Lifestyle Can Affect Your Fertility

It seems that now, more than ever, we are hearing more women share their personal stories of fertility issues. There are more open discussions being had about fertility and women have more resources and opportunities to explore their reproductive health and what to do about it.

Even if you are not trying to get pregnant right now, it is important to become aware of what your body is doing and capable of. By taking proactive steps and making healthy lifestyle choices today, you can help increase the likelihood of fertility and a healthy pregnancy when the time comes that you decide you are ready.

Besides setting aside time and speaking with your doctor, here are some easy lifestyle changes that you can incorporate today.

Adopt a Healthy Diet

I cannot emphasize this enough. When you suffer from fertility problems, the first thing you should do is look at basic lifestyle choices you make each day. Diet is one of the first things that your doctor will ask you about.  A healthy diet is one that is balanced,  provides adequate nutrition, and preferably includes fertility boosting sources of food such as healthy fats and proteins from veggies. Walter Willet, from Harvard School of Public Health, has performed extensive research on the topic of fertility and diet, specifically on what foods affect fertility. You can check out the article here A reproductive medicine group from Ohio also published these specific recommendations when it comes to diet and fertility.

  • Consuming healthy fats  is associated with a lower risk of ovarian dysfunction, and supports healthy ovulation. Avoid Low fat dairy because studies have shown they increase ovulatory dysfunction.
  • Consume clean protein from meat and vegetables. Preferably more plant based protein than animal.
  • Eat more water and fat soluble fiber.
  • Eat dark leafy greens to improve ovulation, and make healthy sperm.
  • Include beans in your diet as they boost fertility.
  • Adding walnuts to your man’s diet can improve his fertility.
  • Avoid Trans Fats at all costs.
  • Avoid highly processed foods and hydrogenated oils.
  • Reduce carbs and sugar. Eat complex carbs to stabilize blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels have been reported to reduce conception.

Plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats. Your doctor will also have more specific recommendations for you, especially if you have other dietary restrictions or conditions such as diabetes. Insulin resistance causes the body to release more insulin which halts ovulation.

Move Regularly

Maintaining a healthy weight, exercise and choosing foods that support your ability to conceive and achieve pregnancy are key factors in fertility. We discussed a healthy diet above, now let’s discuss the topic of obesity. Obesity has a significant effect on infertility rates. Obese women have an infertility rate that is 3 times higher than women who maintain a healthy BMI. In fact, 30% of infertility has been associated with weight extremes. The good news? If women reduce their body weight by just 5%, their fertility can improve. Infertility is not just affected by obesity however underweight women often suffer from ovulation issues due to hormonal imbalances.

Maintaining a healthy weight for your age and height is one of the best ways to improve your fertility. Don’t worry, you are not going to sit on the couch eating a celery stick while your partner downs a pint of ice cream. Obesity and fertility affect men as well. Obesity alters testosterone in men that can affect sperm count and sperm mobility. In fact, according to the same reproductive medicine group in Ohio as mentioned above, Sperm-related infertility accounts for up to 33% of male factor infertility. Meaning, your partner has to get on board as well! It’s a team effort!

And while you don’t necessarily have to incorporate intense bouts of exercise, walking is a great and easy choice that can hit all of your exercise goals. Walking gets your heart pumping, joints moving, blood and oxygen flowing and releases those feel good endorphins. Plus, it usually gets you out of the house and into fresh air and sun. Moving your body helps reduce contributing  factors for infertility issues like, stress and anxiety, and can help with many issues surrounding hormonal imbalances and other fertility problems in women. Finding a fitness routine that works for you, and gets you excited is important in maintaining the overall health of all your bodily systems.  This might include yoga, pilates, HIIT and Tabata, weights, walking, at- home workouts, or going to the gym.

Recognizing and Stopping Unhealthy Habits

There are unhealthy lifestyle choices that are glaringly obvious such as tobacco use of any kind, excessive alcohol consumption or recreational drug use. While other choices may seem harmless they could be hurting you more than you think. Tobacco use can affect fertility in both male and females. Because smoking damages the genetic material in eggs and sperm, miscarriage and offspring birth-defect rates are higher among patients who smoke. Smokeless tobacco also leads to increased miscarriage rates. If you are trying to become pregnant, talk to your doctor about how both you and your partner can quit slowly and healthily.

The less than obvious habits that could be affecting fertility is increased consumption of artificial sweeteners, the way you metabolize caffeine, and processed foods. Choosing clean, whole organic produce and meats will ensure you are not consuming harmful antibiotics and added hormones that can really wreak havoc on your own hormonal production causing imbalances which can affect fertility and ovulation.

Take a Multi-Vitamin Daily

The grown woman kind, not the gummies and not the flintstone chewables either!

Choosing a high quality and reputable brand with sustainable ingredients is essential to ensure you bridge the gap for any nutritional deficiencies you are not gaining through your diet. Some doctors may even recommend taking a prenatal vitamin even if you are not pregnant, to make sure your body fills up on essential nutrients such as folate, Vitamins A & D, iron, B6 and B12 to support a healthy pregnancy as these specific nutrients are the building blocks of a healthy pregnancy.

Other Actions to take into consideration are things like sleep habits, timing intercourse, managing stress levels, and oral health.

For more information on how you can tailor your health habits to increase your fertility, we always recommend you speak with your doctor to address your specific needs.