Experiencing Difficulty Conceiving? What You Should Know and When to Seek Help

We turn to family physician Dr. David Greenberg to find out all we need to know about dealing with infertility

Conceiving a child is supposed to be an exciting time, yet for some women and couples who face challenges along the way, it can definitely be a stressful, overwhelming and confusing period.

In Canada, fertility issues have risen in the past several decades, and now one in six Canadian couples experience infertility*. The result is that more and more Canadians are turning to specialty clinics, procedures and drugs that are costly to help them conceive — especially if multiple rounds of treatment are needed.

While there are many reasons why couples can experience fertility problems, the good news is that there are initial steps that couples can take to help increase their chances of conceiving on their own, before other expensive and time-consuming methods are considered. Here’s my list of top recommendations:

Knowing When to Try

A woman must be ovulating in order to conceive, but what many people don’t realize is that there’s actually only a short window during her cycle when she can pregnant. To help identify this window, or to know if in fact she is ovulating at all, I recommend visiting a local pharmacy and purchasing the Digital Ovulation Predictor Test from the makers of First Response™. Unlike other ovulation kits, it helps women better determine their peak fertile days by detecting a woman’s individual luteinizing hormone (LH) surge based on her own unique hormone levels, making it “personalized medicine”.

Incorporating a Well-Balanced Diet

When it comes to diet, it’s important to behave like your pregnant once you start trying. Eating healthy foods is important when you’re pregnant. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and protein and ensuring that you’re getting enough calcium are key. Possibly more important is what to avoid. Avoiding items like aspartame, found in foods and drinks labelled “diet or low calorie”, caffeine (even in tea, colas and other soft drinks) and alcohol are all important to avoid. Also foods which may be potentially contaminated with listeria, such as raw fish, unpasteurized soft cheeses, and deli meats, as well as fish which are high in mercury, are also great habits to follow.

Pre-Pregnancy Prenatal Vitamins

Taking prenatal vitamins when you’re pregnant is important, but doing so before you conceive can actually help your chances of having a baby. Eating healthy and taking prenatal vitamins will help ensure that your body is getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals that it needs. Prenatal vitamins that contain B6 in particular may help boost fertility.

Saying No to Stress

Keeping stress levels down can be hard – especially if you don’t conceive right away. Heightened stress can actually work against you, so focus on “not trying”. Instead, focus on the experience with your partner and not the end result to help lessen the pressure and anxiety of the situation.

Sperm Health

Quitting smoking and avoiding certain activities like hot tubs, whirlpools, saunas and tight-fitting clothing will help the testicles ability to produce adequate quality sperm.

While these tips are great initial steps to take, they may not always be the answer. If you feel you've already taken the necessary first steps and done the waiting, consult your doctor. Infertility is something that affects many Canadian couples at some point. But even if you turn out to be one of these couples, it doesn't mean you will never have a baby. You may just need more time or medical help to conceive.


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