5 things to consider when trying to get pregnant

By HBF

5 minutes

06 July 2021

A young pregnant woman and her male partner looking at ultrasound pictures 

Thinking of trying for a baby? Here are a few things that could help improve your fertility, according to a specialist women’s health GP.

If you’re dreaming of tiny hands and feet, the sweet scent of baby powder, and the feeling of a little bundle wrapped in your arms, now is the perfect time to check in on your health.

First, it's a good idea to see your GP for a pre-conception health check-up. It’s also important to look at your lifestyle habits, to make sure they’re supporting your health and fertility.1

We talked to Dr Amanda Newman, a specialist women’s health GP from Jean Hailes, for a few expert tips. 

1. Find your fertile window

When it comes to conceiving a baby, timing is everything.1 “Probably the most important thing about getting pregnant is having sex at the right time,” Dr Newman says.

“In order to get pregnant, you need to have an egg and a sperm together at the same time. That means having sex or a fertility treatment when a woman is ovulating – when an egg is present in the woman’s uterus.”

This ‘fertile window’ – the time in a woman’s menstrual cycle when pregnancy is possible – is open in the five days leading up to ovulation, and the day of ovulation.1

To work out when you’re ovulating, Dr Newman says it’s important to track your menstrual cycle.

“Ovulation usually happens around 14 days before your next period begins,” she says. “If you usually have a cycle of 28 days, you will probably ovulate on day 14.”

2. Consider your age

It’s important to know that your age can have a significant impact on your fertility.2

“We might not feel old by the time we’re 35 or 40, but by that time our eggs will have aged,” Dr Newman says.

Experts say women’s fertility starts to decline gradually from age 32, and more quickly from age 35. By age 40, a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant are halved. Men’s fertility also starts to decline around the age of 45.2

“That certainly doesn’t mean it’s not possible to get pregnant in your 40s, but it does mean it can take longer, and the chances of it happening naturally are smaller than if you’re younger,” Dr Newman says.

If you are trying to get pregnant in your mid-30s or 40s, keep this in mind and see your GP if you have any concerns or questions.

You might also consider if you would want to explore assisted reproductive services such as IVF, should you have difficulty conceiving naturally. (HBF Gold hospital cover can pay benefits towards some of these services.)

3. Achieve and maintain a healthy weight

“Being a healthy weight is an important factor in fertility, for both women and men,” Dr Newman says.

This is because being overweight or underweight can cause hormonal changes that can impact a woman’s ovulation and egg quality. For men, being overweight can reduce sperm quality.3

Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight can also reduce a woman’s risk of pregnancy complications and improve your chances of having a healthier baby.3

4. Follow a healthy lifestyle

Healthy lifestyle choices can help with fertility and prepare you for a healthy pregnancy.A few key things Dr Newman suggests include:

  • Eat a healthy diet. “Having a healthy diet is probably the best way to achieve and maintain a healthy weight,” Dr Newman says. The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating is a good starting point, or you can talk to a dietitian or nutritionist for help creating a healthy eating plan.4 (HBF extras cover can give you benefits for this.)
  • Keep active. Regular exercise can help improve your fertility by helping you manage your weight.2 The Australian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend being active every day if you can, with a mix of cardio and strength-building exercise each week.5
  • Limit alcohol. “Alcohol can reduce your chances of falling pregnant, and it can also have an adverse effect on the health of the baby,” Dr Newman says. For these reasons, experts advise that not drinking is the safest option for women when trying to get pregnant.2
  • Don’t smoke. Similarly, smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke can both reduce your fertility and be harmful to an unborn baby – so now is the perfect time to quit.2 For help, reach out to Quitline or talk to your GP.

5. Understand health conditions that can affect fertility

Along with age and weight, there are some health conditions that can impact your chances of conceiving. A few to be aware of include:6

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – a common hormonal condition affecting reproduction, metabolic and psychological health.        
  • Endometriosis – a condition in which the tissue that lines the uterus grows outside of the uterus, which can cause pelvic pain and fertility problems.
  • Diabetes (for both men and women)
  • Sexually transmitted infections (for both men and women) – particularly chlamydia and gonorrhoea.

If you have any concerns or questions about how these medical issues might affect you and your fertility, see your doctor for a check-up and advice.

How HBF can help with pregnancy and birth

If you’re trying for a baby, now’s the time to consider your options between public and private hospital care for maternity.

HBF Gold hospital insurance includes cover for Pregnancy and birth, which gives you the benefit of choosing your obstetrician, hospital and birthing method.

It’s important to know that all Australian private health insurers have a 12-month waiting period on Pregnancy and birth.7 That means you will need to have the appropriate level of hospital cover for at least 12 months before your estimated due date.

HBF Gold hospital cover can also pay benefits towards Assisted reproductive services – hospital fertility treatments and procedures such as IVF. Please note that a two-month waiting period applies to this category (or 12 months for pre-existing ailments).

“Trying for a baby is a good opportunity to make the most of your general health,” Dr Newman says.

With a few simple lifestyle changes, you can increase your chances of conceiving a healthy baby – and improve your own health at the same time.


Sources:
1Trying for pregnancy – Jean Hailes for Women’s Health (2020)
2Conceiving a baby – Better Health Channel (2018)
3Weight – Your Fertility (2021)
4The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (2017)
5The Australian Physical Activity Guidelines (2021)
6Health & medical – Your Fertility (2021)
7Obstetrics and pregnancy – Commonwealth Ombudsman

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Disclaimer:

This article contains general information only and does not take into account the health, personal situation or needs of any person. In conjunction with your GP or treating health care professional, please consider whether the information is suitable for you and your personal circumstances.