In the United States, approximately 10 to 15 percent of couples face infertility. Diet is considered a modifiable habit that could greatly affect overall health, well-being, and fertility. Eating a balanced and varied diet may help those struggling with fertility achieve pregnancy. In addition to diet, lifestyle factors that can negatively influence fertility include cigarette smoking, illicit drug use, alcohol and excessive caffeine consumption.
- eat a healthy and varied diet
- watch your alcohol intake
- replace mono-unsaturated oils for trans-fat oils within your diet
- take a multivitamin that contains a minimum of 400 mcg of folic acid
- include a healthy amount of exercise in your diet three times weekly and between 1.5 to 3 hours per week
- assume being overweight is the only body shape associated with infertility
- exercise excessively
- assume diet and exercise are all the factors to consider when attempting pregnancy
- delay seeing an infertility specialist if you have tried to conceive for one year
Eating a healthy and varied diet can help improve overall health. However, there are certain food vitamins and food groups that have a greater impact on fertility. Vitamins like moderate doses of vitamin C have anti-oxidant properties that improve both male and female fertility. A well balanced diet of carbohydrates, fats, and protein help with fertility. Diets heavy in carbohydrate or protein can decrease a couple’s pregnancy likelihood. Bottom-line, eat a colorful diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Avoid carbohydrate or protein heavy meals.
Moderate and heavy male drinkers have an increased likelihood of having abnormal sperm. Additionally, female heavy drinkers are more likely to be infertile. High levels of alcohol in the diet ( more than 5 drinks per week) can decrease fertility by as much as 50%. Additionally, alcohol decreases the chance of implantation, increases risk of spontaneous abortion, and increases abnormal hormonal fluctuations. Women trying to conceive should avoid alcohol.
Trans-fats are unsaturated fats that are uncommon in nature but can be made artificially. Trans-fat oils are associated with obesity and anovulation. Bottomline, reach for the olive oil rather than the shortening.
Folic acid supplementation lowers the risk of birth malformations. Supplements like vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, iodine, selenium, iron, and DHA might have a positive impact on fertility.
Do include a healthy amount of exercise in your diet three times weekly and between 1.5 to 3 hours per week
Moderate exercise has been shown to improve sperm numbers in men. Moderate exercise coupled with weight loss in obese women can improve fertility. Research has shown that moderate exercise can slightly improve the probability of pregnancy regardless of weight. Bottom-line, get out and exercise. Its good for your mood, your figure, and can help you get pregnant.
Obesity women are less likely to ovulate and more likely to be infertile. Additionally, obese women have an increased likelihood of pregnancy related complications. However, very thin women are also at risk for infertility as well. Underweight women with very low levels of body fat have an increased likelihood of ovulatory dysfunction. Bottom-line, it’s best to be a healthy average weight when trying to conceive. Extreme weights are bad when looking to get pregnant.
A negative balance between caloric intake and energy expenditure is associated with infertility. Men and women that exercise more than 4 hours weekly are less likely to get pregnant. Moderate exercise has been shown to improve pregnancy rates.
Diet and exercise are important components to a healthy lifestyle, long life, and a healthy pregnancy. However, for many couples, a lifestyle intervention may not be enough to achieve pregnancy. Consider seeing a fertility specialist, Reproductive Endocrinologist, if you have been trying to conceive for the last year without success. Consider seeing a specialist sooner if you are older than 35 and have been trying for at least six months. Bottom-line, don’t delay seeing a specialist.
Many couples have barriers to pregnancy that cannot be overcome by diet and exercise alone. Consider seeing a specialist to help get evaluated and educated about ways to improve your chances of conceiving. Many times, these treatments are augmented by a healthy lifestyle.
Women and men trying to conceive a child would benefit from eating a healthy and varied diet coupled with moderate exercise. It is best to avoid alcohol, smoking, drug use, and excessive caffeine. Fertility specialists can help those who are struggling to conceive and haven’t gotten pregnancy despite a “lifestyle intervention.” Consider seeing a specialist if you have been trying to conceive for the last 12 months. If you are thirty five years old or older, consider seeing a specialist sooner.