Is your lifestyle hurting your fertility?
It’s no secret that fertility and health have a relationship. While we’re not about to tell you what you should eat, weigh or bench-press, we do have some guidelines that you may find helpful to help to make sure you’re in optimal health when trying to conceive.
If you are thinking about having a baby or have been trying for a while without success, address your lifestyle and nutrition by asking yourself these questions:
- Are you overweight or underweight?
If you are underweight, you may experience complications with your menstrual cycle which may affect your ovulation cycle and your ability to fall pregnant.
If you are overweight or obese, your reproductive system may be compromised by fat tissue affecting the metabolism of sex hormones. This is true for both men and women.
When it comes to your weight, it’s a bit like Goldilocks where it’s best to be just right.
- Do you exercise?
Not only does exercise help you keep a healthy weight, it also strengthens muscle, increases circulation, reduces stress, prevents anxiety and promotes a healthier you. It is generally accepted that regular moderate exercise, at least 30 minutes 3 times per week, keeps you fit and healthy. A bit of strength training also helps muscles maintain strength to support your body. Great exercise for those trying to fall pregnant include brisk walking, swimming, yoga, aerobics, bike riding and jogging.
Remember not to overdo it though; extreme exercise may affect your fertility adversely so balanced is best. It’s also advised that you speak to your GP or fertility specialist about what is best for you.
- Do you drink enough water?
Our bodies are about 60% water and we need between 3.7 litres (for men) and 2.7 litres (for women) per day to stay hydrated. This includes all fluids such as water, juice, coffee, tea and water-rich foods. Take it easy on the caffeinated drinks though, too much caffeine isn’t good for you.
So why is it so important to stay hydrated – apart from the obvious? Dehydration can affect cervical mucus. Cervical mucus helps to transport and protect sperm to the fallopian tubes for egg fertilisation. The more hydrated your cervical mucus is, the easier sperm can travel through it.
Not wanting to leave the blokes out of the picture, dehydration can also affect sperm count and quality. Stay hydrated!
We suggest buying yourself a 2-3 litre jug or water bottle and making your way through it every day. This way, you’ll know how much of the good stuff you’ve had.
- Do you get enough sleep?
It may sound like a no-brainer but it’s true that our bodies need good quality sleep to function properly. While we sleep our bodies repair, rejuvenate and regulate our hormones. We’re not advocating how many hours you should have as each person is different but so long as you are getting enough good quality sleep for you to feel rejuvenated in the morning, it will really help!
Try turning off your phone, avoiding social media, emails and any technology related activity in the boudoir.
Bedrooms are for sleeping, reading and making babies.
- Do you eat well?
It won’t surprise you that a healthy diet full of fruit, vegetables, lean protein, complex carbohydrates and dairy is recommended. We also suggest including these sustenance standouts that have been known to help with fertility:
Iron: part of the monthly cycle is menstruation where we lose an average of 30-40 millilitres of blood each month. As iron is attached to red blood cells, it is important to replace it. Good sources of iron include:
- Meat: lean red meat, chicken, pork and turkey
- Leafy Green Vegetables: spinach, kale, silverbeet and broccoli
- Legumes: chickpeas, lentils, beans
- Nuts and seeds: sesame seeds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, flaxseed, pine nuts, cashews and hazelnuts.
- Dried apricots.
Vitamin B6: apart from being involved in many important functions of the body, vitamin B6 is necessary for a stable hormonal system. Trust us, you want a stable hormonal system when trying for a baby! Good sources of vitamin B6 include:
- Sunflower seeds
- Pistachio nuts
- Meat: lean turkey, chicken, beef
- Fruit: prunes, bananas
- Vegetables: avocado, spinach, potatoes, sweet potato
Vitamin B9 (folate): a folate supplement is always a good idea if you are trying to conceive as not only does it look after your baby’s development, but can help with fertility through cell repair and growth. You can also add natural sources of folate through your food. Good sources of vitamin B9 include:
- Legumes: beans, lentils
- Vegetables: spinach, asparagus, avocado, broccoli
- Fruit: mango, oranges
- Fortified bread
Vitamin D: although we are not sure why, vitamin D has been linked to infertility with many studies showing women who are having difficulties conceiving are likely to have low levels of the vitamin. The best source of vitamin D comes from exposure to sunlight, but other sources of vitamin D include:
- Oily fish: salmon, tuna, mackerel
- Mushrooms that have been exposed to sunlight
- Fortified foods: tofu, cereal, milk, orange juice
Zinc: zinc plays an important role in regulating fertility hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Good sources of zinc include:
- Seafood: oysters
- Meat: lean beef, lamb, chicken
- Nuts and seeds: pumpkin seeds, cashews
- Vegetables: mushrooms, spinach
Essential fatty acids: omega-3 fatty acids are important for promoting blood flow to the uterus and helping in egg release. Good sources of essential fatty acids include:
- Nuts & Seeds: walnuts, flaxseed, chia
- Fish: salmon
- Vegetables: soybeans, spinach
Beta-carotene: load up on beta-carotene to promote cell growth. You need your body to be as healthy as possible. Good sources of beta-carotene include:
- Vegetables: sweet potato, carrots, kale, spinach, butternut pumpkin, red capsicum, brocolli
- Fruit: cantaloupe, dried apricots
Every little bit counts when you’re trying for a baby. Ask yourself these questions and see how many you are including in your daily routine already. If you feel you are doing all the right things and have been trying to conceive for over 6-12 months, you may want to talk to us about your options.