A study published in Fertility & Sterility scientific journal showed that a large part of the female population is not only unaware of the factors that affect fertility, but also fail to visit the gynecologist as often as advised.
As Dr. Theodosis Arkoulis, Obstetrician – Gynecologist, points out, this study underlines the 5 key points that women should have in mind when it comes to their fertility:
1) Folic acid boosts fertility
Half of the women who participated in the study did not know about the role of folic acid supplements when trying to conceive.
This doesn’t mean that women who do not take folic acid will not become pregnant. It has been proven, however, that folic acid can help women who are trying to conceive and can reduce the risks of neural tube defects (such as spina bifida) in a developing unborn baby.
Folic acid is a vitamin B, that helps the formation of healthy cells such as those participating in the fusion process in a developing baby’s spine. Folic acid can also improve the quality of a woman’s egg cells.
Therefore, when you’re trying to conceive, and with your gynecologist’s guidance, you should always take vitamin supplements that contain folic acid.
2) Obesity may hinder ovulation
Almost 3 out of 10 women do not know that obesity can interfere with their ability to conceive.
Dr. Arkoulis explains that adipose tissue (i.e. fat) is an endocrine organ. Therefore excess weight may also be associated with other health issues such as thyroid disorders, diabetes, and PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) that affect ovulation.
If you have irregular periods. e.g. if your menstrual cycle is longer than 35 days, you may not ovulate each month, and that will definitely reduce your chances of becoming pregnant.
If you are overweight, the good news is that even a 10% weight loss may improve your chances of conception. In fact, the ideal Body Mass Index (BMI) for a woman who is trying to conceive is between 20-24.
3) Say “no” to cigarettes
An equally large number of women also ignore the impact of smoking on fertility. Cigarettes have high genotoxicity, and therefore increase the risk of fallopian tube obstruction and destroy your eggs.
Moreover, even if a woman becomes pregnant, smoking increases the risk of miscarriage, abnormalities during labor, as well as the possibilities of having a baby with a low birth weight.
But don’t wait until you get pregnant to quit smoking, as this process is stressful and may affect your mental state. Quit smoking now!
4) Getting pregnant becomes more difficult with age
Approximately 1 in 5 women is unaware of how age can affect the chances of becoming a mother.
Don’t weigh your chances based on your good looks or individual cases of older women who are having babies. It is a fact that, after a certain age, every year that goes by lowers your chances for conception.
Moreover, as a woman’s age increases, so do her possibilities of facing a miscarriage or health problems in the developing baby. Your gynecologist is the best person to ask about what you should do if you’re over 35 and have not managed to get pregnant after 6 months of trying.
5) The ideal timing for getting pregnant is 3-4 days before ovulation
Many women do not know which days are considered most appropriate for achieving conception.
After ovulation, a woman’s eggs live for 12 to 24 hours. If no conception occurs, they are discarded. Therefore, there is a very short fertility window right after ovulation. On the other hand, sperm can survive inside the uterus for at least 5 days. So, they can reach the site of conception and wait for ovulation.
Therefore, under optimum circumstances (i.e. ideal cervix environment and good sperm quality) the best time for conceiving is 3-4 days before ovulation. If sperm is relatively weak, it is better 1 day before ovulation. Intercourse after ovulation will lead to fewer chances of conception.