Eat a balanced diet, stick to a healthy weight, have sex around the time of ovulation - the list for what you should do if you’re looking to start a family is typically quite a long one. And when you start to take into account advice from your close friends, family, and experts on the web; it can feel like a neverending one. Still, while those trying to conceive likely aren’t stuck for a list of do’s when it comes to potentially increasing your chances of getting pregnant, a list of don’ts is just as helpful.
Of course, having sex without contraception is one of the most important steps to take if you’re trying to get pregnant, however, as many soon figure out, it’s not the only one. There are numerous steps that you can take to help increase your chances of getting pregnant, and this includes things to consider avoiding, such as:
- Too much caffeine
- Excess alcohol intake
- Unhealthy diet
Related article: How Can You Promote Healthy Fertility?
What to avoid when trying to get pregnant
According to the NHS, over 80 out of every 100 couples will get pregnant if they have sex regularly (around 2-3 days per week) without using contraception . In saying that, if you are trying to conceive, there are steps you can take to increase your chances of getting pregnant beyond having regular, unprotected sex with your partner.
Related article: 5 Fertility Myths, Debunked
Smoking tends to make its way on to nearly every list of ‘things to avoid’, and for good reason. As many of us now know, smoking is known to be one of the most common causes of cancer and increases your risk of tuberculosis and problems of the immune system. On top of this, studies have shown that both men and women who smoke are more likely to have fertility problems or take longer to get pregnant. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that women who smoke have a higher risk of infertility .
If you’re a smoker and looking to start a family, it’s important to quit. We know that it’s much easier said than done, but simply take a look at the immediate benefits of quitting smoking here if you need some motivation!
Too much caffeine
If you’re an avid fan of caffeinated drinks, experts recommend that you cut back while you’re trying to conceive. Your morning, pre-lunch or after-lunch coffees might just be having a negative effect on your fertility with studies showing that more than five cups of coffee a day is associated with decreased fertility .
You don’t have to completely say goodbye to your favorite caffeinated beverage though, it’s just important to consider cutting back. Mayo Clinic suggests limiting caffeine intake to one or two 6-8 ounce cups of coffee per day (for context, this is around a ‘short’ sized cup of coffee from Starbucks) .
Many of us are aware that excessive alcohol intake can negatively affect different aspects of our overall health and wellbeing, of course, this includes our reproductive health. However, studies suggest that drinking in moderation can also affect chances of conceiving - with one study finding that one to five drinks per week can reduce a woman’s chances of conceiving . This means if you want to get pregnant, you might consider avoiding alcohol completely.
The importance of a healthy and balanced diet is something that you’re probably more than familiar with and is something that can help support your reproductive health and help you prepare for a healthy pregnancy.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy your Friday night pizza every now and then, just be sure to include a variety of foods in your diet from the major food groups that are high in key vitamins such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. For women, it’s also recommended to take folic acid every day to help reduce any risk of birth defects.
Related article: 8 Foods to Help With Fertility
If you’re familiar with the feelings of stress, you likely know the effects it can have on your body and mood - from headaches and muscle tension to anxiety and lack of motivation. Recent research suggests that increased stress levels can affect your reproductive health too. This occurs when stress hormones, such as cortisol, fluctuate which can have an effect on your sex hormones. On top of that, feelings of stress can cause a shift in your sex drive.
If you notice that you are feeling overwhelmed recently, it’s important to take steps towards managing these feelings and giving yourself the TLC you deserve! Mayo Clinic recommends regular exercise, practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation, or simply setting some time aside to catch up with family and friends .
What are the five things that can cause infertility?
Infertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant despite having frequent, unprotected sex for at least, or over, a year. There are a number of different lifestyle factors that can make it difficult to become pregnant or may be considered a risk factor for infertility, these include:
- Alcohol use
- Being overweight or underweight
- Lack of exercise
- Smoking tobacco
- Older age
On top of this, there are other specific conditions that can affect a woman’s ability to get pregnant, including:
- Abnormalities in the cervix or uterus
- Thyroid disorders
It’s important to speak with your doctor if you have been regularly trying to get pregnant for at least one year. They will be able to offer you help and advice specific to your situation.
One of the most reliable ways to know more about your current fertility status is with a fertility test. This can be done by taking a visit to your doctor or from home with an at-home fertility test.
LetsGetChecked’s range of Female Fertility Tests provides a broad picture of a woman’s hormonal health. This can provide you with an insight into your current fertility status with online results available in just 5 days and medical support available over the phone for support and guidance.
Related article: How do You Check Female Fertility From Home?
- NHS. Trying to get Pregnant. Online: NHS.uk
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Smoking During Pregnancy. Online: Cdc.gov
- American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Optimizing natural fertility: a committee opinion. Online: Asrm.org
- Mayo Clinic. Getting Pregnant. Online: Mayoclinic.org
- Drink Aware. Is Alcohol Affecting Your Fertility? Online: Drinkaware.co.uk
- Mayo Clinic. Stress Symptoms: Effects on Your Body and Behaviour. Online: Mayoclinic.org