While there’s no surefire trick to guarantee your fertility, many people are relieved to find out that there are some steps you can take to enhance your chances. The following lifestyle factors can greatly increase the likelihood that you will conceive and maximize your chances for success:
- Quitting Smoking: Both partners should stop smoking before starting fertility treatments. If either partner smokes, you decrease your chance of getting pregnant by 50 percent and increase your chances of having a miscarriage. Secondhand smoke causes a similar reduction in the chance of pregnancy and decreases ovarian reserve.
- Limiting Caffeine: It’s advised that you limit caffeine while attempting to conceive.
- Avoiding Alcohol: During a fertility treatment, you and your partner should avoid alcohol, which has been shown to decrease the pregnancy rate (Hakim, 1998, Rossi, 2009 study) and possibly increase the rate of miscarriage (Klonoff-Cohen, 2003 study).
- Eating Well: Eating a balanced diet and taking the proper supplements can improve fertility for both men and women. A healthy diet should include plenty of fruits and vegetables, less red meat, no trans fats (which appear in many fried foods or baked goods) and lots of “healthy” fats (found in olive oil, avocados and nuts).
- Taking Dietary Supplements: Every woman attempting pregnancy should take 800 to 1,000 micrograms of folic acid daily (unless otherwise advised by your doctor). Your physician may also recommend a quality prenatal vitamin. Prior to taking any dietary supplements, please review with your physician.
- Maintaining a Healthy Weight: Obesity (having a BMI over 30) decreases a woman’s fertility, increases the chance of miscarriage and increases the chance of premature birth with all of its associated risks for the baby. Even with a successful birth, the odds of delivering before 32 weeks (quite premature) increase by 25 percent when the BMI is over 30. That risk doubles to 50 percent when the BMI is over 35. Such early delivery can lead to a marked increase in the chance of the newborn not surviving or having very significant health problems.
- Reducing Stress: Dealing with fertility issues is shown to be quite stressful—and since that anguish and anxiety can greatly affect your fertility, this is exactly the time when lessening your stress levels should be a priority. Our team works in conjunction with wellness partners that provide integrated holistic care, where patients can focus on their physical and mental well-being through a variety of mind/body treatments and exercises.
Infertility specialists are also available to help coach and guide you on techniques for coping with feelings of depression, anger, and anxiety; resolving conflict with your partner; dealing with the uncertainty and the waiting that accompanies infertility; making tough decisions when you find yourself at a crossroads; and building a strong support network for yourself.