Optimizing Your Fertility Without Medical Technology

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What you put in your body and what you do in the bedroom can be natural fertility boosters

Fertility | RSC Bay Area | Couple looking at pregnancy testBefore or while you are consulting with a fertility specialist, there are things you can do to optimize your fertility with lifestyle changes. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine recently came out with a committee opinion for optimizing natural fertility.

Having an optimal body weight can improve your chances of getting pregnant. There is evidence that women with a body mass index (BMI) above 35 (considered overweight) or under 20 (considered underweight) have reduced fertility. To quickly identify your BMI, you can use an online BMI calculator, which will indicate whether your weight-to-height ratio falls within an overweight, healthy weight or underweight range.

Smoking for women can also significantly reduce fertility. Menopause occurs on average 1 to 4 years earlier in smoking women than in nonsmoking women, and this suggests that smoking accelerates the rate of egg loss. Smoking is also associated with an increased risk of miscarriage. Men who smoke cigarettes often have a reduced sperm count and motility.

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You should not drink any alcohol once you are pregnant because there are well documented detrimental effects on fetal development. There is some controversy about the effect of alcohol consumption when you are trying to get pregnant. Some studies suggest that alcohol consumption of more than 3 to 4 drinks per week in men or women may slightly reduce fertility, however other studies suggest that moderate alcohol consumption is not related to any reduction in fertility.

There is some evidence that high levels of caffeine consumption, the equivalent of 5 cups of coffee per day, is associated with decreased fertility. During pregnancy, caffeine consumption of more than 2 to 3 cups a day may increase the risk of miscarriage. Overall moderate caffeine consumption of 1 to 2 cups of coffee per day before or during pregnancy has no apparent adverse effect on fertility or pregnancy outcomes. In men, caffeine consumption has no effect on sperm parameters.

How sex practices affect natural fertility

When is the best time to have intercourse to maximize chance of pregnancy? Many studies suggest that having intercourse during the few (3-5) days prior to ovulation is the most optimal timing (fertile window). Intercourse after the day of ovulation has a much lower chance to result in a pregnancy. Luteinizing hormone tests and fertility apps can help you identify when ovulation occurs.

How often should you have intercourse around the time of ovulation? In general, fertility is increased with intercourse every day in the fertile window. However, it is not so critical to have intercourse with this frequency if it is stressful to do so.

For men, abstinence intervals greater than 5 days can affect sperm counts in a negative way. Whereas abstinence intervals as short as 2 days are associated with completely normal sperm counts. Abstinence intervals greater than 10 days are associated with significant worsening of sperm.

There is no evidence that certain positions for intercourse affect the chance for pregnancy. Also, there is no reason that a woman has to rest in bed with her legs elevated after intercourse. Sperm are able to get into the fallopian tubes to fertilize the egg very quickly, typically within 15 minutes from the time of ejaculation.

Some vaginal lubricants may decrease fertility because of their effect on sperm. Astroglide, K-Y Jelly, olive oil and saliva adversely affect sperm motility.

Mineral oil, canola oil, Pre-Seed and CoceivEase are all lubricants that do not seem to affect fertility. These lubricants should be used preferentially to maximize fertility.

Hopefully, following these general recommendations will help you to get pregnant. If it is not happening easily, be sure to consult a fertility specialist.