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
“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
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.2 A few key things Dr Newman suggests
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.)
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
“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
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
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.
– a condition in which the tissue that lines the uterus grows outside of the uterus, which
can cause pelvic pain and fertility problems.
(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
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
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
“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.
1Trying for pregnancy –
for Women’s Health
2Conceiving a baby –
3Weight – Your
Australian Guide to Healthy Eating
Australian Physical Activity Guidelines
6Health & medical –
7Obstetrics and pregnancy
This article contains general information only and does not take into account the health, personal
needs of any person. In conjunction with your GP or treating health care professional, please
the information is suitable for you and your personal circumstances.