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Geoff asked...

Tags: pregnancy

My fiance and I are keen for her to become pregnant as soon as possible. I am 39 and she is 41, we are both fairly sporty and in fairly good physical condition; neither of us eats badly, nor would we drink to or beyond the recommended limits.

However, I know that she is extremely concerned that her clock is ticking every month, I'm job hunting which isn't entirely conducive to a raging libido, and this is all making her unhappy.

Please can you advise where we should go to get checked up for our respective fertility, and/or recommend the lifestyle aspects that we might review to improve our chances of her conceiving. (Any other advice welcome too please!)

Neither of us have had any fertility tests to date.

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The Answer

Your age is much less likely to be an issue than your fiancée’s. While many women do get pregnant for the first time in their late thirties and forties, there is no getting away from the fact that fertility does start to drop from the age of about 35 on average.

There are several factors which have been shown to reduce the likelihood of getting pregnant (apart, obviously, from not having regular sex). They include smoking even two cigarettes a day; being overweight (any Body Mass Index over 27), drinking 4 or more cups of coffee a day and drinking alcohol on more than 3 occasions in a week. While drinking within the recommended limits of 2-3 units a day and 14 units a week for women, and 3-4 units a day and 21 units a week for men, will not damage your health, even this level of alcohol intake may reduce your chance of getting pregnant.

Ideally, it would be a good idea for both of you to stop drinking while you are trying to get pregnant. Having a sedentary job can reduce a man’s fertility, probably because the testicles are too warm for optimal sperm production. If you have been trying to get pregnant without success for a year, you may be eligible for referral to an NHS fertility clinic. Otherwise, you could consider making an appointment at a private fertility clinic (ensuring that you see an accredited consultant with Membership of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists). They may suggest a test of your fiancée’s ovarian reserve, which gives an indication of how big her risk of dropping fertility is.

Answered by Dr Sarah Jarvis.


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