What couple should know before planning for children

Should know before planning for children


Fertility can be age related

We deferred having a baby for so long. If we had known how age impacts fertility, we could have started sooner.

Fertility gradually declines with age, in both men and women.

In women, this begins from around the age of 30. By the age of 44, the average woman has very few eggs left.

From a purely biological perspective, we recommend that couples try to start a family before the age of 35 as from then on wards fertility issues become more commonplace.

Once women approach 45, the chances of conceiving are extremely low, and associated risks are higher. There is also a higher chance of miscarriage – over 50% for those over the age of 43.

While the media will occasionally report instances of older women having children, the vast majority of these babies will be as a result of a donated egg from a younger woman.

For men, the story is somewhat similar in that fertility also declines with age. However many men remain fertile into their 50’s and beyond. However, there is a concern that children conceived by older men may have health issues.

If you are concerned about age related fertility, you should discuss the matter with your clinician. Perhaps we can blame the number of ageing rock stars producing offspring – many couples don’t realize that the age of the man can also have an impact on your chance of conceiving as a couple.

Nutrition is Important

If I had realized how important nutrition is, I’d have started eating healthily much earlier on.

A healthy diet is crucial to a successful pregnancy and a healthy baby. We recommend that couples enjoy a balanced diet and take regular exercise. The healthiest Body Mass Index for fertility is the same

as what is considered “normal weight”– a BMI between 19 and 25. Doctor recommends that females have a BMI of 30 or less before commencing treatment.

How to calculate your BMI – Log in here and enter your details


Drinking alcohol reduces your chances of conceiving – we never knew.

There is one simple rule with alcohol; the more you drink, the less likely you are to conceive. We recommend reducing alcohol intake for three months prior to treatment for both men and women.

For men, aside from lessened libido and possible impotence, excess alcohol consumption can lower testosterone and cause a decrease in sperm quality. If possible, alcohol should be completely removed in this period, but certainly not more than 1-2 units, weekly.



I smoked for years never realizing that I was doing damage to my ovaries as well as my lungs.

The link between reduced fertility and smoking has been well established and documented. In women, smoking can damage the ovaries and it can lead to miscarriage. Smoking increases the risk of cervical cancer.

Leading research indicates that women who smoke reduce their probability of conception by 40% month after month. It also showed that smoking also causes impotency and impairment of sperm in men.

Simply put, both partners should stop smoking to maximize their chances of successful treatment.


 Less stress, more action

We lived with infertility, day after day, and we found it hard to take action. If we had realized how easy it is to just tackle the problem, we’d have taken action sooner and saved ourselves a lot of grief.

Be reassured that studies carried out in 2011 showed that emotional distress caused by fertility challenges or other life events during treatment will not compromise the chance of becoming pregnant.

With that said, we would recommend that couples investigate ways to relieve stress, independently and together. We can recommend some simple steps that can be very effective.

You need to understand your body

When you’re on the pill for a long time, your body has a very predictable cycle. Come off it, and things may be far from what you expect.

It can be very difficult to be told at the age of 39 that having been on the pill for a number of years, that your hormones are out of sync. It sometimes takes a number of months for the hormones and menstrual cycle to regulate. It also takes time to monitor and track your cycles so that you become attuned to your ovulation dates.

It’s not always so easy the second time around

We had one child and anticipated that the second would arrive just as easily for us.

Secondary infertility is more common than you may think. Couples may be lulled into a false sense of security and assume that ‘it’s only a matter of time, because our first child was conceived and carried to term so easily’. The key is to not postpone treatment, but to treat secondary infertility as you would primary infertility. If you are trying for more than one year, then go to see a specialist.

Wasting those precious years could lead to you compromising your ability to have a second or third baby.

One woman confessed.

“I wish we hadn’t wasted a few good years postponing treatment for the second time around”.

Although proven fertility can be reassuring, things can change after a previously successful pregnancy.


It can be a long road to conception

For some couples, the decision to start a family is quick – but the outcome is anything but.

Most couples really don’t think they will ever have difficulties in conceiving and so when the time is right, they begin trying. We recommend that you and your partner get a fertility check-up to make sure that there are no inhibiting factors, before you try for a baby.

It simply means that if there are fertility challenges, you allow enough time to deal with those, so that you can conceive the family that you dream of.  Unfortunately for many, the discovery of either a male or female problem may lead to a longer time delay in starting a family.


Sometimes you need to take a break

Fertility challenges can understandably lead to emotional stress.

Some people find taking a break from something that’s causing stress, whether that’s work, or fertility treatment, can help. While stress does not cause infertility, studies show higher levels of stress are associated with taking longer to conceive.

When you’re already on the emotionally challenging fertility roller coaster it can be hard to imagine getting into a relaxed head space, but it can make all the difference.


Everyone’s journey is different

Every single person has a unique set of circumstances, and their path to parenthood will take many different forms. It helps to talk about it with others – you may find it comforting to know you’re not alone, or you may get some insights that help you through to conception.

Patients often say that once they embark on the journey that they begin to feel better and more optimistic. It is important to do something about it and not to listen to the negative comment. There are many paths to having a child and once you become a parent, it doesn’t matter about the path that you took to get there.


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