When you and your partner make the decision to start your family it may seem simple and easy. You might even think that you will become pregnant within the first few months. Yet for many couples trying to conceive comes with its own unique set of challenges. Your diet and lifestyle habits have a major impact on your fertility. Making healthy changes in regards to improving your diet and making healthy lifestyle changes can help you on your fertility journey and ensure a healthy and happy pregnancy.
How Diet & Lifestyle Influence Fertility
Getting a fertility check-up from your doctor isn’t the only step in ensuring a safe and healthy pregnancy. Learning which dietary changes and what lifestyle modifications need to be made can prove to have a positive impact on your fertility journey.
Unhealthy Dietary Choices & Fertility
Studies link following a diet high in saturated fats, trans fats, sugar, refined grains, and red meat can lead to fertility complications. Overconsumption of red meat may contribute to ovulatory dysfunction in which ovulation occurs irregularly or not at all. (1) Ovulation dysfunction accounts for 25% of infertility issues in couples trying to conceive. Consuming excess amounts of red meat also affects fertility in males. The high levels of saturated fat found in red meat can decrease semen concentration.
When it comes to refined grains and processed goods these food items contain little to no nutritional value. Instead, they contain a high amount of added sugar, and sodium which can impact health and fertility negatively. Following a diet that is made up of these foods can prove to create undesirable outcomes for fertility. Especially if you are undergoing fertility treatments.
Healthy Dietary Choices for Improved Fertility
Better dietary options for fertility include following a mostly plant-based diet comprised of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, full-fat dairy, and healthy fats. Ovulation dysfunction based fertility complications were decreased by 66% when women adhered to a “fertility-diet” or Mediterranean style diet. Many fertility diets focus on the consumption of plant-based protein, full-fat dairy, monounsaturated fats, and iron from plant-based sources. The Mediterranean diet is known to decrease inflammation, and improve cardiovascular health. This style of diet also focuses on monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat, fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains and fish.
The availability of key nutrients in the Mediterranean and Fertility Diet is what makes them so popular for women to follow during the pre-conception phase. Key nutrients needed for women seeking to conceive is folic acid, B12, and omega 3 fatty acids. Conception rates improved for couples that followed these dietary styles and received those key nutrients while undergoing IVF or other fertility treatments. (2)
Lifestyle Factors & Fertility
Common lifestyle factors that can decrease fertility include smoking, decreased physical activity, and unhealthy body mass index. The risk of ovulation dysfunction increases if you are underweight or overweight. For obese men, the rate of infertility due to endocrine irregularities increased. (3) Having an unhealthy body mass index not only affects fertility for those that are following the TTC method but also those that are seeking assisted reproductive technology.
Smoking has a negative impact on fertility for both men and women. For men smoking impacts sperm production and sperm motility. With females, smoking can cause contribute to hormonal issues during the luteal phase. Thus interfering with the fertilization and implantation process. As for alcohol consumption, it is rather unclear the effect that alcohol has on fertility. Consuming high amounts of alcohol can pose significant health risks for the unborn child. But it’s unclear what effect mild to moderate consumption has on fertility. A theory is that alcohol elevates estrogen levels during the ovulatory phase causing a reduction in follicle stimulating hormone(FSH). It may also interfere with the ovulation process, ovum maturation, and implantation. (4)
Improving Fertility with Lifestyle Modifications
Making changes and modifications to your health and wellness can boost your fertility. Implementing a well-balanced workout regimen and maintaining a healthy weight can be beneficial. Working out regularly helps regulate hormones which decreases ovulation dysfunction. Just make sure to keep workout sessions low to moderate intensity since high-intensity workouts can cause too much stress on the body negatively impact hormone levels.
Other healthy habits would be to omit cigarette smoking and decrease alcohol consumption. The sooner you quit smoking the better it will be for your health and fertility. As for drinking alcohol, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as having one alcoholic beverage a day for women or two alcoholic beverages a day for men. (5) Having an honest conversation with your doctor about how much or how little alcohol you should be drinking, while you are trying to become pregnant, is the best course of action.
In addition to dietary changes and healthy habits working with a fertility specialist may prove to be beneficial. A fertility specialist will be able to pinpoint exactly what is causing your fertility complications and can provide insight as to what you should do. From specific nutrient requirements that you are lacking, hormonal imbalances, and helping you achieve a healthy weight. Enlisting the help of an expert while making basic improvements to diet and lifestyle could be the best thing for you to do when actively trying to conceive.
About the Author
Hi, my name is Kathleen but you can call me Kat. I am an Esthetician, Lifestyle Wellness Coach, and Writer. My intention is to provide you with education and awareness about women’s health, nutrition, fitness, beauty, wellness, and lifestyle. I primarily help women that are seeking holistic and natural solutions to managing their chronic condition, improving their lifestyle and combating anti-aging concerns. I offer coaching programs and courses that are designed to help you redefine your health and defy aging. You can find my content on a variety of social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.
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