9 things to avoid when you’re TTC

Steer clear of these fertility fiends if you’re actively trying to conceive.


Baby-making is lots of fun, but it’s also serious business. Every month, a woman in her late 20s has a 20 per cent chance of conceiving, but this number nosedives to 8 per cent by the time she’s in her late 30s.

Then, there’s also timing. Your window of opportunity to conceive ― also known as your fertile period – is the five days before ovulation, plus the day of that Big O itself. Have sex too soon or too late and your chances of conceiving are close to zero.

As you can see, making a baby is not that straightforward. If you and your spouse have been trying to start a family, don’t feel discouraged. There are plenty of things you can do to speed up the process.

Boost your conception chances by making the following tweaks. It will be hard at first, but persevere because the arrival of your baby will make it all worthwhile!

#1. Alcohol

Before you freak out, we’re not saying you must become a teetotaller. Enjoy a glass or two of your favourite wine now and then, but don’t binge. This is especially important during your ovulation week and right after as alcohol can be toxic to a developing embryo. It may also result in an early miscarriage. Too much alcohol can also damage your reproductive system. It makes your body less capable of absorbing and processing the important vitamins and minerals a healthy reproductive system needs. Plus, it can cause hormonal imbalances, which is not helpful when you’re trying to conceive. Guys aren’t spared either. Alcohol consumption depletes zinc, which results in low sperm count. Men who drink regularly are also at risk of suffering erection problems and may even become permanently impotent in the long run.

#2. Caffeine

Mamas-to-be are encouraged to consume no more than 200 to 300 milligrams of caffeine a day during their pregnancy. This works out to two cups of coffee or caffeinated tea. This recommendation is now also extended to those trying to conceive. Caffeine dehydrates you and can interfere with your ability to absorb iron. This can delay conception. High doses of caffeine also affects sperm count and function. Remember that this addictive substance not only lurks in coffees and teas but also in products like energy drinks, chocolate, meds, soft drinks and a range of foods like ice cream. So, read the nutritional labels before consuming anything.

Caffeine dehydrates you and can interfere with your ability to absorb iron. This can delay conception. High doses of caffeine also affects sperm count and function.

#3. Smoking

If you haven’t already kicked this habit, now is a good time to do so. Not only does it take longer for smokers to fall pregnant, but all those harmful chemicals in a cigarette affect the quality of a woman’s egg and increases the risk that your baby will be born with genetic abnormalities. Tobacco also decreases the quantity of sperm in male smokers. Plus, it lowers antioxidant levels in semen, which help to protect sperm from damage. In fact, smoking wreaks such havoc that even if couples who smoke decide to get fertility treatments, their chances of conceiving will be much lower than a couple whose lifestyle is smoke-free.

#4. Stress

All of us deal with stress in one form or another, so there’s no running away from it. The stress might even stem from the fact that you’re trying to conceive and not succeeding. While there’s no concrete evidence that chronic stress can do a number on your fertility, it does affect your health and quality of life. Also, with this burden weighing you down, the last thing you want to do is the horizontal mambo with your spouse. There are plenty of ways to relieve stress though. Do yoga, acupuncture or talk to a counsellor. If everyday stress is getting in the way of your baby-making efforts, get away from it all!