What should you both start doing and what should you stop doing? Are you as healthy and fertile as you possibly can be?
Read on to ready yourself for baby making!
Your Menstrual Cycle and Timing of Sex
There are many commercial ovulation predictor kits available that measure the surge of luteinising hormone (LH) that occurs just prior to ovulation that may help you to more accurately pinpoint your ovulation time. It might be worthwhile taking a few months to understand your own cycle prior to actively trying to conceive.
Some foods should be avoided when pregnant or trying to conceive: some fish e.g. shark, swordfish and mackerel as they can contain high levels of mercury; liver products as they contain high levels of vitamin A.; raw or undercooked meat as this can harbour toxoplasmosis, and some dairy products e.g. soft blue cheeses and any unpasteurised products as this may risk listeria.
Consumption of a high level of caffeine is associated with a higher rate of spontaneous miscarriage, and is also shown to have numerous negative effects on pregnancy outcomes. The NHS recommends keeping your caffeine intake to less than 200mg per day, or switching to caffeine-free alternatives. For reference, cup of regular instant coffee typically contains around 100mg of caffeine. It’s worth remembering that caffeine also exists in tea, cola, chocolate and other foodstuffs – check the labels on consumables to find out.
So, you might want to think about switching to a barrier method of contraception such as condoms, which does not affect your hormonal cycle, while you ready yourself for having unprotected sex. Using a non-hormonal method of contraception in the run-up to trying to have a baby also helps you to be able to pinpoint your fertile window and maximise your chances of conception.
Vitamin D is also recommended for women trying to conceive; at a dose of 10 micrograms (400 IU) per day. Vitamin D can be naturally made by the body from adequate exposure to sunlight, but unfortunately in the UK, this is unlikely to be sufficient out with the summer months.
If you are worried your diet may be deficient in some way, it’s important to discuss this with your healthcare provider and consider taking additional vitamins or supplements.
Sexually Transmitted Infections
Mental Health and Wellbeing
In summary, it’s beneficial to think about optimising your own health as a couple, prior to trying for a baby, and for some this may require a few months or more of planning and making changes to boost your chance of a healthy conception.
Dr Samantha Miller is a Specialty Doctor in Sexual and Reproductive Health
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