As part of Better Health’s GET FERTILITY FIT program in conjunction with fertility month, we have compiled a list of the most important lifestyle changes you can make to increase fertility
Avoid caffeine to increase fertility-
This is probably the most widely used ‘drug’ in society as it is found in so many foods (chocolate, coffee, tea, soft drinks). But excessive and long term caffeine intake can adversely affect fertility. It can affect sperm motility, therefore affecting the way that sperm move forward. In fact, just 1 coffee a day has been researched to be enough to imbalance the hormones impacting sperm health. In women, it can disturb the uterine lining, preventing implantation of a fertilized egg, which can contribute to early miscarriage. It inhibits the absorption of iron and B vitamins and so may affect overall nutritional status. Intake during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage and chromosomal abnormalities. It is best for both men and women to limit their caffeine intake in the preconception period (and pregnancy).
Quit smoking to increase fertility –
– Everyone knows that smoking is bad for your heath. However did you know that women who smoke are half as likely to conceive? Or that couples that smoke during IVF cut the number of eggs collected by 40%- this means that that reduced egg quality will be an issue for all women trying to conceive. And did you know that women who smoke have an increased risk of miscarriage? Men that smoke predispose their children to leukaemia and brain tumors AND smoking in either partner has been linked to low birth weight, increase prematurity and congenital abnormalities. Please abstain from smoking for 4 months prior to conception (if not forever!).
Reduce Alcohol to increase fertility-
Alcohol is widely used in Australia, however it is also a fact that people seriously underestimate how much alcohol they consume. The problem is that 1 or 2 drinks can easily become 3 or 4 (or more!). We know that alcohol affects the liver as well as levels of B vitamins, zinc, magnesium, calcium, chromium and vitamin C. This alone has huge effects on the reproductive cycle and hormone levels. Sperm are very easily damaged by alcohol and alcohol close to ovulation increases the risk of miscarriage and birth defects in women. Since sperm can take 116 days to be produced and the ova is susceptible to damage for 100 days prior to ovulation, it is best to limit alcohol for at least 4 months prior to planned conception.
Eat well to increase fertility –
Eat healthy, nutritious foods to provide your body with the ‘building blocks’ necessary for fertility and a healthy baby. This means buying fresh and clean produce that therefore has a plentiful supply of nutrients. Avoid highly processed foods, junk foods, sugar and fatty foods that do not have much to offer in the way of nutrition and mean you will be missing essential nutrients that you could be gaining from a healthy meal. Include lots of fresh fruit and vegetables along with a balance of proteins from animals, nuts, seeds and wholegrains.
Eat organic to increase fertility-
Eating organic food is the easiest way to limit your toxin exposure. Organic fruit and veggies ensure you are avoiding pesticides, insecticides and herbicides that can be damaging to both male and female fertility. Organic meats, chicken, eggs and dairy products are just as important to limit antibiotics and hormone residue found in farmed animals. It may not be possible to eat 100% organic each week, but aim to include as much organic produce as you can. Your local farmers markets are the best, most affordable place to source organic produce.
Avoid toxins to increase fertility-
Toxins are everywhere in modern society, so it is important to limit what you can control. Limit toxins that come through your water and food supply, your workplace or home. For example, those found in your home such as oven cleaners, mould treatments, paint, strong cleaning agents, glues and solvents can affect the health of sperm or eggs. Now is not the time to renovate your house or have it treated for pests. Drink only filtered water where possible. Switch to natural and chemical free cleaning products. Most of us are exposed to a multitude of chemical toxicity from beauty care products such as soaps, shampoos, body wash, toothpaste, makeup, perfumes etc. Again, choose chemical free and natural products as often as you can.
Normalise your weight to increase fertility-
being over or underweight can significantly affect your fertility and hormone levels. Many studies have shown the benefits of losing weight in both men and women for improved fertility and a healthier pregnancy. Likewise, being underweight (particularly in women) can lead to irregular cycles and low hormone levels, which can affect ovulation rates. Regular exercise and a balanced diet as well as specialized nutritional and diet advice from one of our Naturopaths can help you reach a healthy weight.
Reduce your stress to increase fertility-
If stress is an ongoing problem, it can affect your fertility and nutritional status. In fact, it is thought that stress is one of the biggest issues affecting fertility today. Ensure you are regularly exercising (aiming for 4 times each week) to aid your stress levels. Try meditation or guided relaxation. Ensure you get adequate sleep and rest time. It may also be useful to seek out support from a trained professional to address your stress levels.
Get Fit to increase fertility-
there is no upside to not being physically inactive. Not just in terms of strength and general conditioning but also in terms of flexibility and mobility. Strong and flexible bodies are happy bodies, happy bodies work better full stop. Not to mention, pregnancy, childbirth and raising a young family (this includes the boys!) are the most physically demanding things you will ever do.
The moral of the story? All of these instructions revolve around following a clean and healthy lifestyle which will go a long way to improve your fertility. All of these measures should be in place for at least four months before a conception, as this is how long it takes for sperm to generate and eggs to mature, during which time they are vulnerable to toxicity and nutrient deficiencies. As part of our preconception health care program, we aim to provide you with detailed information and skills that you need to live a healthy and clean lifestyle, to ultimately improve your fertility and have a happy and healthy pregnancy.