General advice for infertility

A couple should give itself every chance to conceive a child in order to avoid too many difficulties. The various measures and the "small tips" that we suggest are, for most of them, obvious, common sense measures, which are nevertheless often overlooked.

When to try to conceive?

  • The 14th day of a 28-day regular cycle remains the most fertile period as this is when ovulation occurs.
  • Sperm can remain in the body for seven days therefore the best period to conceive is approximately between the 10th and 17th day of your cycle.

If you have a cycle longer than 28 days, then the above dates may be different. Please discuss this with your doctor for more advice.

Ovulation kits

  • Ovulation kits are available over the counter at pharmacies.
  • The kit is a morning urinary test and detects the LH hormone which rises just before ovulation.
  • One such ovulation kit is called Persona

Pre-conception advice

Advice given by your doctor to give you the best chances to conceive may include:


  • Smoking affects both you and your baby.
  • Smoking is one of the major causes of male infertility.
  • Smoking decreases fertility by decreasing the female hormone oestrogen which is vital for conception to take place.
  • Nicotine and carbon monoxide from cigarette smoke passes into the placenta and is absorbed by the foetus.
  • Smoking is the most common cause of premature birth.
  • Spontaneous miscarriage risk is three-fold in smokers, especially in those smoking more than 20 cigarettes a day.
  • The risk of spontaneous abortion is doubled.
  • Ectopic pregnancy risk is multiplied by 2.
  • Smoking causes smaller babies of reduced weight, height and head circumference
  • There are more complications at birth
  • There is an increase in stillbirths and deaths within the first month
  • There is a higher risk of cot death


  • Consuming alcohol decreases the fertility of women and men.
  • The exact amount of alcohol which is safe in pregnancy has not been establishes.
  • Usually, doctors will advise you to avoid alcohol completely.
  • However, if you do drink alcohol, try to limit this to 1 - 2 units, once or twice a week.
  • You should avoid binges or getting drunk at all costs.

Diet and exercise

According to a large study involving more than 17,000 women published in "Obstetrics and Gynaecology" in November 2007, a healthy diet, good weight control, and regular physical activity can improve ovulation and hence assist in becoming pregnant.
It is advised to incorporate the following into your diet:
  • Increased fibre: whole meal bread, pasta, rice
  • Higher levels of protein: garden peas, lentils, soya beans, almonds
  • Reduced animal protein: meat, eggs...
  • Less fat and sugar
  • More dairy products
  • More food containing iron: fish, sardines, tuna, white beans, lentils, chickpeas
  • Increased fruit and salad


  • Too much caffeine has been linked with miscarriage.
  • It is thought that you should not drink more than two cups of coffee or 5 cans of fizzy drinks containing caffeine a day.


  • Weight is a very important factor to consider when trying to conceive.
  • Ovulation can be affected if your weight is too low or high.
  • Increased weight is also associated with diabetes, high blood pressure and subsequent caesarean section.
  • It is recommended that you maintain your body mass index (BMI) between 20 and 30.

Regular sexual intercourse

Regular sex will increase the chances of success.
It is generally recommended to have sex 2 - 3 times a week.
You must stop any regular contraceptive methods.

Vaginal discharge

  • Vaginal discharge may represent an infection which can prevent pregnancy.
  • If you have vaginal discharge, please discuss this with your GP or practice nurse who will be able to assess and provide treatment if required.


Becoming pregnant can take time and requires patience. This can be very stressful and emotional.
  • Stress can negatively impact ovulation and therefore cause difficulties in conception.
  • If you are concerned about stress, feel free to discuss this with your GP who will be able to provide some guidance on relaxation and methods to deal with anxiety.


  • Nowadays, women are having children later in life and this obviously affects fertility.
  • Women now want to establish a career before embarking on starting a family.
  • If you are concerned regarding your age, please discuss this with your GP.
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