Whether you’re currently trying to get pregnant or preparing for the future, it makes sense to do whatever you can now to improve your fertility. Fortunately, you have more control than you think! While there are definitely certain factors out of your control, many aspects of fertility can be improved by the simple lifestyle changes detailed here.
Avoid Harmful Substances
You may be surprised at the number of substances that are harmful for your fertility. You know that you shouldn’t smoke or use tobacco while pregnant because of the potential harm to your growing baby. But did you know it could also affect your fertility? In fact, tobacco has many harmful effects, including aging your ovaries and prematurely depleting your egg reserve.
There are also less obvious sources of toxins that can affect your fertility, such as pesticides and the solvents used in dry cleaning. Do your best to stay away from harmful substances, and consult your doctor about what specific substances you should avoid to improve your fertility.
Cut Back On Alcohol and Caffeine
Alcohol and caffeine are ubiquitous in our culture. Morning coffee, a weekend beer, and a celebratory glass of wine are all commonplace, to say nothing of evenings out and parties where we might occasionally overindulge. Because both caffeine and alcohol can negatively impact your fertility, you may want to give them up completely.
If you’re not ready to go cold turkey, it’s a good idea to at least cut back or quit gradually. Aim for less than 200 mg of caffeine per day, and work on quitting alcohol since it causes problems with ovulation and is linked to serious health conditions in babies.
Get the Right Amount of Exercise
Exercise is great for your health, but finding the right balance is key to improving fertility. If you’re overweight or sedentary, increasing the amount of exercise you do each week is one of the best ways to improve fertility for both women and men.
Increase your physical activity gradually, and be careful not to overdo it. Exercising too much or too intensely can have negative effects on fertility, particularly for women. Exercising too hard can interfere with ovulation, so aim for no more than one hour per day, and take at least a couple days off per week.
Strive for a Healthy Weight
Your weight greatly impacts your fertility, and that’s the case no matter where you fall on the spectrum of body size.
Whether you’re overweight or underweight, schedule an appointment with your doctor or nutritionist about how best to attain a healthy weight. It’s especially important if you have health issues that make gaining or losing weight difficult.
Reduce Your Stress
Stress has a ton of negative effects on your body, including your fertility. We get that it’s very difficult not to feel stressed about your fertility, especially if you’re trying and failing to conceive. Still, it’s important to find healthy ways to manage your stress.
Take time for calming routines and rituals, like taking a bath or enjoying a glass of herbal tea while reading a good book. Participate in hobbies you enjoy, and exercise in moderation. Spend time with friends who make you feel good–and seek help from a psychiatrist or therapist if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Check Your Medications
Many medicines have the potential to impact your fertility, so be sure to ask your doctor about whether any of your medicines could affect your chances of conceiving or be harmful to a developing baby.
Sometimes doctors can make adjustments to your medications or substitute one medicine for another while you’re trying to conceive. Alternatively, your physician may be able to help you make lifestyle changes to reduce your need for certain medicines. If, for health reasons, you’re unable to stop medications impacting your fertility, you may need to explore third-party options to help you have a baby.
Men–Lower the Heat
Who doesn’t enjoy a relaxing soak in the hot tub? But when it comes to improving fertility, lowering your exposure to heat is important, at least for men. That’s because your testicles need to remain cooler than the rest of your body, and even raising the temperature of your scrotum by just a degree can harm your fertility. Sometimes it takes less than 15 minutes of exposure to cause damage.
Your body requires about 60-90 days to create new, healthy sperm. If you have a habit of frequenting the sauna and hot tub, or using your computer on your lap, it’s time to stop. Your body will need a few months to recover, but not exposing your testicles to heat is one of the best ways to improve fertility.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Finally, yet another reminder that one of the most effective ways to improve fertility is to eat a healthy diet. Unhealthy foods can impact your ability to conceive, while a healthy diet can improve common controllable conditions, like PCOS.