Below are some methods which can naturally boost your fertility in either category.
Do not smoke and/or abuse drugs or alcohol. This may cause severe disruption to your menstrual cycle if you are female and diminishes testosterone if you are male. Furthermore, drugs and alcohol can cause sperm to develop abnormally.
After conception, if the mother consumes drugs, alcohol, or smokes, the foetus may be adversely affected.
Smoking- cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals including carbon monoxide and nicotine, which would reduce your baby’s oxygen supply. This doubles the risk of stillbirths. In Sri Lanka, not many women smoke themselves, but it is also important that people should be aware to not smoke in the presence of a pregnant woman since even secondary smoke inhalation can have a significant impact.
Be of a healthy weight. In overweight women, infertility is usually the result of erratic ovulation. The fat cells release the hormone oestrogen, which inhibits the production of FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone). This may result in prevention of ovulation. On the other hand, if you are underweight, you might not produce enough oestrogen, which would result in not being able to build a follicle at all. You need not be severely thin for this to happen. Merely being 10% underweight may reduce your chances of conceiving significantly.
Weight affects male fertility too. Men who are either too fat or too thin may have lower levels of testosterone and a lower sperm count.
How would you know if you are over/underweight? This is a simple calculation that can even be done at home. Human body fat is estimated using a calculation called the Body Mass Index (BMI). It is calculated as follows:
BMI = Weight in kilograms /(Height in metres × Height in metres)
You can use the BMI Calculator in the BabySpace Tools section to check your body mass index. But this does not apply to those who are pregnant at present.
A normal BMI is in a range of 18.5- 25. Less than that means underweight and more than that means overweight.
Even after conception, it is important that the mother maintains a healthy weight. The mother being overweight during pregnancy would not only lead to complications during the pregnancy, but would also affect the child’s health for well into his or her adult life.
Maintain a balanced diet and take supplements. It is very important to cover all the food groups. Also, take in many fluids. Take multivitamins, iron, calcium, zinc, and folic acid. It is generally well known that women should take folic acid while trying to conceive as well as during the pregnancy. However, unfortunately the benefits of taking folic acids for male fertility are not as well known. Men who consume high levels of folic acid reduce their risk of sperm abnormalities by 20-30%.
This balanced diet and intake of supplements should be continued after conception. Folic acid, especially, is very important since it is folic acid, which is crucial in the development of DNA. Many miscarriages occur due to
- Incomplete formation of the spinal cord
- Severe under-development of the brain
- Protrusion of the brain tissue from an abnormal opening in the skull
These are caused by a deficiency of folic acid. It is not enough to wait till you know that you are pregnant to take folic acid since all the above occur within 28 days of conception. Thus, folic acid intake should begin from the day you decide to try having a baby and should continue throughout pregnancy.
For men: be mindful of scrotal temperature. Sperm is produced in the testicles, which are in the scrotum. The scrotum is located outside the body because it is essential to maintain it at a temperature of about 35 degrees Celsius (about 2 degrees less than the normal body temperature. The following will increase scrotal temperature and result in damaged sperm.
- Hot baths, tubs, saunas, and steam rooms: Take a cool shower instead.
- Wearing underwear, which is too tight: Wearing loose boxer shorts would help.
- Intense cycling for long periods of time
- An inactive lifestyle: Try to exercise regularly and if you have to work long hours on the computer, take regular breaks.
- Keeping your laptop on your lap: Keep it on another surface in order to create a distance from the heat generated by your laptop that can be transferred to your body
Avoid using your mobile for long periods. Studies have shown that fertility is adversely affected in both males and females by long usage of mobile phones. So, use a land-line whenever you can, keep the mobile away from you when you sleep. Do not keep it under or close to your pillow. Also, avoid carrying your mobile phone in your pocket where your eggs or sperms are at risk of being damaged by the radio frequency electromagnetic waves of the mobile.
Minimize mobile phone usage during pregnancy as it can harm your baby’s brain development.
Know when you ovulate. Ovulation occurs when a mature egg is released from the ovary and is available for fertilisation. For a woman with a regular 28 day menstrual cycle, the ovum is released usually after 14 days. Therefore 12-16 days after menstruation is usually the most fertile time period. However, this may vary for women with erratic menstrual cycles. The following are some basic signs to tell whether you are ovulating:
For some women, ovulation may result in lower abdominal cramps that are only on one side of the abdomen (the side that you are ovulating from). Closer to ovulation, you would notice an increase of cervical mucous.
Be careful with certain lubricants. Lubricants, whether store bought or found at home (such as egg whites) pose a potential problem. The best would be not to use external lubricants, but if it is essential, then warm water may help and will not damage sperm.