When a couple is planning a pregnancy, a lot of focus is placed on getting the woman’s health at the optimal level for conception – but this aspect is equally important for both partners. Thankfully, there are many things that a couple can do together to improve their chances of conceiving that healthy baby that they are longing for. We take a look at a few.
Maintain good nutrition and a healthy body weight
Good nutrition is important for everybody, but never more so than when a couple is trying to conceive. Being either overweight or underweight can impact the quality of a man’s sperm and his libido. Research suggests that in women it can affect several reproductive processes, including the frequency of ovulation.
Partners can encourage each other to stick to a healthy and balanced diet with plenty of fresh vegetables (particularly of the green and brightly colored varieties high in folate and antioxidants), fruits, nuts, and whole grains.
Cut down on or eliminate alcohol
Couples should really encourage each other to eliminate alcohol as more and more research has suggested in recent years that alcohol can have a negative effect on both male and female fertility. One study even concluded that as little as one to five drinks per week can reduce a woman’s chance of conceiving. In men alcohol, lowers affects sperm quality, lowers testosterone and consequently libido and can even cause impotence.
Nicotine has many negative effects on overall health and is never more harmful than when a couple is trying to conceive as it affects hormone levels. In women, it can affect secretions within the fallopian tube, so that the fertilized ovum can’t detach properly from the tube and embed itself in the uterine lining after fertilization.
In men, the genetic integrity of the sperm and its motility are affected, with a resultant lessened chance of conceiving a viable fetus. As the effect of nicotine is long-lasting, couples should try to stop smoking at least three months before the serious baby-making starts!
Follow an active lifestyle to de-stress – but don’t overdo the exercise
The benefits of exercise in de-stressing and promoting a healthy lifestyle is generally accepted these days, and partners can encourage each other greatly in this regard. Go to the gym together, practice a sport together, or simply go for walks together. It will be good for your general health and well-being and your relationship which can become rather fraught when trying to conceive takes a while.
But it is just as important to avoid excessive exercise as that can have a negative effect. In women, it can lead to decreased ovulation and in men to lower levels of testosterone.
Know when to seek outside help
In healthy young couples, (aged 19 to 26) about 84% will manage to get pregnant within a year of trying to have a baby. If you’ve only been trying for a few months, then don’t get discouraged!
For older couples aged 35 to 39, 82% will conceive after 1 year and 90% after 2 years of trying. If you’ve been trying longer than this, then your best move is to arrange for a fertility test of both partners at an established IVF clinic that also offers counseling and psychological support.
In addition, there are several things that men and women can do individually to improve their chances of conceiving.
What he can do
- Make sure that his testicles remain cool! The reason a man’s testicles are carried outside the body is to keep them cooler than the body so as to promote the creation of healthy and lively sperm.
- Avoid very hot baths and showers, and saunas are definitely a no-no. Wear looser clothes and underclothes if possible.
- Avoid long sessions with a laptop on his lap.
- Avoid long stints of strenuous cycling.
- Avoid long periods of sitting down.
- Avoid drinking a lot of caffeine, as more than 200mg per day can affect fertility.
- Check with his doctor that none of his chronic medications can have a negative effect on fertility.
- Make sure his diet includes enough vitamin C, D, and zinc.
What she can do
- Make sure that she knows when she is ovulating and fertile.
- Use a basal thermometer to check her temperature as there is a slight rise during ovulation, and keep an ovulation chart.
- Be alert to increased secretion of clear mucus from the vagina as this indicates ovulation.
- Make sure that she has sex frequently during this fertile period.
- Take a prenatal vitamin and folic acid supplementation.
- Reduce caffeine intake.
Of course, the most important thing partners can do is be there for each other, both for emotional support, and to encourage each other to make healthier choices. Once the baby comes into the world, you’ll be glad you’ve developed these healthy habits!