If you and your partner have been trying for a baby for more than a year and have not had any success, one or both of you may have some undiagnosed fertility issues. Infertility in women is perhaps more common than many think, although many of the problems are relatively minor and can be addressed through lifestyle changes.
As one of the best fertility clinics in Bangkok, we meet lots of couples each year who are having problems conceiving. After a series of tests have been conducted and discussions held with doctors, we can usually identify fairly quickly where issues may lie. We appreciate that IVF and other fertility treatments are expensive, so in most cases, we always encourage couples to make lifestyle changes before embarking on intensive therapy. In this article, we will investigate some of the relatively simple changes that women can make.
Maintaining a healthy weight and eating a healthy diet
One of the most common causes of infertility in women is obesity and poor diets. A study conduct by Dr Van der Steeg of the Academic Medical Centre in the Netherlands found that women who have a higher than normal BMI (18.5 to 24.9) had a reduced chance of becoming pregnant. Indeed those that were classed as being obese (a BMI of over 30), had between 23-43% less chance of becoming pregnant when compared to those with a BMI of below 25.
To lose weight, we would strongly advise eating more lean protein, fruit and vegetables as well as partaking in regular exercise. Where possible, you should choose fresh food and avoid anything processed as they tend to be higher in fat, sugar and salt. Nutrition is a vital part of increasing fertility, and this applies to both men and women.
While you must eat a healthy diet, good quality vitamin supplements are an excellent way to give your body a little helping hand. It is particularly important if you are trying for a baby or if you are pregnant. We would always recommend that women take folic acid supplements as well as other B-complex vitamins such as B6 and B12. Indeed, B12 is also beneficial for sperm production so you may wish to suggest that your partner also takes the supplements.
In addition to folic acid and B vitamins, you should also ensure that you consume enough Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Vitamin C and E as well as Beta-Carotene. It has been suggested that all of these nutrients have an essential role to play when it comes to female fertility.
Cigarettes and alcohol
You really shouldn’t need to be told that cigarettes and alcohol are bad for you, but they are particularly an issue if you are trying to conceive or already pregnant. Smoking releases toxins into the bloodstream, which can reduce fertility and libido while alcohol can also affect hormone production as well as being one of the leading causes of obesity. If you are planning to start a family, we would suggest stopping smoking at least three months before you start trying to conceive and abstain from drinking alcohol.
The male should also follow these guidelines as both tobacco (and recreational drugs) and alcohol has been proven to affect testosterone and sperm production as well as affecting libido and causing erection problems.
Stress is known to have a significant impact on fertility, and females with high levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) as well as alpha-amylase are estimated to have a 29% less chance of becoming pregnant. While reducing stress is often easier said than done, taking time out and having some “me time” can help. If you enjoy walking the dog or other activities, you should do these where possible as well as incorporating breathing exercises into your daily routine.
If you are still experiencing problems controlling stress levels, we would suggest consulting your doctor and seeking their advice.
The number of times you have sexual intercourse
There are a lot of myths surrounding the number of times you should have sex if you are trying to become pregnant. Some believe that you should have sex several times a day, while others believe once a week is enough to allow sperm quality to improve. In truth, both of these lines of thought are inaccurate. Indeed, frequent sex is suggested if you are trying to conceive, but this means three to four times a week. Tiredness can reduce fertility, so keep this in mind and don’t wear each other out!
Many fertility experts suggest having sex on alternate days to increase your chances of becoming pregnant, and while there is plenty of logic behind this idea, there is little evidence to support it.
Time intercourse around your cycle
It is a well-known fact that your best chance of becoming pregnant is to have sex during ovulation. Ovulation happens between 12 and 14 days before your period begins assuming that you have a regular 28-day cycle. Women are at their most fertile for a period for around 12-24 hours so we would recommend using ovulation tests to find out precisely when this is. Although this may sound scientific and a little clinical, if you are experiencing fertility issues, this is something which may help.
Ovulation predictor kits (OKP) are available at most pharmacies and range significantly in price from a few hundred baht to several thousand baht. However, putting a little effort into tracking ovulation can significantly increase your chances of becoming pregnant. If you are unsure how to use the kits, or don’t understand the results, you can consult the pharmacist, your doctor or you can speak to us.
If you would like more information on increasing female fertility or indeed any other fertility-related matter, at First Fertility, we would be happy to help. Our experienced and professional team are on hand to answer any questions that you may have. You can call us on +66 (0) 2 652 0150-4 or alternatively, you can contact us directly via our website. Your complete discretion is guaranteed.