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A Fertility 'To Do' List for All Those Trying to Get Pregnant

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a blog by David Kreiner, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., East Coast Fertility, January 23, 2011

Whether you are just starting to think about having a family or you've been struggling with infertility for some time, the following 'to do' list for couples trying to get pregnant can provide some helpful tips.

Here are my top 10 suggestions for couples trying to conceive.

  1. Get your health in order now. Before you get pregnant, get a checkup! Get your pap smear done, go to the dentist, have your blood pressure and lipids checked. If you are over 35, get that mammogram done. Go for preconception testing for infectious diseases and hereditary disorders that can affect a baby. Whatever has been on your list, check it off before you get pregnant.
  2. Male partners need to be in good health as well. Such things as smoking can affect quantity and quality of sperm. Encourage your partner to avoid tight pants and underwear, hot tubs and saunas. Excess heat in the testicular region affects sperm production.
  3. Consult with your doctor about any medications you are taking. You never know what might get in the way of your fertility and hinder conception. Have your partner check with his doctor as well.
  4. Pay attention to your nutrition and exercise regime. Your weight can affect ovulation and preparation of your uterine lining either because it is too high or too low. If you are overweight, get on a healthy diet and exercise. If you are underweight, try to increase your body weight. Some experts recommend eating more organic foods, especially chicken, meat, eggs, fruit and vegetables. Others may tell you to limit your carbohydrate and caffeine intake. Consult with your doctor about what foods are best for you and whether you should start taking prenatal vitamins.
  5. You and your partner should stop smoking. Cigarettes can affect a woman’s ovarian hormone production and egg development. In males, they can affect the quantity and quality of sperm. Quit now to avoid harm to your reproductive health.
  6. Find ways to diminish stress. Stress can affect your health and physiology in a negative way. Go for a massage, exercise regularly and communicate with your partner and your friends. Let them know how you are feeling. Go to a support group or mind and body program. Learn relaxation exercises. Try yoga or acupuncture.
  7. Consult with your Ob/Gyn and see if you need a doctor (reproductive endocrinologist) who specializes in infertility. It is recommended that you consult with a fertility doctor if you are under 35 and unsuccessful in getting pregnant after one year of trying, and if you are over 35 and have been unsuccessful after six months. Don’t wait.
  8. Conduct research on fertility clinics and doctors in your area. Get references or check their history and success statistics. Find a reputable program where treatments are documented to be successful and affordable.
  9. Research your health coverage carefully. Read your insurance policy to see what types of fertility treatments are covered — if any — and what stipulations are placed on such treatments. Get the best insurance coverage for infertility that you can, and be prepared for what costs you may be responsible for.
  10. Chart your cycle. Use ovulation kits or basal thermometers to learn about your menstrual cycle. Not only will it tell you a lot about your reproductive health, but it will help you best time intercourse to achieve pregnancy.

It is important to educate yourself and be prepared for what is involved in starting a family. Talk to your doctors, and communicate with your partner. Infertility can be extremely stressful on a couple's relationship. It is especially important at this time to support each other and work through any problems together.

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