With fertility issues affecting up to 15% of couples, it’s only natural that looking for things to change to increase the chances of getting pregnant is a step that many take. There are some things which often come suggested by specialists and doctors throughout your fertility journey, but did you know that simple diet and lifestyle changes can boost your fertility by up to 69%?
No matter if you’re looking to get pregnant in the near future or are already in the process of trying, it is never too late to reevaluate your lifestyle choices. Choosing healthy lifestyle habits on a regular basis, or even completely getting rid of your bad habits, can vastly improve your health and these changes can boost fertility in both you and your partner. If your fertility doctor has suggested losing weight before you try for a baby or start your chosen procedure, then this is a great place to start so that you can prepare your body for the changes which lie ahead.
Eat Antioxidant Rich Foods
Antioxidants, such as zinc and folate, have been shown to potentially improve fertility in both men and women. Antioxidants work by deactivating the free radicals in our bodies, which can cause damage to both egg and sperm cells.
A recent study found that when young males ate 75 grams of antioxidant-rich walnuts each day, alongside their usual diet, this had a positive impact and improved their sperm quality.
Foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains are packed with beneficial antioxidants, including folate, vitamins C and E and lutein. By increasing your intake of these foods, you will naturally boost your antioxidants. You could also take antioxidant supplements to improve your fertility rates, particularly if you are a young male dealing with infertility.
This will likely have already been suggested by your doctor, but exercise has many benefits when it comes to your overall health and increases your fertility levels. It has been shown that a sedentary lifestyle can actually damage your fertility levels and has been associated with higher risks of infertility.
Just an hours worth of exercise per week has been associated with a 5% lower risk of infertility and for women who are overweight, both intense and moderate physical activity combined with weight loss has a positive effect on fertility in certain cases.
It is important to remember that moderation is key. Regular and excessive high-intensity exercise can change the energy balance in the body, which can have negative effects on the reproductive system. A study found that the risk of infertility was 3.2 times greater for women who did intensive exercise every day, compared to women who were inactive.
Whilst a sedentary lifestyle can be linked to infertility, too much exercise can also damage your fertility chances, so slow and steady is best if you are taking on a new workout regime.
Take Time To Relax
Stress, anxiety and depression affect around 30% of women going through fertility struggles. When your stress levels increase, your hormones change which then has an impact on your fertility.
Working long hours and having a stressful job can increase the time it takes for you to become pregnant. Looking after yourself and taking time to relax is vital when navigating a fertility journey. Sleep is particularly vital for your body and is essential for balancing out your hormone levels. Getting a good night’s sleep is vital when it comes to leptin production, as this is a hormone which helps to regulate ovulation.
If you feel that stress, depression and anxiety are having an effect on your fertility, then you may find that counselling and support will help to reduce your depression and anxiety levels, which therefore increases your chances of becoming pregnant.
Alcohol consumption can have a negative effect on fertility, but it is still a little unclear as to how much alcohol is needed for this effect. A study found that drinking more than 8 alcoholic drinks a week was associated with a longer time to get pregnant. Excess alcohol intake can reduce fertility in both men and women, so in order to increase your chances of getting pregnant, you might want to consider limiting or even avoiding alcohol.
Increase Your Iron Intake
Adding plenty of iron to your diet may decrease the risk of ovulatory infertility. A study found that women who took iron supplements had a 40% lower risk of ovulatory infertility.
Non-heme iron has also been associated with a lower risk of infertility. Non-heme iron comes from plant-based foods, whereas heme iron comes from animal sources, although this doesn’t appear to have an impact on fertility levels.
There is still more research to be done to confirm whether or not an increase in iron should be recommended to all women, particularly if iron levels are normal and healthy to begin with. However, you may find that boosting your intake of iron-rich foods may help your fertility.
You can increase your intake through natural sources with foods such as spinach, broccoli, seeds, grains and dried fruit or you can take iron supplements. It is important to remember that non-heme iron sources are slightly more difficult for your body to absorb, so it is best to take them with other foods or drink which are high in Vitamin C to increase absorption.