Trying for a baby
Diet, supplements and lifestyle
Every woman who is trying for a baby should take folic acid supplementation 400mcg daily, ideally for three months prior to pregnancy and for the first trimester. Some women e.g. with a history of spina bifida, taking anti-epileptic medication etc will need prescription-strength folic acid 5mg daily throughout pregnancy.
Living in Ireland, due to our lack of sun, there is a high number of the population who are low in Vitamin D. It is wise to take a supplement that contains Vitamin D but better to focus on Vitamin D in your diet e.g oily fish, fortified milk.
Foods high in antioxidants and a good quality supplement can be beneficial in improving the quality of eggs and sperm. They will not however counteract the damage done by smoking and heavy alcohol use!
Smoking should be stopped (men and women) and alcohol kept to a minimum especially if you are struggling to conceive.
Maintaining a healthy weight for both men and women, has been proven to increase the chance of a healthy pregnancy. Continue to exercise, though for some people, over-exercising can be detrimental to the chances of conceiving.
Focus on the fertile time
Ovulation can be difficult to identify
There are 3-5 days per cycle that a woman can become pregnant. This is in the 3-5 days leading up to ovulation and the one day after ovulation. Pregnancy rates are highest in the three days leading up to ovulation. For women with longer or irregular cycles it is much harder to identify this window and some of these women may not be ovulating at all.
Ovulation occurs 14 days before you get your period - so in a regular 28 day cycle it occurs on day 14, however, in a regular 33 day cycle it occurs on day 19 and so on. Your body generally show signs of the fertile window by producing a mucus discharge from the cervix that is 'sperm-friendly'. This starts off as white in colour and becomes clearer and more abundant the closer a woman gets to ovulation.
Ovulation predictor kits (OPK) can be helpful but sometimes cause more anxiety than is necessary! They identify the 24-36 hours before the egg is released by detecting the surge of LH (luteinising hormone) in your urine. This allows you to have intercourse timed with the fertile period.
Once the egg is released, it lives for approximately 12-24 hours so it very important to focus on that fertile time.
Blood tests combined with a pelvic ultrasound gives a lot of information.
Many bloods tests can be carried out by your GP. The following bloods should be taken on day 2,3 or 4 of your cycle (day 1 being the first day of your period):
These bloods help tell us about how well the ovaries are functioning.
Your doctor can also take blood to measure your thyroid and prolactin hormones (any time of the cycle).
A blood test for progesterone (to confirm ovulation) should be taken 7 days before you expect your period. In a 28 day cycle this is on day 21 but if your cycle is longer or shorter the day needs to be modified accordingly. For example, in a 33 day cycle it should be taken on day 26.
AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone) test can be taken at any time of the cycle and gives a very good idea about your ovarian reserve/egg numbers (see 'What is an AMH test?).
Dr Geisler can review these results with you and interpret them alongside a pelvic (transvaginal) ultrasound. She can give you sensible advice about your next steps.