Watch out, it only takes one sperm!

I can remember my teachers laughing as they read my homework.

I didn't get what was so funny. There I was, at 15 years old, sensibly describing how, once sexually active (insert groan here), I would be taking the birth control pill and using condoms. Because that's what good girls do, right?

They laughed and asked if I'd be keeping my tights on as well.

Having recently visited a family friend who was dying from AIDS, I was all too aware of what not using condoms could result in, and I believed that the pill was necessary, because it only takes one sperm to get in trouble.

Questionable choices.

I may have been drinking Jack Daniels during my lunch break, and making questionable choices in terms of clothing (and boys), but in terms of sexual health, I was a very sensible young woman. I was on the pill, using condoms, volunteering in an HIV day centre and sat on a committee which looked at the sexual health of young people. I mean, I could've been the flippin' poster girl for any "how-to-remain-disease-free-and-not-get-knocked-up" campaign.

My first pregnancy test.

But there I was, hiding in the bathroom, waiting to find out if I was pregnant. Praying that I wasn't, and that nobody would ask me why I'd been in the toilet for so long.

I had believed the it only takes one sperm line so much, that despite using two birth control methods at once, I was still convinced that I might be pregnant.

300 million sperm.

That's roughly how many swimmers are released each time your guy has an orgasm, and it is true that only one is needed, so it seems as if our chances of getting pregnant are really high. Because that's a hell of a lot of sperm.

Turns out, it's not always that easy.

I see a common theme amongst my fertility clients: They, like me, were told in their sex education, whether it came from their school, their older sister or 17, that it's easy to conceive. But fast forward a couple of decades, and they find themselves in my treatment room, thoroughly pissed off that it's a lot harder than they thought it would be.

You were a good girl and did your best to avoid parenthood till you were ready for it.

Now you're ready, so ready that it's all you can think of… and it's not happening. 

I want to share with you some of the things I suggest to my fertility clients:

But before I do, if you've just started to try, and you or your partner don't have any known reproductive issues, I largely just suggest you both enjoy a varied whole foods diet, take a good multi-vitamin and some fish oil, and enjoy having sex without having to take precautions!

However, if you've been trying for six months or so, then this is what I suggest:

  • Manage your stress levels and get a good night's sleep. How can you have regular sex, as required for conceiving, if you're tired from not sleeping well and only interested in getting some shut-eye? Or, if you're so stressed that you can't shut off and actually enjoy sex, so it becomes something you do just to get his sperm inside you (ooooohh fun!). There are various therapies which can help with this, hypnotherapy being one of them. Chloe Brotheridge has some great free videos to help manage stress and anxiety which I highly recommend.

  • Start charting your cycle so that you can figure out when you're fertile. This involves taking your temperature first thing in the morning and monitoring how your cervical fluid changes throughout the month. It's particularly helpful if you have irregular cycles or, for various reasons, regular sex is hard to achieve so the timing is important.

  • In addition to tracking your physiological changes, also note how you feel emotionally. The richness of this information can help you to reframe how you view your body when you're in the phases you're not so keen on (because it can be hard to appreciate your period when you're not trying to conceive, let alone when you are). You may also notice certain thoughts and emotions in the lead up to ovulation, which you can add to the when am I fertile calculation.

  • If you're not taking them already, get yourself a good multi-vitamin and fish oil. Your man too.

  • If you're over 35 and have been trying to conceive for over six-months, speak to your GP and ask for blood tests to measure your hormone levels. Your partner needs to get his swimmers checked too.

And finally:

Whether you've just started to try for a baby, or you've been trying for four years, here's how I can help:

  • The Arvigo techniques of Maya abdominal therapy (ATMAT) helps by improving blood blow to the reproductive and digestive organs. It focuses on the abdomen and lower back, encouraging optimal position and function, and as it's largely a self-care practice, helps you to get to know your body and gives you a way to be proactive with your reproductive health.

  • Many women find that acupuncture helps to relieve menstrual-symptoms that can cause fertility issues. It also sits nicely along IVF cycles.