Updated: Sep 28, 2022
“How can I improve my fertility naturally?”
That’s what we all want to know, right? What is the magic ingredient, the one thing we’ve not tried before that will finally help us get pregnant? I’m sorry to say that I don’t have “it”—that one thing that will make it all fall into place. But let me give you my take on the best ways to improve your fertility naturally. To me, boosting your fertility naturally comes down to four main things: stress management, sleep, diet, and exercise.
Getting your stress under control and finding ways to relax is my absolute, number-one, most important way that you can help your fertility naturally. There isn’t any part of your health that isn’t affected in some way when you’re under chronic stress, and that certainly includes your fertility. Whether your stress comes from your job, your family, or simply from dealing with infertility (“Oh, infertility is a walk in the park,” said no one ever!), your body responds to it, usually negatively. Stress can:
affect the production of sex hormones
limit blood flow to your uterus
kill your sex drive
And those are just physical responses. On the mental side, chronic stress can cause negative thinking, constant worry, and even depression. Finding an activity or two that really help you relax, and doing them regularly, is essential. Those activities can be anything. Maybe you’re into meditation or journaling, or maybe a dance class or cooking are more your style. It’s all valid. The only requirements are that the activity you choose allows you to
lose yourself in the moment,
really be present, and
let everything else happening in your life fade into the background for a bit.
Sleep is an under-appreciated hero in our lives, and an often overlooked component of fertility. When we sleep, our bodies:
get a chance to repair themselves and heal from all the wear and tear of the daytime
produce the sex hormones we need for reproduction
Don’t short yourself on sleep! The guidelines say that most adults need at least 7 hours each night, but it isn’t an exact science—some people need more, and some people need less. It’s safe to say, however, that most of us “get by” on less than we actually need. Even if you don’t feel sleep deprived, you might try adding some extra sleep to your night to see what happens.
If you’re expecting me to rattle off a list of all the things you should or should not be eating while you’re working to get pregnant, then I’m going to disappoint you. I know that the internet is full of “Fertility Diets” and lots of people swear that when they cut out X ingredient or added Y supplement it made all the difference for them. And maybe it did. But for most of us, I don’t think it does. In fact, as someone who tried numerous fertility “diets” on her fertility journey, I can say that, in my experience making big changes to the things you do or don’t eat can actually cause a lot of stress which, as you know, is one of the things you most want to avoid. Instead, I’ve got a few simple guidelines:
Eat a balanced diet. Yup, it’s a cliché, but it’s totally true. A healthy body needs a variety of vitamins and minerals, protein, fat, and yes, even carbohydrates. Cutting any of these elements out of your diet means that your body isn’t getting something it needs, so it can’t function as well as it should.
Listen to, and respect, your body. If there is a food/food category you know you don’t tolerate well, don’t eat it. Sometimes the foods we “eat anyway” cause inflammation in our bodies and inflammation can prevent your body from functioning as it should. This includes your reproductive system.
Make sure you’re getting enough folic acid, iron and vitamin D. Deficiencies in these vitamins and minerals can have a negative impact on your fertility as well as a developing fetus when you become pregnant.
Watch your caffeine. More than a cup or two of fully caffeinated coffee is associated with lower fertility.
Drink alcohol in moderation. A lot of people say to cut it out completely, but I would never tell you that. If you like a glass of wine at dinner or a beer out with friends, then go for it. When I first started working for a baby, I went dry for a little bit. But as I drifted into infertility, I quickly found that I felt like I was being punished twice (not being pregnant and not drinking when I wanted to) so I brought a bit of alcohol back into my life. Definitely the right call.
Do some, but not too much. (How’s that for short and sweet?!) There are hundreds of reasons why exercise is good for you, but here are three for you to consider:
Exercise helps keep your hormones balanced.
Exercise helps you sleep better.
Exercise can be a powerful stress reliever.
And you don’t need any fancy exercise routines or special equipment to give your fertility a boost with exercise. Walking for 30 minutes each day will do the trick for most women. On the flip side, if you like super-intense, long workouts, you might consider cutting back just a little. As one who falls into this category, I know that can be a really tough ask, but dialing it down just temporarily could have big fertility results. So there you have it: four things to think about when you want to improve your fertility naturally. As with most things, it’s often easier said than done, so be sure to start small. Pick one thing that appeals to you to work on. After you’ve got that down, pick another. And if you need help anywhere along the way, reach out for a bit of help; I’m always here to chat!