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Natural ways to boost your fertility

For some couples, conceiving a baby isn’t quite the “miracle” that they hope it to be. Approximately 10-15% of couples around the world suffer from infertility and are unable to start a family.  A couple is said to be infertile if they are unable to conceive after 12 months of unprotected intercourse.   There are many possible reasons for infertility. Any problem that disrupts the process of conception – either in the man or woman’s body – could lead to difficulties conceiving.  It is important to remember that you are not necessarily infertile just because you have tried to get pregnant once or twice, and failed. You may just have a lower chance of conceiving compared to some other couples. But it’s not a zero chance, so there’s no need to despair.

Making lifestyle changes

If you have been trying to have a baby, here are some ways to help Mother Nature along…naturally, of course.

  • Cut down on alcohol

Men and women should both consume less alcohol if they are trying to conceive. Women, in particular, need to be very cautious not to have any alcohol when they are ovulating (when their ovaries release eggs). As for men, alcohol can affect their sperm count and cause fewer “swimmers” to be produced.

  • Eat a balanced diet

A healthy diet is always good for you, regardless of whether you are trying to have a baby or not. However, if you are trying to conceive, it is even more crucial to ensure that your diet supplies your body with all the necessary nutrients to create the “right environment”. Eat lots of fruit, vegetables, legumes, complex carbohydrates and low-fat meat. Low-fat dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yoghurt, are good for you too. You should also introduce more fish into your diet, while cutting down on sugars and high-fat foods. Finally, drink plenty of water! Only take nutrient supplements if recommended by your doctor and dietitian. Be extra cautious with herbal supplements, as you may not know their contents or side effects, even if they claim to be “natural”.

  • Don’t smoke!

Smoking is a no-no for men, because it has been proven to reduce their sperm quantity and quality. As for women, smoking will be bad for their pregnancies in the future, because it causes an increased risk of having premature babies.

  • Maintain normal body weight

Obesity can cause a woman to have fertility problems, because it adversely affects ovulation and can also increase the risk of polycystic ovary syndrome. Losing weight in a safe manner will benefit your fertility. On the other hand, being underweight is bad for fertility as well. If your Body Mass Index is below the normal range, there is a risk that you may disrupt your hormone balance and have irregular periods.  So be neither over- nor underweight – aim for a normal Body Mass Index.

  • Exercise in moderation

Exercise is an important aspect of maintaining healthy body weight. It also ensures that your body will be strong enough for pregnancy. However, excessive exercise is a problem and can affect fertility – though this is usually only a concern for elite athletes.

  • Keep them cool

What am I referring to? Men’s testicular area, of course! Increased temperature in the testicles can reduce sperm count. So avoid anything that warms that area – do not wear tight trousers and underwear, do not put your laptop on your lap, and do not take overly hot baths.

  • Plan ahead

If you and your partner are planning to have a baby, make plans in advance. Visit your family doctor or gynae for a thorough check-up. Get your doctor’s advice about immunisations and mineral supplements, such as folate and iron.  If you have been taking oral contraceptive pills before this, it may take at least three months before your body’s hormones return to their regular state again.

  • Get the timing right

Get to know your body and cycles. The best time to have intercourse is a few days before ovulation, or during it. To know when you will ovulate, you can chart your menstruation (you will start ovulating about two weeks before your cycle begins) or check your body temperature with a basal body thermometer (your body temperature rises slightly when you ovulate). Having intercourse at the right time is more important than having lots of intercourse.

  • Relax!

Being overly anxious or stressed will not help you get pregnant faster. If you are feeling troubled, speak to your doctor, family or friends about your emotions. Most importantly, maintain good communication with your spouse – don’t let fertility problems cause friction between the both of you.

Remember, both men and women have a role to play when it comes to making a baby! Men should commit themselves to making the necessary lifestyle changes as well, so that they can become a proud daddy one day.

Star newspape. Jan 09, 2009
By Datuk Dr Nor Ashikin Mokhtar