Fertility rates are on the decline worldwide. In recent years the total fertility rate in developed countries has been 1.6.
South Korea's fertility rate has dropped for the sixth straight year to 0.8, posting the lowest fertility rate in the world. On average, couples must have two children to keep the population steady.
It can be uncomfortable talking about these very personal issues, but many factors can affect fertility. However, there are ways to maximize your natural fertility and increase your chances of having a baby.
Get To Know Your Cycle
The first step in maximizing your fertility is understanding your menstrual cycle. If you have regular monthly periods, you will likely ovulate around day 14 of your cycle (counting from the first day you start bleeding).
Ovulation refers to the process in which your ovary releases an egg for fertilization. Knowing when you ovulate is essential because that's when you're most fertile.
If you have irregular periods, tracking your cycle can be more difficult, but there are still ways to do it. Ovulation predictor kits (OPKs) reliably predict ovulation up to 24 hours in advance.
Time Intercourse Around Ovulation
To maximize your chances of getting pregnant, you must have intercourse one to two days prior to ovulation.
Sperm can live inside the woman's reproductive tract for up to five days, waiting for the egg's release. But once an egg is released from the ovary, it has 12-24 hours to be fertilized by sperm before it begins to break down.
Having intercourse a day after ovulation is unlikely to yield a pregnancy as the fertile window has passed.
Maintain a Healthy Body Mass Index (BMI)
Maintaining a healthy BMI is essential for fertility because it helps to optimize hormone levels and increase the chances of a successful pregnancy.
Being overweight or obese can disrupt the delicate balance of hormones needed for ovulation and fertilization. Additionally, excess body fat can lead to inflammation and insulin resistance, which can further interfere with fertility.
In men, being overweight can lead to low testosterone levels, affecting sperm production.
Being underweight can also negatively impact fertility, causing a delay in ovulation or irregular menstrual cycles.
Eat a Fertility-Friendly Diet
What you eat impacts your fertility. Observational studies show that eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, omega-3 fatty acids, and lean protein often help improve reproductive health.
Excess processed food intake and excessive alcohol usually negatively impact fertility. If you're trying to get pregnant, aim for a well-rounded diet that includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods.
Keep Your Biological Clock in Mind
The biological clock is a term used to refer to the gradual decline in a woman's fertility that begins in her early 30s.
Unfortunately, many women will have more difficulty conceiving after the age of 35-37. As women age, there is a decrease in the number and quality of eggs. As a result, older women are at an increased risk of creating embryos with genetic abnormalities, resulting in miscarriages or birth defects.
By understanding the biology of fertility, women can make informed choices about when to start a family. Several treatments available can help women conceive later in life, but these are more likely to be successful if they are started before age 40.
Treatment Options for Women Who Have Difficulty Conceiving
There are many potential solutions available for couples who have difficulty conceiving. Sometimes, lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or quitting smoking, can help improve fertility.
If lifestyle changes are insufficient, a variety of fertility treatments are available.
Treatments include medications to stimulate ovulation, intrauterine insemination (IUI), and in vitro fertilization (IVF).
In IUI, sperm is placed into the woman's uterus around the time of ovulation. Doing so can help to increase the chances of fertilization by placing the sperm closer to the egg.
IVF is a more advanced fertility treatment in which eggs are removed from the woman's ovaries and fertilized with sperm in a laboratory. The resulting embryos are then implanted into the woman's uterus. IVF is often the last resort when other fertility treatments have failed.
Each of these treatments has its risks and benefits, and discussing all options with a fertility specialist before deciding on a course of action is essential.
In some cases, a combination of treatments is necessary to achieve a successful pregnancy. With modern advances in fertility treatments, more and more women can conceive and have healthy babies.
Maximizing your natural fertility involves understanding the biology of reproduction and making healthy lifestyle choices.
Eating a nutritious diet, maintaining a healthy BMI, and avoiding harmful substances can help improve your chances of conceiving. It is also essential to keep your biological clock in mind and seek fertility treatment if you have difficulty conceiving.
More Articles From the Wealth of Geeks Network:
- The IUI Procedure: An Illustrated Step-by-Step Guide
- The IVF Timeline: How Long Does An IVF Cycle Take?
Alex & Brittany Robles are physicians, NASM Certified Personal Trainers, and founders of The White Coat Trainer, a resource dedicated to improving the health and fitness of busy professionals using time-efficient strategies. Their advice has been featured in My Fitness Pal, Prevention, Livestrong, Reader’s Digest, Bustle, The Active Times, and more.