We often assume that fertility problems only occur when trying to conceive at a later age. However, more and more women are struggling to conceive naturally, with one in six couples now finding it difficult to conceive. While age does play a role, in reality even minor stressors can throw your body out of whack, lowering your fertility.
If you are trying to conceive, the good news is that the natural approach to fertility is and has been enormously successful. This is largely because there are many, many elements that can be at the root of your fertility problems – and sometimes these factors are interlinked. An encouraging study done by the University of Surrey showed that couples with a previous history of infertility who made changes to their lifestyle, diet and took nutritional supplements had an 80 percent success rate for conceiving. Considering the success rate for IVF is around 25 percent, this is some great news!
Here are a few simple health moves to help protect and improve your fertility.
1. Think Before Drinking
Remember, it takes two to tango. Fertility problems may also be due to the male partner's weight or diet. Sperm motility can also be damaged by smoking, drinking excessive alcohol (including beer) and recreational drug use. Vitamins C and E, zinc and folic acid are helpful for improving sperm health.
A growing amount of research has linked excessive alcohol consumption with a decreased ability to get pregnant. Alcohol alters estrogen levels, which may interfere with egg implantation. However, having the occasional glass of wine with dinner should no problem! It is also a good idea to reduce your consumption of coffee and energy drinks, with research showing that reducing caffeine intake is one of the best ways to improve fertility.
2. Stop Smoking
We all know smoking is bad for us, but here is another reason to quit. Cigarette toxins not only damage a woman’s eggs, interfering with fertilization and implantation, but it can also cause the ovaries to age. This means that the ovaries of a 35 year old smoker often function as though they belong to someone over the age of 40. Head obstetrician and gynaecologist Robert Barbieri, M.D., advises that while smoking does do some permanent damage to your fertility, stopping smoking early on can get your ovarian function back on track.
3. Watch your weight
Your weight should be like goldilocks’ porridge – just right (for you!). If you have too much excess body fat, it can lead to an overproduction of certain hormones that disrupt ovulation causing irregular cycles and lessened ovulation. On the other hand, too little body fat means your body may not produce enough hormones to ovulate each month or to sustain a pregnancy if you do conceive.
4. Eat right
Staying well-nourished boosts your odds of conceiving! Make sure to include enough protein, zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin D in your diet, because deficiencies in these nutrients have been linked to lengthened menstrual cycles (and therefore less frequent ovulation) and a higher risk of early miscarriage.
- Replace animal protein with vegetable protein sources like cooked beans to drop the risk of ovulatory infertility by around 50 percent.
- Increase your consumption of good fats and avoid dangerous fats. Good fats include monounsaturated fats like olive oil, polyunsaturated fats in oily fish and nuts and midchain fatty acids found in coconut oil.
- Reduce your consumption of simple, refined sugar. Instead enjoy wholefoods that are naturally sweet, but low on the glycemic index. Fruit is a great way to satisfy a sweet tooth without negatively impacting fertility.
5. Don’t forget to supplement
There is now a great deal of scientific knowledge about the use of nutritional supplements and how they can help support reproductive health. An optimal supplement should contain all the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs, as well as some natural ingredients to help manage healthy hormone levels. It is best combined with a good quality fish oil which provides plenty of essential fatty acids.
In good health