Fertility Files

The Fertility Files: The Top 3 Ways To Improve Your Chances of Getting Pregnant Now

In the early years of our lives, we often obsess over avoiding pregnancy, as if it is an inevitability every time we have sex. But, as we discussed last month, it isn’t as easy as we think to get pregnant. As we noted, when sex is timed to a woman’s fertile window, women in their 20s have about a 50% chance of getting pregnant each cycle and women in their 30s have about a 25% chance, Yet, no matter which decade we find ourselves in, there are 3 key steps we can all take right now to improve our chances of getting pregnant.
Most women are aware that smoking and excessive use of alcohol and recreational drugs is ill advised when trying to conceive, and once pregnant. Many however, are still left asking: “How much alcohol is ok?,” and “Can I still drink coffee/tea?” The evidence is mixed when it comes to alcohol, caffeine and fertility. Some research suggests that consumption of both substances can decrease fertility rates by up to 50%, while other studies show no effect. As a simple rule of thumb, I recommend that patients limit alcohol intake to 1–2 glasses per week and before ovulation (so there’s no risk harming the baby if they have already conceived). Caffeinated beverages should not exceed to 1–2 cups per day. If a patient is having difficulty conceiving, then I may recommend complete elimination.
A diet rich in veggies, lean proteins and healthy fats (like olive oil) seems like an obvious choice at any time in your life, but not until recently did we know just how powerful a choice this is for conception. Research from the Nurses Health Study (conducted in over 18,000 women by Harvard researchers), confirmed that eating a diet rich in veggies (especially iron-rich varieties), slow digesting carbs, lean protein, healthy vegetable oils (poly and monounsaturated varieties) and full fat dairy (in moderation) reduces the risk of ovulatory infertility by as much as 80%! This same study also found that women who used a multivitamin with folic acid experienced 40% less ovulatory failure, which is significant considering that up to ¼ of all infertility is due to irregular or absent ovulation. However, my key recommendation is to choose a good quality prenatal vitamin that has the active forms of all B vitamins and folate, and is devoid of artificial colours, binders and additives.
Perhaps the number one thing that every woman needs to learn is proper cycle charting. So many women come to my practice and have never even tracked the length of their menstrual cycles on a calendar, let alone learned the powerful nuances of cycle charting. Without that basic information, it is impossible to determine when ovulation may be occurring. So, the very first thing I recommend is that women begin tracking their cycle length (if they aren’t). If they are tracking, then we begin to track and chart other signs of fertility, such as cervical mucus and basal body temperature. The power of this information for conception is incredible and we will review this in depth next month. So, whether you’re 20, 30 or 40 years old, start incorporating these simple changes into your life so you can improve your chances of getting pregnant now! Join me next month in The Fertility Files to learn the power of cycle charting for getting pregnant.

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