How To Boost Your Fertility

Mar 31, 2022 10:38am

What should I do to increase my chances of getting pregnant?

Everything from eating and drinking, to exercise and sleeping, can impact your chances of conceiving. Here's what you can do to boost your fertility.

Most people are surpised to learn about just how many things can impact their fertility. While health is a key component, it also comes down to what you do, and even the objects that you come into contact with, on a daily basis.

While there are many causes of infertility that can only be adressed through treatment, your ability to control your lifestyle and your environment can make a big difference in your ability to get pregnant. Change, however, can take some time and some gettibg used to so the sooner you start living your life for optimum fertility, the better.

How can diet impact fertility?

If you need convincing that what you eat can help (or hinder) your chance of getting pregnant, just take a look at the growing industry of fertility nutritionists out there! To function properly, the body needs certain vitamins, minerals and nutrients. To support a baby, even more so. Here’s a look at some of the key players and what they bring to the dinner table:

  • Folic Acid>

OK, this is always on the top of the list and while Folic Acid won’t actually you conceive it is critical to have enough Folic Acid to support your baby’s development from the instant he or she is conceived. When you hear people talking about prenatal vitamins, they are almost always referring to the need for folic acid 99% of the time.

So, if you are at all thinking of starting to build your family, pick up a supplement to pop daily. We are big happy fans of prenatal gummies - which really taste like candy. In terms of what’s on your plate, Folic Acid - rich foods include citrus fruits, broccoli, eggs, nuts & seeds and - an acquired taste - liver.

  • Vitamin B12

This nifty vitamin (technically, a bacteria) helps promote brain and neural system functioning in addition to how your body’s cells metabolize.  Multiple studies have linked B12 deficiencies to decreased female fertility. It has also been shown to negatively impact an embryo’s ability to implant in the uterus.

While a supplement or muti-vitamin containing this powerhouse is a great idea, you can also stock your kitchen full of the stuff pretty easily.  Wild salmon, always a crowd pleaser, is a great source, in addition to sardines and liver. While it has a reputation for being found in animal products only, this is not necessarily true. Nutritional yeast, seaweed and aloe vera are all great sources. Vegetarians rejoice!

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids 

Is there anything that fatty acids can’t do? Not only are they beneficial to everyone across the board for their ability to fight inflammation, but their redeeming qualities go on and on, especially when it comes to the TTC tribe. Studies have linked certain fatty acids to prolonged maternal health, improved egg quality and boosted sperm quality, too!

When searching out these beauties in the foods that you eat, salmon and sardines come into play once again. (Is there anything that salmon and leafy greens can’t do?)  In addition, tofu, flax and cruciferous vegetables like cabbage and cauliflower are all excellent choices to toss into your next Instacart order.

  • Iron 

Anemia (an iron deficiency) has been linked to infertility in women. In fact, one recent study showed that in women with no history of infertility, low iron levels were connected to production of unhealthy eggs. Poor quality eggs are less likely to fertilize, implant and more.

So how can you up your intake of iron? Well, supplements are one of the easiest ways of course and iron is almost always included in daily multivitamins and prenatals for women. But what about when it comes to your dinner plate? Once again, organ meats top the list along with leafy greens, lentils and tofu. It should be noted that pairing iron-rich foods with Vitamin C powerhouses like citrus fruits and strawberries can actually help your body absorb iron more efficiently. So double up and reap the rewards!

  • Mediterranean Diet 

Can eating a Mediterranean diet increase your chances of IVF success? According to experts, absolutely. A diet based in plants, eggs, poultry and fish with a focus on olive oil has been shown to boost live birth rates in women going through their first round of In-vitro Fertilization. In one study, women who enjoyed a Mediterranean diet for 6 months - as opposed to a Western diet or red meat, refined carbohydrates and fast foods - were 44% less likely to seek out help getting pregnant.

Is exercise important to fertility?

According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), women who regularly perform moderate amounts of exercise are shown to get pregnant more quickly when trying to conceive than those who do not. But just how much exercise are we talking about here? What types of exercises are these women doing? And, perhaps most importantly, is it possible to exercise too much when you’re TTC? Let’s take a closer look.

How much exercise should I be doing when I’m trying to get pregnant

We all know that exercise is good for anyone - for their heart, overall circulation, mood and more. This is especially true for when you are trying to conceive. Not only does physical activity help to promote blood flow through all areas of the body (we’re lookin’ at you uterus!) but it also helps prime your body in the event that you actually do become pregnant. Exercise can also help you keep your weight at a healthy number, reduce stress and prime those heart-pumping muscles!

Doctors recommend 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day pretty much every day for overall wellness and when you are trying to conceive. Don’t have a 30-minute chunk of time to spare? No problem. Break it up into a 15 minute stint in the morning and another one in the evening

What types of exercises should I be doing when I’m trying to get pregnant?

A famous trainer once said, “The best exercise is the one that you will do,” and we couldn’t agree more. There’s no sense investing in a Peloton if you dread biking, or, forcing yourself to take a yoga class if it sounds like the most boring thing on earth. From walking to running and beyond, pick and choose from activities that you truly enjoy doing. And, don’t forget light to moderate weight lifting too. Building muscle mass can not only help you keep your BMI (Body Mass Index) at a desired number, but it can also help prime your body for birth - the end goal.

TTC-friendly physical activities include:

  • Yoga
  • Barre classes
  • Swimming
  • Walking/Light jogging
  • Cycling
  • Light strength training
  • Elliptical machines
  • (And yes, gardening and dancing count, too! )

Is too much exercise bad if I’m trying to get pregnant?

Yes, you can exercise too much. And there’s a good chance that those of you out there who over do it know exactly who you are. If you’ve ran multiple marathons or you’re a CrossFit junkie, it may be time to pull back on your level of exertion. Adrenaline is a drug so, for true athletes, this can be easier said than done.

One caveat: We’ve all read news articles or Instagram stories about a 65 year old female triathlete who gave birth to a healthy, bouncing baby without skipping one day of training. It’s not impossible. Remember, these guidelines are to help guide you in the smartest and safest direction. Anomalies will always exist but they should not be accepted as the general rule. When it comes to something so important, why risk it?

Strenuous exercise for 4 or more hours per week is enough to lower fertility levels. Leading to low body weight and depleted nutrition, it’s just not an ideal environment for baby-making. Your best bet? Connect with your doctor about your exercise regime and make sure it is conducive to conception.

How do I know if I’m exercising too much to get pregnant?

Surefire signs that you may need to take your physical activity down a notch include:

  • Amenorrhea (absence of menstruation)
  • A BMI (Body Mass Index) of 18.5 or below
  • Being underweight
  • Frequently feeling hungry or fatigued

Can stress impact my chances of getting pregnant?

Oh, boy this is a touchy topic. Some experts will tell you that stress levels have absolutely nothing to do with your chances of conceiving. Others firmly believe that intense day-to-day routines are the #1 enemy of any TTC tribe member. According to Alice Domar, PhD and executive director of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF, high stress levels can affect fertility. Why? If you’re stressed out you probably:

High stress levels can blow up otherwise regulated hormones leading to mood swings and ovulatory issues. And, if your ovulation is out of sync, it’s likely that your TTC “window of opportunity” is off schedule, too.