Tick tock, baby
Is your biological clock ticking away? Improve your chances of having a baby with these steps.
You're finally ready to have a baby. Now, maximise your chances of falling pregnant by following these tips:

Having intercourse just before you ovulate will offer the best possible odds of conceiving. An ovum is only alive for 12 hours, whereas sperm can keep going for up to 24 hours. (Only in very favourable circumstances do they make it up to 72 hours, so don't have sex too long before ovulating.)

If the sperm are already waiting when the ovum is released, your chances of conceiving increase. There are devices on the market that can help you determine precisely when you will be ovulating. It always occurs 14 days before the start of menstruation so it's vitally important that you know and understand your cycle.

Take a good multi-vitamin supplement that includes some folic acid. This is an important B vitamin that helps prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida and other congenital malformations in babies. Some experts have linked a folic acid deficiency to infertility.

Some contraceptives, such as the injection, can influence fertility for up to two years. Find out from your gynaecologist beforehand, how long it will take to fall pregnant, after you stop taking the medication.

Questions about fertility

If Madonna could do it, why can't I?
Every actress who has a baby after 40 and all the women making headlines with pregnancies on the wrong side of 50, probably didn't get there without a little help, nor did they do it with their own ova.

If you want to have a trouble-free pregnancy that doesn't cost the earth, you should do it before the age of 35. Until then, your chances of a normal pregnancy are 80% per year. After 35, fertility starts declining and by age 40 you only have a 50% chance of a normal pregnancy. By 45 the chances are only 15-20% that you will deliver a healthy baby without medical intervention.

What about miscarriages?
The risk of a miscarriage increases with age. Up to age 35 it is about 15%, at 40 it's already 50%, and by 45 it has climbed to a mammoth 75%. Experts say this is because the ova are no longer in peak condition. The foetus therefore has a greater chance of being abnormal, hence a more significant probability of being rejected by the body via a miscarriage.

Where does the fault lie?
Problems with falling pregnant are not necessarily the fault of the woman. Van Rensburg says international research has shown that in as many as 60% of all couples, infertility can be attributed to the man. (According to statistics, male sperm counts have halved over the last 50 years.) In 20% of cases, the problems can be attributed to the man and the woman. It's essential that both partners see a fertility expert and that they're both willing to undergo the necessary tests.

What about "magic" potions?
Stay away from herbal potions, wonder powders and any product that comes at a price and makes sensationalist claims about fertility. The fertility medication that is prescribed by medical professionals has been stringently tested and monitored. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for all other products.

What are your baby-making suggestions?

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