Updated: Nov 4, 2019
It takes a healthy body to nourish and support the full-term growth of a newborn.
Just about everything you do, eat and drink impacts on your fertility and pregnancy. Infertility refers to when a couple have been unable to conceive after 12 months of unprotected sex and affect 15 in every 100 Australian couples. It’s important to note that Infertility is a two-way street, meaning that it can be just as much of a male problem as it is a female problem.
Women’s fertility may be affected by:
If you have any problems with your fallopian tubes
If you have endometriosis or an ovulation problem
If you have pelvic inflammatory disease or a STI
Your weight and if you smoke
Male fertility may be affected by:
Problems with the tubes that connect to the testes
Low sperm production
High numbers of abnormal sperm
Problems with the sperm DNA
Infertility can be a stressful and frustrating experience for everyone involved and if you are struggling to fall pregnant you are not alone. Infertility is common and simply setting up good healthy habits now will hugely influence the ease and safety of conception and pregnancy. It’s also super important to note that just because you may be experiencing some infertility this may not be sterility (unable to conceive) and therefore, may be just temporary – keep trying!
Finding 30- 60 minutes of exercise daily 3-4 days a week can boost your fertility. Combining aerobic, strength and soothing mobilisation workouts is the best way to keep your body in a healthy weight range and keep your ‘temple’ healthy and happy. What’s more, exercise releases feel-good endorphins, which can help keep you relaxed and make those baby-making efforts more
productive and more often. Like anything, too much of a good thing can easily become a bad thing. Excessive exercise can alter hormonal balance in both male and females and cause things from low sperm count to amenorrhea and low sex drive. Many high-level athletes find they conceive after retirement or on their off season.
What you choose to feed your body affects every cell you have so by choosing the best, as close to natural foods as possible, is so important! Imagine trying to grow a plant in a bucket of petroleum------ its not going to take off and grow. Same goes for a fertilised egg, if the living conditions suck then its not going to flourish. Limit sugars and trans fats (e.g. commercial baked and snack foods, fried foods
and margarines), which can all raise insulin levels and impair ovulation. The best way to avoid these kinds of foods is to just eat ‘real food’, i.e. food that have not been processed but have simply been grown or farmed, like vegetables, organic eggs and organic animal meats, it’s that simple! Increasing your intake of fatty acids like omega-3 (found in flaxseed, fish oil, salmon, sardines and walnuts) is also recommended, as it contains hormone pre-cursors, therefore helping to stimulate ovulation and creating a five-star home for your possible little resident.
Sleep is so important to every healthy functioning body. It’s still unclear the relationship between sleep and fertility but many studies are finding infertile couple aren’t getting enough sleep. A lack of sleep increases the bodies stress hormone and a stressed-out body is not a safe place to for a baby to grow. If you are not regularly getting 7-8 hours of shut eye a night, it’s time to implement a good sleep schedule.
Excessive exposure to chemicals: like BPA’s and Phthalates (found in plastics, cans and personal care products) have been proven to be endocrine disruptors (EDC). These toxins can have negative effects on male and female reproductive hormones by mimicking or blocking the male and female sex hormones (oestrogen and testosterone). EDC’s are associated with, changes in hormone levels, decreased sperm and egg quality, damage to the DNA in
sperm, longer or missing menstrual cycles, increased risk of miscarriage, and earlier menopause. Research shows that EDC’s are present in 95% of people tested, and infertile couple normally have higher levels of some EDC’s. The best way to avoid these is to;
Buy organic produce where possible and making sure to wash all fruit and vegetables.
Using toxin free/ low chemical products on your body and in your house. Look for those that are free of parabens.
Swapping fragrances for essential oils.
Swapping plastic for glass.
Avoiding use of pesticides and herbicides in the garden. Instead, try using ‘green chemicals’, which use non-toxic agents to reduce pests and weeds.
Airing your home frequently to reduce the amount of inhalable chemical particles.
Avoiding handling sales receipts or storing them in your wallet. The thermal coating contains BPA to give them their shiny plastic texture.
Reading the labels on all food products and avoid those with additives, preservatives and anti-bacterial agents.
Being aware of marketing ploys like: “all natural” BPA free (often replaced with just as harmful BPS) do your research and become a chemical critic- it’s the safest thing you can do.
Meditation and Mindfulness:
Stress is a part of everyday life, and our bodies and minds are primed to cope with this. However, demanding jobs, big life events, and then throw in the struggle of trying to get pregnant month after month, can pile on extra stress for a couple.
Sustained or high-level stress could affect your fertility, and your partner's.
Stressors come in many forms like, toxins, excessive exercise, lack of sleep to an overactive mind. The brain senses a stressor and put us back to the cave man days where we either flight from or fight the danger (stress), it’s not the time to set up a nourishing home of growing a human being. Being in a stressed state too long is not allowing the body to prepare a safe place for another life to exist or for both parties to ever produce the hormones needed to make a little earthling.
There are plenty of options to help you learn mindfulness and meditation techniques, group sessions, books or downloadable apps. The more you practise the easier it becomes, and life settles down.
Keeping your caffeine intake sensibly moderate may help you get---and stay---pregnant. Limit your caffeine intake to about two small cups (or one 12-ounce cup) of brewed coffee. If this is too hard then it’s time to seriously look at your lifestyle, sleep and why you can’t lower your caffeine intake. Try swapping coffee for caffeine free herbal tea or simply water!
Its common knowledge that alcohol should be avoided once pregnant, so it only makes sense to limit or stop it when trying. It is known that heavy drinking can mess with your menstrual cycle, possibly interfering with ovulation and making it more difficult for a fertilized egg to implant in the uterus. Even more concerning is that its hard to know the moment you conceive, so there is a chance that if a fertilised egg has taken up residency and you’re on the
heavy drinking side, that this soon to be foetus might be exposed to damaging toxins.
Ditch it! – It’s a no brainer no one should be smoking even if a baby isn’t on your cards- enough said!
If you and your partner are struggling with infertility speak up, consult your health care provider. Remember you’re not alone and there are simple easy steps to take before thinking about IVF or donor options.