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follicles maturing on day 5 of menstrual cycle

What's happening inside

This cross section through the ovary shows several ovarian follicles. Between each follicle, the connective tissue can be seen. Each month about 15-20 follicles mature, but it is usually only one that will fully mature and release an egg.

Making some lifestyle changes is essential when you're trying to get pregnant and cutting down on alcohol is a good start.

Even though it's still the week of your period, and some time before you ovulate, try to ensure you're in the best possible health to maximize fertility. One way is to cut down your alcohol intake.

Heavy drinking can reduce the chances of conceiving and, if you do get pregnant, it can also harm your unborn baby's development. There is plenty of evidence that drinking beyond the recommended amounts is harmful. What's lacking is evidence of the effects on conception and pregnancy of the occasional alcoholic drink. There is no known safe level of alcohol consumption for pregnant women. However, many women decide to err on the side of caution and stop drinking alcohol entirely while trying to conceive and in early pregnancy. Some find that morning sickness (see You are 5 Weeks and 3 Days) naturally reduces desire for alcohol.

Alcohol also affects male fertility. It has adverse effects on the quantity and quality of sperm produced, and drinking large amounts can cause impotence.

You may find a drink helps you and your partner relax and puts you in the mood for sex, thereby increasing your chances of conception, but you may want to rethink having the occasional glass of your favorite drink. The US Surgeon General recommends that women trying to get pregnant abstain from alcohol to eliminate potential problems.

woman eating healthy preconception diet

Opt for nonalcoholic drinks if you're trying to get pregnant. A high intake of alcohol can adversely affect your chances of conceiving.

As A Matter Of Fact

Illicit or "street" drugs can harm your unborn baby.

You should try to stop using drugs before you conceive. However if you regularly use drugs, or find it hard to manage without them, it is essential to get medical support. Ask your doctor for advice. He or she will be able to help and put you in touch with a support group.

Time To Think About

Medical checkups

Before you try to conceive, speak to your doctor about the following tests:

  • Rubella: have a blood test to check that you have antibodies against rubella (German measles). Being infected by the rubella virus for the first time in early pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of the baby developing an abnormality, and increasing the risk of miscarriage. If you were vaccinated against rubella as a child, your antibody level may be high enough to protect your baby. If it isn't high enough, you'll be offered a MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine and advised not to conceive for three months.
  • Sexually transmitted infections: go to your doctor for tests to rule out infections such as chlamydia, genital warts, and herpes. You may also want to consider having an HIV test at your as well. Women with HIV can still bear children, but may be prescribed a medicine to reduce the chances of passing the infection to their child. A cesarean may be recommended.

excerpted from:

Excerpted from Pregnancy Day by Day.
Copyright © 2008 Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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