Women

The Countdown To Conception (Part 1) - You want to get pregnant … five year from now

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Whether you are ready to be a mum right now, or have babies filed  under ‘one day’, it is never the wrong time to think about your fertility. Our expert plans will prime your body, whatever rung of the broody ladder you are on

There comes a time fir most of us when we make the shift from actively trying not to get prenant to, well, thinking about it at least. Even if little people are hazy figures on a far- off horion, before long we are doing the relationship maths, picturing ourselves with a bump and not reaching for the remote when One Born Every Minute comes on. It is good to do your research, right?

But while we are quick to daydream about names and nursery décor- even years in advance- we tend to take the very fact that we will conceive for granted. ‘Many women prepare  for the financial and social implications of having a baby years before trying, but neglect the most important thing- their body,’ says Dr Marilyn Glenville (marilynglenville.com), author of Getting Pregnant Faster (Kyle Cathie, $16.75)

Description: The countdown to conception

Whether you are ready to be a mum right now, or have babies filed  under ‘one day’, it is never the wrong time to think about your fertility. Our expert plans will prime your body, whatever rung of the broody ladder you are on

If you wait until you are ready to conceive to start priming your body, you can end up disappointed when things do not happen as quickly as you would like. Just as you work towards building a home for a baby, you need to do the same for your body- even if parenthood is five years away on the life plan, there are things you and your partner can do now.

You can not have failed to notice the newspaper headlines reminding you that fertility drops steadily as you age, and that one in seven couples in the UK struggles to conceive. ‘There is no denying your chances of conceiving in your late 20s are greater than in your late 30s,’ says Michael Dooley, consultant gynaecologist at The Poundbury Clinic and author of Fit for Fertility (Hodder Mobius, $16.75). ‘However, if you start looking after your body now, you are less likely to face complications later, whatever your age.’

So, whether you are thinking about starting a family in five years or five weeks, it is never too early- or late- to boost your fertility. Here is how:

You want to get pregnant … five year from now

Rubber up

Description: freetest.me.uk

Preserve your future fertility by insisting on condoms now. ‘The number of chlamydia cases has more than doubled in the past decade’, says Michael. ‘If leftt unchecked, this STI can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which can seriously affect your chances of conceiving.’ Chlamydia has no symptoms, so if you want to put your mind at rest, visit freetest.me.uk for a free home- testing kiy.

Speak to your mum

‘If your mum has a history of endometriosis or struggled to get prenant for any reason, you may, too,’ warns Michael, ‘so it is worth seeing your GP for a check- up. It may reassure you or it may make you rethinl your plans. Either way, it is best to deal with these things in good time.’

Stub it out

Smoking is not just bad news during pregnancy … ‘The chemicals in cigarette smoke age your ovaries significantly and damage cell DNA,’ warns Dr Glenville. ‘In fact, there is evidence that women who smoke go through the menopause sooner, too.’ All the more reason to log onto smokefree.nhs.uk and order a free quit kit now.

Lay off the pinot

Description: Alcohol blocks the absortion of important nutrients such as zinc,’

‘Alcohol blocks the absortion of important nutrients such as zinc,’

Do not wait until you are trying for a baby to cut back on your units. ‘Alcohol blocks the absortion of important nutrients such as zinc,’ explains Dr Glenville. ‘It is also a duiretic, so it encourages your body to excrete other important nutrients, which could affect the quality of your eggs.’ One study published in the British Medical Journal found women who drank fewer than five units a week were twice as likely to get pregnant within six months as those who drank more. Sobering thought, eh?

He  should be … Getting to grips with his manhood

‘whether or not he is ready to have kids, your partner should regularly examine his testicles for lumps,’ explains Michael. ‘This is not just good practice for picking up testcular cancer (which occurs mainly in men under 35), but also varicoceles- swellings of the blood vessels that can affect the quality of his sperm and lower his fertility.’ Direct him to thefamilygp.com for a helpful video from DR Chris Steele- or offer to give them a once over yourself …

Do it now!

Got a smartphone? Download Period Tracker ($2.27, iTunes) and record your dates, symptoms and moods. ‘Getting to know your cycle can definitely help when it comes to thinking about getting pregnants,’ says Micael. ‘If your periods are irregular, you can take action now rather than getting a nasty surprise in a few years’ time.’

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