Strategies for Conception Success.

Article published at: Agora London Apr 3, 2024
Strategies for Conception Success.
All Fertility

Are you eager to enhance your chances of conceiving? Understanding your monthly cycle is the essential first step.

 Fertility Phases.

The follicular phase stands out as the key stage for fertility. Beginning with the onset of menstruation and spanning approximately 13 to 14 days, this phase prepares the uterine lining and culminates in ovulation. During this period, the pituitary gland in the brain releases the Luteinizing hormone (LH), which prompts the ovary to produce follicles. These follicles, small sacs filled with fluid and hormone-secreting cells, play a crucial role in regulating the menstrual cycle. As the follicle matures, typically around the 14th day of the menstrual cycle, it releases the egg. Notably, only one follicle will fully mature into an egg. Ovulation itself typically lasts from 16 to 32 hours.

The luteal phase.

Following ovulation, cells in the ovary, known as the corpus luteum, release progesterone along with a small amount of oestrogen. This hormonal activity prompts the thickening of the uterine lining, preparing it for potential pregnancy. If a fertilised egg implants in the uterine lining, the corpus luteum persists in producing progesterone, thereby sustaining the thickened uterine lining. However, if pregnancy does not ensue, the corpus luteum ceases to function, leading to a drop in progesterone levels. Consequently, the uterine lining sheds, initiating the menstrual period once again.

Optimising Conception.

Knowing when you're ovulating can significantly increase your chances of conception. Eggs typically survive for 12 to 24 hours after release, while sperm can live for 3 to 5 days. To optimise your chances of pregnancy, aim to have intercourse 1 to 2 days before ovulation, as this is when fertilisation is most likely to occur.

To pinpoint your ovulation window, you can count back 14 days from the expected start of your next period, assuming you have a regular 28-day cycle. Try to engage in sexual activity every other day around this time frame, such as on days 12 and 14. However, daily intercourse may lower sperm count, so it's best to space it out.

If your menstrual cycle is longer or shorter than 28 days, you can use online ovulation calculators to estimate your ovulation day. Additionally, home ovulation kits are available to measure the luteinizing hormone (LH) in urine, which surges just before ovulation. These kits offer daily testing and boast approximately 99% accuracy in predicting ovulation. You can get your fertility test here

Considering Environmental Factors and Diet

Becoming pregnant however, isn't solely determined by timing and technique! Recent studies indicate that environmental factors can play a significant role in reducing fertility. Adopting a healthy lifestyle can enhance your chances of conceiving. This involves incorporating folic acid-rich foods into your diet, abstaining from alcohol and caffeine, maintaining a healthy weight, and opting for organic fruits and vegetables. It's important for your partner to follow these guidelines as well.

Is a Fertility-Focused Diet Effective?

To begin with, it's preferable to obtain nutrients from whole, minimally processed foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Unlike supplements, which often provide high concentrations of single nutrients, whole foods offer a balanced array of nutrients. However, certain supplements are essential because it's difficult to attain recommended levels solely through food intake, such as folic acid.

Food Sources for Essential Vitamins.

Mediterranean-style diets are often recommended as they emphasise whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins like legumes. Given the presence of microplastics in foods today, it's advisable to be discerning about the sources of your diet.

Research indicates that exceeding the recommended daily intake of folic acid, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids may also enhance fertility. Nonetheless, further research is required to establish precise recommendations, emphasising the importance of consulting a doctor for personalised guidance.

Below are recommendations for food sources rich in essential vitamins:

Folate, the natural form of folic acid supplements, is present in foods such as:

  • Asparagus
  • Dark-green leafy vegetables
  • Chickpeas, lentils, black-eyed peas and other legumes
  • Cereals or bread enriched with nutrients
  • Brussels sprouts

Vitamin B12 can be found in foods like:

  • Fish with low mercury levels  (such as salmon, cod, or light canned tuna) are good options to consider. Additionally, it's important to take into account the original source of the fish to assess microplastic content.
  • Lean beef, pork and lamb (in moderation)
  • Yogurt - dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Clams

Omega-3 fatty acids, present in foods such as:

  • Cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines
  • Flax, chia and other seeds
  • Plant oils (such as olive oil, flaxseed oil and canola oil)

Lastly, to enhance fertility it's advisable to limit or moderate consumption of certain foods:

- Simple carbohydrates, such as added sugars

- Red or processed meats

In conclusion, understanding your menstrual cycle, optimising timing for intercourse, and adopting a healthy lifestyle can significantly enhance your chances of conception. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to fertility, incorporating nutrient-rich foods and considering environmental factors can play a crucial role in supporting reproductive health. Remember to consult with a healthcare professional for personalised guidance and recommendations. By taking proactive steps and making informed choices, you can empower yourself on your journey towards parenthood.