An ovum only survives 12-24 hours so getting the timing right is important. In a study of women reporting to an IVF clinic after 12 months of attempting to conceive, 68.2% of women reported they had timed intercourse within the fertile window but in fact, only 12.7% could correctly identify that window (1). Research performed in Australia found that less than half of the most popular Apps used to identify ovulation, correctly identified the window (2). Natural Fertility Awareness teaches you how to correctly identify ovulation yourself, maximizing your chance of pregnancy.
Stress can disrupt the reproductive hormones, delaying ovulation and negatively affecting egg quality. Stress may also be the trigger for diet and lifestyle choices which drive inflammation in the body, further impacting on egg quality (3,4). If you do manage to conceive, stress can be a factor in whether that pregnancy is maintained. During pregnancy, maternal stress can also have permanent negative outcomes for the developing child (3). There are safe and effective natural treatments to help with managing stress.
3. Being Overweight
Being overweight is associated with greater difficulty in achieving pregnancy. The main factor in in both men and women is thought to be insulin resistance. The result is poorly developed eggs and sperm and ovulatory cycles where an egg might not be released. If an issue with processing your carbohydrates effectively is contributing to your excess weight then you can assume inflammation is contributing as well (5,6,7). If you’re fighting the biological clock, don’t let your weight rob you of an opportunity to conceive. Diet and lifestyle changes will increase your chances of conception (6).
4. Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D status is associated with fertility in both men and women. In men, deficiency is associated with poor sperm quality and motility (8) and in women, poorer outcomes with IVF (9). While repeated observational studies demonstrate better outcomes with IVF with optimal vitamin D status the exact cause of this effect is not known. If you’re attempting to conceive and work indoors or don’t get much sun, get your vitamin D levels checked.
5. Genetic Variations
Variations on a gene (MTHFR) have been associated with decreased fertility in both males and females and a higher risk of miscarriage. A simple mouth swab can identify if you have this genetic variation. If you’ve got the mutation in question, supplementation with folate has demonstrated better outcomes in males for sperm quality and birth rates (10).
Most women understand that fertility declines with age but did you know that by 35, a women’s fertility is 50% of what it was in her early 20’s? Combine this with any number of the following factors that reduce your fertility and you may have trouble conceiving.
7. Any Combination of the Above
Are you familiar with more than one factor listed above? If you have multiple nutritional, lifestyle and genetic factors working against your chances of conceiving, they will be having a combined effect. There are many more factors that impair your ability to conceive, reduce your chances of conceiving and affect the quality of the genetic material you are passing onto your future child. It’s not just about getting pregnant – give your baby the best chance at life with the gift of quality genes from mum and dad.
- Hampton et al, 2012, ‘Fertility awareness knowledge, attitudes, and practices of women seeking fertility assistance’, Journal of Advanced Nursing, vol 69:5, p 1076-84
- Q(QFG) Queensland Fertility Group: https://www.qfg.com.au/about-us/media-releases/warning-about-the-accuracy-of-fertility-apps-used-by-thousands-of-women-to-help-in-baby-making
- Valsamakis et al, 2019, ‘Stress, femal reproduction and pregnancy’, Psychoneuroendrocrinology, vol 100, p 48-57
- Purewal et al, 2017, ‘A systemic review and meta-analysis of psychological predictors of successful assisted reproductive technologies’, BMC Research Notes, vol 10:711
- Pasquali & Gambineri, 2006, ‘Metabolic Effects of Obesity on Reproduction’, Reproductive Biomedicine Online, vol 12:5, p 542-551
- Silvestris et al, 2018, ‘Obesity as Disruptor of the Female Fertility’, Reproductive Biology & Endocrinology, 16:22
- Craig et al, 2017, ‘Obesity, male infertility, and the sperm epigenome’, Fertility and Sterility, vol 107:4, p 848-59
- Angelis et al, 2017, ‘The role of vitamin D in male fertility: A focus on the testis’, Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders, vol 18, p285-305
- Bosdou et al, 2019, “Vitamin D and Obesity: Two Interacting Players in the Field of Infertility’, Nutrients, vol 11:7
- Huang et al, 2019, ‘Effects of folic acid on oligozoospermis with MTHFR polymorphisms in ter of seminal parameters, DNA fragmentation and live birthrate: a double blind placebo controlled trial’, Andrology, vol8:1, p 110-16