What effects Fertility?
A huge amount of women come into our pharmacy looking for advice on fertility and on getting pregnant so I have decided to write a blog on this topic. Fertility is often in the media lately with TV shows such as the Babymakers shedding light on a subject that we have always treated as taboo. It is great that we have started to have these conversations in Ireland but it can still scare some women into thinking that she and her partner need to rush straight to the nearest fertility clinic immediately.
How long does it take to get pregnant?
When you make that decision to stop using whatever contraceptive method you have relied on and to start trying to have a baby, you expect it to just happen immediately, however this isn’t always the case. So women often get confused as to when they need to seek help and when they need to keep trying on their own. My advice would be to start with the basics. If you want to get pregnant then it is important to be in the best possible health you can be in. This means eating a balanced diet and doing exercise. You should also avoid smoking, excessive drinking of alcohol and caffeine.
Conception is a complicated process and it is completely normal for a healthy couple under the age of 35 to still take up to a year to get pregnant. This process can be further delayed in the women has been the contraceptive pill for a long time. If you do need further advice, call into your pharmacy to have a chat. We will make sure you are doing all the right things and can let you know if it is time to speak to your GP or a fertility expert.
Do you know your cycle?
It is also important to get to know your cycle so you know when you have the best chance of pregnancy. For some women this may be on day 12-14 for many women they may have a longer cycle, while means it could be day 26 before they ovulate. It is a good idea to start tracking your cycle. You can do this easily now with various different apps which allow your record the day of your period and then they estimate when you will ovulate. There are also aps such as Natural Cycles which allow you to input your temperature every morning which will give you a more accurate prediction of ovulation as your temperature tends to be lower before you ovulate and higher afterwards. You can also purchases Luteinising hormone detector kits that detect the LH surge that happens just before ovulation. These can be bought in your pharmacy.
Why is ovulation so important?
So why is it so important to understand when ovulation occurs in your body? Well ovulation is the term given for the release of an egg from the ovaries. In order to get pregnant an egg must get fertilised by sperm. As sperm can live up to 5 days in the body, the best time to have sex is in the 5 days leading up to and including the day of ovulation. However trying to plan sex too much can result in stress for a couple. So the advice is to aim to have sex every couple of days keeping in mind to have sex around your ovulation window.
What supplements should you be taking?
We are often asked for advice on supplements to take when planning a pregnancy. The first priority for women when considering pregnancy is folic acid. This should be started 2/3 months before conception and should be continued for at least the first trimester. Folic acid is essential for development of the baby’s neural tube. Don’t panic if you find that you are pregnant and you have started folic acid but do start it straight away. The department of Health recommends a daily dose of folic acid of 400ug which can be purchased without a prescription in the pharmacy. There are also supplements that provide folic acid as well as other vitamins and minerals that support egg and sperm health. Examples of these include Pregnacare conception and Proceive.