How To's

Ways to boost your fertility right now


In the time it takes you to read this post, you could be taking steps to optimize your fertility. The sooner you start the better your chances will be of getting pregnant quicker and having a healthy pregnancy.

  1. Go to bed earlier
 And start making a good night’s sleep a priority. “Eighty percent of ovulation occurs between midnight and 4 a.m. while you’re in a deep sleep,” says Dr. Greene. Shortchanging yourself on sleep, or having too many restless nights of interrupted sleep, can weaken immunity, disrupt your reproductive hormone levels, and hinder ovulation. Cutting off caffeine six to eight hours before bedtime and sticking to a regular sleep/wake schedule are two great ways to promote a better night’s sleep. For more tips, check out Sleepfoundation.org
  2. Pop a vitamin containing folic acid
 New research has found that not only does folic acid help prevent birth defects, but it may even help women get pregnant According to a study published in the March 2008 issue of Fertility and Sterility, women who took a multivitamin with folic acid had more regular cycles and improved pregnancy rates. Additionally, taking this B-vitamin may mean that women undergoing infertility treatments need less medication to induce ovulation and produce more eggs. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that women of childbearing age get at least 400 mcg of folic acid as part of a multivitamin prior to and during pregnancy. You can also bolster your diet with folate-rich foods, including dark leafy greens, citrus fruits, enriched whole-grain breads, and beans.
  3. Make sure your carbs are fertility-smart 
It’s hard to believe that bagels and doughnuts can damage fertility (waistlines are another matter), but that definitely seems to be the case. These “bad” carbs (which include white flour, sugar, white rice, white potatoes) are primarily sugar, and are absorbed into the bloodstream very quickly. Insulin levels rise to move the sugar from the blood into the cells where it can be used as energy. When the body is constantly taxed by higher blood-sugar levels, unpleasant things start to happen: You gain weight, your bad cholesterol rises, and your reproductive hormone levels get thrown out of whack. For more even fuel-burning and optimal fertility, stick to “good” carbs, including vegetables, fruit, whole-grain breads and pastas, and beans. Eating this way might even help ward of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition that affects 1 in 10 women and is a leading cause of infertility.
  4. Move your body 
Put down the magazine, turn off your computer, and go for a walk or run immediately. That’s one of the quickest and most immediate things you can do to boost your fertility. Any type of aerobic activity—jumping rope, dancing, bicycling, swimming, taking the stairs instead of the elevator—gets the heart and lungs working and carries nutrient-rich oxygenated blood throughout the body, including to the reproductive system. How often you exercise and how vigorously appear to be directly linked to how fertile you are. Research from The Nurses’ Health Study, looking at the diet and lifestyle habits of 20,000 female nurses, found that women who exercised vigorously for at least five hours per week had the lowest incidence of infertility. Carving out time for regular exercise that raises your heart rate could be one of the best steps you take toward making a baby.
  5. Muscle Toning


 “Being physically active can be a powerful antidote to physical and emotional pain,” notes Sheila A. Dugan, M.D., assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “We may not have identified the specific metabolic pathways involved, but there’s no question that engaging in physical activity benefits a woman’s overall health.” 
“Building up your abdominal core muscles with ‘pre-training’ is a wise move for any woman of childbearing age; when ligaments naturally become looser during pregnancy due to hormonal changes, more pressure is put on these muscles. The stronger your core muscles, the less likely you’ll experience low-back pain,” explains Dr. Dugan. Pilates and yoga programs, which both focus on core, thigh, butt, and pelvic floor muscles, are good choices to practice once or twice a week.
  6. Stay hydrated This is even more crucial when you’re trying to get pregnant, because the amount of water you drink each day is fundamental to your fertility, too. “Total body water is essential in that it cushions and lubricates all tissues and organs, as well as being key in facilitating the delivery of nutrients and hormones throughout the body,” says Julie Redfern, L.D., R.D.N., at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “For optimum fertility, staying hydrated is part of the picture.”

So how much H2O fulfills your daily needs? For every calorie that you ingest you should drink 1 milliliter of water, recommends Redfern. That means if an average woman is 145 pounds, she would require 2,000 calories a day to maintain her weight, and her liquid needs would come to 2,000 ml a day, or approximately 64 ounces (8 oz = 240 ml). “The amount of fluid your body needs increases with increased body weight, activity level, and temperature and humidity,” Redfern says. “Start with 64 ounces a day and increase depending on activity and temperature.”
  7. Schedule a dentist appointment 

Gingivitis (inflamed gums) is very common, but left untreated it sometimes develops into periodontitis, a serious infection. Inflammatory substances can travel through the bloodstream, interfering with reproductive hormones. Prevent it with good hygiene and regular cleanings and checkups.
  8. Lick an ice cream cone 
Research has shown that women who consume full-fat dairy products have a lower rate of ovulatory infertility than women who stick with the nonfat versions. According to Jorge Chavarro, M.D., co-author of The Fertility Diet (McGraw-Hill, 2007), the hormones in milk are concentrated in the fat, “and because the majority of cows are milked when they’re pregnant, fertility-enhancing hormones such as progesterone and estradiol are passed through the milk.” Eating too much full-fat dairy (like butter or cheese) won’t do the arteries or waistline any good. So stick to one serving a day and cut back calories in other ways to compensate.
  9. Schedule a doctor appointment 
A preconception checkup is one of the best things you can do to assess your current fertility and address any problems before you start trying to conceive. For example, high blood pressure and thyroid problems are common, treatable conditions that can interfere with fertility. And untreated sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, can also impair fertility. While you’re in your physician’s office, you can also check that you’re up-to-date on all your vaccines (such as tetanus, chicken pox, and H1N1—the swine flu). The vaccines will protect your developing baby once you’re pregnant, but they’re valuable for right now, too: Coming down with a preventable illness before you’re pregnant can tax your immunity, which can temporarily impair fertility.
  10. Make your cleaning “green”
 Many of us might not stop to think about the damage that tub and tile cleaner, and other household cleansers, can do to our ovaries, but the risks are real. Common household cleaners often contain chemicals that can impair fertility (and up your risk of miscarriage and birth defects once you are pregnant). Swap your toxic cleaners for any of the many green products now available. “Phthalates mimic the hormone estrogen, which can throw off the delicate reproductive hormone balance. Look for cleaning products without added fragrance, or that contain natural fragrances from essential oils,” says Alan Greene, M.D., a pediatrician, professor at Stanford University in California, and author of Raising Baby Green (Jossey-Bass, 2007).
  11. Kiss your phthalate-laden beauty products bye-bye Butyl benzyl phthalates, which are found in many nail polishes, lipsticks, and perfumes, mimic estrogen, which can interfere with your reproductive hormones. Find fertility-friendly alternatives at 
cosmeticsdatabase.com, courtesy of the Environmental Working Group.
  12. Choose organic fruits and veggies 
Organic fruits and vegetables are free of the synthetic, chemical pesticides that are routinely sprayed on produce crops. These synthetic pesticides can decrease fertility by disrupting the balance of reproductive hormones. In fact, it’s this very effect that makes them attractive to farmers: The synthetic pesticides decrease reproduction in insect pests and other animals such as frogs. Choose organic, and wash other fruits and vegetables to remove as much of the chemical residue as possible.
  13. Talk to your parents about your family’s medical history
 You can’t change your DNA, but you can find out which diseases you might be at increased risk of because they’ve affected others in your family. Genetic testing can also help identify conditions that you or your partner might unwittingly transmit to your offspring. Having the knowledge before you’re pregnant means that doctors and genetics counselors can advise you on the steps to take for a healthy pregnancy and baby.