Did you know that by changing a few daily behaviors you can improve your overall health and positively impact your fertility? In fact, sometimes changing a few behaviors will help you to conceive without even needing our help. Even if you do need treatment, it can significantly improve your chance of conceiving.
Weight is an important factor to your success. Women who are obese (BMI > 30) have a harder time getting pregnant and when they do, are at increased risk of both miscarriage and preterm delivery. Women at both extremes of weight (over- lifestyleand under-weight) often have problems with ovulation that can explain their infertility. But this is not the whole picture. Infertility is still more common in ovulatory women who are overweight for reasons that are not well understood. The good news is if you can lose even 5 – 10% of your bodyweight, this will improve ovulation and your chance of getting pregnant. So now that it’s about to cool down outside, it’s time to get out of the house and go for a 30 minute walk at least three to four times per week. In fact, moderate exercise for all couples trying to conceive has been shown to improve both male and female fertility.
Other important factors to consider are exposure to cigarette smoke, alcohol and caffeine. If the serious health risks of smoking don’t convince you to quit, then maybe the effect it has on fertility will. Smoking has negative effects on the quality of both sperm and eggs. Women who smoke go through menopause (i.e. run out of eggs!) on average 3 years before women who don’t. If you or your partner smokes, the chance of conceiving through fertility treatments will be significantly lower. Even second hand smoke has a negative effect. Alcohol intake is also negatively correlated with fertility. Both partners should minimize alcohol to at most one drink a day, and optimally eliminate alcohol during fertility treatment if possible. Moderate caffeine intake seems to have a more significant effect on female fertility when compared to men, so women should optimally eliminate it during fertility treatment as well.
Lastly, don’t forget about your overall wellbeing. You are working towards a great reward, but it can be a stressful journey. Stress does not necessarily cause infertility, but overall stress reduction does seem to improve success rates with fertility treatment. Whether that means taking time for a long walk, meditation, yoga, or something spiritual, do something relaxing that works for you. If work is a stress, some people find cutting back their hours can help during treatment. Find strength in your relationship, and take a night to go out to eat together without talking about eggs or sperm!
By following these guidelines, you will be that much closer to achieving a successful pregnancy, and improving your health and wellbeing for many years to come.