Each moment awaiting the result of a pregnancy test can feel like hours on end. When the result is negative, women find themselves in the depths of despair and disappointment. However, difficulty in conceiving a baby has become a common struggle for many women across the world.
According to the facts - infertility affects about 10 to 14 percent of the Indian population and rates are high in the urban areas. The road to parenthood can be an ordeal for many couples, especially when they have been trying to conceive for long with no luck. Currently, over 27.5 million couples in India trying to conceive struggle with infertility. With advancements in healthcare, infertility can be treated or overcome with self-care, lifestyle changes and medical treatments in most cases.
While couples continue to try conceiving, below are six ways they can incorporate to smooth the path to parenthood.
Opt for a nutritious diet
Food is the reflection of our bodies. Naturally, a poor diet affects chances of conceiving, so eating a healthy diet can tip the scales in the favour of those trying to conceive. Start by including wholesome foods like green vegetables, fresh fruits, full-fat dairy products, lean proteins and whole grains in the daily diet. A diet rich in iron, calcium, Omega-3 fatty acids and whole foods encourages egg production and enhances reproductive health.
Maintain a healthy weight
Multiple studies point out that being underweight and overweight negatively affects a woman’s fertility. Maintaining the right BMI (Body Mass Index) of 20-24 can be instrumental to get pregnant. However, about 25 percent of women face ovulatory infertility owing to obesity and over 12 percent suffer due to being underweight. So, maintaining a healthy weight by exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet and abstaining from junk food can improve your chances of getting pregnant.
Avoid alcohol and smoking
Smoking is not only injurious to your respiratory health but can also weaken fertility potential. Certain chemicals present in cigarettes are known to deplete egg count and accelerate menopause by 1-4 years. On the other hand, it badly affects the quality of sperm in men having smoking habits. Similarly, alcohol can disrupt the menstrual cycle and cause irregular ovulation in women. Cutting back on alcohol and refraining from cigarettes is a wise choice in order to boost fertility.
Manage stress effectively
Coping with infertility and an extended conception can be highly stressful, especially for women. But failing to manage stress can interfere with the natural processes of getting pregnant. Cortisol, a stress hormone, acts as a communication barrier between your brain and ovaries resulting in irregular cycles. Try to practice yoga, breathing exercises and mindfulness to manage stress and seek professional help from a therapist or psychologist to reduce its long-term effects.
Take prenatal vitamins
Lack of essential vitamins and minerals in our bodies can lead to ovulatory infertility. Prenatal vitamins are specifically designed multivitamin supplements that provide the body with the required dose of daily vitamins before and during pregnancy. Two fertility-boosting nutrients- folic acid and Vitamin D promote the production of sex hormones and the development of the foetus. Make sure these vitamins are on level to reduce the chances of infertility. Starting folic acid 3 months prior to conception decreases the chances defects of brain and spinal cord in the baby. So start folic acid as soon as you start planning.
Track ovulation cycle
Fertility peaks during the time of ovulation. Thus, it is necessary to know when the body is ovulating to increase the chances of getting pregnant. Ovulation occurs during a narrow window of 12-24 hours which usually happens 12-14 days prior to the start of periods. By monitoring the cycle in a mobile app or through an ovulation tracking kit, one can make sure to have intercourse during and in the days leading up to their ovulation. The sperm can live in the uterus for 3-5 days when the egg is present, it increases the likelihood of fertilization.
While a couple waits for the miracle of pregnancy, they always take steps to boost fertility and hasten the progress by making these lifestyle and dietary changes. Most hurdles to conceiving a baby can be overcome and there’s no need to lose hope or become depressed. If all else fails, one can always seek medical help and consult a fertility specialist to know the best solutions.
(Dr Sheetal Sachdeva, MBBS, DGO, DNB, is Consultant - Obstetrics & Gynecology, at Apollo Cradle & Children’s Hospital, Moti Nagar - New Delhi.)
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