With the arrival of 2018, you may have personal goals of starting a family. Here are some simple physician-approved tips to kickstart your family planning in the New Year:
- Track Your Cycle Regularity - The only way to know if you have regular or irregular cycles is to track them. A normal menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, plus or minus seven days. If your cycle falls out of this range, you do not have a period, or you have periods too frequently or for eight days or more, visit a physician to find out why.
- Confirm Ovulation -Having sex in the three to five days leading up to ovulation can increase chances of conception dramatically. While also tracking your menstrual cycles, chart your basal body temperature or use an ovulation prediction kit to confirm ovulation. Once you know you are ovulating, no need to continue tracking. If you believe there are any issues, contact a physician.
- Change Your Lubricant - Water-based lubricants such as Astroglide or K-Y can inhibit sperm movement and some brands even contain spermicide. Instead, try PreSeed lubricant to enhance chances of conception.
- Check Your Medication - Some prescription medication for both men and women can inhibit fertility potential. Check with your doctor to confirm any potentially negative medicinal effects before trying to conceive.
- Exercise - If you are overweight, losing as little as 5-10% of body weight can have a huge impact on fertility. Excess weight hurts the fertility of both men and women. Commit to exercising for 150 minutes each week with your partner.
- Stop Smoking - There are few unhealthy habits that can do as much damage as smoking for male and female fertility. Smoking can damage sperm and accelerate egg loss. Find a smoking cessation program and quit.
- Opt for Morning Sex - Sperm counts are higher in the morning, so make time for a morning romp before heading out for the day.
- Get a Fertility Checkup - You can get a snapshot of your fertility potential through a Fertility Awareness Checkup for only $90. Tests include a blood test and ultrasound for women and a semen analysis for men.
- Sleep - Your body needs sleep to heal and function properly. Make sleep a priority and get at least seven or eight hours a night.
- Be Mindful - Trying for a baby and going through fertility treatment can be stressful. Take the time to hit pause during your busy day for silent, still and cleansing breaths while focusing on the present without judgment. Taking a few moments to be mindful can quickly relax and calm the mind.
- Take Folate - Folic acid has been found to both improve ovulation and create healthier sperm. Add 400 mcg of folic acid to your morning vitamin routine.
- Cut Down Caffeine - Large amounts of caffeine can negatively impact fertility, so eliminate or limit caffeine intake to 300 mg per day. One or two servings such as a soda and a coffee should be the maximum caffeine consumption per day.
- Keep Things Cool - Too much heat in the scrotum can decrease sperm production. Stay away from long bike rides, keep electronics out of the front pocket and off the lap, keep hot tub sessions short and occasional, and opt for looser underwear.
- Don’t Set Deadlines - Telling yourself that you want to get pregnant by a certain date only sets you up for disappointment if it doesn’t happen. Know that you will achieve parenthood in time and remember to take care of yourself in the present.
- Do Morning Affirmations - Starting out your day with a moment to think positive and empowering thoughts can help you keep your optimism high and your stress low. Some examples include: I welcome my time to become a parent. I trust and love myself and my body. I allow new beginnings in my life.
- Try Yoga - Fertility-enhancing asanas can increase blood flow to the pelvis, decrease stress, and calm the mind. And you’ll feel great afterward! A study with Fertility Centers of Illinois and Pulling Down the Moon found that online yoga and in-person yoga are equally effective in reducing stress for infertility patients with at least one failed IVF cycle or pregnancy loss.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight - Whether you are over or underweight, having a body weight that doesn’t fall into the normal Body Mass Index range can hurt fertility. Excess weight can impact ovulatory issues and sperm production.
- Melt Stress - Life is more enjoyable when you are relaxed, so don’t let the stress creep up and take away your joy. Make time for yourself to do something - massage, dinner with friends, a good book - that calms and relaxes you.
We wish you the best of luck in your 2018 family planning endeavors!