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!

 

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#5. Being underweight or overweight

Use this tool to calculate your body mass index (BMI). If it’s too high (more than 30) or low (less than 18.5), it can result in irregular or missed periods. Being extremely underweight will also affect ovulation and potentially even stop you from ovulating altogether. If you’re obese, hormonal imbalances can trigger issues with the menstrual cycle and ovulation and it may impact the woman’s ability to conceive. When overweight women fall pregnant, they face a higher risk of pregnancy complications, such as miscarriage, premature birth and gestational diabetes, which can affect bubba’s health. If you fall into either category, speak to a nutritionist to find out how you can reach you ideal weight in a safe manner.

#6. Extreme exercises or being a couch potato

While we’re on the topic of how one’s weight affects health, being fit will boost your chances of conceiving. On the other hand, over-exercising ― for example, observing intense 90-minute gym sessions six days a week ― may impact your fertility. In fact, if you push your body beyond its limits, it immediately goes into survival mode ― and shut down your reproductive system, which will disrupt your menstrual cycle. Keep fit and stay healthy by being moderately active with light exercises such as brisk walking, swimming or biking. This will keep your menstrual cycle regular and improve your chances of conceiving.

Most lubricants are thick in consistency, which prevents sperm from reaching the uterus or slows it down.

#7. Lubricants

A little lube can help spice things up, especially if you’re trying to make a baby. Just be sure to use those that supporting your get-pregnant efforts, not impede them. Most lubricants are thick in consistency, which prevents sperm from reaching the uterus or slows it down. Their high pH level (acidity) can also kill or damage those little swimmers. Opt for baby-friendly lubricants such as in Conceive Plus. But if you’d rather steer clear of these, indulge in creative foreplay to keep things steamy in the bedroom.

#8. Junk food and fish high in mercury

Once again, you want to treat your body right, so that it will function optimally. According to The Fertility Diet, a book written by prominent Harvard Medical School researchers, you can in fact eat your way to greater fertility. It recommends heart-healthy fare such as dark green leafy veggies (like kale or spinach) which are rich in folic acid, plus, fruit. Such fare makes the uterus more alkaline, so that sperm can survive longer as opposed to meats, sugar and white processed foods that are high in acidity. By the way, if you’re a seafood fan, pass up swordfish, shark, ahi, bigeye tuna and king mackerel. These mercury-rich fish have been linked to fertility issues in both men and women. Also, mercury can stay in your system for up to a year or more, which can harm a growing foetus’s brain and nervous system.

#9. Heat-high activities

Fellas, keep your little swimmers away from hot tubs, hot yoga and your laptop. Being in such close contact with high heat won’t just stunt sperm production, it may even kill them. Wear briefs instead of boxers to encourage the production of more sperm. Also, guys should retire their running tights or biker shorts as these increase heat around the testicles.

Photos: iStock

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