Studies show that about 1 in 6 couples struggle with fertility. If you are one of the many who run into this issue, there are a few things you can do to potentially boost fertility and increase your chances of getting pregnant. While there will always be factors beyond your control, making lifestyle, diet, and behavior adjustments are a few natural and easy ways to try and increase fertility.
Track your period
First and foremost, period tracking can help you figure out and understand your menstrual cycle better. Being aware of when your cycle occurs can also clue you in to when your body is ovulating. Just like menstruation, ovulation varies month-to-month based on environmental and internal factors like stress, diet, and exercise. By tracking your period, you will be better able to time your conception efforts more easily.
Keep in mind that period tracking apps can’t give an exact date on ovulation, but that doesn’t mean the information isn’t useful. Period tracking apps can provide a good basis for understanding your body better. Beyond being a pregnancy aid, tracking your period has a host of benefits that we discussed in a previous blog post.
For more accurate and detailed ovulation detection, try tracking basal body temperature, breast sensitivity, and cervical mucus. You can even purchase ovulation tracking kits at your local pharmacy.
Maintain a healthy diet
As mentioned previously, diet is one factor that impacts your menstrual cycle and ovulation. There are certain foods that you can incorporate into your diet that have been shown to increase your fertility. Eating antioxidant-rich foods may help boost fertility in both women and men. This includes foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains which are packed full of beneficial antioxidants like vitamins C and E, folate, beta carotene, and lutein.
Aside from antioxidants, be sure to incorporate healthy fats like avocado and olive oil. Avoid trans fats commonly found in hydrogenated vegetable oils, margarine, fried foods, processed products, and baked goods. Trans fats have been found to negatively impact ovulation levels. Studies have found a correlation between a diet higher in trans fats and lower in unsaturated fats and infertility for both men and women.
For women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), following a low-carb eating plan can help improve hormone levels and increase the odds of getting pregnant. Minimizing refined carbs can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower levels of testosterone and insulin, hormones that contribute to infertility.
Opt for full-fat dairy instead of skim and low-fat dairy products. Studies show a connection between consuming full-fat dairy and fertility. Women who had consumed one or two servings of high-fat dairy products had been found to have higher chances of getting pregnant than those who consumed low-fat dairy.
Cut the caffeine
Many of us cannot live without our daily cup of coffee, but consuming too much caffeine may make conceiving more difficult. Studies have not conclusively proven that caffeine has a direct effect on fertility, but consider limiting your caffeine intake to one or two 6- to 8-ounce cups of coffee a day to err on the side of caution.
Alcohol has been proven to negatively affect fertility and decrease the likelihood of pregnancy, though it is unclear how much alcohol needs to be consumed for this effect to take place. Though a few sips of alcohol here and there are okay, most doctors will likely recommend avoiding alcohol completely or at least avoiding excessive consumption.
Exercise caution when exercising
There is such a thing as too much exercise. For women trying to boost fertility, vigorous daily exercise can decrease the body’s production of the hormones that stimulate ovary function. This can cause the ovaries to become less active and stop producing eggs and estrogen. This risk increases with exercise duration and intensity. Moderate exercises like walking, yoga and barre that are low intensity are great ways to stay active, while high-intensity exercises like running, cross-fit, and spin classes should be avoided for the time being.
Reduce stress and increase relaxation
If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for a while, you may have felt more stressed out than normal. The added stress of trying to conceive can increase levels of cortisol, which can cause irregular cycles. Take the time to sit back and relax. Engage in more activities like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or even cognitive behavioral therapy. Find activities that help you unwind like doing yoga, watching your favorite movies or shows, drawing a bath for a nice soak— basically whatever helps you.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Although there is no singular cure-all to boost fertility, making a few lifestyle changes can increase your chances of getting pregnant. Still, many couples struggle to get pregnant at no fault of their own. Reproduction is a complicated process that requires getting the timing right in balance with other bodily systems. Sometimes, unknown factors can make pregnancy more complicated. If you have been trying to conceive without success for more than a year, you might consider seeking fertility treatment. At the Arizona Center for Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility, we offer a wide range of services to meet every woman’s individual needs. Learn more.