Conception is a miraculous event, orchestrated by a multitude of factors that culminate in fertilization of the female egg with the male sperm and nine months later, the birth of a new human being.
But fertility and the speed with which you conceive is dependent on several parameters such as your diet and environment. Taking charge of these can have a profound effect on your fertility.
Specific mineral, nutrients and fats can make you more fertile: Zinc, for example, is vital for reproductive health, and with B6, works on every part of the female sexual cycle, ensuring sufficient amounts of sex hormones are produced, which affect ovulation, as well as increasing the desire for sex (hence eating oysters).
Zinc is also essential for healthy sperm, needed to make the outer layer and the tail of the sperm. Bearing in mind that the recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 15 mg while a typical diet provides only 9.7 mg, supplementing your diet with zinc may be a good idea if you want to increase your fertility, especially as up to 1.4 mg can be lost with each ejaculation.
The right fats such as Omega 3 (such as in oily fish) and omega 6 (such as in nuts and seeds) are also essential for healthy hormone functioning that affect the menstrual cycle and sperm.
Seeds are also rich in minerals (including zinc) while vitamin C and E boost fertility in women and men and vitamin A is needed for ova to grow and develop before ovulation and for making male sex hormones. Chromium is also needed for sperm production.
Everyday toxins can affect your fertility and avoiding these may be crucial to conceiving a baby. Studies have found that any alcohol you drink, as well as cigarettes you smoke, can reduce your fertility by half.
The more you drink the less likely you are to conceive. Smoking damages the quality of the eggs in the ovaries reducing the number capable of producing a baby. There is no solace in caffeine either as just one cup a day, can halve your chances of conceiving.
Furthermore, chemical and environmental pollutants can play havoc on your fertility and you should aim to avoid them whenever you can, living in Egypt, that can be easier said than done, but a regular detoxifying regimen and healthy diet, may protect you against such environmental contaminants.
Considering you are healthy and avoid the above toxins, and are not too slim or too fat (as this can lead to hormonal imbalances that can reduce your fertility), or too old (fertility diminishes with age in both men and women, although recent studies suggest if you are healthy, your fertility with age may not be diminished as previous studies suggested) conceiving should be a piece of cake.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case but knowing how it all works may increase our chances.
During each menstrual cycle, you are only fertile when an egg is released during ovulation, which will last only 12-24 hours. However, in calculating the fertile time we use 48 hours in case more than one egg is released. It is during this time that intercourse should take place and the only practical non invasive way to identify this fertile time is to observe your waking temperature (which is elevated post ovulation) and cervical fluid.
As the actual day of ovulation can vary from cycle to cycle, the confirmation of ovulation of those few days becomes critical to conception. As your cycle progresses your cervical mucus changes texture due to the different oestrogen and progesterone levels, and the cervical mucous consistency can by checked by feeling the cervix which lies just inside the vaginal opening and feels like a tiny ball.
During ovulation the mucous will be extremely slippery having an egg white consistency, stretching up to 10 inches. This consistency is essential for fertilization as it creates canals during ovulation to point the potentially lucky sperm in the right direction towards the egg. It is worth noting that a man’s sperm can live up to five days in a woman’s body and can fertilize an egg, five days post intercourse.
Many men may be pleased to know that the best sexual position for conception to occur, has been found to be the missionary position with the woman’s hips elevated slightly, and although controversial, it is also thought that the woman should continue laying down for thirty minutes post intercourse. Surely a sufficient time, for the man to cook dinner and alleviate any stress on the woman, which can also have detrimental effects on her fertility, and health of the newly fertilized ovum.
Dr. May El Meleigyholds a Ph.D in Immunology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, as well as an MSc. (Toxicology/pathology) and a B.Sc in pharmacology) from London University. El Meleigy is a freelance medical/health writer and is currently producing Health Education programs for Egyptian TV.