Having a baby may seem like one of the most natural and normal things for a couple, especially in the early years. But it is actually a complex process that requires the coordination of hormones, health, wellness and the fortuitous meeting of egg and sperm. Having difficulty conceiving can actually make the pregnancy journey more frustrating and aggravating than it was really ever meant to be. There are several ways of increasing your fertility and improving your chances of becoming pregnant. Some of these are more natural than others and some of them may seem like common sense but all of them, when coupled together, will actually improve your chances of welcoming a new little baby into the world nine months later.
The first factor to improve your fertility is to remove any barriers to conception. This means stop using birth control, stop taking the pill and evaluate any other medications you may already be taking and their effects on fertility. Discuss your medication regimen with your physician. If you are treating an underlying medical condition pharmacologically, you may have other options which will not interfere with fertility.
Some other factors which affect fertility are lifestyle choices. In a study released in Obstetrics and Gynecology researchers drew the link between the relationship of a healthy diet and a reduced risk for infertility. Women who did not follow a combination of five or more healthy lifestyle factors would experience more than an 8% risk of infertility as compared to women who engaged in these lifestyle choices to improve their overall health and their fertility. (1)
By maintaining a healthy overall weight, actually losing weight if you’re overweight and gaining weight if you are under weight, will help to improve your fertility. Hormone levels are affected by the amount of fat stored in the body. When there is an over abundance of fat cells it affects the way in which the hormones are released and interacts in the body. And, without enough fat stores the quality of hormones released is sub optimal.
Excessive sugar, refined carbohydrates and trans fatty acids all affect the immune system as well as the hormonal system of an individual’s body. In the case of a woman who is trying to conceive they also impact the way in which ovulation is a coordinated. Improving your diet by getting more protein from vegetables rather than animal flesh, eating fiber rich foods and considering a multivitamin to make up the differences will also improve your chances of conceiving. Vegetable proteins are lower in fat and calories as well is more easily digested and absorbed by the body. Fiber rich foods will help to decrease the chances of constipation and eliminate the toxins which build up in the lower intestines.
Exercise is another factor which affects the hormonal system of men and women as well as the overall health of the individual. Although dairy products continue to be important nutritionally, a recent report showed that a full fat dairy may help to increase fertility in women more so than a low-fat nonfat dairy products. However, these are loaded with calories and saturated fats and should only be one of your daily servings of dairy products. (2)
One habit that has a significant impact on fertility is smoking. Both men and women’s reproductive systems are affected by cigarette smoke, whether it’s inhaled directly or secondhand. Cigarettes include over 250 carcinogenic and mutagenic compounds which means that they have over 250 chemicals having known to cause birth defects and cancer. Researchers from Great Britain found that smoking diminishes the ability of the woman to conceive a child by two thirds and has long lasting substance which concentrates in the ovaries and affects conception. According to University of Iowa study cigarette smoke decrease the number of eggs and decrease the amount of estrogen which is the hormone responsible for producing fertile mucus and making the cervix more receptive to sperm. (3)
Smoking also interferes on the ability of the body to absorb specific vitamins. Interestingly, smoking interfered in the ability of the body to absorb vitamin C in both the men and women. With the decreased amount of vitamin C men’s bodies were unable to produce vital sperm. A research team from Galveston Texas found that after receiving supplementation these levels could improve within the a week with full recovery of sperm health in three months. (4)
Another interesting fertility fact is that although seasonal changes have minimal impact on modern society our bodies still respond to changes in the seasons. Research has documented that men’s semen quality and quantity will reach a peak as winter ends and spring begins. Although investigators have no concrete evidence or reason why this is happening there is a possibility that the pituitary or pineal glands are more active during these times which affects the endometrial layer in the uterus and production of sperm.
And finally, figure out when you’re the most fertile by using a fertility charts. Women can use the basal body temperature thermometers to take their temperature prior to getting out of bed in the morning. By charting these results women are often able to determine the exact several days during which ovulation has happened. This allows them to understand exactly when they would be at their most fertile.
(1) Harvard School of Public Health: Changes to Diet and Lifestyle May Help Prevent Infertility
(2) Human Reproduction:A prospective study of dairy foods intake and anovulatory infertility
(3) Obstetrics and Gynecology:The effects of smoking on ovarian function and fertility during assisted reproduction cycles
(4) Weill Cornell Medical College: Men’s Health and Fertility: Lifestyle Information