1-Maintain a healthy weight to keep your body baby-friendly
Maintaining a healthy bodyweight is essential to overall health and a prerequisite if you hope to get pregnant. Although it may be trendy to be fashionably thin, it is not good for your health, let alone your fertility. Super skinny women have very little body fat.
The combo of too little fat and low calorie intake push the body into starvation mode.
It uses the little fuel it has to keep the systems most necessary for life running. The reproductive system is greatly slowed and in some cases you may become infertile.
It’s not good to be too thin, or too fat. Women who are obese often have trouble conceiving. As your weight goes up so do your insulin levels. Higher insulin levels create more testosterone in your blood and your ovaries.
Also, the additional hormones secreted by excess fat can block a fertilized egg from successfully implanting in the uterine wall. Not what you want when you’re trying to get pregnant.
So what is a healthy weight to maximize your fertility? The best way to figure this out is by calculating your BMI, or Body Mass Index.
BMI is a mathematical equation that is relatively easy to compute. Follow the steps below:
- weight in lbs x 703
- height in inches, squared
- divide weight by height
To maximize your fertility you should aim for a BMI in the “healthy range”, between 18.5 and 24.9.
2-Stress less to keep your hormones in check
It comes as no surprise that our stress levels can affect our fertility. As you probably know stress has a way of affecting us in a lot of negative ways.
Unfortunately as our lives become increasingly complicated our levels of stress increase.
Learning to manage your stress is a crucial part to living a healthy, balanced and happy life.
How exactly does stress affect your fertility? Each person has their own individual reaction to stress. Hormonal fluctuations, which are very common with increased stress, can cause a decrease in the blood flow to the uterus and make it more difficult for a fertilized egg to implant.
Studies have proven time and again that couples who report feeling happy and relaxed have much greater success at conceiving than those who are under stress.
Of course just the process of trying to get pregnant can stress us out! Getting pregnant and starting a family is one of the most important (and permanent) life choices you will ever make, so it’s no wonder it’s stressful!
There are many different things you can do to try to control your stress and reduce it’s impact on your health and fertility.
“Starting a yoga practice can be very helpful.”
Yoga with it’s deep breathing and precisely aligned movements will focus your attention and calm your central nervous system. Try finding a basic yoga practice, or even a “yin yoga” class. Yin yoga is a slower form of yoga that entails holding deep stretches for several minutes. It is incredibly relaxing and great at reducing stress. In fact, you might find a little yin yoga before bed is the ultimate prescription for a good night’s sleep. If you can’t find a yin yoga class, there are several available for free on YouTube.
Practicing deep breathing exercises is great for relieving stress.
- Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lie down.
- Close your eyes and inhale slowly and deeply through your nose.
- Count as you inhale.
- Once your lungs feel full hold the breath for just a second or two.
- Then exhale through your nostrils slowly and evenly, trying to reach the same count as you did on your inhale.
- As you do this try to allow the muscles in your face to soften and the body to relax.
- Try to devote at least five to ten minutes a day to deep breathing.
3-Prepare for pregnancy by eating a nutritious diet
You are what you eat, and so is your baby. To maximize your fertility follow a diet that is similar to those designed to prevent high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.
Pile your plate high with fruit and veggies in a variety of colors.
Seek out protein in vegetarian sources, like avocados, beans and nuts. Minimize your intake of meat and chicken. Although they are good sources of protein, most are pumped full of antibiotics and hormones, contain trans fats, and are exactly what you don’t need.
Processed foods are also chock full of artificial ingredients which are not good for your health at any time and should be avoided. Same goes for sugary sodas. Ditch them!
Think of food as fuel for your body and put only the best in your tank.
4-Exercise, but not too much, to keep weight and stress in check
Regular exercise is very important for keeping your weight in a healthy range and can help reduce stress levels. It boosts fertility by increasing circulation which helps to spur egg production.
The type and intensity of exercise you do is equally important. Vigorous exercise can actually decrease your fertility by impacting your hormone levels. Plus, too much intense exercise causes the body to use up excess fat, which can inhibit ovulation.
To get the maximum benefit from your exercise program choose activities that are low impact, such as walking, cycling, swimming or yoga.
Exercise at a moderate intensity, so you are not gasping for breath, but your heart rate is increased above your resting level. Try to get a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise at least 5 days a week. Remember, being thin and being fertile do not go hand in hand.
5-Quit smoking, to save your fertility treatment, your baby and yourself!
Smoking or spending time around people who do will negatively effect your fertility. It’s estimated that a smoker’s “fertility age” is ten years older than that of a non-smoker. So if you’re 35 and smoke your fertility will be closer to that of a 45 year old!
That’s a great reason to stop smoking.
Smoking is harmful to our bodies and can cause physical damage to the most important parts of our reproductive systems, including our eggs.
It can makes our ovaries age prematurely, a common cause of infertility.
Plus, it can cause blockages in our fallopian tubes, leading to a higher risk of ectopic pregnancy. Yikes! Higher rates of cervical changes and cancer are correlated with smoking. The risk of miscarriage is higher in smokers, due to weaker eggs and the uterine lining not being as healthy as it should be.
Smoking causes too many problems to take a chance. If there’s one piece of advice you take to heart from this list then let this be it: if you smoke and you want to get pregnant, STOP!
Some good news… The damage done to your fertility by smoking is not permanent. Most people resume normal fertility within a year of quitting.
6-Reduce caffeine consumption for better eggs
Addicted to your daily grande caramel machiatto? Well you might want to switch to decaf. Studies show that even moderate caffeine consumption in animals effects the ability of eggs to mature. If eggs don’t mature correctly they cannot become viable babies. Human studies conclude that a woman who drinks just one cup of coffee a day is half as likely to get pregnant!
Remember, caffeine isn’t just in the coffee you drink, it can also be found in tea, chocolate, light and dark, brownies, and other baked goods that contain chocolate, chocolate ice cream etc. Try substituting your morning coffee with a decaf variety, (they generally still contain a trace of caffeine), or with decaf tea.
Avoid sweets that contain chocolate.
Reach for vanilla or strawberry ice cream instead of chocolate. How about vanilla ice cream with crushed peanuts and caramel sauce…yum. Or let a delicious greek yogurt with honey or fruit satisfy your sweet tooth. Get creative!
If you do get pregnant, don’t jump back on the cup of Joe wagon! Studies have discovered higher miscarriage rates among coffee drinking women. Pregnant women metabolize caffeine more slowly and are more sensitive to it’s effects.
This is worrisome since anything a pregnant woman consumes can pass through to her baby via the placenta. Caffeine, which causes excitability and an increased heart rate, can spark unpredictable sleep patterns in your unborn fetus.
No amount of caffeine has been deemed safe at this point so it’s best to stop your intake of caffeine altogether when trying to get pregnant and during your pregnancy. When quitting caffeine be careful to wean yourself off slowly. Stopping cold turkey can cause headaches, nausea, etc.
7-Avoid alcohol for greater fertility
If you love your evening glass of wine this is definitely some unwelcome news. Studies have repeatedly reported a relationship between drinking alcohol and reduced fertility.
It appears the more you drink, the worse your fertility will be.
How alcohol reduces fertility is not fully understood but drinking even small amounts of alcohol can have a negative effect. Also, women who are undergoing IVF have a reduced likelihood of success if they drink.
So now you are supposed to reduce your stress and give up the one thing that relaxes you at night? Try replacing that glass of wine with some other activity that you find relaxing. Go for a walk, or a swim, do some gentle stretches or yoga moves, curl up with a book, or ask your partner for a massage, you deserve it! Finding natural healthy ways to combat stress is essential for your fertility, your pregnancy and your life.
8-Accupuncture, an ancient therapy that improves fertility
This ancient therapy has been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments and is currently widely and successfully used to increase fertility. During treatment tiny needles are inserted into the skin on key points on the body.
Accupuncture is thought to help improve the movement of energy through the body, called “Qi”, pronounced “Chee”, this energy is described as your vital life source or energy.
Stress is thought to inhibit the flow of Qi and accupuncture works to restore it.
Accupuncture has many of the same benefits to fertility as other stress reduction techniques. It boosts the production of endorphins, chemicals produced in the brain that create a sense of balance, calm and overall well-being. Plus, it’s thought to increase the production of egg and ovulation friendly hormones and increase circulation to the ovaries giving them more hormonal stimulation.
Doctors have found accupuncture useful for preventing miscarriages, perhaps by improving the quality of the uterine lining, making it a better home for a fertilized egg.
It’s clear accupuncture has a host of benefits whether you’re hoping to conceive or are already pregnant.
Some insurance covers accupuncture, but many policies don’t.
Check yours and make sure it covers accupuncture for fertility specifically. Also, look for a practitioner who specializes in and has experience using accupuncture for fertility. Ask your friends, family and trusted doctors for a recommendation. Preferably find a practitioner who is associated with a major medical center.
9-Avoid pesticides and eat organic for maximum fertility
You’ve probably heard by now all the terrible things that consuming pesticides and herbicides can do to the human body. These chemicals, often used to keep weeds and insects at bay, are destructive to many of the body’s primary systems, and they are also bad for reproduction.
Men who consume or are exposed to pesticides often have a reduced sperm count, and women may find that their ovulation and menstrual cycles are disrupted.
It’s best for everyone to avoid pesticides but especially important if you are hoping to conceive. You can avoid pesticides by choosing organic produce at the market. If you find organic to be too expensive, then carefully rinse your non-organic fruit and veggies prior to eating.
There are several rinses available in stores but you can easily make your own using white distilled vinegar.
Just combine 10% vinegar and 90% water respectively.
Rinsing with plain water should remove 70-80% of pesticides.
10-It’s His Responsibility Too…
No guys, you are not off the hook here. The same things that can compromise a woman’s fertility can harm yours as well.
Bad eating habits, alcohol consumption and smoking are some of the worst culprits, causing reduced sperm count and slow swimmers.
Chromosomal damage to sperm can occur in cases of heavy drinking and smoking. Scary!
Men need to carefully consider their own habits when looking to reproduce. It takes three months for men to create new sperm so some pre-planning is required. Men should eat a healthy diet, lay off of cigarettes and alcohol, avoid exposure to radiation (cell phones and laptops) and sport loose briefs.
If all this seems overwhelming keep in mind that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Most parents agree that having a child is one of life’s greatest joys and accomplishments. It’s no wonder a little bit of sacrifice may be required to reap this ultimate reward.