Health issues to address before you start trying

If you are thinking about or you’ve just started trying to conceive, then you no doubt have many questions on what is the best course of action for you and your partner to take. You have entered a very exciting time in your life, but for many it can turn out to be frustrating when months and even years of attempts fail. To help your chances of conceiving it is important to address issues that can influence your preconception health.

A visit to the doctor

The first stop on your journey should be the doctor’s room. To reach the final destination of this journey it’s imperative that you and your partner are in good health. Mention to your doctor that you are planning to or have started trying to have kids. Your doctor can then look at your individual situation and highlight areas of your health that may need addressing. This may include but is not limited to; medication you are currently on, genetic conditions and family history, vaccinations, weight, lifestyle, mental and physical health and other underlying conditions you and your partner may have. After a trip to the doctor’s, you may feel a little overwhelmed, but you will be in a much better position to tackle the journey ahead.

Jumping off your contraception

It’s odd to think the lengths you may have gone through to avoid getting pregnant, but now when you want to start trying, there are all these issues to consider. Taking the plunge and finally ditching your contraceptive is fairly simple, but there are a few things to be aware of to ensure your safety and minimize the impact it has on your chances of conceiving. If you’re taking the pill, then it’s recommended that you stop taking it a few months before you start to try. This gives your cycle time to get back on track. For some women it may take a few months before a regular cycle returns, while others might start ovulating straight away. It’s also of interest to finish your pill pack as stopping midway through can result in mid-cycle bleeding. Contraceptive implants and intra-uterine devices will need to be removed by a doctor, but once removed; you should see your normal cycle return so typically, you can start trying straight away. For barrier methods like condoms, you can stop anytime you’re ready to start trying. For other contraceptive devices it’s best to consult your doctor about the course of action.

Prenatal supplement

The impact your diet has on your baby starts before you begin trying to conceive…that’s right before you’ve even made the decision to try, your current nutrient status will have an impact on your pregnancy. Building up your nutrient levels isn’t something that occurs overnight, it will take time. Of most importance are your folate levels. Folate (vitamin B9) is essential for early embryo formation and a deficiency can increase the risk of neural tube defects and other complications in your baby. Research has shown that prenatal supplementation of folate at least a month before conception will greatly reduce the risk of neural tube defects. Thus to give your future baby the best start to life it is recommended you take a prenatal supplement containing folate (folic acid) just before you begin to try and continue taking a supplement throughout pregnancy. When choosing a prenatal supplement make sure; first and foremost, it contains folic acid. Other valuable ingredients it should include are zinc and iron.

Weight, exercise and diet

A healthy weight, diet and exercise regime is important not only for your chances to conceive but also your ability to carry out a healthy, full-length pregnancy. If you’re on the low end of the health spectrum (overweight, minimal exercise and poor diet) it’s recommended you address these issues prior to trying as a healthy regime is not typically something you can easily pick up and run with. Give yourself time to make and adapt to these changes. If you’re on the opposite end of the health spectrum (underweight or an intense exerciser) you too may need to make some adjustments as a high exercise workload or low body weight can reduce your ability to conceive. Ideally you need to take on a more balanced approach. A healthy diet is a crucial step as the production of your eggs and the early embryonic development rely on a sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals every day.

Stress and mental state

Health doesn’t just refer to your physical state, it also includes your psychological state and just like the rest of your body it needs to be balanced before taking on the task of trying to conceive. Stress and anxiety are common factors that can lower your chances of conceiving. It is therefore important to address any problems you are having that are causing you to be stressed or anxious. These triggers can come from anywhere like, work, relationships, finances, the pressure to have kids or even underlying issues from your past. Whilst trying to conceive it’s important to reduce these stressors if you can identify them. If you feel like you can’t pinpoint your stress or anxiety towards anything in particular, then you may benefit from seeing a psychologist who can help you dissect your feelings and mental state to find out why you are stressed or anxious.

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