Understanding Your Fertility
Your first step in achieving a pregnancy is to understand your fertility. HARI aims to provide you with straightforward information in a simple manner. We fully understand and appreciate that the issues involved in your fertility can be complex and emotional issues for you as a couple.
HARI is fortunate to have a Multi-Disciplinary Team of leading clinicans, highly skilled embryologists and nurses and highly trained counsellors. This means that throughout your time with HARI we're available to discuss and explain all your options and treatments with you.
Approximately one in every seven couples experience some difficulty in trying to conceive. It's helpful to remember this in recognising you're not alone or isolated in your experience.
Time to Conception
There are typically 12 opportunities annually to conceive (usually one egg is released every 4 weeks). We have outlined below, the likelihood of a successful pregnancy for a couple where no obstacles to fertility have been identified and where regular intercourse occurs:
- a. 20% per month
- b. 60% after 6 months
- c. 80% after 12 months
- d. 90% after 24 months
- e. 95% after 36 months
Fertility gradually declines wth age, in both men and women.
In women, this begins from around the age of 30. From a purely biological perspective, we recommend that couples try to start a family before the age of 35 as from then onwards fertility issues become more commonplace. Once women approach 45, the chances of conceiving are extremely low, and associated risks are higher. While the media will occassionally report instances of women older than 45 having children, the vast majority of these babies will be as a result of a donated egg from a younger woman.
For men, the story is somewhat simlilar in that fertility also declines with age. Many men reman fertile into their 50's and beyond. However, there is a concern that children conceived by older men may have health issues.
Couples who are concerned about age related fetility, should discuss the matter with their clinican.
Diet and Exercise
A healthy diet is crucial to a successful pregnancy and a healthy baby. We recommend that couples enjoy a balanced diet and take regular exercise. The healthiest Body Mass Index for fertility is the same as what is considered "normal weight" - a BMI between 19 and 25. HARI recommend that females have a BMI of 30 or less before commencing treatment.
How to calculate your BMI - Log in here and enter your details - http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/
There is one simple rule with alcohol; the more you drink, the less likely you are to conceive. We recommend reducing alcohol intake for three months prior to treatment for both men and women. For men, aside from lessened libido and possible impotence, excess alcohol consumption can lower testosterone and cause a decrease in sperm quality. If possible, alcohol should be completely removed in this period, but certainly not more than 1-2 units, weekly.
The link between reduced fertility and smoking has been well established and documented. In women, smoking can damage the ovaries, lead to miscarriages and even increase the risk of cervical cancer. Leading research indicates that women who smoke reduce their probability of conception by 40% month after month. It also showed that smoking can cause impotency in men. Simply put, both partners should stop smoking to maximise their chances of successful treatment.
Be reassured that studies carried out in 2011 showed that emotional distress caused by fertility challenges or other life events during treatment will not compromise the chance of becoming pregnant. With that said, we would recommend that couples investigate ways to relieve stress, independently and together. We can recommend some simple steps that can be very effective.
HARI has pioneered the introduction of Natural IVF in Ireland, for more information click here.
When should you seek help?
If you have spoken with your GP, you will have been advised to have regular intercourse (2-3 times per week) for 12 months before referring you to a specialist. If there is a known irregular gynaecological history or sperm quality, then it's best to seek help sooner.
We, at HARI, are delighted to hear that often couples who have been trying for several years and are about to start on our program conceive without our help. So, unless you have been clearly diagnosed with a significant fertility issue, don't give up trying!