Have you just started trying for a baby, or have you been hoping to conceive for a while?
In either case, you may think it’s time to evaluate your current lifestyle choices.
Not only does omitting bad habits or simply starting new ones help boost your overall health, but it can also increase your fertility. Thankfully, it isn’t hard to make these changes.
If you can prepare your body for pregnancy by simply adjusting your diet, being active and curbing some habits, wouldn’t you do it?
We explore seven healthy habits and lifestyle changes you can make today to improve your chances of conceiving.
1. Enjoy a Healthy Diet
You are what you eat!
It’s essential for you to maintain the right diet so your body receives the nutrients it needs. This means enjoying a diet that’s full of fruit and veggies, lean protein, and whole grains. You can do this by simply prepping meals at home for the day or week ahead.
Fruit, vegetables, nuts, and grains are jam-packed with antioxidants proven to aid fertility rates. Studies show antioxidants help deactivate free radicals, which can damage egg and sperm cells. Furthermore, the success rates for couples undergoing traditional IVF improved by 23% when they took an antioxidant supplement.
Not only will these changes to your diet help nourish your body, but they’ll help boost your energy levels and may even help you lose weight.
2. Keep Your Weight in Check
Being underweight or overweight can cause fertility issues.
In men, obesity is linked to reduced fertility due to hormone changes. It can also lower sperm count and make sperm less active.
To maintain healthy ovulation levels, women need to have a healthy body mass index (BMI). While this differs for each person, 20 to 25 BMI is generally the optimum range.
A healthy diet and moderate exercise (coming up next!) should help you maintain your ideal weight or lose that extra bit of weight to help improve your potential fertility levels.
3. Exercise in Moderation
We all know leading an active lifestyle can improve our health immeasurably. When it comes to fertility, exercise can aid your chances of conception.
You’re far more likely to be at risk of suffering from infertility if you live a sedentary lifestyle.
That said, it’s also possible to overdo your fitness regimen.
Moderate exercise helps promote a healthier body, weight loss, and keeps your stress levels down. On the other hand, too much physical activity can reduce progesterone production and may inhibit ovulation.
Therefore, if you’re already within a healthy weight range, you’ll want to limit any vigorous exercise to around 5 hours per week. Even simple things such as going for a walk after dinner with your partner or cycling to the shops can be all you need to enjoy a healthier lifestyle.
4. Cut Out the Caffeine
Scientists still aren’t exactly sure “how much coffee is too much.” However, what they do suggest is high consumption levels may increase the time it takes for you to get pregnant.
Caffeine can put extra stress on your adrenals and may affect your blood sugar levels. Try to limit your intake to one or two cups a day, especially while you’re trying to conceive. Studies suggest consuming less than 200 milligrams of caffeine a day doesn’t impact your fertility levels.
5. Limit Your Alcohol Intake
Alcohol can affect both male and female fertility rates and can lead to a higher risk of birth defects and miscarriages.
In men, frequent alcohol consumption can reduce sperm count, lower testosterone levels, and cause erectile dysfunction. An occasional drink isn’t supposed to harm your sperm production, but it’s best to abstain if you’re undergoing fertility treatments.
In women, alcohol has links to ovulation disorders. You may want to avoid it altogether if you’re trying to get pregnant. Alcohol may contribute to luteal phase defects, irregular ovulation, and irregular periods. Plus, as the “safe level of alcohol” at conception and during pregnancy hasn’t yet been established, it’s better to go without it completely.
6. Stop Smoking (Even If It’s Second-Hand)
The harmful effects of smoking on fertility are well documented. It can reduce the likelihood of getting pregnant by half.
Not only can smoking reduce a man’s sperm count, but it may boost the risk of miscarriage due to an increase in sperm DNA fragmentation. Furthermore, men who smoke during IVF treatments are less likely to see successful results. Smoking can ultimately result in impotence as well.
Smoking has links to aging ovaries, early menopause, depleting oocytes prematurely, and numerous other ovulation problems in women. It can impact the embryo’s early development and the health of your unborn child.
Women frequently exposed to second-hand smoke respond less successfully to fertility treatments. Additionally, female smokers are at a far higher risk of ectopic pregnancies and miscarriage.
7. Take Time Out to Relax
When you’re trying to conceive but aren’t getting the results you’re looking for, trying to relax and de-stress can be quite the task. However, the higher your stress levels climb, the lower your chances of getting pregnant are.
Stress and anxiety can cause changes to your hormone levels. While scientists still haven’t found a clear link between stress and infertility, high stress levels are regarded as a bad sign for anyone trying to conceive.
Manage your stress through meditation, yoga, massage, acupuncture, or by simply taking time out of your schedule to do what you enjoy. From reading a good book to walking in the park, these mindful activities can help reduce any stress and anxiety you may be feeling.
Equally, if you are struggling with stress due to infertility, you and your partner may find it beneficial to talk to a counselor.
Making Sure You’re Both Baby-Ready
These lifestyle changes are beneficial to everyone, but they may be significantly impactful for couples trying to conceive. After all, even the smallest of changes can have the biggest effect.
If you’re concerned about your fertility or want further advice on the ways you can improve your lifestyle for conception, you may want to speak to your health care provider or fertility specialist.