Prevention of infertility
For some, adopting a healthier lifestyle through simple lifestyle changes, or staying up to date with regular health checks and tests, may help to prevent infertility.
Women who are underweight or overweight ovulate (release an egg) less regularly, or sometimes not at all, compared to women of a healthy weight.
Therefore ensuring you maintain a healthy weight will make it easier to conceive. Use the healthy weight calculator to find out if you are the right weight for your height.
Women should aim for a body mass index (BMI) of 19–25 for the best chance of getting pregnant. A BMI of less than 19 may mean you are ovulating less frequently. If your BMI is over 29, your GP may recommend that you lose weight.
Men with a BMI over 29 may have reduced fertility, and your GP may recommend that you lose weight. Regular exercise and a healthy diet can help maintain a suitable weight.
Make sure that you eat a nutritious, balanced diet of at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Include carbohydrates such as wholemeal bread and pasta, and lean meat, fish, and pulses for protein. Green, leafy vegetables are high in folic acid, which can help prevent birth defects.
Stress can often affect fertility because it may lead to you having sex less frequently. For the best chance of becoming pregnant, you need to have sex every two to three days. Talk to your partner if you are feeling stressed and consider using counselling (talking therapy). You may also find regular exercise helpful.
Medicines and drugs
Illegal drugs such as marijuana or cocaine can affect fertility, and can seriously damage the development of your baby if you fall pregnant. You should therefore avoid using them.
You should also avoid using some prescription medicines if you are trying to get pregnant. Ask your GP for further advice.
Health checks and tests for women
Make sure you are up-to-date with your cervical screening tests (smear tests). You need to have one every three to five years, depending on your age.
You should also visit your local sexual health clinic (GUM clinic) to make sure you do not have any sexually transmitted infections. Infections such as chlamydia may not have symptoms but can cause infertility if left untreated.
Last revised: 20 November 2012
Next review: 13 February 2014