One of the most common questions I see asked is, "How can I get pregnant?" Infertility affects ten percent of the reproductive population in the United States according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Many couples can overcome the challenge of trying to conceive through lifestyle changes.
Infertility affects both men and women. In approximately 40% of couples, male infertility contributes to or is the sole cause of their infertility. Lifestyle changes can have a dramatic impact on fertility. These tips will help both women and men increase their chances of getting pregnant.
* Use an ovulation prediction kit. This will let you know 24-48 hours before you ovulate so you can time your trying to conceive appropriately. When the test shows positive, you and your partner should have sex that day and the day after.
* Chart your basal body temperature. This provides you with a record of what is going on with your cycle. Not only will you be able to tell the day you ovulated, but charting your BBT can also identify potential problems such as low progesterone and luteal phase defects. You can download a free BBT chart from my website in either Celsius and Fahrenheit format. BBT Monthly Cycle Charts
* Take prenatal vitamins. This is essential for both your health and your baby's health. Taking folate at least one month before conception can decrease your baby's chances of having neural tube defects by 70%. The daily intake of vitamin C can help you grow a strong placenta that will last through a full term pregnancy.
* Limit or eliminate caffeine intake. Drink no more than one or two cups of coffee a day. Eliminate caffeine entirely if possible. Drinking an entire coffee pot full can be detrimental to your fertility.
* Keep cool and avoid excessive heat to your scrotum. Wear boxers instead of briefs, stay away from saunas and hot tubs, take cool showers, and avoid bike riding or over exercising.
* Take vitamins. At minimum, take a good daily multivitamin. Some important vitamins for sperm health are B12, C (500 mg daily), E (400 IUS daily), Arginine, L-Carnitine, Zinc (20 mg daily), Selenium (200 mcgs daily), and Coenzyme Q10. Folic acid is also recommended for men (400 mcgs daily). Get approval from your family doctor before taking any vitamins.
* Abstain from sex for short periods. Abstaining can increase the volume and potency of sperm, but abstaining for too long can leave too many older less motile sperm. Do not abstain for more than 3 to 6 six days.
* Be careful with medications. Some medications are known to cause fertility issues. Medications to avoid include anabolic steroids, some antibiotics (nitrofurans and macrolides), sulfasalazine (anti-diarrheal), and ketoconazole (anti-fungal).
For both of you...
* Have sex every other day throughout your fertile period. While having sex at the right time is one of the most important things you can do, some couples overlook this. A woman's egg is viable for just under 24 hours. Most sperm live 2-3 days, with some living up to five days. This means your fertile period begins approximately five days before ovulation and ends one day after.
* Exercise regularly. Exercise three or four days a week for at least 20 minutes per day. If you have not exercised in the past, then walking is a great way to get your exercise. If you have access to a place to swim, it is great exercise that is easy to get into. Remember for men that you should not over-exercise, which can create too much heat.
* Avoid toxins such as alcohol, tobacco, and recreational drugs such as marijuana and cocaine. Do not take any medications not approved by the ObGyn or your family doctor. Men and women both need to make sure their doctor is aware they are trying to conceive when they are prescribing medications.
* Do not smoke. This is worth repeating. Smoking can have a profoundly negative affect on your fertility. Smoking is also detrimental to the health of both you and your baby. If you are a smoker, stop smoking now.
* Eat healthy. Eat whole, natural foods. For instance, eat an orange instead of drinking orange juice. Avoid processed foods. This means for the most part sticking to the outside aisles at the grocery store where the whole foods are and staying away from the packaged foods on the inside. For bread, check the label. If it says enriched, then it is processed. Look for unprocessed whole grain breads. For oats, eat steel cut oats rather than instant.
* Get to a healthy weight. Thin men may have a low sperm count, while obese men may have their hormones out of whack - too much estrogen and not enough testosterone. Thin women do not have enough estrogen and may not ovulate, while obese women have too much estrogen to get pregnant.
* Be sure and get plenty of anti-oxidants in your diet. This includes drinking tea, eating fruit snacks like blueberries, cherries, black plums, prunes, and apples, and eating vegetables such as dark green leafy (kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, etc.), tomatoes, peppers and parsley.
* Drink water and lots of it. A man should drink half his weight in ounces of water per day. If he weighs 200 pounds, he should drink 100 ounces of water. A woman should drink a minimum of 100 ounces of water per day.
* Avoid stress. This can be hard to do, especially during the two week wait, but it is essential for your reproductive health. Relax and enjoy this time with each other.
* Avoid toxins. Do not take any medications unless approved by your ObGyn and your family doctor. Stay away from alcohol, tobacco, and recreation drugs such as marijuana and cocaine.
* Avoid environmental hazards such as pesticides, lead, heavy metals, and radiation.
Following these lifestyle change tips can help many couples improve their chances of getting pregnant. Some changes will provide almost immediate improvement, and some take longer. Keep in mind that it takes three months for a man to grow sperm, so if things like smoking or excessive heat have hurt or killed his sperm, it can take that long for the lifestyle changes to take affect.