When it comes to trying to conceive, there are a lot of lifestyle factors that can have an effect on you or your partner’s fertility. Whether you’re actively trying for a baby or you just want to know what you can do to improve your chances when the time comes, here are some lifestyle considerations you may want to think about.
How to improve fertility
Unfortunately, fertility isn’t an exact science where you can tick off everything on a list and be sure you’ll conceive. However, a healthy diet and lifestyle have been shown to have a beneficial effect on fertility. In addition, many of the tips below constitute good advice for your general health and wellbeing, regardless of fertility.
What to eat when trying to conceive
‘You are what you eat’ is a common saying, and while it’s not true in a literal sense, it does make some sense. What you put into your body has a direct impact on your health and wellbeing, including your fertility. Some foods and drinks are better for you than others, and giving your body the right nutrients may help to boost your chances of successful fertilisation and a healthy baby.
When trying for a baby, follow these dietary tips :
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables including beans and lentils
- Reduce consumption of processed meats Include a daily portion of full fat dairy like yogurt
- Reduce the consumption of soft drinks and fast food
Favor whole grain foods like brown rice and bread
While it’s important to try and get as many of your vitamins and minerals from your diet, taking a folic acid supplement can also be helpful for women who are trying to conceive.
Can smoking reduce fertility?
While lung damage is usually the most well known effect of smoking, it can also be harmful to the reproductive system, whether you’re a man or a woman. Men who smoke are more likely to experience problems with erectile dysfunction, low sperm count and poor quality sperm. Female smokers tend to have a lower egg count and fewer healthy euploid eggs. They may also reach menopause as much as four years earlier, reducing the window of opportunity for conceiving even with IVF.
For assistance with quitting smoking, speak to your doctor or pharmacist. They can advise you on anti-smoking aids, support groups and techniques to help you quit smoking.
Can alcohol affect fertility?
Drinking alcohol can have an effect on sperm quality and ovulation, impacting both male and female fertility. It can also cause problems for the baby, as evidence suggests that drinking before conception can increase the risk of heart defects in babies. In order to reduce this risk and increase your chances of conceiving, cutting out alcohol is the safest thing to do.
Does weight affect fertility?
Whether you are underweight or overweight, being at an unhealthy weight can impact your chances of successful conception. For men, being overweight may increase the likelihood of low sperm motility or low sperm count. In women, being overweight or underweight can make it harder to conceive. because weight problems can cause irregular periods and therefore irregular ovulation. If you’re very underweight, your period might stop altogether.
A healthy BMI ranges from 19 to 25. If you’re concerned about being either underweight or overweight, speak to your doctor for advice on weight management techniques.
Can exercise affect fertility?
As well as the impact exercise can have on maintaining a healthy weight, it can also affect your fertility. Although the research on this subject is complex, with many other factors coming into play, it is generally accepted that moderate exercise is good for anyone trying to conceive. Too much exercise, i.e. seven or more hours of aerobic exercise a week, may reduce your chances of conceiving, but this may not be the case if you’re overweight. Similarly, if you’re underweight, exercising might not be the best course of action.
Always get advice from your healthcare provider before making major changes to your exercise routine when pregnant or trying to conceive.
Does sleep affect fertility?
Fertility problems can be stressful enough to keep you up at night, which unfortunately can make the issue worse. The part of your brain that regulates the sleep-wake cycle is also responsible for the release of reproductive hormones in both men and women. It’s believed that not getting enough sleep can cause irregularities in hormone production, with those who work night shifts finding it harder to get pregnant than day-workers.
Tips that can help with improving your sleep include:
- Keep a consistent sleep routine
- Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake
Limit use of electronic devices before bedtime
How often should I have sex when trying to conceive?
Conception is most likely to happen close to the time of ovulation, but it can be difficult to predict when this occurs. It’s even harder if you have to contend with irregular periods, so what should you do? In order to have the best chances of success, you should try to have sex every other day. However if this is not possible try to have sex at least two times a week starting from the end of your period. .
What is fertility treatment?
If you have been trying to conceive for more than 6 months and are concerned there might be a problem with your reproductive system, it’s always best to consult a doctor or fertility specialist who can advise you on the different treatment options available. Your doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes and fertility supplements.
There are different fertility supplements for men and women in order to accommodate their different needs - what’s good for women isn’t always good for men and vice versa.