Couples who were trying to conceive prior to the pandemic may have had their plans put on hold. Did you know, it can take up to 90 days for sperm or eggs to mature? So if you’re trying to conceive, there are some good strategies to naturally increase your fertility that you can start doing right now.
Here are five simple lifestyle changes you can implement that can improve your chances of conceiving in the future.
1. Optimal Nutrition
You’re not “eating for two” yet but you do want to be thinking about how what you eat now can impact a pregnancy in the future. The ideal fertility diet is one that is high in whole grains, healthy fats, antioxidants and quality protein. Sperm and egg quality can both be affected by adverse health conditions such as obesity or type 2 diabetes (1). You’re eating to create a healthy internal environment where an embryo can flourish!
Exercise can improve circulation, promote cardiovascular health and reduce stress – all factors that affect fertility. It’s recommended (2) that you get a minimum of 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week – it can be as simple as walking! Another benefit of getting proper exercise for mothers-to-be is that it improves your stamina during pregnancy, and as you get to know your body better you may be able to pick up certain cues that you are ovulating, or even that you’ve conceived!
3. Quality Sleep
In last week’s blog we talked about sleep habits and migraines, but those same tips about healthy sleep can apply anytime! If you’re already a parent, or know others with infants then you already know how precious sleep becomes after a baby arrives.
Lack of sleep can increase the levels of cortisol your body produces, and that can, in turn, affect your production of progesterone, an important hormone for reproduction. Too little sleep can cause your body to produce less estrogen or testosterone (3) , so aim for a minimum of 6.5 – 9 hours per night (5).
If you’re struggling to conceive, you’re already experiencing a higher than usual amount of stress. I’m sure the pandemic isn’t helping your stress levels either! Refer to our blogs on reducing anxiety for lots of tips for how to de-stress. Exercise and proper sleep will definitely help. Meditation and gentle yoga can help, too.
Psychological stress can go so far as impacting reproduction at the cellular level, targeting maturing eggs and sperm. Research (4) has shown when you’re in a high state of stress, your cortisol levels rise, which leads to a drop in estradiol (an estrogen) production.
5. Quality Supplement
You are already working hard to make your body a healthy and hospitable environment for a new baby. Think of supplements as the accessories that will make your house a home! Supplements such as CoQ10 have been shown to improve egg quality, particularly in women over 35 (6). If you’re making dietary changes to increase a deficiency such as iron or calcium, consider a supplement that will help you “catch up” faster.
It’s important to consult a healthcare professional prior to starting any supplements in order to get the right recommendation customized for you.
It can take up to 3 months for sperm or eggs to mature, so make these changes now in anticipation of fertilization three months from now.
How Can We Help?
Planning to get pregnant is an exciting time in your life, but it can also be overwhelming not knowing what advice to follow or what is going to work best for you. For more information on how you can optimize your chances of conceiving and improve fertility, Book an Appointment with our Naturopathic Doctor today.
Written By: Dr. Gayamali Karunaratna, ND
Date: Jun 26, 2020
(1) Linköping University. “Diet has rapid effects on sperm quality.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 December 2019. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/12/191227104938.htm
(3) Pal L, Bevilacqua K, Zeitlian G, Shu J, Santoro N. Implications of diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) extend well beyond reproductive concerns. Menopause. 2008;15(6):1086-1094. doi:10.1097/gme.0b013e3181728467
(4) Prasad, Shilpa & Tiwari, Meenakshi & Pandey, Ashutosh Narayan & Shrivastav, Tulsidas & Chaube, Shail. (2016). Impact of stress on oocyte quality and reproductive outcome. Journal of Biomedical Science. 23. 10.1186/s12929-016-0253-4.
(6) Killpartrick, Adam. How supplements can improve egg quality for fertility. Natural Medicine Journal. 2017 [retrieved on June 25, 2020 from https://www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/blog/how-supplements-can-improve-egg-quality-fertility.]