Trying to conceive

TTC – when it takes more than desire to succeed

Statistics say that every sixth couple in the UK is experiencing difficulties conceiving. Now, let’s take into consideration that experts’ advice is that you see a fertility specialist only if you’ve been having unprotected sex two to three times a week for at least a year and haven’t had much luck conceiving. If you and your partner have hectic daily schedules (is there anyone who doesn’t?!) or if one or both of you need to travel for work, this recommendation becomes very worrying. How many couples today really have sex three times a week, all year round?!

There are many things you could do to increase your chances of conceiving, starting with adapting your lifestyle to boost your reproductive potential, having balanced, healthy nutrition, having enough physical activity, etc. You can also get some help from products such as FSH strips and ovulation microscopes that can help you track your fertile days.

One important thing to remember, though, is that when you are trying to conceive – it takes two to tango. Or in other words, both you and your partner need to be at your best when it comes to fertility. And that is the main task of all those lifestyle changes – you need to give your body the best chance to conceive and nurture a new life. You and your partner need to set yourselves up for success.

Let’s look into this a little bit deeper

Although being healthy, not suffering from chronic illnesses and eating well are very important factors, if we look at conception at cellular level, it becomes clear that unless both egg cell and sperm are ready for fertilisation, it is unlikely to happen. It also means that the time must be right – woman’s body needs to be in the ovulation stage, which means that the egg cell is ready to be fertilised; whilst man’s sperm needs to have good parameters such as count, motility and morphology so that the fertilisation can be successful. No wonder 20% of fertility issues is due to both female and male problems.

When it comes to pinpointing ovulation, you can resort to much more efficient methods than counting fertile days with a calendar and pen – such as FSH strips and ovulation microscopes.

You need to look after your egg cells – and we’ll be talking about this in the weeks to come.

Laptop
by garryknight | CC

Sperm also needs special attention so that it can do its job well. There are many products that can boost sperm’s performance, such as supplements, sperm counters, even scrotum cooling patches. Studies have shown that heat kills sperm – heat coming from tight boxers, long hours spent in hot bathtubs, or working on a laptop while holding it on a lap. Yes, even though they’re called “lap-tops”, they belong on a table or at least with an insulating layer between them and legs, such as a hard book. Anyway, nothing is lost, even if your beloved one spend hours in a steaming bath – the studies have also shown that by occasionally reducing the temperature around the scrotum, men can reverse the sperm damage process. Even though heat lowers sperm motility and sperm count by messing up your partner’s body’s ability to efficiently produce sperm, by cooling the testicles for short periods of time, they’ll still be able to provide good quality sperm. Hence – scrotum cooling patches that decrease temperature locally, around the testicles, and help improve sperm parameters.

The importance of nutrition

Men also need to pay attention to nutrition. Many compounds and elements have shown a significant impact in improving sperm quality and increasing chance of pregnancy. Antioxidants, for example, prevent the oxidative fragmentation of DNA – the scientific way of saying that they prevent damage that causes sperm to reduce its function. These antioxidants include L-carnitine, vitamin C, coenzyme Q10, vitamin B12 and others. Compounds such as folic acid and some elements like selenium and zinc have also been connected with improving sperm ability.

Eat a healthy, balanced nutrition – easier said than done in today’s society. Not only that the fast lifestyle is making it very hard to eat wholesome, homemade food every day, but we’re also trying to avoid the well-known recommendation of “Five a day keeps a doctor away”. But at the end of the day, variety is not only in five pieces of fruit or veggies a day – it’s also in nuts, oils, different types of meat, cereal, etc. Our nutrition needs to be balanced out in such a way that it provides not only protein, carbohydrates and good fats, but also antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, fibre. That is why most of us need a bit of additional help when it comes to providing our bodies with all the nutrient they need to conceive.

Additional help can be found in supplements – some are specifically designed for men, improving sperm parameters; others are made for women, preparing your body to cradle and nurture a little human being. You should be paying attention to several factors when choosing a supplement – more on this in one of our future texts.

There are other lifestyle habits that have an influence on sperm quality, such as smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol, lots of caffeine, environmental toxins, radiation, etc.

One more thought…

Couple in love
Photo credit: jDevaun.Photography / Foter / CC BY-ND

In the end, probably the most important thing to keep in mind – trying to conceive, whether successful or not, can be very stressful. The longer it takes, the more stress you can expect, both individually, and in your relationship. Often this stress can cause problems in communication, constant rows, feelings of not being understood or supported by the other partner, or even blaming each other. Remember that you are on this journey together because you love each other. It may seem like stress is becoming too much to handle, but hang in there. Try not to put additional stress on yourself and your partner as much as possible. It may not be easy, but do your best not to turn sex into a means for achieving a goal. Have sex regularly, not only during your ovulation stage and don’t forget to add some romance and spontaneity into it. Talk to your partner. Get professional help. Talk to other couples who are going through the same situation or who have already been there. Do whatever you need to do to feel more secure in your relationship. Nurture your love, no matter how tough the times get.

And, after all – good luck!

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