How To Get Pregnant and Boost Fertility
Causes of infertility
It’s estimated that 10-20% of American couples struggle with infertility, so how can you improve your chances of getting pregnant when trying to conceive? There are several things you can do to increase your ability to conceive. Here are 5 things you can do now to get pregnant and boost fertility.
Get Adequate Sleep
Sleep is critical when trying to conceive (TTC). Women should not only get adequate sleep, but also consistent, quality sleep. Sleep regulates hormones like insulin (your blood sugar) and cortisol (the stress hormone). Cortisol, for example, signals to the body to release eggs during the ovulatory window. Cortisol also regulates menstruation and can influence the length of a woman’s menstrual cycle. The length of the menstrual cycle influences the day of ovulation, so having a relatively predictable menstrual cycle is important when trying to get pregnant and boost fertility.
Women under chronic stress experience greater changes in their hormones. Increased stress means there’s an influx of cortisol at any given time in the month. Increased cortisol can change the length of a women’s cycle, which ideally should be around 28 days. The length of the menstrual cycle influences the day of ovulation, so having a relatively predictable menstrual cycle is important when trying to get pregnant and boost fertility.
Adequate sleep can mitigate stress hormones and balance menstrual irregularity while also controlling insulin production. Without adequate sleep, food cravings increase and increased food cravings could lead to weight gain and hormone irregularity, making it more difficult to get pregnant. Sugar intake has a negative impact on the hormones responsible for menstruation so having a regular menstrual cycle is critical when trying to get pregnant and boost fertility. Aim for a minimum of 8 hours a night and do your best to be in bed by 11 pm for maximum benefit.
Stress impacts bodies in many ways, but you may be surprised to learn that stress can be a leading factor in infertility. Stress impacts female reproductive hormones, which means that chronic stress can influence ovulation, menstruation and uterine receptivity to implantation. Our brains control how we respond to stress and if our brains have reason to believe we are in a state of threat, real or imagined, hormone regulation will be disrupted.
Think of it this way… if your brain thinks you are in danger, there is no reason to produce reproductive hormones to make a baby. When brains are in a constant state of stress, bodies will follow, and since protecting you is your brain’s number one priority, your brain is not going to think to produce an egg if it has reason to believe you need be protected from danger first. It’s like running a car with the brake pedal on and expecting the car to move forward at the same time.
If you want to improve your chances of getting pregnant while trying to conceive, keeping your stress level in check is critical. Use deep breathing and meditation to tune out the noise of everyday life and bring yourself into a state of calm. Meditation isn’t about being perfectly still and perfectly clear headed. Just do your best to find moments of calm, and when your mind wanders bring your attention back to your breath. If you manage your stress, you’ll increase your chance to get pregnant and boost fertility.
Reduce caffeine consumption
If you’re trying to get pregnant and boost fertility, reduce caffeine consumption. While there is inconclusive evidence showing a direct correlation with caffeine consumption and infertility, if you’re trying to get pregnant, the recommended daily dose of caffeine is 200-300 milligrams (mg). An eight ounce cup of coffee can contain anywhere from 95-200 mg of caffeine. This will vary depending on where you get your coffee and how strong it is made. Keep in mind stores like Starbucks brew strong coffee, so an eight ounce coffee from Starbucks will likely have more caffeine than the coffee from another major chain. If you home-brew coffee, you have more control over how much caffeine per serving.
The timing of caffeine consumption can also be critical. Caffeine in the morning will help you start your day, but will begin to wear off by late afternoon. You may be tempted to refuel with a late afternoon coffee break, but keep in mind that late afternoon caffeine refuels may block hormones that signal to your body that it’s time to go to bed. If you’re trying to get pregnant and boost fertility, be mindful of your daily caffeine consumption. Do your best to limit caffeine consumption to morning hours and be mindful of other ways your may consuming caffeine throughout the day. For example, chocolate contains caffeine, so if your’e a big choc-o-holic, try to watch the little ways caffeine may be sneaking into your diet.
Change your diet
If you want to get pregnant and boost fertility, change your diet. This tip applies to men too! Cut out unhealthy saturated fats like french fries and fried foods, decrease meat consumption (beef, pork and chicken) and try to eliminate pre-packaged foods that are loaded with stuff a fertile body doesn’t need. Saturated fats are hiding everywhere and are commonly found in meats, dairy, creams, butter and snacks like your favorite potato chips, ice cream and cookies.
In a recent Danish study, men who consumed more saturated fats had a 41% lower sperm count than men who didn’t eat as many saturated fats. For women, a diet high in saturated fats can have a negative impact on estrogen and progesterone- key hormones to get pregnant and boost fertility.
Focus on eating less meat and more fish, like salmon and sea bass, which is high in good saturated fats and Omega-3s. With all meat sources, do what you can to choose organic and free range meats and avoid farm-raised fish, which can have high levels of mercury. Buy organic, free-range eggs, swap out processed snacks with foods high in healthy saturated fats, like avocados and nuts, and bring more greens and fruits into your diet. These changes will optimize your body’s ability to self-regulate, get pregnant and boost fertility.
Start taking a prenatal vitamin now
Prenatal vitamins not only make your hair and nails look awesome, but they support your body when trying to get pregnant and boost fertility. Ideally, you want to start taking prenatal vitamins 3 months BEFORE trying to conceive. Prenatal vitamins contain folic acid, a key nutrient for creating a beautiful umbilical cord and reducing brain and spine conditions in fetuses.
Prenatal vitamins also have loads of other vitamins like Omega-3s, vitamin A, Vitamin D, Magnesium, Zinc, Iron and Calcium, just to name a few, that are critical to maintaining a healthy pregnancy and reduce infant mortality. With the American diet, most women don’t get the vitamins they need from diet alone so taking a prenatal vitamin will optimized your body’s ability to get pregnant and boost fertility. Vitamins like Omega-3s found in prenatal vitamins are not only good for baby, but have also shown to treat mood disorders like depression.
Some women can get pregnant without making these changes to boost fertility, but if you’re considering trying to conceive or have been trying to conceive for a few months now without success, try making these changes. If you’re feeling hopeless about getting pregnant and would like counseling regarding your infertility concerns, Cope Better Therapy specializes in infertility. I am here to support you today.