While infertility due to medical or hereditary reasons needs medical intervention, the fertility problems arising due to lifestyle factors may be upturned by making some routine chances. If you are worried about having a baby and are wondering how to improve your fertility, you must identify and remove the factors that may be impairing your reproductive system.
Having a baby when we wish to is something most of us take for granted. However, with marriages happening late in life, tensions mounting every day, and lopsided lifestyles, fertility problems are quite common.
Although you cannot stop the biological clock, there are a few things you can do to extend your fertility levels.
Below are some easy ways to improve your fertility naturally:
- Eat well: A healthy, nourished body is conducive to the embryo’s growth and it is a good signal to the body and hormones for conception. Include enough protein (foods like eggs, lean meat, fish, low-fat dairy, beans, etc.) in your diet to improve muscle strength.
Also, make sure you’re having enough fruits and vegetables to provide sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals to your body, because deficiencies in these can cause longer menstrual cycles and consequently, less frequent ovulation.
Food may be an overlooked factor but taking care of what you eat can really help boost your fertility.
- Watch your weight: Extremely low or high weight can throw off your hormonal balance and mess with your fertility. Some people go into fertility treatments when all they need to do is lose weight. Check your BMI (body mass index) and see if it falls within the normal range of 19-24. Underweight women often cannot carry a pregnancy because their bodies are not strong enough. Being overweight also brings along problems such as high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, etc. which can be bad for pregnancy. Weight problem in women is also sometimes also the reason why IVF fails.
- Quit drinking: An occasional glass of red wine is known to have its benefits but alcohol generally alters the levels of estrogen, LH and FSH, causing fertility problems in both men and women. In a study of 430 Danish couples aged 20-35 years, who were all trying to conceive for the first time, it was found that even moderate alcohol intake (five or fewer drinks) caused decreased fecundability in women. Other studies have indicated that the ability to conceive is not affected by upto eight drinks a week. While more research is required to draw conclusions on the effect of alcohol on a woman’s ability to conceive, it is better to proceed with caution and limit alcohol intake for better fertility or to not drink at all.
- Cut down the caffeine: It is not just alcohol but also caffeine that can lower your fertility. Excessive consumption of tea or coffee can hinder with conception. A study published in the Lancet found that “women who consumed more than the equivalent of one cup of coffee per day were half as likely to become pregnant, per cycle, as women who drank less.” Caffeine is known to affect female hormone levels, which is why it is recommended to have it in moderation to improve your fertility.
- Stop smoking: Cigarette smoking is extremely detrimental to your reproductive health. The toxins take a toll on your entire body, especially your fertility. In women, smoking is associated with cervical cancer, blocked fallopian tubes, adverse changes in lining of the uterus, damage to developing eggs, increased risk of ectopic pregnancy and increased risk of miscarriage. In men, smoking can cause lower sperm count, sperm motility problems, hormonal issues, erectile dysfunction, etc. Smoking is perhaps the most important habit to kick if you want to improve your fertility.
- Protect yourself from pesticides: Pesticides and herbicides have toxins which may inhibit ovarian function in women and harmfully affect the sperm in men.
Occupational exposure of pesticides can certainly cause fertility problems, but recently, a study published in Human Reproduction found that pesticide-treated fruits were also responsible for lower sperm count and reduced sperm motility in men. Stay away from pesticides as much as you can and include organic fruits and vegetables in your groceries.
- Have frequent sex: According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, the likelihood of conception can be maximized by having sex daily or every other day, during your fertile window. It is challenging to accurately guess the time of ovulation with any method available today, so by increasing the frequency of intercourse after the completion of your period to the expected ovulation time can help raise the chances of pregnancy. Some theories also suggest that frequent sex can help regulate your menstrual cycles and make them more predictable, thus improving your fertility. Also, some reports suggest that weekly sex helps produce more estrogen.
- Be careful with the lube: A lot of lubricants are not considered sperm friendly so you must be careful what you choose. Even natural lubricants like saliva and olive oil may be harmful for the sperm. However, baby or mineral oils or just some sperm-friendly lube may be helpful.
- Look at your workplace environment: A plenty of workplace chemicals can have negative effects on your reproductive health. Women exposed to organic solvents—toluene, aromatic and aliphatic hydrocarbons, trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene (used in dry cleaning)—can have their probability of conceiving reduced to half, according to a study. Even in the healthcare industry certain disinfectants and drugs, and almost all anesthetic gases (nitrous oxide, cyclopropane, methoxyflurane, halothane and ether). So people in industries like printing, dry cleaning, or agriculture (where pesticides are used) must be careful.
- Understand your cycle: If your menstrual cycle is highly irregular, your fertility is certainly affected. A normal cycle lasts between 21 and 35 days and if your cycle is longer than that, then you are probably not ovulating enough.
It’s best to see your ob-gyn and consider some therapies to improve your periods. Regular periods with normal flow are a good indicator of fertility, but if your periods generally are a sign of trouble, it is advisable that you seek medical intervention to normalize your periods and improve your fertility.
- Don’t douche: It is good to be hygienic but excessive douching can disturb the normal environment of your vagina as it can kill the natural bacteria, which is meant for protection. It puts you at a risk of bacterial vaginosis (BV), which has been associated with infertility.
- Consider pills: When you finally decide to have a baby, chances are that you’ve already spent 10-15 years trying to avoid a pregnancy. Although general opinion about birth pills varies largely, the pill suppresses your reproductive system for a while and then restores it to where it should be when you stop taking it. Contrary to popular belief, it does not take very long for your periods to restore after you stop taking the pill.
The pill can actually help to preserve your fertility and enhance it to an extent as it reduces your risk of developing uterine and ovarian cancer.
- Exercise within reason: The body of a woman is designed to carry a baby, which is why you have more fat content then men. So if you lose too much fat in pursuit of flat abs, or engage in strenuous exercises, you might be messing with your hormones and jeopardizing your fertility. Moderate exercise is encouraged but periods are known to become lighter and may even stop in women who constantly engage in vigorous exercise.
- Get your vitamins: Folic acid is normally advised in women trying to get pregnant but other B vitamin, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E are all important and recommended for both men and women to improve their fertility. Omega-3 fatty acids, iron and zinc are also important nutrients for fertility. You can get all these from a natural diet if you include beans, leafy greens, oranges, flax seed, eggs, spinach, strawberries and fortified cereals.
- Manage stress: Any kind of physical or mental stress is bad for fertility as it can throw off your hormonal balance. Numerous researchers have suggested the link between stress and reduced fertility. A study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and the University of Oxford corroborates the common belief that stress reduces a woman’s chances of conceiving.
It states that constant long-term stress may cause several failed attempts at pregnancy, which then becomes the reason for added stress and causes further delay in conceiving. Yoga, mindfulness, and meditation are believed to help in improving your fertility levels.
You don’t know when you will be ready for pregnancy and what your fertility level will be at that time. To boost your fertility levels look for possible problems in your daily routine and try to make healthier choices as outlined above and hopefully your hormones will cooperate when you most want them to.