By Eyinade Eweje
Based on statistics, experts say a woman has only about 20 percent chance of getting pregnant during each menstrual cycle. However, a study by the University of Surrey reveals couples can achieve as much as an 80% boost in fertility with a healthy mix of lifestyle and dietary changes even with a history of infertility. To boost fertility naturally and set your body in the perfect frame for conception, here are possible ways:
1. Watch Your Weight
Being under or overweight can compromise fertility. Obesity or being too skinny may contribute to poor-quality semen in men. In skinny women, studies show being too skinny may set the body into starvation mode. This sends a signal to the reproductive system, which may as a defence mechanism disallow conception because the body lacks essentials to sustain a healthy pregnancy. Obesity, on the other hand, may cause a surge in insulin levels. This can affect reproductive hormones leading to ovulation problems.
So, what do you do? Maintain a healthy body weight! Find out the appropriate BMI for your height. If your BMI suggests you’re underweight, make efforts to add the needed pounds, and if overweight or obese, commit to losing the extra pounds through a healthy weight loss plan.
2. Have Only Healthy Bites
Wholesome nutrition keeps the body in good health and this rubs off largely on fertility. Buy organic foods if you can (they’re way richer in nutrients and healthier), eat a variety of foods, including complex carbohydrates, proteins, monounsaturated fats like olive oil and avocados as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. Also, minimize eating processed and junk foods, and include whole grain cereals fortified with Zinc, folic acid, vitamin D, iron, essential fatty acids such as omega 3 and 6 oils in your diet. Refined carbohydrates like white bread and pasta raise blood sugar rapidly causing insulin surges which can decrease fertility. You may indulge moderately in full-fat dairy products like ice cream, milk and yoghurt occasionally as a Harvard study discovered ‘women who consume these foods as opposed to low-fat or no-fat dairy have fewer problems with ovulation.’
Note that Zinc is crucial to both female and male fertility, so, eat foods rich in this mineral such as oysters, nuts, pumpkin seeds, and spinach. If you’re undergoing fertility treatments, research says a Mediterranean diet may boost your chances of conception. Don’t forget to drink enough water to keep the whole body properly hydrated.
3. Supplement Your Wellness
If you’re undernourished or lacking in a few essential vitamins and minerals, chances are that your body isn’t equipped enough to produce needed hormones to facilitate conception. You may want to get a qualified doctor or nutritional therapist’s evaluation as well as recommended supplements that will meet your deficiencies. This will include folic acid which facilitates cell division and ovulation. Ultimately, taking this step and staying true to dosage instructions have amazing effects on fertility.
4. Expel Bad Habits
You probably know these unhealthy lifestyle habits already; smoking, drug abuse, excessive alcohol and caffeine intake. Quit smoking and drug abuse altogether, avoid second hand smoke, reduce alcohol and caffeine consumption as they may impair both female and male fertility. Some experts say excessive caffeine may reduce the activity of the fallopian tube muscles, which carry the eggs from the ovaries, while excessive drinking impairs ovulation and sperm production. Research statistics also show male smokers are 50 percent more likely to have lower sperm counts while female smokers have a 30 percent lower fertility rate than non-smokers. Since these habits are quite addictive, get help if you aren’t making any headway with personal efforts. Also, limit exposure to toxins. Do not inhale household cleaning products, paints and other chemicals.
5. Get Adequate ZZZs
Get enough or an average of 7-8 hours sleep every night as sleep also plays a role in fertility. Studies show women with low melatonin and serotonin levels have a shorter time between ovulation and menstruation (luteal phase) resulting in a lower chance of conceiving. Inadequate sleep may also affect proper adrenaline, cortisol and insulin regulation, reducing chances of conception. To encourage better sleep, routines such as a warm bath and massage shortly before bedtime and switching off bedroom lights may help embrace sleep quicker. Also, in place of watching TV at night, reading on your bed may drive you to sleep sooner than expected.
Regular healthy doses of aerobics, resistance work, weight training, sports, walking, and swimming are good options that aid fitness and keep your blood flowing to the right places, including your reproductive system.
7. Limit Stress
High stress levels have adverse effects on fertility. A recent study reported in the Journal of Fertility and Sterility found that women with higher levels of amylases (a stress hormone), had a significantly reduced chance of conceiving and affected men have low sperm production. So, do all you can to beat both physical and emotional stress. Minimize worries and anxiety, relax and be positive!
8. Note Your Fertility Window
The fertile window is just a six day period within each monthly cycle which ends on the exact date of egg release. Watch out for ovulation signs so you get to make the most use of this period each month. Some experts say pregnancy is more likely when sex is had within 3-5 days before ovulation. Ovulation kits, available at pharmacies, may help you track this period. You may also want to start a fertility chart judging from your physical signs such as increase and changes in cervical mucus, basal body temperature and so on.
An OB-GYN, Dr. Shelley Binkley, reportedly says the easiest way to determine your likely day of ovulation is to track your cycles for at least three months, then, determine the average interval between consecutive first days of your menses, and subtract 14 days to yield your most likely date of egg release. You may want to try this out and see if it works for you.
9. Have Sex Regularly
Experts say delaying sex for five days or more may impair sperm quality and motility. Preferably, save up for 2 days (48 hours) to boost your chances, especially during your fertile window. Note that daily intercourse may be stressful for some couples, and as mentioned earlier, stress may impede conception. Remember also to choose sperm-friendly vaginal lubricants, as some have been proven to have adverse effects on sperm quality and motility.
Finally, check with your doctor to see if you’re taking any medication that could impair fertility. Steroids, antidepressants and other hormone containing or influencing medications may be culprits. Note that lifestyle and dietary changes often take few months to yield positive outcomes.