The time has arrived and you are thinking of starting a family, and you ask yourself how do you get pregnant?. It’s a daunting yet exciting time. You hear so much advice from so many sources: friends, family and Internet - everything is confusing and often you get conflicting advice, the following summarizes the best advice on getting pregnant and how to prepare yourselves and your bodies.
1. “Have a happy sex life” is the top tip.
Some couples don't have sex often enough to give themselves the best chance of conceiving.
Understanding a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle can be helpful. But there’s no need to try to time sex around your cycle. It’s better simply to have sex often throughout the month. Have sex at least twice a week—and every other day during the fertility window if at all possible.
The most important time is around mid-cycle: Count 10-14 days from the end of your cycle (if your cycle is 28 days then it would be days 10-14). This is your most fertile time, where the egg leaves the ovary and is ready to “meet” the sperm.
Sperm can live for up to seven days inside a woman’s body. So if you've had sex in the days before ovulation, the sperm will have had time to travel up the fallopian tubes to “wait” for the egg to be released. It’s difficult to know the precise time that ovulation happens, so it’s recommended to have regular sex around ovulation to maximize your chances.
2. Prepare your body at latest a couple of months prior to pregnancy.
Both you and your partner need to stop smoking, reduce alcohol and caffeine intake, come as close as possible to your ideal weight, eat a healthy and balanced diet, and engage in regular healthy exercise. (But don’t overdo it: Too much exercise is not good either.)
Start taking vitamins, minerals and other key nutraceuticals supplements recommended for pregnancy to enhance your fertility.
Eat a varied diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, cereal, nuts, pasta and potatoes, as well as lean meats and chicken. If you must eat fish, avoid mercury and other toxic risks by eating approved safe fish (Tank-raised sea bass are the best bet). Try to avoid processed food, especially those that contain excessive amounts of fat. Cut down on snack and “junk” foods like cookies, cakes and chips. Replace them with healthier alternatives like fruits (fresh and dried) nuts, and vegetables.
3. Reduce your weight to a healthy weight.
Being at a healthier weight will help you conceive. Losing 5-10% of your body weight can trigger ovulation. But being underweight also is not good, carrying the risk of poor ovulation and irregular periods.
A healthy weight is important for you and your partner, and will improve your chances to conceive. It improves sperm quality and ovulation, implantation.
4. Stop smoking!
Smoking reduces sperm motility and count, reduces the binding quality to the egg, negatively affects the genetic material of the sperm and causes infertility. There is a distinct improvement in sperm quality 3 months after ceasing tobacco use.
5. It is recommended to take supplements to prepare your body for pregnancy.
Vitamin D is required for the production of hormones which support implantation.
Zinc plays a role in ovulation and menstrual cycle as it protects DNA from damage. Low zinc levels have shown to disrupt egg maturation, fertilization and implantation. Zinc also is vital to male fertility and sperm production.
Low vitamin B6 is associated with lower fertility, as it is required for blood vessel production and thus for normal placenta function and implantation.
Folic acid is required early in the pregnancy to help avoid neural tube defects.
Iron is important in both male and female fertility, critical to implantation and during the entire pregnancy.
Vitamin A is one of the best natural fertility boosters. It’s involved in the development of embryonic structures, specifically the brain and nervous system (but excessive vitamin A poses risks. Take only the prescribed amount).
Iodine is essential for the thyroid hormone production. During pregnancy, thyroid hormone production increases by 50%, and so iodine intake must also catch up. Iodine deficiency leads to an increased risk of sub-fertility and miscarriage. Iodine is essential for brain development.
Other critical supplements include: omega 3, selenium, vitamin E, vitamin B12.
Dr. Sharon Shmueli, Family Physician
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