Top tips to boost your fertility
While there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to fertility treatments, there are some things that EVERY couple must do when trying to conceive.
- Smoking: You MUST refrain from smoking completely. The effects of smoking and passive smoking are detrimental to egg and sperm quality, as well as the pregnancy itself. Our team can help you by referring to dedicated clinics to help with smoking cessation. There are many cases where couples were able to conceive naturally within a few months of smoking cessation.
- Alcohol: Both partners should reduce their weekly alcohol intake to less than 6 units/week. Current evidence suggests that consuming over 10 units can affect egg and sperm quality and the ability to conceive.
- Effects of excessive heat on sperm : We live in a part of the world where the effect of heat on the quality of the sperm is more than normal. Although recent studies question this effect in colder parts of the globe, we advise all male patients to avoid saunas, steam rooms, excessive exercise in the heat (especially cycling) and tight underwear. Swimming remains the recommended form of exercise.
- Caffeine : The current evidence suggests that daily coffee intake should not exceed 2 cups, although even higher doses of caffeine have not shown to have a negative effect on egg and sperm quality.
- Timing and frequency of intercourse : Women should be aware of their “fertile window”, i.e., the best time to achieve a natural conception. For women with regular cycles, ovulation happens around 14 days prior to the period. A woman with a 35 day cycle is releasing a mature egg around day 21, whereas a woman with a 27 day cycle does so around day 13. These are not fixed days, so we advise couples to have intercourse as many times as possible in that 6 day period, which includes 3 days prior to ovulation and 3 days after. Of course these days are not 100% accurate, as ovulation cannot be tracked without the use of scans and blood tests. Urine Ovulation digital monitors help to pin point the ovulation time more accurately. Not knowing your fertile window can add to the stress of now knowing why a pregnancy has not happened. At Orchid we often perform “follicle tracking” scans in order to help couples pinpoint their ovulation window to assist with natural conception.
- High Body Mass Index (BMI): Keeping an ideal BMI between 20 and 30 can increase the chances of conception. In women, both anorexic (very low BMI) and severely obese (very high BMI) patients can hinder natural conception as the ovaries may stop releasing eggs. Moreover, these women have difficulties during the pregnancy with higher risks of miscarriage and other complications. High BMI in men affects sperm DNA and normal erectile function. Mild exercises like swimming, yoga and pilates are recommend to assist fertility.
- Stress levels & sleep: All couples seeking fertility advice are fed up with being told to ‘take it easy’ and to ‘not stress’ about having a baby. This sometimes leads to couples wasting precious years only to seek fertility help when it is late. The truth is that excessive stress levels can affect fertility, but the ultimate stress relief is actually getting a healthy pregnancy and a baby. At Orchid, we recommend adequate hours of sleep, and refer you to specialised fertility counsellors and yoga instructors to help you manage the stress of everyday life, not forgetting the beneficial effects of acupuncture as well.
- Nutrition: Orchid, we work with nutritionists to help our couples maintain an ideal BMI through a combination of personalised nutrition and exercise plans. We believe this will help to maximize the chances of a natural conception without further medical help. Latest research shows that science is now slowly moving away from general recommendations such as ‘follow a balanced diet’ or ‘reduce your carbohydrates’ intake. It is proven that these recommendations may be too broad and have little effect on the improvement of fertility. Vitamin D in particular has been shown to have a positive effect on egg and sperm quality. Zinc, Selenium, Vitamin C, Vitamin E are also extremely important, in preparation for and during attempts to get pregnant.