I know a lot of people think getting pregnant is easy. It’s about stopping contraception, getting jiggy and taking Folic Acid, right?
If only it was that simple for everyone. 1 in 6 couples struggle these days.
And anyway, everything we eat, drink, do, take, breathe, stress over in the 3 or 4 months before conception can affect fertility. It can affect pregnancy and even baby health.
Diet and lifestyle choices strongly influence egg and sperm health.
Diet and lifestyle influence health in pregnancy before and during the pregnancy.
Scientists now believe that children’s health can be “preprogrammed” by their parents health at conception and during pregnancy. The risk of chronic disease is greater in kids of less healthy parents, passed through genes.
I’m not saying that to scare anyone. Or wag my finger. I’m a hugger not a fighter. A teacher. An encourager. A helper.
I just want to spread the word, that looking after yourself to start trying for a baby supports natural conception (or chances of IVF success), pregnancy health and baby health.
Because it’s not taught in schools. There are no government campaigns to teach people how to prepare for conception – where I live anyway.
I want to teach and support as many people to take care of themselves in healthy, fertility-fuelling ways as possible.
Let’s bust some myths and look at the influence of diet and lifestyle…
Getting Pregnant: Stopping Contraception
..starting with stopping contraception.
Many people use some kind of contraception and then make a decision to try for a baby. So they stop the contraception. And hope that fertility is restored.
In theory, it should be. If there are no other factors impacting fertility. BUT we do know that fertility doesn’t always return quickly. It depends on the individual woman and the method.
The Combined Pill
The Pill overrides our natural hormones and cycles. Any bleed on The Pill is NOT a period. It’s a withdrawal bleed in the break from taking pills.
The Combined Pill takes over from hormones in your brain to stop ovulation and make cervical mucus sperm UNfriendly.
Some women’s fertility returns very quickly after stopping it; for other women their cycle doesn’t start up/balance for months or even years. It’s a risk, I guess. That women have to weigh up. Especially if they are older when they want to have a baby – time may tick tick away, if cycles take a long time to rebalance.
There are other risks linked with The Pill – some cancers, weight gain, fibroids…
So what do I suggest? Firstly, it’s your choice what you use. I always say check the benefits, risks, side effects and nutrition impacts of something before you decide.
The Pill – for example – robs women of good gut bacteria, magnesium, zinc, B vitamins (including Folic Acid), Vitamin E and Vitamin C. All of which are pretty important nutrients for fertility , pregnancy and baby health.
In my experience, Pill users can have high copper results in Hair Mineral Tests . High copper can affect fertility.
The Pill can throw blood sugar balance out of whack, which can impact hormones balance and fertility too.
I suggest women come off The Pill and take 3-4 months to see how their cycle settle down. They can look for natural signs of ovulation and improve their diet and lifestyle choices to get baby-fit and baby-ready. If you’re not ovulating or not regularly, I work with women to encourage ovulation with diet and lifestyle choices. Plus natural therapies to support them.
The Mini Pill
This works by thickening cervical mucus. It doesn’t stop ovulation. The contraceptive effects are short-lived, so fertility returns assuming there are no other factors influencing it.
These are rods continuing progesterone implants put under the skin. It thickens mucus and stops ovulation. It lasts for about 5 years: something to think about if you’re likely to want a baby in that time.
Depo – Provera
This injection slowly releases synthetic progesterone. It stops ovulation. Having no periods is a common side effect. Studies shows that women coming off Depo can take longer to conceive.
They are usually plastic and copper and put into your womb for 3-5 years. Coils cause the womb to become inflamed making it difficult for a fertilised egg to implant. They can cause heavy periods, risking iron deficiency. And increase risk of pelvic infection.
There are other “coils” impregnated with progesterone. They thicken mucus. Again there are known side effects – moods wings, nausea, headaches, no periods…
I suggest removing a coil and taking 3-4 months to get baby for and then start trying.
Condoms, the diaphragm and cap prevent sperm for getting into the cervix. Spermicides kill sperm.
Fertility returns straight away after stopping using them, assuming no other fertility changes.
Natural Fertility Awareness
Monitoring extremely closely over time, your natural fertility signs of temperature, mucus and cervix can be used for contraception, as well as to try to time conception.
There are no side effects with this method and fertility is protected throughout.
It’s a massive subject though. I have a whole class on properly monitoring fertility signs, other ovulation tests, timing of intercourse and more to support pregnancy … not contraception – you need a face-to-face qualified teacher showing you the method over time for that.
Getting Pregnant: Getting Jiggy
It’s sex before ovulation and at ovulation that leads to baby-making. You can’t get pregnant at any old time in your cycle.
That’s because sperm can live about 5 days (up to 7) in healthy, sperm-friendly mucus inside a woman. But an egg is only viable up to a day.
So it makes sense to have sex before and at ovulation.
Some women choose to track ovulation using natural signs or by peeing on sticks to monitor it and also to time sex. Others find that too stressful and prefer not to track too closely and have a less planned sex-life. It’s personal choice.
There are a lot of myths around ovulation and when it happens. Basically, it varies from woman to woman and can vary cycle to cycle. One thing is for sure. You need to be ovulating to fall pregnant naturally.
Most experts say regular, unprotected sex across a cycle is advisable – every other day to allow sperm to build up.
Getting Pregnant: Folic Acid
I talk a lot about my passion for preconception care. That’s looking after your health – MEN and WOMEN – for a few months before trying to fall pregnant. To improve health. Improve natural fertility. Reduce risks in pregnancy and to baby health.
Most women take Folic Acid as part of preconception care. Doctors usually recommend it to patients.
BUT, it’s not really enough, in my view. I wrote a whole blog on fertility nutrition and supplements. And how there are lots of nutrients for fertility – not just that ONE.
And even if you eat pretty well, there are so many other factors risking our fertility in the mad, modern world. The quality of food and soil it grows in. Lifestyle choices. Environmental toxins and chemicals. Illnesses and allergies and infections. Technology…heck your laptop and phone in your pocket could be affecting your lady and lad bits. And much much more, besides.
But very few people teach this. I DO.
I want to teach and support women and couples to boost health and fertility, naturally. So, more are getting pregnant naturally. Getting pregnant faster. Increasing IVF successes. Having healthy pregnancies. And happy, healthy babies.
With practical advice. That really helps.
So its not JUST about sex and Folic Acid. A whole heap of factors influence fertility. And we can control some of them ourselves.