Studies have shown that couples with a history of infertility, can achieve a phenomenal 80 per cent success rate if they alter their lifestyle, diet and take nutritional supplements.
Here, then, are 10 tips on diet and lifestyle to help you safeguard your fertility:
1)Have your nutritional status assessed
A visit to a nutritional therapist will set you back £50 to £80, but it is money well spent as it is thousands of pounds cheaper than the IVF route, and may do away with the need for IVF altogether. A nutritional therapist will assess your unique vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and advise you on a tailor-made programme of food supplements to bring your nutrient levels back to normal over a four-month period.
2)Load up on supplements
Because food isn't as nutrient rich as it once was, a balanced diet is not enough, and so you will need supplements.
For women unable to get a personalised nutritional programme, the following is recommended by experts: 1,000 mg of linseed or flax oil a day; 1,000 mg vitamin C a day; zinc citrate or amino acid chelate (total of 30mg of zinc a day); and a multivitamin designed for pregnancy.
3)Eat plenty of healthy fats
Not all fats are bad. The body needs essential fats - namely Omega 3 and Omega 6 oils - which are contained in oily fish such as salmon, sardines, herrings and mackerel. If you are a vegetarian, you can get them from eating certain seeds and oils such as Linseed.
Omega oils are critical for both female and male fertility; regulating fluidity of cell membranes and allowing cells to function efficiently.
Conversely, hydrogenated oils and partially-hydrogenated oils (found in crisps, margarines), as well as saturated fats (contained in meat and dairy) are to be avoided, she adds, as they block the absorption of the essential fats.
4)Weight is a fertility issue
When it comes to fertility, too thin is as bad as too fat. Being excessively underweight or overweight significantly reduces your ability to conceive.
Fat is essential to fertility and is necessary in order to ovulate. The advice of fertility experts is to eat healthily and to exercise regularly, and to aim for a body mass index (BMI) - your weight in kilograms divided by the square of your height in metres - of between 20 and 25.
For exercise, a combination of aerobics and resistance work, such as weight training, is recommended. Yoga is a great exercise for both body and mind.
5)Cut out smoking
Smoking causes high levels of cadmium, a toxic metal, in the blood, which depletes the body of zinc. Smoking has been associated with early onset of menopause in women and reduced sperm count in men.
6)Cut down on alcohol and caffeine
Studies have shown that the more you drink, the less likely you are to conceive.
One study showed that women who drank more than five units of alcohol a week (five glasses of wine) were half as likely to fall pregnant within six months as those who drank less.
There is also evidence that caffeine (even one coffee a day) significantly reduces your chances of conceiving.
7)Take a holiday
Many women fall pregnant on holiday. Why? Because this is when they relax. Stress is an enemy of fertility and anything that relieves it is encouraged. Try gentle exercises such as walking, Yoga and meditation.
Or why not even try a holistic or raw food retreat, some retreat breaks are even created specifically for fertility.
8)Try Complementary therapies
Alternative therapies - such as reflexology, homeopathy, acupuncture, massage and yoga - can help achieve the desired emotional and psychological state. They work by balancing the body’s energy pathways (meridians), which allows for effective functioning of organs and allows self- healing to take place.
In addition Complementary therapies such as Acupuncture have been shown to significantly improve the outcome of IVF treatment.
9) Better sex
All this focus on dietary and lifestyle changes can leave you forgetting that however healthily you eat and live, the most important element is sex. But not every night.
Around ovulation, sex is best undertaken once every 48 hours, so as to maintain the high quality of the sperm. But don’t forget sex is about making love, not just making babies, so keep the emphasis on having fun and maintaining a loving relationship.
10) You are what you eat
Our advice is to buy organic food where ever possible - because it's more nutrient rich and because harmful pesticides are eliminated - and to eat a variety of foods, including fish, nuts, seeds, fresh fruit and vegetables.
Zinc is a mineral which is really important for both male and female fertility. Foods rich in zinc include mangoes, pumpkin seed and fish. Oysters, esteemed for their aphrodisiac qualities, are particularly high in zinc.
After making these lifestyle changes its important to be patient - It takes three months for an egg to travel from a group of follicles to be selected as the egg that is released on a cycle. It also takes three months for a man to generate a completely new batch of sperm. Expect to wait four months before lifestyle and dietary changes have an effect. But above all keep positive.