Preparing for Pregnancy
We believe in providing a minimally invasive and holistic approach to your care based on your individual needs.
Our goal is not only to help you achieve pregnancy but also to help you achieve a healthy live birth while maintaining or improving your own health. This means that in most cases we don't suggest IVF immediately, rather we focus on optimising your fertility as naturally as possible. In our experience, optimising your lifestyle and nutrition will increase the chance of a successful pregnancy and live birth, and also your embryo (and sperm!) quality and therefore long-term health outcomes of your baby.
Our ebook Boosting Your Natural Fertility is full of tips on understanding when in your cycle you are more likely to conceive as well as advice on nutrition and health.
During your consultation, our doctors will provide you with information to help you to improve your health, including a list of common environmental toxins to avoid during this time.
Some of the most important things to consider that might increase your chances of falling pregnant can be found below. You can also head to our Fertility News page, which is updated regularly with information on how to improve your chances of conception.
Regular intercourse at the fertile time gives you the best chance of becoming pregnant. It is recommended that you have unprotected intercourse every two days during your fertile window. If you are not aware of your fertile window, sexual intercourse is recommended 2-3 times per week.
For both men and women, being overweight or underweight can affect your fertility. Your Body Mass Index (BMI) is used to determine if you are in a healthy weight range for your height. The ideal BMI for fertility is between 20 and 25. For women, dieting while you are pregnant is not advised, so it is best to embark on a weight loss program before you start trying to conceive. For men, losing weight will improve the quality of your semen. If you need any help with optimising lifestyle and weight loss, we offer preconception care with expert nurses available to help.
Smoking can cause problems in virtually all areas of the reproductive system. Women who smoke are more likely to have difficulty conceiving, or to experience pregnancy complications. For men, smoking may affect the development and quality of sperm and there is a higher risk of impotence (erectile dysfunction). For information and advice on how to stop smoking, visit Quit Now at www.quitnow.gov.au or call the Quitline on 13 78 48.
The Australian guidelines designed to reduce health risks associated with drinking alcohol recommend that cessation of alcohol is the safest option for women planning a pregnancy. For men, the recommendation is to drink no more than two standard drinks on any day since drinking excessive amounts of alcohol may affect your sperm count.
While an active lifestyle is important as it can contribute to good reproductive health and reduce stress, exercising heavily every day may interfere with the regularity of the menstrual cycle for women. For men, prolonged cycling can affect testicular function and there is a risk of damage to the testicles during high-contact sports. Therefore, regular light-to-moderate exercise is recommended.
There is no special eating plan for becoming pregnant. A sensible diet for both partners includes plenty of fruit, vegetables, grains; small to moderate amounts of fish (especially oily fish) and poultry, while limited amounts of red meat is advised. You will be provided with a healthy diet chart during your first visit with us.
In general, it is recommended for men and women to consume no more than two caffeinated drinks per day (and some recent research none at all), as an increased amount of caffeine may affect fertility and increase the likelihood of pregnancy complications.
Experiencing infertility can be emotionally difficult, and fertility treatment can be a stressful process. Not only does this affect women, but often partners do not realise the impact of infertility on their psychological health as well. We encourage both partners to take the opportunity to attend counselling sessions with us at any time during your treatment so that you can discuss your concerns and develop strategies to help you manage your particular situation. See counselling and support for more information.
For women, taking folic acid (folate) and iodine daily at least one month before trying to conceive and during pregnancy is recommended as they are essential for the growth and development of your baby. There are also supplements available for men with a combination of antioxidants that may support sperm health. Check out our article on which vitamins and supplements you should prioritise, and our fertility doctors can guide you through dosage and where to find these supplements in more detail at your consultation.
Men should try to avoid raising their body temperature, particularly the temperature around the testes, as it can reduce sperm production. Both male and female partners should also try to minimise exposure to toxins. There are many examples, including those found in household cleaning agents and liquids in soft plastic packaging. Your fertility doctor will provide you with a list of environmental toxins that could affect your fertility and measures you can take to avoid them at your consultation.
Many couples do not realise that fertility will begin to diminish at a relatively early age. A woman is most fertile between the ages of 18 and 24. Women will begin to experience reduced fertility (the quality and quantity of viable eggs) on average from age 35 years onwards, and there is also an increased risk of miscarriage with age. The latest evidence also suggests that male fertility starts to decline from as early as 40 years, with a marked decline from age 50 onwards.
The age-related decline in the number of healthy eggs in a woman’s ovaries is a major contributory factor to infertility. Older women are also more likely to develop medical disorders including diabetes and high blood pressure if a pregnancy does occur and the baby is more at risk of having a chromosomal abnormality (such as Down’s syndrome). Your doctor will be able to discuss genetic screening options and preconception carrier testing during your consultation, where relevant. For more information on genetic screening, visit: eugenelabs.com or sonicgenetics.com.au
Want to find out more?
There can be quite a lot of information to take in when it comes to IVF treatment, so if you have any further questions, you can arrange a nurse chat.
Alternatively, if you are ready to discuss the next step in your fertility journey, you can book an appointment with one of our fertility doctors.