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. Women with a body mass index (BMI) above 30 are likely to take longer to conceive, and your GP may recommend that you lose weight. A BMI of less than 19 may mean you are ovulating less frequently.
Men with a BMI of 30 or over are likely to 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.
Read more on diet and food hygiene during pregnancy.
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 (STIs). Infections such as chlamydia may not have symptoms, but can cause infertility if left untreated.
Last updated: 11 August 2015