential vitamins and minerals like Iron, Folate, Vitamin D, Vitamin A, Zinc, Vitamin B12, Calcium, and Selenium. Antioxidants such as vitamin C and E are also important as they play a role in helping prevent pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia that are characterized by a state of oxidative stress.
4. Watch your weight
Being overweight or obese influences ovulatory function through various mechanisms. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines obesity as having a BMI of 30 and above. Normal ovulation can be hindered by hyper-insulinemia and insulin resistance, which in extreme cases results in PCOS and a higher risk of infertility due to anovulation. Because female fertility is sensitive to alterations in body weight, it is important to maintain a healthy body weight when you’re considering starting a family. Research suggests that as little as a 5% weight loss could lead to an improvement in endocrine parameters, resumption of regular menstrual cycles, increased frequency of ovulation, and improved conception rates.
5. Moderate your alcohol intake
The relationship between alcohol intake and fertility is not very clear and remains a bit controversial however, some studies have shown that excessive alcohol intake can affect menstrual cycles. Studies have shown that women who consume more than six drinks per day stand a higher risk of suffering from irregular cycles and ovulation abnormalities. Another study that investigated the long-term effects of alcohol consumption on female fertility concluded that high alcohol consumption was associated with increased risk of infertility examinations at hospitals and with lower numbers of first and second partus. It may be important for the female partner in an infertile couple to limit alcohol intake or to not drink at all.
6. Exercise every day
Staying physically active is important in ensuring good health. Physical activity has been shown to support mental health, mood, overall body function, and reproductive health. Exercising and staying physically active can affect your menstrual cycle and ovulation. A study that looked at the role of regular exercise in overcoming infertility barriers reported that regular moderate exercise can help women and men to lose weight or stay in a healthy weight range, thereby improving sperm quality in men and regulating ovulation in women, ensuring good quality oocyte excretion
Tremellen, K., 2015. Nutrition, fertility, and human reproductive function. Boca Raton, Fla: CRC Press.
Warhus, S., 2011. Fertility demystified. New York: McGraw Hill Professional.