If you’re here, that means you care about your health, your want to get pregnant and you want to do it in a way that aligns as closely to nature as possible.
The good news is that when you put the right things into your body when you move your body, and when your mind is in harmony with your body’s healthy state, you give yourself the best chance to achieve pregnancy. Your body is your temple, after all, and fueling it with superfoods, activity, and positive thought patterns is your best shot at seeing those two red lines you so crave.
You’re probably wondering - how do I boost my fertility? Are there foods that increase fertility? What should I avoid if I want to enhance my chances of getting pregnant? And for those who have already tried the natural route and are still not pregnant, you might want to know whether there are any holistic fertility treatments that can help you.
We’ve got answers – here are the ten ways to boost your fertility (scroll down to the end for natural fertility treatments).
1. Quit smoking and recreational drugs
This might seem like an obvious one, but it’s essential. Smoking is an absolute fertility killer. Not only is it dangerous for your baby in utero once you get pregnant, and dangerous for your baby after the baby is born, studies show that couples who smoke (where one or both of the pair smoke) take longer to get pregnant than couples who don’t and suffer from infertility at higher rates than non-smokers. Specifically, smoking damages a woman’s eggs and ovaries, and for men, affects sperm production, function, count, and motility.
As for recreational drugs, the harms are so numerous, it’s tough to write in one sentence, but we’ll try – drugs affect hormone levels, organ function, blood flow, and a host of other bodily functions vital to fertility that it’s best to completely abstain when trying to conceive – and likely long after.
2. Dramatically reduce alcohol consumption
You’ve probably heard that resveratrol, the compound found in red wine, is great for your health. This is the reason many people advocate for keeping red wine in a woman’s diet in moderation. While the benefits of resveratrol are true because of its antioxidant properties, meaning it can slow cellular aging, the truth is that resveratrol is found in plenty of other non-alcohol foods (like red grapes, the origin of the resveratrol found in red wine).
The other reason to put the glass down when trying to conceive is that all alcohol can cause inflammation, which is a common denominator in nearly all types of disease, including infertility. So do you have to completely stop drinking? No, but reducing intake to one or two alcoholic drinks a week is recommended for women.
3. Reduce caffeine intake
What’s wrong with a little coffee? Nothing, but many men and women trying to conceive drink a whole lot more than just a little coffee. The reason coffee is on the ‘no’ list is that like alcohol (and a lot of things we consume), it can cause inflammation, which is a barrier to a healthy reproductive system. It also interferes with blood flow, which is important for pregnancy.
One or two cups a day should be fine when you’re trying to conceive, but if you want to go cold turkey, you should try – there are plenty of other ways to get an energy boost in your diet. There’s Matcha tea, for example, or even dark chocolate – both contain caffeine, but not as much as a cup of coffee. Plus, they are both rich in antioxidants!
4. Try Acupuncture!
Of the many supporting services recommended during fertility treatment and the preconception period, acupuncture is the only treatment supported by clinical studies and peer-reviewed research to improve IVF outcomes. That said, we’re talking about the natural ways to improve fertility today, but we know acupuncture helps outside of IVF as well!
All our acupuncture partners have emphasized how much acupuncture can help PRIOR to IVF as well as during. In fact, acupuncture may help some patients avoid IVF altogether.
Acupuncture has shown to be especially helpful for patients with endometriosis, short luteal phase, and decreased ovarian reserve. Our providers recommend starting acupuncture and continuing weekly for 3 months prior to conception; however, acupuncture will likely be beneficial at any point in your journey.
And for anyone interested in acupuncture but worried about the idea of needles, several of our providers offer non-needle-based techniques, including laser and acupressure, and many will offer a free demonstration prior to treatment to allay any fears.
5. Start exercising – regularly
Moving your body is one of the best ways to stay healthy, both in body and mental health. Exercise improves sleep, fosters weight loss, keeps your blood flowing as it should, and decreases your risk of heart disease, all of which promote overall reproductive health. Because stored fat is associated with menstrual function, it’s important to maintain a healthy weight to ensure you are ovulating and giving your body a chance to conceive.
6. Consider yoga or meditation
You probably don’t need a clinical study to understand the mind-body connection. You’ve had plenty of real-life experiences that prove that what you perceive – and think – translates to your body.
Let’s say you’re speeding and you see the police behind you; you might experience a rapid heartbeat. Or, let’s go way back to when you held hands for the first time; you were nervous and your sweaty palms likely gave it away. The link is real, and while being positive may not lead to conception if you are infertile, the value of relaxation, stress reduction, and positive thinking should not be underestimated by couples trying to conceive.
Stress can lead to anxiety, depression, isolation, poor eating habits, and other negative behaviors that could have a negative impact on your hormonal health and fertility. So try to relax – yoga and meditation are great options because they focus on breathing exercises, one of the simplest ways to slow your mind and access a mindful, calm state.
7. Reduce if not eliminate added sugars
Sugar has gotten a bad reputation lately, and we tend to agree – somewhat. While our bodies – and ovaries and sperm – need glucose to function, excess glucose from unhealthy sources like sweet fruit drinks and cookies are detrimental to our health.
Excess sugar intake has even been indirectly linked to cancer because of its propensity to make people overweight and diabetic. And consumption of bad sugars – like soda, white pasta, croissants, even basic white crackers – has been linked to lower fertility in both men and women. So, avoid the added sugars and stick with natural glucose that comes from fresh fruits and healthy, whole grains carbs.
8. Eat whole grains (and whole wheat)
Whole grains are great for your body for many reasons. From digestion to nutrients and minerals, whole grains like oats, rye, buckwheat, and whole wheat, really pack a punch.
Whole wheat (100% whole wheat, with the kernel, known as the ‘bran’) in particular is excellent for fertility because you guessed it, it’s full of antioxidants that fight inflammation! It’s also full of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been associated with increased fertility.
9. Watch out for hormone-affecting foods
It’s important not to eat, in excess, foods that could alter the levels of estrogen in your body in a detrimental way. Because estrogen is essential to the proper functioning of your cycle, including menstruation and ovulation, you don’t want your levels to be out of whack.
While foods containing phytoestrogens, or dietary estrogens, are healthy in moderation, some are not recommended for fertility. The big one is flaxseed oil, which can alter a woman’s ratio of progesterone and estrogen, and limit fertility.
10. Avoid hot tubs and steam rooms – for men
You’ve probably heard this one before, and it’s true – too much heat is not good for sperm and can lead to infertility. This topic has been studied many times, and all the roads, guys, unfortunately, point away from the hot tub and steam room.
Increasing the temperature of a man’s scrotum just a few degrees can cause infertility – and it doesn’t require frequent, repeated exposure, either. So instead of limiting hot tubs while trying to get pregnant, better avoid them completely. What about a hot shower? You should be fine J
11. Avoid trans fans
Trans fats can be found in a lot of unhealthy foods, and should be avoided by men and women trying to conceive; research shows that women who consumed a lot of fast food took look to conceive than those who ate less fatty foods. So which foods should you avoid? Fried foods like fries, deep-fried chicken, tempura, margarine, and non-dairy creamer are the obvious offenders.
Then there are the less obvious sources, like meat and dairy, which contain trans fats, but naturally occurring ones. In this case, it’s best to get lean meats and low-fat dairy.
OK, I’ve done all of the above and more. I’m still not pregnant. Are there holistic fertility treatments I can pursue?
Absolutely! The most natural and most powerful fertility treatment out there is mini-IVF. This stands for mini stimulation In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), and it’s much gentler than traditional IVF. Mini-stim involves using mostly oral medication – instead of injectable – to grow 3-6 eggs in your ovaries and then pair them with sperm in the laboratory prior to transfer. The method is less stressful, less medically invasive, and less expensive than traditional IVF, but with good success rates.
Click here to learn more about mini-stim IVF at Pearl, where your body and the gentlest touches of science make life.