Author: Abby Cate, Clinical Pharmacist
There’s a lot of information available about improving your reproductive health and increasing your chances of getting pregnant. It can be hard to know what’s best for your body and your family. It’s important to remember that your body is unique and each couple has their own fertility struggles and successes. That being said, if you’re trying to get pregnant, here are five fertility fundamentals to keep in mind.
Visit Your Doctor
If you’re ready to start a family, the first thing you should do is schedule a visit with the doctor. This general wellness checkup can help make sure you and your partner are ready to get pregnant. Ask your doctor about prenatal supplements, including folic acid. You can get folic acid from your diet. Spinach and other green, leafy vegetables are common sources of folic acid. This B vitamin is important to early fetus development. Along with getting folic acid in your diet, you may want to supplement with other key nutrients by taking a daily prenatal vitamin.
You may not get pregnant right away, which is normal and very common. If you’re younger than 35, experts recommend trying for a year before scheduling an appointment with a fertility specialist. For couples older than 35 years old, many doctors suggest meeting with a specialist after six months of trying. Click here for more information about when to see a fertility specialist.
Be sure to talk to your Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions pharmacist about all your medications, especially if you’re taking fertility treatments. Certain medications can make it more difficult to get pregnant or can be harmful for your baby.
Track Your Cycle
There are many different testing kits and phone apps to help you track your cycle, which is important if you’re trying to get pregnant. These tools will help you know when you are ovulating. Most women ovulate about 14 days after the first day of your period. YourFertility.com has more information to help you understand your fertile window. If your cycle is irregular, it may be harder to get pregnant. Talk to your doctor about how you can regulate your period.
If you or your partner smokes, it could be affecting your fertility. Smoking makes it harder to get pregnant and stay pregnant. For men, it makes sperm less fertile. In women, smoking leads to changes in hormone production and damage to their eggs, among other things. Once you do become pregnant, there are additional risks for your baby if you continue smoking. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) outlines the many ways smoking is bad for your growing family from conception through birth.
Balance Exercise and Weight
Regular exercise is good for your reproductive health. It can be especially beneficial for women who are overweight or diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Exercise is also a great way to manage stress, which can also affect fertility.
Although it’s important to maintain a healthy weight before and during your pregnancy, don’t focus on losing weight. There will always be diet fads and exercise trends but it’s better for you to prioritize staying healthy and providing nutrients to your body and baby.
Fertility specialists know regular exercise is important for reproductive health but research also suggests that too much intense exercise can have the opposite effect. Vigorous exercise can actually interfere with ovulation. Intense exercise can mean different things for different women, depending on their level of activity. In general, moderate physical activity such as swimming, walking and yoga are recommended.
With both exercise and weight, it’s important to find the right balance. If your weight is too high or too low, it can be harder to get pregnant and can cause problems during your pregnancy. WomensHealth.gov offers more information about how weight affects ovulation and fertility.
Talk to your doctor about how you can find balance and avoid both extremes when it comes to weight and exercise.
While you don’t have to cut caffeine out of your life completely, experts recommend you limit your intake. The Mayo Clinic suggests no more than one or two 8-ounce cups of coffee a day.
Drinking a moderate or heavy amount of alcohol can affect fertility in both men and women, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Doctors generally recommend both partners reduce their alcohol consumption when trying to get pregnant. However, if you’re trying to get pregnant, you may want to stop drinking alcohol completely. Most women don’t know they’re pregnant for weeks after conception. These weeks are important to the baby’s development and drinking alcohol at this time could be harmful.
At Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions (HPS), our Fertility Center of Excellence is designed to support you throughout this journey and provide reliable resources from clinical experts. Contact a member of the HPS fertility team if you have questions about your medication or fertility treatments.