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Fertility health centre

Simple steps to boost your fertility

WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Some women say they only have to look at their partner and they get pregnant. It’s true some couples seem to have no problem. They decide they want a baby and bingo they’re pregnant.

It’s not so straight forward for other couples. They may have to go down the route of IVF or other fertility treatments to have a chance of conceiving.

There is a middle ground. You may have been trying for a baby for a few months and it’s just not happening.

The official line is for 9 out of 10 couples it can take up to a year for a couple to conceive if they are having sex unprotected regularly and the woman is under 35.

Up to a third of cases of infertility are classed as unexplained which means if there are no medical issues. Changing everyday things about your lifestyle may just make the difference.

Keep within a normal weight range

If you are at a healthy weight you may have a better chance of falling pregnant. That’s having a body mass index ( BMI) of between 18.5 and 24.9.

Anything over BMI 25 is classed as overweight and a BMI of over 30 is defined as obese.

A 2008 study in the Netherlands found that for every BMI unit over 29 the chance of pregnancy fell by 4 per cent.

It’s not just the woman’s responsibility. Marilyn Glenville author of Getting Pregnant Faster says: "If either a man or woman is overweight it’s more difficult for them to conceive."

Zita West, a midwife who runs fertility clinics says, "If you are overweight or underweight it affects your hormones and ovulation."

Angela Probert, author of The Well-Informed Parent echoes that, "Being underweight or overweight can have an effect on fertility by upsetting the hormonal balance responsible for the menstrual cycle.

"Weight is also a factor with sperm health, says Angela, "Men who are overweight or underweight have fewer quality sperm."

Eat healthily

The benefits of a healthy diet shouldn’t be underestimated when you are trying for a baby. You should be eating a balanced diet containing all of the food groups.

"Food and nutrients are very important," says Zita. "Women know a lot about diets and not so much about nutrition. "

Her advice is, "You need carbs for energy and don’t eat processed food, because it depletes the body of nutrients."

She says always have breakfast which is key to controlling your sugar levels and have a broad spectrum of vitamins and minerals in your diet and include omega 3 fatty acids.

"Give your diet a spring clean," says Marilyn who’s also a nutrionist specialising in women’s health. "There’s good evidence about the benefits of a Mediterranean diet and improving your fertility. Avoid preservatives and artificial sweeteners."

She says: "Changing your diet can give a radical change to your hormone balance and if the couple are both healthier their eggs and sperm will be healthier too."

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