Expert advice for preconception and a healthy pregnancy
Deciding to start a family is an important decision. For many couples, the path to conception is exhilarating, but it is also uncertain. Dr Kaberi Banerjee, MD, Advance Fertility and Gynecology Center, says, âOnce you decide to start a family, you might be thinking that all you need to do to get pregnant is to have a lot of sex and to hope for the best. Yes, having sex is an important aspect of conception, but it’s not the only factor. Infertility is when a couple cannot conceive (get pregnant) despite having regular unprotected sex for six to 12 months depending on their age.
Infertility problems are not uncommon; about one in seven couples may have difficulty conceiving. Over 84 percent of couples normally conceive within a year of regular, unprotected sex. Dr Banerjee offers some tips that will be helpful for couples trying to conceive.
When it comes to conceiving, understanding ovulation is crucial for success. A woman ovulates 14 days after the first day of her period, and sex during ovulation has the best chance of becoming pregnant.
- Get preconception counseling
Make an appointment with your OB-GYN approximately 60 to 90 days before you are ready to start trying. Infertility is a problem for almost 14 percent of couples. While the majority of people will have no difficulty in getting pregnant, some will have minor difficulties and some will have significant difficulties. Conditions such as anemia, thyroid dysfunction, thalassemia, anti-rubella antibodies should all be detected and corrected if necessary.
- Learn your family history
Find out how easy it was for those close to you to get pregnant and if there is a history of hereditary medical problems in the family. Whether or not you or your partner have a family history of Down’s syndrome, you should get genetic counseling before trying to conceive; it is far better to know if you and your partner are also carriers of problems like thalassemia, cystic fibrosis, etc. before conceiving.
A well-balanced diet of fiber, folic acid, vitamins, minerals, enough protein, and antioxidants supports your reproductive health.
According to the British Medical Association, women who smoke are 40% less likely to get pregnant. Smoking reduces a man’s sperm count and can affect the quality of sperm, which leads to infertility.
Drinking alcohol has been shown to decrease the chances of reproducing, so reduce or better yet stop altogether if you are trying to conceive.
Caffeine can restrict blood flow to the uterus, so it is best to avoid it while you are trying to get pregnant and while you are pregnant.
- Exercise and maintain your weight
Exercise improves your overall fitness and can help you become more fertile and manage the various symptoms of pregnancy. Every day, get at least 30 to 60 minutes of exercise, which doesn’t have to be very strenuous.
Anxiety and stress can adversely affect your reproductive health and lead to infertility. So learn to manage stress and participate in activities that benefit your mental health.
Sometimes conception takes a long time, between three months and a year. So couples should be patient, especially younger ones.
- Don’t delay in getting help
Some couples need the active help of doctors early on, especially those diagnosed with polycystic ovaries, fibroids, endometriosis, and abnormal semen parameters, being some of the factors.
Dr Banerjee adds that while these suggestions may help increase the chances of getting pregnant while ensuring a healthy pregnancy, they are not just for women; both partners play equally important roles in the design.
Read more: Understanding endometriosis and its effects on fertility