More and more couples (1 in 8 couples) have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy. The reason is usually a combination of factors but sometimes medicine just cannot explain it. A couple ages 29-33 with a normal functioning reproductive system has only a 20-25% chance of conceiving in any given month (National Women’s Health Resource Center). However, our lifestyle, what we eat and drink, our sleep patterns, how we deal with stress might further lower this percentage.
In a detailed article, Sarah Jane Sandy, a functional nutritionist and women’s health expert, goes through the areas that can be changed through diet and lifestyle modifications to influence (and improve) your fertility if no medical reasons are available. The list also outlines basic factors that can negatively influence attempts to have a baby.
1. Make sure the levels of your hormones are normal.
Specifically, progesterone and estrogen – the two key hormones for your fertility health. When you start worrying about taking too long to get pregnant do a comprehensive hormone test. This is probably what your doctor will recommend, either. A complex symphony of hormones interfere with fertility, so having a look at the whole picture will show if anything to worry about.
2. Take into consideration the risk factors
Age, weight, reproductive history, and length of time trying to conceive matter to the chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy. Reproductive conditions such as endometriosis, low ovarian reserve, fibroids, or a thyroid disorder most definitely affect your fertility health.
3. Thyroid disorders can affect fertility
The symptoms of thyroid disorders include rising cholesterol, hair loss, weight gain, fatigue, low sex drive, and depression or moodiness. Beware of these signs. Thyroid disorders are very common in women with unexplained infertility.
4. Understand the relationship between your adrenal glands and your fertility.
Adrenal glands release hormones in response to stressors like intense emotion, physical injury, overexertion, or environmental factors such as eating unhealthy foods and chemical exposure. Chronic stress sends a message to your body that conditions are not good for conception.
5. Food is an important factor
Choose organic, pasture-raised meats, organic fruits and veggies, and clean fats and oils to provide your reproductive system what it needs. A balanced diet is also important.
6. Keep your blood sugar levels nice and steady
Choose the right kinds of carbohydrates – limit your consumption of refined, processed carbohydrates like pasta, bread, cookies, dessert etc. Balance your diet with high-quality fats, clean protein, and lots of veggies at every meal.
7. Fats and cholesterol are involved
But not the way you might have suggested. Healthy fats are essential for getting your hormone system in shape. They keep you satiated and feeling full longer. Besides, cholesterol participates in the production of all of our major reproductive hormones – specifically estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and cortisol. “Good” fats include eggs and egg yolks, coconut oil, wild-caught fish and seafood, avocados, grass-fed butter and ghee, and raw nuts and seeds.
8. Limit your consumption of coffee and alcohol
There is no evidence that a few coffees or drinks a week will lower your fertility. Yet, studies have shown that regular caffeine consumption increases the length of time it takes to become pregnant. Find alternatives for getting your morning energy boost. And stop reaching for a glass of wine to help you relax in the evenings.
9. Supply your body with essential nutrients and supplement
Nutrients such as vitamin D, folate, fish oil, CoQ10, and prenatal vitamins specifically promote fertility health and prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy.
10. Find ways for controlling stress in your daily routine
When we are exposed to any kind of stress, be it physical, mental, or emotional, our bodies increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol. The thing is, cortisol is made from the same raw materials as our steroid hormones responsible for fertility (like progesterone and estrogen). Thus, more cortisol might result in decreased steroid hormones production. Try methods for stress relief and get some good night sleep to help your body restore.
11. Physical activity matters
Stay active, but don’t sport too much. How come? An inactive lifestyle limits blood flow to the uterus and other reproductive organs. So it is important to keep your body in a good shape – move, walk, practice yoga. However, if you regularly exhaust your body with strenuous exercises, your body might interpret it as stress. And we talked about stress in the section above.
12. Don’t compromise on your sleep (ever)
Irregular sleep patterns can negatively affect ovulation, your thyroid, and adrenal glands, and consequently, create hormonal chaos and decreased fertility.
13. Do your best to avoid toxins
In our lives we are exposed to an ever-growing number of toxins…the list is so long I don’t even know where to start from. Many of them are homron-disruptors. Which means they interfere with the hormonal balance of our bodies. Research shows that exposure to pollutants, pesticides, and industrial chemicals can decrease a couple’s ability to conceive by up to 29 percent. You can’t lower your exposure to harmful substances down to zero but you can filter your water, reduce your use of plastics, especially in contact with food or drinks, purchase organic meats, fruits, and vegetables, avoid canned goods.
Remember that it takes upward of 90 days for the changes you make today to affect your future egg health.
And it is also good to keep in mind this theory (even if you don’t experience any difficulty getting pregnant):
“Converging and replicated evidence from experimental and clinical studies indicate that, before their offspring is even conceived, a parent’s life experiences involving food, drugs, exposure to toxic products and stress can affect the development and health not only of their children but even of their grandchildren. Thus, an epigenetic hypothesis for environmental contributions to health continues to gain traction (e.g. Costa, 2009; McGowan, 2010; Roth, 2009; Tsankova, 2007)” Source
Read the full article here:
Have you ever been curious about your fertility health? Maybe you’ve wondered how your day-to-day choices affect your reproductive hormones? Or how your age truly affects your ability to conceive? I have women asking me these questions (and many more!) on a daily basis.