15 natural fertility boosters

12:0AM, Jan 12th 2010

The average couple with no medical problems has only a 15 to 20 per cent chance of conceiving per menstrual cycle so it's commonsense to maximise your chances. Here are 15 natural ways to boost your fertility.

Gallery: fertility boosters

1. Make love regularly

It sounds obvious, but the more practice a man has at making sperm the stronger they are. Plus, as sperm can live in the body for around five days regular sex will maximise the chance that sperm will be in your body during the 24 hours you're most fertile each month.

2 Cut down on caffeine
Research has shown that as little as one cup of coffee per day can halve your chances of conception.

3 Keep him cool
Heat around his scrotum is a problem for sperm. Overheating the testicles can have a negative effect on sperm production and movement. This is why nature situated the testicles outside the body to keep them cool. So get him to wear loose cotton underwear and avoid tight jeans or trousers. Sitting with legs crossed or driving for long periods can also cause problems.

4 Stop excessive dieting
Researchers at Ohio University found that when women cut calories too much, their levels of reproductive hormones also went down, reducing the chance of ovulation.

5 Supplement your diet
Take zinc, selenium and vitamin C supplements.
* Zinc for him - zinc is crucial for the proper development of the sperm; for her - zinc is crucial for cell division if cell division is inadequate, it makes it more difficult for the egg to fertilise.
* Selenium for him it's essential to maximise sperm formation and testosterone production.
* Vitamin C for him it can enhance sperm quality; for her it can help with ovulation.

6 Cut down on smoking and drinking
Smoking and drinking interferes with the reproductive system of both men and women so you should aim to cut out smoking altogether and limit your drinking to no more than six units (six glasses of wine or about 4 stubbies of beer) a week.

7 Cut out recreational drugs
Marijuana can lower two hormones, FSH and LH that men need to produce sperm it can also lower his libido. For a woman marijuana can stop ovulation. Cocaine can lower sperm count and increase the rate of abnormal sperm and heroin can cause a decrease in testosterone levels.

8 Cut down on painkillers
Some painkillers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, can interfere with conception if taken around the time of ovulation by suppressing hormones called prostaglandins, which the body needs to release the egg into the fallopian tube.

9 Think positive
'When a woman is feeling stressed and negative' says psychologist Dr Elizabeth Muir, 'her body can shut down reproductively in order to protect her acting as a natural contraceptive. This also applies to men - negative mind-set causes stress and results in a decrease in the quality and motility of sperm.' So think positive!

10 Try a sexy spice
Fenugreek has high levels of vitamins A and D, which can help with sexual desire and impotence. It can also increase the body's metabolism, giving you more energy for sex.

11 Get checked out
It's worth both you and your partner seeing your GP to check there are no medical conditions standing in your way of conceiving such as blocked Fallopian tubes, fibroids (non-cancerous growths in or on the wall of the womb) and endometriosis (where the lining of the womb grows in places other than the womb).

12 Try complementary therapies...
...such as herbal medicine (agnus castus can help regulate periods), homeopathy (selenium metallicum for male infertility) and acupuncture, which can correct hormone imbalances and problems such as fibroids.

13 Buy organic food where possible
Pesticides can affect hormone imbalance and fertility.

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Courtesy of Pregnancy & Birth magazine.
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