So, you’re thinking about having a baby? Maybe in the near future or maybe in a few years? Maybe you’re already trying or are struggling to conceive? You’ve probably already had lots of unsolicited but well-meaning advice from friends and family but please go no further and read on. Hopefully I can set you on course!
For most women starting with a period and ovulation tracking app is a great idea. As a consequence you are becoming more aware of your cycle and your “fertile window”. Contrary to popular belief, your fertile window is in the days leading up to ovulation and more sex is not necessarily better. Generally intercourse is best every second day because increased frequency can lower the sperm concentration. Ovulation prediction tests can help but temperature monitoring is of no benefit as the temperature rise occurs after the event.
Our age of course is something of which we are constantly reminded. Sometimes women don’t have a choice about when they meet that Mr Right or career breaks may not be possible. But the unfortunate fact is that age is the biggest predictor of fertility particularly after 35 years where fertility starts to drop off quite dramatically. The chances of fetal abnormalities and miscarriages also rise. There are potential ways to improve fertility despite age so a discussion with your doctor or specialist is always worthwhile and please don’t wait more than 6 months if things just aren’t happening. Egg storage is now an incredibly viable option to consider for younger women who wish to preserve their fertility into the future.
There are however many other factors that affect fertility and reproductive health.
Did you know that your state of health around the time of conception can alter not only the chance of conception but also the genetic makeup of your egg and therefore embryo (i.e. baby)? This could mean lifelong health consequences to your child. This is the science of epigenetics. So, what can we do about this?
For a start quit smoking if you smoke before conception (and that goes for you too boys) and minimise your drinking. Both contribute to a reduction in fertility. Smoking in particular is also highly associated with miscarriage.
Whilst it’s always uncomfortable to talk about our weight it is an increasingly common cause of infertility in our modern world. It’s never meant to shame you; it is done out of concern for your health. Women who have a BMI over 25 have a 50% increased chance of not ovulating properly and this is increased to a 300% if your BMI is over 30. Being overweight also increases the risk of pregnancy complications such as diabetes and pregnancy loss. The good news is that even if you can lose 5% of your body weight you can increase your chances of conception significantly.
The food we eat should varied and wholesome and locally sourced. Ideally free from chemicals and not cooked in plastics. All women planning a pregnancy should be taking a folate containing preconception or pregnancy multivitamin.
It is ideal for women to be seen by a doctor before planning a child to check their general health, ensure they are up to date with vaccinations and cervical smears. Your family doctor is usually your first point of contact but an obstetrician is not only a specialist for your pregnancy but one who is happy to see you anytime during the planning stage. We are particularly keen to see you if you have any significant medical conditions or are having difficulties conceiving.
For more information go to www.yourfertility.org.au
Location: Suite 5 Level 5 55 Victoria Parade Fitzroy 3065