Simple Tips to Improve Your Chances of Conceiving
It’s easy to get caught up in the minor details of what we could be doing better when trying to get pregnant. This can lead to constant thoughts around the effects that our daily activities have on our chances. This self-criticism can feel overwhelming and restricting. Often times focusing on the bigger picture or on one improvement at a time can help reduce anxiety associated with the minor details. Below are some simple tips that can improve your chances of conceiving.
Count your colors
Rather than focusing on the micronutrients of your plate, sometimes it’s easier to aim for a variety of colors. The colors in fruits and vegetables have different forms of antioxidants, all of which are beneficial for fertility. For example, red produce often contains lycopene whereas blue and purple produce contain anthocyanins. Studies have shown that diets high in healthy fats such as omega 3 fatty acids from fish and antioxidants from fruits and vegetables have improved conception rates1. We often aim for 5 colors at each meal, but the more you can pack in the better!
Switch the plastic
Plastic contains endocrine disrupting chemicals that interfere with healthy hormone function. Even BPA-free plastic can contain BPS or BPF, which act in a similar way to BPA. To minimize exposure, we recommend switching from plastic food containers to either glass or stainless steel. Never heat up or freeze food in plastic containers, as this increases the chance of these chemicals leaching into your food. Take-out containers and cups are also lined with plastic, so bringing your own travel mug when ordering coffee or hot beverages on-the-go is a healthier alternative. To learn more about the effects of caffeine on fertility, read this blog post.
Drink water, not sugar
Hydration is important for optimal hormone balance, as it supports liver detoxification and regular bowel movements. When our bowels are sluggish or there’s constipation, estrogen can be recycled back into the body which can lead to hormone imbalances.
Studies have shown an association between soda consumption and decreased sperm volume2. Additionally, women who consume soda regularly have an increased risk of ovulatory infertility3. Therefore, replacing soda or sugar-containing beverages with water is a simple tip to improve both male and female fertility.
Get Your ZZZ’s
Irregular sleep patterns and sleep deprivation alter our circadian rhythm. Our sleep-wake cycle is very important for hormone regulation because our sex hormones follow a similar cycle. When this rhythm is disturbed there is an increased risk of menstrual irregularities, difficulties conceiving and miscarriage4. One study found that women who get less than 8 hours of sleep have 20% lower FSH5. Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) is important for the development of follicles, and when imbalanced compared to luteinizing hormone (LH) menstrual irregularities can result. In men, short sleep duration is associated with reduced fecundability, and can therefore affect the duration of time taken to conceive6.
To improve sleep quality, go to bed at the same time every night, ideally before 11:00PM as our most restorative sleep occurs between 11:00PM-4:00AM. Additionally, sleeping in complete darkness and adopting a relaxing bed-time routine can support melatonin production. If you need support with your sleep cycle, talk to your naturopathic doctor for specific therapies that may be beneficial in your case.
Choose a good quality prenatal supplement
Prenatal supplements are important to provide essential vitamins and minerals for fetal development. However, many common brands contain forms of these nutrients that are poorly absorbed, and therefore are less beneficial. To optimize implantation and reduce the risk of miscarriage, a high-quality prenatal vitamin is crucial. For more information about what to look for in a prenatal supplement, click here.
Do you need support to improve your chances of conceiving?
Fertility challenges are often complex and can have many areas where there is room for improvement. I know that it can be overwhelming to navigate all of the information around optimizing fertility. This is because every individual is different. Therefore, for the best results you must optimize your health according to your own specific case. At Awaken Life, I believe in an individualized approach to fertility. If you are seeking support, are feeling overwhelmed or confused about how to optimize your chances, I would love to help support you along your journey.
With love and in health,
Dr. Priya Prakash, ND
- Salas-Huetos, A., Bulló, M., & Salas-Salvadó, J. (2017). Dietary patterns, foods and nutrients in male fertility parameters and fecundability: A systematic review of observational studies. Human Reproduction Update, 23(4), 371-389.
- Yang, Huan et al. “Lifestyles Associated With Human Semen Quality: Results From MARHCS Cohort Study in Chongqing, China” Medicine vol. 94,28 (2015): e1166.
- Chavarro, Jorge E., et al. “Caffeinated and Alcoholic Beverage Intake in Relation to Ovulatory Disorder Infertility.” Epidemiology, vol. 20, no. 3, 2009, pp. 374–381.,
- Mahoney, M. (2014). Shift Work, Jet Lag, and Female Reproduction. Sleep, Circadian Rhythms, and Metabolism, 249-269.
- Touzet S, Rabilloud M, Boehringer H, Barranco E, Ecochard R. Relationship between sleep and secretion of gonadotropin and ovarian hormones in women with normal cycles. Fertility and Sterility. 2002;77(4):738–744
- Wise, L. A., Rothman, K. J., Wesselink, A. K., Mikkelsen, E. M., Sorensen, H. T., Mckinnon, C. J., & Hatch, E. E. (2018). Male sleep duration and fecundability in a North American preconception cohort study. Fertility and Sterility, 109(3), 453-459
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