Dr Fong Yang, Astra Women’s Specialists

Trying for a baby?
Here are some tips to help boost your fertility.

1. Eat healthy to control your weight
Being overweight before getting pregnant is often an overlooked factor in fertility. Keeping a healthy weight can help with conception. Being overweight (BMI of 25 and above) can have a twofold increase in the time it takes a woman to get pregnant. Being underweight with a BMI off less than 18.5 is even worse, researchers found, with time to conception increasing fourfold.

The BMI is calculated by dividing your weight in kilogrammes by your height in metres, then divide that number by your height again to get your BMI.

When trying to conceive, it is also important to eat healthily. Try to reduce the intake of alcohol, coffee and processed food. At the same time, your diet should include more leafy greens, whole grains, eggs, legumes, lean protein and lots of water.

2. Stay calm & exercise wisely
Manage your stress. Stress can increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can disrupt your normal hormonal balance, and temporarily interrupt your ovulation patterns. It is possible for stress to also affect your relationship, which could make intimacy more difficult. There are many ways to reduce anxiety and tension, through calming and relaxing activities such as yoga, meditation or massages. Others may need professional help to get stress under control. Exercise can also be a great stress reliever, but do limit your vigorous workout to 4 hours, as women who exercise strenuously for 5 hours a week or more are 42% less likely to get pregnant than those who do light cardio and strength exercises.

3. If you are a smoker, stop!
Smoking cigarettes can impair both male and female fertility. Smoking affects how receptive the uterus is to the egg. And in men, smoking can reduce sperm production and damage sperm DNA. Smoking while pregnant boosts the risk of miscarriage, so it is advisable to quit whilst you are trying.

4. Do not be discouraged if you don’t get pregnant right away
There’s a 25% chance of conceiving each month if a couple is under 35 and having sex two to three times a week. If you have not conceived after 12 months of trying, then chances of conceiving naturally are decreasing and one should look for the cause of infertility in both the man and woman. If you are 35 years-old or more, then you should seek help if you do not get pregnant after 6 months of active trying.

Reasons for not conceiving can be plenty and there is not a miracle solution that works for all. Be sure to see your OBGYN for a couple’s preconception check-up and fertility assessment to guide you best.