Lifestyle Changes That Can Improve Fertility
Infertility is a condition that can really be devastating for both men and women. It not only has uncomfortable symptoms but also, it can have a grave effect on one’s mental health and identity.
It can cause people to feel immense guilt and despair, and aid in feelings of worthlessness. After all, there is a lot of joy associated with pregnancy and having children.
What makes this situation even worse is that the majority of infertility treatment is extremely costly with limited rates of success. This not only makes it inaccessible to many, but also can be an even bigger reason to feel despair and hopelessness.
The truth is, infertility is common, and there are many reasons why it is experienced: from physical, sexual, and psychological issues, to outside influences (such as certain industrial chemicals, pollutants, and radiation).
The good news is, there are things that individuals can do to help increase their chances of having children. This is somewhat comforting… to know that something can be done on a personal level.
This is, to make certain lifestyle changes and to understand the relationship between one’s behaviours and hormonal functioning.
Lifestyle Choices & Knowledge To Improve Infertility
First, it’s important to note the importance of insulin when it comes to infertility. If someone is insulin resistant, it can have a big effect on their sex hormones and sexual function.
To make things easier to understand, think about it this way: the most common cause of infertility in women is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). And what is the most common cause of PCOS? Insulin resistance.
Knowing this, insulin resistance can come about due to a number of lifestyle choices. For example, if someone doesn’t get quality sleep, doesn’t exercise, suffers from a lot of stress, and/or has a diet that’s high in sugar and carbohydrates, they may become more and more prone to insulin resistance.
And when there is insulin resistance, it’s difficult for women to convert androgens (such as testosterone) into oestrogens. Basically, when a woman has low oestrogen levels, they may have disruptions in their menstrual cycle.
The same goes for men when it comes to lifestyle choices and infertility. A man that is insulin resistant may have excess body fat. These fat cells secrete an enzyme called aromatase that converts testosterone into a type of oestrogen. This can lead to them experiencing feminine side effects, such as “male PCOS”.
Additionally, when one is insulin resistant, it can disrupt the regular process of blood flow throughout the body. The arteries may not dilate as much as they need to, leading to reduced blood flow, which is needed for sexual functioning.
In men, blood flows to the penis in order to get an erection. If blood flow is compromised, they may suffer from erectile dysfunction. For women, it can reduce levels of arousal, as blood doesn’t flow to the genitals.
Having said that, we aren’t discrediting individuals who suffer from insulin resistance due to factors such as genetics and age. We are merely pointing out that for many, a simple change in lifestyle can reduce their chances of suffering from insulin resistance, which can improve their chances of beating infertility.
In fact, there have been many clinical trials that further prove just how effective lifestyle changes can be to increase fertility. These trials, mostly lasting a mere three to six months, focused solely on participants reducing their intake of carbohydrates. They made no other adjustments to their lifestyle.
This one change alone showed improvements when it came to PCOS reversal, regular menstrual cycles, and new pregnancies in women who were struggling to fall pregnant. It also showed improved sperm quality and positive results in reducing erectile dysfunction in men.
It’s only normal to conclude that if the participants had to combine this method with regular exercise, better sleeping habits, and stress management, the results would be even more impressive.
A Healthier Diet To Improve Fertility
So, now that we’ve talked a bit about infertility, let’s look at some actionable steps you can take at home to help increase your levels of fertility.
Dietary Tips That May Prompt Better Fertility
- Full fat dairy is associated with lower risk of ovarian dysfunction and it supports healthy ovulation.
- Eating more protein from vegetables as opposed to animal proteins can increase fertility.
- Soy can be helpful for women, but not men.
- Include fibre in your diet.
- Dark leafy greens can improve ovulation and help produce healthy sperm.
- Beans can boost fertility.
- Walnuts can be beneficial for men’s fertility.
- Trans fats are associated with infertility.
- Reduce your intake of carbohydrates and sugar.
Vitamins That May Prompt Better Fertility
Then, in conjunction with the above-mentioned lifestyle changes, there are also (prenatal) vitamins to improve infertility.
- Take a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin targeted at optimal hormone functioning, egg development, and foetal development. For women, around 800 mcg per day of folate can increase pregnancy success.
- Iron supplements, as studies show that those who took an iron supplement regularly were 40 percent less likely to have issues with fertility.
- In men, vitamin C, E, Folic Acid, selenium, and zinc can reduce sperm damage.
- Vitamin D is great for the creation of sex hormones and ovulation.
- Vitamin E can improve sperm motility.
- Omega 3 fatty acids can regulate hormones, promote ovulation, and improve blood flow.
Before closing up, we thought we’d mention just a few other things you could do at home to help increase your chances of getting pregnant.
- Did you know that things such as gum disease, cavities, and periodontitis can negatively impact a man’s sperm motility, and a woman’s ability to conceive? In other words, good oral health is important.
- Smoking can bring on negative effects. In fact, it can decrease chances of fertility by up to 13 percent.
- Alcohol, for both men and women, when drunk in moderation or abstained, can positively impact fertility.
- Try to reduce stress with things such as yoga, meditation, and/or therapy, as stress is linked with infertility.
- Use an app or a calendar to track your cycle, making sure to have intercourse when you’re ovulating. This, of course, cannot control fertility, but it can help with conception.
- Don’t use lubricants that have spermicide, as it negatively affects sperm motility.
We know that there is a lot of devastation that comes with fertility problems. We hope that some of these are accessible and easy for you to practise as you navigate your fertility journey!
Helena is a sex-positive South African writer who loves swimming in the ocean under the full moon and cheesy 90’s pop. She’s currently living her best life in Porto, Portugal after scouring different continents to find her happy place.