If you are trying for a baby, you will want to give yourself the best possible chance for success.
Making some simple lifestyle changes may increase your chance of conception and help to ensure a healthy pregnancy. However, there are some factors, such as age, ovulation problems, sperm disorders and damaged fallopian tubes, that you can't change, and for these you may need to seek advice from your doctor or fertility clinic. For more imformation on these see our infertility section.
Changes you can make
Eat well: if you're a woman, a balanced nutitious diet will help improve your general health and wellbeing, ensuring that your body is able to nourish a developing baby. If you're a man, eating well is also important for healthy sperm production.
Choose a varied diet containing plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, potatoes, rice and other cereals (wholegrain, where possible), milk and diary products, lean meat, fish and other sources of protein.
Watch your weight: being overweight or very underweight can disrupt your periods and affect conception. A woman with a body mass index (BMI) of more than 29 or less than 19 may find it more difficult to conceive.
To work out your BMI, divide your weight in kilograms by your height in metres squared (your height in metres multiplied by itself) or use an BMI calculator. Fertility treatment may not be possible for very overweight or obese women.
Stop smoking: smoking has been linked to infertility and early menopause in women, and sperm problems in men. It also reduces the success of fertility treatments.
Drink wisely: the government advises women trying to conceive to avoid alcohol completely. Men shouldn't drink more than three or four units per day, and should totally avoid binge drinking to prevent damage to sperm.
Be active: regular moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes a day will help to keep you fit for conception and help control your weight. Exercise also reduces stress and boosts levels of endorphins, the body's own feel good hormones.
Keep cool: for optimum sperm production, the testicles need to be a couple of degrees cooler than the rest of the body. Avoid tight underwear and jeans, and excessively hot baths or saunas.
Manage stress: stress doesn't cause infertility, but excessive anxiety can sometimes upset the menstrual cycle. Try to reduce levels of stress and give yourself time to relax.
Think about your job: occupations involving sitting for long periods of time, such as long distance lorry driving, may affect sperm quality. Exposure to environmental chemicals such as paints or pesticides is also thought to be associated with poor sperm counts. If this is an issue consider talking to your supervisor.