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Optimizing Natural Fertility

Around one in six couples may have difficulty conceiving in the UK, which is around 3.5 million people. Below are some helpful tips on how you might optimize the likelihood of achieving pregnancy when there is no history of, or reason to question your potential fertility.

Important Fertility Tips to Consider.

Your age

Have more Sex

Eliminate Stress

Quit Smoking

Reduce Alcohol Intake

Stay Warm

Be aware of what you are eating

Fertility and Age.

As a woman ages, the egg quality ages too, making them less viable for successful and healthy fertilisation. It is generally considered that women reach their fertility peak during their early twenties and so not surprisingly this is the best time to conceive. However, a woman may feel that she is not financially able, far enough into her career or IS not ready to settle down, hence many couples delay having children.

Despite this the average age for first time births (for women in the UK) is 29.4 years. The office for National Statistics in England and Wales have studies which show that the highest fertility rates in England and Wales are attributed to women in their 30’s.

Men have a biological clock like women, it just ticks more quietly. As men age their sperm production, which is driven by testicular health and testosterone levels, starts to decline. However male fertility does not appear to be so dramatically affected, as that in women, by age.

It is common for couples to be trying for up to 6 months before they are considered to have a fertility problem, however it is recommended that if you are over 35 and are finding conception difficult you should seek medical advice sooner.

Frequency of Intercourse.

There are many old wives tales that advise on the best time and the frequency of intercourse needed to increase the changes of conceiving naturally. Many believe that you should only have sex when you’re ovulating and that regular sex reduces the quality and quantity of healthy sperm. Studies have shown that reproductive efficiency increases with the frequency of intercourse and is highest when intercourse occurs every 1 to 2 days. For most women the time of peak fertility can vary considerably, even among women who have regular cycles, therefore the notion of having regular sex enables the chances of conception to be greatly increased.

Although the studies suggest that daily intercourse offers a slight advantage to conceiving, intervals of abstinence as short as 2 days, also allow the sperm density to increase, which can also help the chances of conceiving. It should be noted however that abstinence intervals which are longer than 5 days greatly affect the sperm count, which reduces.

A widely held misperception is that frequent ejaculations decrease male fertility. Men with normal sperm quality, concentration and motility, remain normal even with daily ejaculation. Surprisingly in men with oligozoospermia (subnormal concentration of sperm) sperm concentration and motility may be highest with daily ejaculation.

Reduce Stress

Stress is something couples struggling to conceive will be very familiar with. It is also the number one contributing factor to infertility. The high adrenalin and blood pressure levels associated with stress can affect the hypothalamus – the gland in the brain that controls emotions and appetite, whilst also monitoring the hormones that produce testosterone in men, and that trigger egg release in women. It is perhaps this stress effect which accounts for the stories we all hear of couples who gave up trying for a baby and then fell pregnant.

It can be easy to say “just relax and it will happen”; however this is not helpful advice for trying to conceive couples. Firstly couples should not take their stress out on their partner. It is important that couples are relaxed enough to be able to create the romance needed to get up close and personal. In order for couples to increase their chances of conception – they need to find a way to burn off the adrenalin productively.

Persistent low grade stress is the most harmful. Couples need to try to take time out for themselves individually every day. Where they allow themselves periods of time to become completely relaxed and calm; for everyone this may be different such as a bath or reading.

Many couples find that the best method of stress relieving is exercise, as this also releases endorphins into the bloodstream. Performing regular exercise can also help a good quality of sleep which is essential for any healthy lifestyle. There are many forms of exercise that can be stress relieving such as running, cycling, boxercise, aerobics and other heart pumping activities. However swimming, Pilates and yoga are also just as effective; it is a case of doing what feels right for the individual.

Quit Smoking

There are many reasons why a person should give up smoking but when it comes to fertility the requirement for quitting is more profound for both partners. What’s more, it doesn’t matter if you smoke a little or a lot. The effect is the same. There is no ‘safe’ smoking level.

Smoking decreases both partners fertility and is related to higher miscarriage rates in couples. Women who smoke take longer to conceive; among smokers, the chances of conceiving are decreased by 10-40% per cycle. Men who smoke have a lower sperm count than non-smokers and their semen contains a higher proportion of malformed sperm.

There is also an overwhelming number of studies that show repercussions to the female even when only the male partner smokes. The inhaled smoke decreases the oxygen level in the blood which means that less oxygen is carried to the body’s cells; without a good supply of oxygen to the cells, the body cannot work at its optimum level. Smoking introduces toxins into the body that can damage DNA in the developing sperm, causing an increase in malformed sperm, reduced motility and a lower concentration thus reducing the man’s fertility potential.

Choosing to quit smoking for a period of three to four months prior to conception should be every males smoker’s minimal commitment to helping his partner conceive. If both partners are smokers, then they should try to quit smoking together.

Reduce Alcohol intake

While the odd glass of wine can be seen as a great way to unwind after a hard week’s work, a trying to conceive couple should keep tabs on how much and how often they drink, as a lower alcohol intake should improve their chances of success.

It is recommended that women should stick to four units a week and men six to eight units. Alcohol causes free radical damage which is a big factor with sperm in particular, but also egg reserves. Alcohol reduces testosterone levels; simply stopping the male partner from consuming alcohol can immediately improve the quantity and quality of his sperm. For a woman it is not quite so simple, as past drinking habits may have contributed to poor egg quality. However reducing alcohol intake, can help to provide a good environment for the egg.

Stay Warm

Keep your lower back, lower abdomen, legs and feet warm at all times. This is a powerful principle of Oriental medicine whereby keeping these areas warm to the touch allows the blood to circulate efficiently through this area. It also allows a good supply of blood to the uterus, which increases the rate of implantation.


Diet is a strong factor in affecting the chances of conception, especially for women. Nutrition is more than avoiding excessive calories. It is about nutrients. Couples trying to conceive need vitamins, minerals, protein and sustenance to improve their fertility. Couples should aim to eat quality food, such as cooking from scratch with fresh foods. Eating well means that your blood sugar levels will be more balanced which will also allow for your hormones to balance out as well.

There have been many studies that have linked vitamins and supplements to sperm quality, motility and morphology. Both partners should also aim for diets that are rich in antioxidants, which include Vitamin C, E, zinc, selenium and folic acid.

Good sources of Vitamin C and E include citrus fruits and nuts, while zinc is found in meat and pumpkin seeds. Brazil nuts and eggs are rich in selenium and good sources of folic acid include green leafy vegetables, pulses, oats and wholegrains.


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