Whether you’re looking to improve your prospects of getting pregnant naturally, or need some help with treatment you may be having for fertility, here are my top tips for boosting your chances of conceiving, which also form the foundation of The Conception Plan I advocate:
Eat well and focus on eating organically and seasonally as this way you’ll know the produce is far less likely to have been influenced by hormones, pesticides, added preservatives, chemicals and additives. Have a majority plant-based diet and becoming strict about what you’re eating, as it literally influences not just your health, but the health of your baby through the process of genetics.
Exercise to help boost circulation to your reproductive organs and also to help you maintain a healthy body and mind. Exercise can also help to reduce stress but too much or being over-vigorous can do the opposite so be mindful and aim for that which is realistic and achievable for you. Exercise will also help you to keep your weight within the normal range, something which is vital for fertility and equally helps to reduce the chance of miscarriage. Remember, this is your chance to create and tone your body in preparation for pregnancy. It also gives you an excuse to get out into the great outdoors and spend time soaking up the all important Vitamin D which helps to improve fertility in both men and women.
Reducing stress and keeping caffeine (which is a stress activator) to a minimum or avoiding it altogether, is critical. Infertility can be hugely stressful, and although there is not as yet, a proven association between stress and infertility, a wealth of literature points to too much stress and the activation of the sympathetic or fight or flight response creating an imbalance in your fertility hormones. Stress can also lead to sleep issues and lowered libido, bad dietary choices, too much alcohol and smoking which all collectively reduce the chance of becoming pregnant. Meditation, yoga, mindfulness, being outdoors in nature, having a long soak in the bath, spending time with close friends, or taking up a hobby, can all help reduce stress, as can acupuncture, reflexology, hypnotherapy and reiki.
Sleeping well and ensuring your bedroom becomes a sanctuary that is conducive to sleep can also help. It’s important to get enough rest to support your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing so clear out the clutter and switch off electrical devices such as TVs and mobile phones before bed time. Ensure your bedroom is dark and cool enough too, to allow you to get the crucial 7-8 hours sleep a night that most of us need in order to function well. Sleep not only helps to combat stress and improve libido but it’s vital in processing unnecessary and harmful substances in the body that are made each day, helping with weight loss, and boosting immunity.
Have sex often and throughout your cycle. Most people become too obsessed with the fertile window and sex can become a militaristic operation rather than a pleasure! As long as you’re having sex several times a week, there will be sperm available to fertilise the egg as sperm can survive in the reproductive tract for several days and recent studies suggest that the conventional advice of abstaining for a few days in between is perhaps overcautious and that sperm quality may actually improve with more regular sex.
Get yourself on a good multivitamin supplement a few months before you start to try but remember that this is not an alternative to a good diet. For men, a supplement rich in antioxidants like vitamin C, E, selenium, zinc and garlic can support healthy sperm. Women should look towards a vitamin supplement that delivers the required dose of folate, iodine and vitamin D and a range of other vitamins and minerals required for conception and a healthy pregnancy. Omega 3 is also important for both men and women as it influences the development of the baby’s brain and IQ.
You absolutely need to stop smoking (even e-cigarettes, though the evidence for this is not yet uncovered) as this can cause damage to the lining of the womb, the eggs and sperm, but also adversely affect the health of your child, and cause all sorts of complications in your pregnancy. You also need to minimise alcohol or ideally avoid it altogether.
Be mindful of the toxic elements influencing our environment, from the water we drink to the toxins found in cleaning products, to the make up we put on our skin, to the plastic we use to cover our food in. Whether we absorb the toxins via the gut or the skin, or in some cases, inhale around the house, this can get into our blood stream and end up being harmful to our hormones that control fertility as well as eggs and sperm. There are many pollutants we cannot avoid being exposed to when we step outside, therefore we need to focus on the environment we create inside our homes, and within our bodies. Always try and use products in their most natural state especially as some recent studies have also shown toxins influence sperm DNA which can be passed on to offspring and has been linked to obesity and other health issues for the child.