IT IS estimated that one in seven couples have trouble conceiving despite regularly having unprotected sex.
But the number of couples who are classed as infertile in the UK remains relatively low.
There are a number of conditions, which can cause infertility, although in just under a third of cases the cause is unknown.
However there are a number of factors which, while not causing infertility, can affect men and women’s chances of conceiving.
Being overweight, or obese, for example, reduces both male and female fertility. In women, it can affect ovulation.
Being underweight can also impact on fertility, particularly for women, who will not ovulate if they are severely underweight.
Smoking not only affects a person’s general and long-term health, it can also affect fertility and stress can reduce sexual desire, reducing the frequency of sexual intercourse. Severe stress may also affect female ovulation and can limit sperm production.
Nutrition – what people are eating – also has an impact on fertility. Many of us will be aware of the importance of folic acid for women trying to conceive, or that zinc is good for healthy sperm, but the role of nutrition in fertility goes beyond this.
While there are no specific foods or beverages that will definitely make anyone more fertile, a person’s overall nutrition has a subtle, but powerful effect on all of the body’s systems, including the reproductive system.
Kay Clarke, a nutritional therapist at the Natural Health and Fertility Clinic, in Cardiff, said: “Nutrition is very important for the reproductive organs not least because they are often at the bottom of the list in terms of the body’s needs.
“Nutritionally people seem to be unaware of the basics.
“The nutritional status of a person is an individual thing, which we need to assess but there are some general points, including eating five to nine portions of fresh fruit and vegetables a day.
“They are full of vitamin C which helps in the production of eggs and sperm. The oils – omega three, six and nine – are also important because they have an anti-inflammatory reaction on the body and help to balance reproductive hormones.
“But if you are eating a lot of saturated fats, such as butter, cheese, and fatty meats these foods have an inflammatory effect in the body and therefore the action of the good oils is diminished.
“It is important that you get a balance of good oils over the bad fats. Couples who are trying to conceive should limit saturated fats to just part of one meal a day.”