Infertility is when a couple cannot conceive even though they are having regular unprotected sexual intercourse (every 2 to 3 days).
Around 84% of couples under 40 conceive in the first year of trying. Some will naturally get pregnant quicker and others longer. It is suggested that you see your GP if it takes longer. However; if you are over 36 and aware you have problems then see your GP sooner.
What can we do to increase our chances of getting pregnant?
- Age – Female fertility reduces with age, so if you are planning a family it may be worth considering starting sooner, rather than later, preferably before your mid-thirties when fertility starts to significantly decline.
- Weight – Aim to be a ‘healthy’ weight. Being very under or overweight can affect ovulation. There are lots of NHS and commercial support options available.
- Smoking – Stop smoking! Smoking can affect fertility in men and women. The NHS provides excellent support programmes in GP surgeries and pharmacies around the country which are proven to increase your changes of successfully quitting. Call for help now don’t wait!
- Alcohol – It is probably safest that women avoid alcohol whilst trying to conceive and when pregnant. For men, too much alcohol can affect the quality of their sperm. Men should not exceed the national guidelines of 14 units spread over several days per week.
- STIs – Sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia can affect fertility. Screening and treatment are free and widely available.
- Stress – This can play a part in your relationship, sex drive and in extreme cases, ovulation and the quality of sperm. There are many ways to reduce your stress levels, try acupuncture, exercising, taking up a new hobby or engaging with nature.
- Medical conditions – Diabetes can play a significant part in a woman’s ability to conceive, her maternal health and that of the unborn child. Women with type 2 diabetes may be able to improve or reverse their diabetes by losing weight prior to conception. It is advisable for women with both type 1 and 2 diabetes to plan their pregnancies so they can get the most appropriate glucose levels prior to conception and throughout pregnancy. The NHS provides excellent care in this area. There are also other conditions such as thyroid disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome, some vitamin deficiencies and endometriosis.
- Know your body – Understanding how our bodies work can increase the chances of getting pregnant for some people. Ovulation usually occurs around 14 days before our period starts e.g. day 14 in a 28-day cycle and day 21 in a 35-day cycle. The ovum (egg) can last up to 24 hours and sperm up to 7 days. Body temperature also rises around ovulation and cervical mucous becomes clearer, slippery and elastic. Keeping a diary to monitor these factors can help, as can ovulation kits. Some women also get tender breasts and ovulation pains.
- Acupuncture – Although there is limited medical research in this area, many women have used acupuncture to support IVF and ICSI. Many people find acupuncture useful to reduce stress and auricular acupuncture has been used in treating people with some addictions.
Billings Method https://billings.life/en
NHS Live Well, 12-week weight loss plan https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-weight/start-the-nhs-weight-loss-plan
NHS Sexual Health https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sexual-health
NHS Stop Smoking support https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/quit-smoking/nhs-stop-smoking-services-help-you-quit
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/patients/fertility/your-fertility
Slimming World https://www.slimmingworld.co.uk
Warwickshire Wildlife Trust: The Environment and Me https://www.warwickshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/TEaM
Warwickshire County Council https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/keepingactive
Weight Watchers https://www.weightwatchers.com/uk/