When you’re trying to get pregnant, then knowing what to avoid is just as important as knowing what to do to get pregnant. There are six key things that it is vital to reduce or avoid completely if you want to improve your fertility.
Smoking is the number one habit to stop doing when you’re trying to get pregnant. The list of reasons to stop smoking is endless.
There is strong evidence that shows that if you or your partner smokes, then it will take you longer to get pregnant naturally and with IVF. Smoking can cause infertility and if you smoke then you’re more likely to have a miscarriage.
Eggs and sperm are cell and need plenty of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to develop properly. Smoking increases toxins, such as lead and doubles the number of free radicals in your body. This leads to less vitamin C, selenium and zinc.
Smoking decreases egg and sperm numbers as well as reducing their quality.
Binge Drinking Alcohol
There is mixed research on exactly how much alcohol is safe to drink when you’re trying to get pregnant. Some evidence shows that drinking one or two units per week doesn’t do any harm. There is other research that shows if you stop drinking completely for four months, then your chances of getting pregnant increase.
We know that binge drinking is not a good idea when you’re trying to get pregnant. Drinking alcohol disrupts your hormones, blood sugar, sleep, mood and puts pressure on your organs. Think about it. If your liver and kidneys are busy detoxifying your body from alcohol, then they are not going to be as efficient at doing their other jobs.
Overweight Or Underweight
As Goldilocks said, it needs to be just right. If you’re overweight or underweight then this can make it harder to get pregnant. Your body will react to how fat or thin you are by changing your hormones, altering your cycle and stopping you ovulating.
You only need to be 10% overweight or underweight for it to affect your fertility. If you’re overweight, which is means you have a BMI of 25 or above, then try to lose some weight to get into the healthy zone between 18.5 and 25. If you’re underweight and your BMI is below 18.5, then try to put on some weight. I know that this can be hard, particularly if you have PCOS, but it will make a big difference to your ability to get pregnant.
In our society there is a lot of focus put on doing extreme aerobic exercise, like going to the gym, overworking in a spin class, or training for a marathon.
If you are stressed, tired and depleted, then this sort of high-intensity exercise could be causing you more harm than good. High-intensity exercise increases your heart rate, breathing, temperature and cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone, which disrupts sex hormones.
When you do high-intensity exercise it is often because you want to lose weight. When cortisol is produced from excessive exercise, it actually signals to the body to store fat. This is why women can eat healthily and do lots of exercise and still not lose weight.
If you are stressed then it’s better to do just a little high-intensity exercise and focus mostly on a restorative exercise like yoga, chi kung, tai chi and dancing.
Trying to get pregnant is a stressful business. It makes sense that when you want a baby more than anything else in the world, and you’re not getting pregnant, then it’s going to make you stressed. Chronic stress can easily build up after months and months of not getting pregnant.
We know that stress disrupts sex hormones and can stop you from getting pregnant. Research shows that stress can cause infertility, regardless of whether you have another issue that is stopping you from getting pregnant.
The stress response happens automatically and subconsciously within the body through the sympathetic nervous system, which governs fight or flight. The sympathetic nervous system is a branch of the autonomic nervous system. The only way to consciously affect your autonomic nervous system is through breathing. If you start a daily routine of consciously breathing to create relaxation, then this will reduce stress, balance your hormones and help you to get pregnant.
There are lots of things you can do to reduce stress. As well as breathing, you can reduce stress through acupuncture, creating more time for yourself and doing restorative exercise.
If you want to get pregnant, then it vital that you minimise toxins. Toxins include BPA, which is a chemical found in plastic food containers, water bottles and paper receipts. Another toxic chemical found almost everywhere is phthalates. Phthalates are found in soft plastics, cleaning products, cosmetics, perfume and nail varnish. Other toxins can be found in non-organic food particularly meat, dairy, fruit and vegetables, non-filtered water and fish that has high mercury.
Toxins damage your eggs and sperm, disrupt your sex hormones, stop ovulation, reduce fertilisation, stop implantation and create miscarriage.
Toxins are everywhere and so it’s impossible to completely avoid them. You can take control by changing to eating organic good, choosing fish that is low in mercury, using a water filter, avoiding plastic packaging, using metal or ceramic drink bottles android container.
All my best,
Rachel Bolton BSc (Hons), Lic. Ac., Lic. Tui Na.
I empower women to see themselves as Fertility Heroes and help them to optimise their fertility, get pregnant and have healthy babies.
Whenever you're ready...here are 3 ways I can help you.
1. Join the private Facebook group: Fertility Heroes. Get fertility tips, community and inspiration. Only the women in the group will know you've joined and see your posts.
2. Take the Quiz: Which Fertility Hero Are You? Discover your superpowers, kryptonite and get your 3-point fertility formula.
3. Complete the Checklist: Why Am I Not Pregnant Yet? Find out what is missing from your fertility and get a new strategy.
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Germaine M. Buck Louis, Ph.D.,a Kirsten J. Lum, M.S.,a Rajeshwari Sundaram, Ph.D.,a Zhen Chen, Ph.D.,a Sungduk Kim, Ph.D.,a Courtney D. Lynch, Ph.D.,b Enrique F. Schisterman, Ph.D.,a and Cecilia Pyper, B.S., M.B. (2011). Stress reduces conception probabilities across the fertile window: evidence in support of relaxation. Fertility and Sterility (2011) Vol. 95, No. 7. Retrieved online from: https://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(10)01031-9/pdf
Fett R. (2014). It Starts With The Egg. Franklin Fox. New York.
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