A diet low in sugar, processed carbohydrates and trans-fats will improve your fertility by supporting regular ovulation. The best way to achieve this is by eating wholesome, non-processed foods. Cutting out sugary drinks is also a great strategy to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet. On top of this, we recommend that you increase your level of omega-3 by consuming flaxseed, fish oil, salmon, sardines or walnuts.
The benefits of regular exercise on health and overall well-being are well known. As such, it’s hardly surprising that regular exercise can boost your fertility. We recommend 45 minutes of exercise 3–4 times a week, with weight training or high-impact interval training particularly beneficial. Ultimately though, find something that works for you. Of course, balance is critical – overdoing the exercise can make your menstrual cycle irregular and make it harder for you to get pregnant.
Ideally, women should strive to maintain a healthy weight, with a BMI between 18.5–25 kg/m2. Outside of these limits, studies have demonstrated a decrease in spontaneous pregnancy rates and increased time to pregnancy. As an added incentive, maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy also provides benefits for you and your baby. You can calculate your BMI using this handy online calculator.
Through its influence on hormones, persistently high stress levels may hinder your chances of becoming pregnant. At the same time, there’s no denying that the struggle to conceive can be emotionally taxing. It’s a vicious cycle that may sometimes be hard to break. Try incorporating activities into your routine that lower stress, such as mindfulness, yoga and counselling. Ensuring a nutritious diet, adequate exercise and a decent night’s sleep can also do wonders for your mental well-being. Perhaps most importantly, ensure you have supportive people around you throughout your fertility journey.
Don’t panic, you don’t need to cut out caffeine completely. However, it is thought that excessive caffeine consumption can reduce fertility. We recommend you limit yourself to one cup of coffee per day (a hard ask for some, we know).
The relationship between sleep and fertility is not completely understood. However, recent studies suggest that regularly getting 7–8 hours of sleep each night is the optimum amount required to boost your fertility.
Exposure to smoke (through smoking or second-hand smoke) makes it more difficult to become pregnant. Smoke can harm your eggs, disrupt the journey of a fertilised egg to the womb and change the level of hormones responsible for normal fertility. Furthermore, it can increase the chances of you miscarrying or giving birth prematurely. Men don’t get off scot-free either; smoking reduces their fertility too. On the bright side, these effects are reversed within a year of quitting. So, if ever there was a time to quit, it’s now.
No safe level of alcohol consumption has been established during pregnancy. Most women know that abstinence throughout pregnancy is important. However, what’s less commonly known is that heavy drinking can negatively impact your fertility. Studies show that women who consume a lot of alcohol take longer to get pregnant, and couples who do not drink during IVF treatment have more favourable outcomes than those who do drink.
Ultimately, if you’re planning a pregnancy, cutting out alcohol is the best option.
Certain medications may reduce your fertility. Your fertility specialist can advise whether this may be applicable to any medications you are taking.
While these don’t actually affect your fertility, they are very important in ensuring the healthy development of your baby early in pregnancy. In particular, adequate levels of folate can prevent deformities in your baby’s brain and spinal cord. Folate is present in a variety of foods and can also be taken in a pregnancy multi-vitamin. We recommend a taking good-quality pregnancy multi-vitamin when you’re trying to conceive and throughout the first trimester of your pregnancy.
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