Increasing your chances of pregnancy

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This article gives you some tips on increasing your chances of getting pregnant and offers some great health tips to follow, prior to getting pregnant.

Sex to increase your chance of getting pregnant

Ultimately we get pregnant from having sex! The more we have sex, the more likely we are to get pregnant!

While it is possible to predict your time of ovulation (when one of your ovaries releases an egg) by using charts, ovulation predictor kits and observing your vaginal discharge – the best way to ensure that you are having sex at a time to enhance your chance of getting pregnant is to have sex every 2-3 days throughout your cycle. Sperm usually can live for around 3 days inside the woman’s body, sometimes up to one week, so regular sex will give you your best chance of pregnancy.

The quality of the sex may contribute to your chances of getting pregnant too! Vaginal secretions are a vital part of fertility, enabling sperm to swim towards the egg – so take your time to enjoy sex together.

Give sperm a chance and keep the laws of gravity on their side – don’t jump up to go to the loo straight after sex!

Alcohol and pregnancy

Women – reduce your intake of alcohol to 1-2 units once or twice a week, while you are trying to get pregnant, to increase your chances of a healthy baby.

Men – don’t overdo it on the alcohol front either! Any more than 3-4 units a day can affect the quality of your sperm.

(One unit = half a pint of beer, or a small glass of wine)

Smoking and infertility

Smoking will affect your fertility – as will passive smoking.

Get help to give up!

Overweight

Being overweight can affect your fertility, particularly if your Body Mass Index (BMI) is more than 29. This is true for men and women.

To calculate your BMI divide your weight in kilos by your height in metres squared.

For example

Body weight = 70kg

Height = 1.6 metres

Height in metres squared 1.6x 1.6 = 2.56

70 divided by 2.56 = 27.3

BMI = 27

When you are overweight it may affect your menstrual cycle – having irregular periods or no periods at all usually means you are not ovulating. After losing weight, regular ovulation may return.

Loose undies and men’s fertility

It is recommended that men wear loose underwear to increase their chances of producing healthy sperm. Sperm is made in the testicles, which are a lower temperature to the rest of the body, which keeps the sperm healthy.

Vaginal pH and fertility

Certain foods can make your body and hence your vaginal secretions more acidic, which may decrease your chances of getting pregnant. Foods such as meat, citrus fruit, cow’s milk and wheat are acidic and should be avoided if you suspect this is a problem. Alkaline foods, such as green vegetables and root vegetables may help to correct the vaginal pH  – which will improve the environment for the sperm to swim successfully towards your egg.

Work and environmental factors

Some work situations – for example, exposure to radiation or certain chemicals – can affect your fertility. Discuss this with your doctor if you are concerned.

Drugs can cause infertility

Prescribed drugs and recreational drugs (cannabis and cocaine) can affect your fertility. Ensure that you have discussed any prescribed medications and their possible effect on your ability to conceive with your doctor.

Three essentials to remember when you’re trying for a baby –

Folic acid and pregnancy

Folic acid reduces your chance of your baby having an abnormality called a neural tube defect, where the brain, spinal column, or the coverings of these have not developed as they should (for example, spina bifida or anencephaly). Although folic acid is present in many foods such as broccoli, fortified breads, whole wheat breads, nuts and fortified cereals – pregnant women in New Zealand are recommended to take a daily supplement of folic acid (800mcg daily) while they are trying to get pregnant and for the first 3 months of pregnancy.

This dose should be increased to 5mg of folic acid daily if you have an immediate family history of a baby with a neural tube defect.

Rubella (German measles)

Women should have their rubella immunity checked by means of a blood test before becoming pregnant. If there are no antibodies to the virus you will need to receive the vaccine and then wait at least three months before trying for a baby.

Pregnant women need to have their rubella immunity status checked during each pregnancy, as immunity can reduce over time. If you are found to be not immune you will be offered a rubella vaccine after the birth of the baby, to protect any future pregnancies.

Cervical smear tests prior to pregnancy

Check whether you are due a cervical smear test, to check for any abnormalities of the cervix (the opening to the womb) prior to getting pregnant. Abnormalities of the cervix are easier to treat the earlier they are detected! Also, treating cervical cancer during pregnancy is more complicated.

Be safe, be healthy and good luck!

Some useful articles and resources on infertility

We have more information on Common Causes of Infertility. You can also found out more about the Causes of Infertility. And here we talk about the Treatments for Infertility.

Investigating Infertility explains the most common investigations that couples undergo when they’re experiencing infertility.

Find out more about fertility hypnosis or Chinese medicine treatments.

Paula Skelton

Paula Skelton is a qualified NZ nurse and midwife, a midwifery & childbirth educator and the mum of three lovely girls.

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