Deciding to have a child is a an exciting time, but it can also be stressful and frustrating for couples who don’t conceive right away. Dr. Myron Bethel, OB/GYN with Renown Women’s Health, offers some tips for couples looking to start or grow their family.
Everyone’s path to parenthood is different, and for couples struggling to conceive, that path can be frustrating, and even painful. We asked Dr. Myron Bethel, OB/GYN with Renown Women’s Health, to offer some tips for couples who may be struggling to conceive.
What is the average timeline for conception?
First, it’s important to remember that getting pregnant can take longer than you expect and not to get stressed out or blame yourself or your partner. Seventy percent of couples conceive within six months and 85 percent within one year.
What do you suggest for couples who may be struggling to conceive?
To help improve your chances of conceiving, it’s important to track your ovulation closely. You can do this by tracking your period, watching your body closely and logging symptoms, charting your basal body temperature or using ovulation kits. If you still aren’t sure when you’re ovulating, try to have sex every other day to improve your chances of conception.
If you’ve been trying for a year or more, you can talk to your OB about options and discuss meeting with a fertility specialist.
How can couples who are trying to get pregnant make sure they’re healthy enough to conceive?
Of course it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle all the time, but it’s especially important if you’re trying to get pregnant. There’s no magic pill or single food, but women should start focusing on nutrients they’ll need during pregnancy.
Before trying to conceive, start taking folate and folic acid to help prevent birth defects. Good sources of these nutrients include spinach, beans, asparagus, oranges, peanuts and fortified cereal.
Lifestyle changes can also help improve fertility. For both men and women, extra weight can reduce fertility. Both sexes can increase their chances of conception by not smoking, avoiding alcohol and exercising regularly.
And for men specifically, taking a daily vitamin that contains zinc and selenium will help support healthy sperm.
How does fertility change with age?
Since women have a set number of eggs, age can be a factor in fertility. For example, a healthy, fertile woman in her 20s has a 33 percent chance of conceiving each cycle if she has sex a day or two before ovulating. At 30, the same woman has a 20 percent chance, and at 40, she has a 5 percent chance. The same is true with men. Men over the age of 40 may also be less fertile than younger men.
If you’ve been trying to conceive for more than a year, you should call your doctor, regardless of your age. If you do find out you or your partner is infertile, it’s important to remember that you aren’t alone — 15 percent of couples in the U.S. are infertile. And there are lots of options you can discuss with your doctor to try and conceive, or evaluate other options such as adoption, if that’s the right choice for you.