Ready to start a family? 7 tips to boost fertility

If you’re ready to take the plunge into parenthood, this expert advice could help improve your chances of conceiving.

Having a baby is one of life’s greatest joys, but the journey to parenthood can take a little longer for some people.

Fertility specialist Dr Raelia Lew says about 80 per cent of fertile couples will conceive naturally within six months of trying and 90 per cent within 12 months.

However, if you’re trying to fall pregnant even a few months can feel like an eternity, so here are some fertility-boosting tips that could get you there sooner.

Plan your family young

Fertility peaks in our teens and 20s for both sexes and women aged 35-39 years have roughly half the chance of conceiving spontaneously as women aged 19-26 years.

“An unprecedented number of women are presenting with age-related infertility, increasing risks of miscarriages, complications and the need for medical fertility treatments,” Dr Lew says.

If you can’t start early, Dr Lew says egg freezing technology can extend your fertility window.

Track your ovulation – and have sex

Fertility expert Dr Karin Hammarberg says one of the best ways to improve your chance of pregnancy is to track your menstrual cycle.

“If you have sex on the day of, or the two days before ovulation, your average chance of pregnancy jumps from 10 to 30 per cent,” she says.

This ovulation calculator will help you figure out your fertile window.

Dr Lew says regular sex is also a must, and a good rule of thumb is twice during the week and once on the weekend, from 10 days after your period starts until you have ovulated.

Maintain a healthy weight to help fertility

Being over or underweight can affect a woman’s hormones, menstrual cycle and egg quality, while overweight men can have reduced libido and sperm quality and erection problems.

“Research shows if you’re overweight or underweight, it can take longer to conceive,” Dr Hammarberg says.

“If you or your partner is overweight, even losing a few kilograms can improve your chance of conception.”

Reduce exposure to chemicals to boost fertility

Studies show that endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can reduce the quality of sperm and eggs and affect your chance of pregnancy.

“We all come into contact with a lot of chemicals through the products we use, foods we eat and air we breathe,” Dr Hammarberg says.

“About 95 per cent of people have EDCs in their bodies and research has shown people struggling to conceive can have higher levels.”

To reduce your exposure, wash fruit and vegetables, eat organic, switch to green products and avoid soft plastic bottles, pesticides and herbicides.

How quitting smoking can increase fertility

Cigarette toxins can damage a woman’s eggs, interfere with fertilisation and cause ovaries to age.

“Smoking is one of the worst things you can do for fertility and the health of a future baby,” Dr Hammarberg says.

“Men and women who smoke take longer to get pregnant – and second-hand smoke is almost as damaging for women.”

Ways acupuncture may assist fertility

Acupuncture is thought to improve blood supply to the uterus and ovaries, which may improve egg and endometrial lining quality.

Acupuncturist Shannon Gibson says it also addresses health issues that impact fertility, regulates your menstrual cycle and reduces stress – which can negatively impact conception.

“Acupuncture is well known to help alleviate stress and anxiety and provide extra support,” she says.

Get expert advice to support your fertility

Fertility can be affected by many factors, so if you’re having problems conceiving, fertility tests such as sperm tests, ovulation tests, ultrasound scans and fallopian tube x-rays will help track the cause and give peace of mind.

Dr Lew says if you’ve been trying for more than 12 months, or more than six months if you’re over 35, it’s time to seek the advice of a CREI-qualified medical fertility specialist to guide you on the journey.

Written by Dimity Barber.