Learn how to optimise your health for conception and pregnancy
One in seven couples in the UK and one in six couples in Ireland are affected by infertility, either due to male or female factors.
Diet and lifestyle play a big role in fertility so there is lots you can do to improve your chances of a healthy conception. Small changes can often make a huge difference to your fertility. Discover some natural ways to boost fertility and learn how to optimise your health for conception and pregnancy.
Dietary and lifestyle factors that affect fertility
- Chronic stress negativelyimpacts reproductive hormones, causing issues with ovulation, a woman’s menstrual cycle and sperm quality. When you get stressed, your body releases the hormones cortisol and adrenaline to enable your body to deal with stress accordingly. These hormones inhibit the release of sex hormones (luteinising hormone and follicle stimulating hormone in women and testosterone in men) which reduces sperm and ovarian activity.
- A diet that is high in sugar, refined carbohydrates (bread, pastries, pizza, cakes, pasta), fizzy drinks, juices/ cordials, junk food, pasteurised dairy and trans fats. Poor dietary habits promote inflammation and rob your body of essential nutrients. Sugar (in all its forms including refined carbohydrates and sweetened drinks) spikes your insulin levels, affecting the production of essential reproductive hormones. A high-sugar diet can also interfere with egg maturation, reducing the chance of fertilisation.
- Nutritional deficiencies especially folic acid, B12, zinc, vitamin D and omega-3 essential fatty acids.
- Caffeine and alcohol consumption. Both of these substances impact ovulation and sperm production. Caffeine also increases cortisol (the stress hormone) which can decrease testosterone in men and cause an imbalance in oestrogen and progesterone in women.
- Smoking floods the body with toxic chemicals which damages the DNA of eggs and sperm. It also interferes with hormone production and fertilisation. Smoking during pregnancy can lead to low birth weight, a premature delivery and a host of childhood issues including cleft lip/palate, SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and ADD (Attention Deficit Disease).
- Drugs and medication can affect fertility in a number of ways including lowering hormone levels, suppressing ovulation and damaging eggs and sperm.
- Lack of sleep and insomnia changes the body’s circadian rhythm which in turn impacts hormone production.
- Being overweight or obese increases your risk of menstrual dysfunction, impaired ovulation, miscarriage and pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia (high blood pressure).
- Lack of exercise and physical movement not only affects your overall health, it can also hinder your fertility.
How to improve fertility naturally
- Optimise your diet for preconception and pregnancy by eating an organic, whole food diet that is rich in vegetables, fruit, healthy fats (avocado, nut butters, seeds), quality protein (lentils, beans, peas, nuts), and wholegrains (quinoa, millet, buckwheat, wholegrain rice).
- Stop all negative lifestyle habits such as smoking, drugs, and consuming alcohol and caffeine.
- Implement a fitness regime that works for you. Moderate exercise can help boost fertility and improve your emotional wellbeing. Finding an exercise routine that is achievable and fits around your lifestyle is key.
- Communicate with your partner about your fertility journey and any worries you may be experiencing. Don’t bottle things up or let your concerns mount as it only leads to stress and anxiety.
- Reduce your stress levels through relaxation techniques and self-care. Make sure you take time out to do things just for you; read a book, take a bath with essential oils, socialise with friends or go for walk. Learn how to relieve stress naturally.
- Adopt a bedtime routine to enhance your sleep. Ensuring you relax before bedtime and limit screen time is essential for good quality sleep. Learn how to get a better night’s sleep.
- Lose weight by eating healthily and doing regular exercise. Consult with a Naturopath, Nutritional Therapistor Health Coach who are trained to assist their clients with weight loss; they can provide healthy meal plans, recipes, shopping lists, workout routines and ongoing support so you can achieve your target weight.
- Minimise your exposure to chemicals and toxins by avoiding toxic household items, personal care products and environmental toxins. Instead, buy natural and unfragranced cleaning products and personal care products, use a quality water filter and only buy organic produce.
A healthy diet and lifestyle are key for fertility
Optimise your fertility health and boost your chances of conception by making the necessary changes to your diet and lifestyle. Reduce your stress levels, improve your sleep and avoid toxic habits like smoking and drinking alcohol. Make time for self-care, exercise regularly and eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet which is rich in key nutrients.