Simple lifestyle habits can have dramatic effects on your fertility, but sometimes they aren’t taken seriously. To help your natural fertility, here are key areas to pay attention to.
Do you usually have solid, satisfying sleep? If not, improving your sleep hygiene is the surest and quickest way to improve your overall health. If you’re a troubled sleeper, changing some of your bedtime habits can be very effective. For some, it may mean just establishing a regular bedtime, limiting late night TV or computer screen time, or cutting down on caffeine.
For others, becoming a good sleeper is hard. You can try getting resources from the Canadian Sleep Society, downloading meditation apps or audio CDs, and taking natural supplements like magnesium or melatonin. If you have no luck, see your doctor and schedule an appointment in a sleep clinic. They can help identify what’s standing in the way of a good night’s rest.
In addition to messing up your sleep, tons of caffeine (four or five cups of coffee a day) can have negative effects on fertility. Low levels, like one or two cups a day, are just fine.
Of all lifestyle changes, quitting smoking is by far the most effective. Smoking has the potential to harm an embryo or baby, and harms your ability to get pregnant. It can contribute to ovulation problems, genetic issues, damage to reproductive organs, damage to eggs (premature menopause), and increased risk of cancer and miscarriage. It also takes smokers a longer time to get pregnant using fertility treatments.
You should quit smoking at least two months before you begin trying. The number of cigarettes you smoke matters, so if you can’t quit, reducing the number you smoke is better than nothing.
Marijuana use is also associated with lower fertility rate. Consider cutting it out while trying to get pregnant.
The relationship between alcohol and egg quality isn’t entirely understood. For example, four drinks a day would be too much, but whether there’s a minimum safe amount is still up for debate.
Remember, stress can harm fertility. If you find yourself tempted to drink to relieve stress or emotional pain, please ask for help or find a therapist you like.
Under-eating and being underweight are associated with lower fertility. Eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, binge eating or compulsive overeating can affect your chances of getting pregnant. Speak to your doctor if you struggle with disordered eating, and don’t go on dramatic or extreme diets.
There’s also a controversial association between egg quality and elevated body mass index (BMI). If your BMI is over 30, you may wish to try losing five percent of your body weight. It’s an achievable goal for many, while still providing potential benefits for your eggs. However, don’t go on any crash diet: it’s better to simply maintain your weight than lose it in a stressful or dramatic way.