Starting a family and having children is a precious gift, one many of us take for granted. Many couples think they can start having kids just like that – but the harsh reality is that conceiving a child does not always come easy.
Most couples who are trying to conceive will become pregnant within a year. For others it can take longer. In Canada, the incidence of fertility issues have risen in the past several decades, with one in six Canadian couples now experiencing fertility-related problems.
What is supposed to be an exciting and happy time in one’s life can become a significant source of stress and pressure for the couples that experience challenges along the way. If it’s taking longer than you expected to conceive, it’s always a good idea to speak to your doctor about what you should be doing to improve your chances of conceiving. Ontario, along with Quebec, Manitoba and New Brunswick, now offers some form of financial assistance for in-vitro fertilization to couples.
National Infertility Awareness Week is May 12 to 20. Dr. David Greenberg, Family Physician at St. Joseph Hospital, has some tips to help start the family planning.
For couples “trying” to conceive, every month can be filled with anxiety and worry. Heightened stress can actually cause more challenges. Therefore, it’s important to live in the moment and just enjoy your partner. Have sex every other day during the fertile window. One study found that intercourse is most likely to result in a pregnancy when it occurs two days before ovulation.
It’s not your fault
There are many reasons why conceiving a baby may be difficult, but it’s not anyone’s fault. Blaming yourself or your partner won’t fix anything and may lead to more problems, including tension in your relationship. Find ways to relax both body and mind, whether by exercising, taking deep breaths, listening to music or doing yoga.
Don’t wait until you find out you’re expecting to start making changes to your diet or exercise routine. Once you decide to start trying to conceive, start behaving like you’re already pregnant by eating right, taking prenatal vitamins, avoiding alcohol, stop smoking and exercising sensibly. Getting too much exercise or doing frequent strenuous workouts could interfere with ovulation.
Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, dairy and healthy sources of fat. Also, go easy on the caffeine: consuming more than 500 milligrams of caffeine a day has been linked with a decrease in fertility in women.
Research has shown that a woman who is overweight (her Body Mass Index, or BMI, is greater than 35) can take twice as long to become pregnant as a woman whose BMI is considered normal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges women to take 400 mcg of folic acid every day for at least one month before getting pregnant to help prevent birth defects.
Track your cycle
Improve your odds of conceiving by having sex on the days when conception is likeliest to happen. Every woman’s body is unique and, when trying to become pregnant, your individual cycle should be taken into consideration. Use an Ovulation Calculator to help you determine your cycle.
The First Response™ Digital Ovulation Test detects and tracks your personal daily baseline levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) to detect your personal LH surge, unlike other ovulation tests that use a pre-set “average” level to determine an LH surge.
Know when to see an expert
A woman and man should consider having an infertility evaluation if the woman is 35 or older and has not become pregnant after six months of having sex regularly without using birth control. A woman who is under 35 and her partner should consult a fertility specialist if she has failed to become pregnant after one year of having unprotected intercourse on a regular basis.
For those who know someone trying to conceive, the most important thing is to be supportive and understanding. It’s important to consult your doctor to find the best steps for you.
Visit Infertility Awareness Association of Canada for more information on fertility services, clinics, support groups and more.
Fertility Matters Canada is the national patient charity that provides education, support and assistance to individuals and couples who are struggling to build their families