Fertility... It's an aspect of our health that many of us take for granted. Have sex, get pregnant, right? Well, not so fast. Once you are ready to conceive, it's important to prep your body. That's because even minor stressors can throw your body off track, which can make it more difficult to get pregnant. So how do you up your chances of getting pregnant? Track your ovulation and get busy in the bedroom, of course. But also take care of yourself and your body as much as possible.
Here are 5 steps you can take to rev up your fertility.
1. Maintain a healthy weight. If you are underweight or overweight, now is the time to remedy the situation by focusing on a healthy lifestyle. Your body mass index (BMI) can be a good indicator of how easy or how difficult it will be to conceive. Research has shown that women with a BMI greater than 24.9 or lower than 19 have a more difficult time conceiving. So keep up with a good exercise routine and follow a nutritious wholesome diet. Protein, iron, zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin D are all important nutrients that will help you keep regular menstrual cycles. If you feel that you need help, consult a dietitian to get more guidance in what foods to eat and the ones to avoid.
2. Get your Zzzz. Skimping on sleep has many negative effects: it makes you crave fatty and sugary foods, slows your metabolism down, makes you feel like your emotions are out of control, and weakens your immune system. But it doesn't stop there. Research also indicates that sleep deprivation can directly affect the release of luteinizing hormone (LH) -- the hormone that triggers ovulation during your menstrual cycle. Not sleeping enough can therefore throw your cycle out of whack, making it harder to know when you are fertile. So make sure you sleep the recommended 7 to 8 hours a night, and keep your sleep routine as consistent as possible.
3. Limit Caffeine. The research on this is mixed, but some experts suggest that caffeine intake can affect women's hormonal balance, which can then make it more difficult to conceive successfully. What's more, drinking coffee can lure you away from drinking enough water. So try to limit your java fix to 200-250mg per day. Try also to only drink coffee in the morning so as to not disrupt your sleep.
4. Stress Less. Stress can hamper your fertility, too. Chronic stress, in particular, can affect ovulation by altering signals to the hypothalamus, which is the part of the brain responsible for regulating hormones that trigger the release of eggs each month. This, in turn, inhibit ovarian function and make your menstrual cycle less reliable. So try to do away with the things that make you anxious or stressed, and focus on activities that will help you relax. Keeping a journal, reading before bed, getting a massage, meditating in the morning or taking a yoga class are all great techniques to manage stress and find serenity.
5. Steer clear of pesticide, solvents and other toxins. Pesticides, the chemicals that are used to kill insects threatening crops, are known to affect sperm count and quality, and it may also disrupt women's menstrual cycles. So if you're looking to get pregnant, now is the time to switch to organic and non-GMO produce. The same goes for solvent and other environmental toxins that are routinely found in household products, hair products and more. In particular, avoid items that contain phthalate, parabens, bisphenol-A, and heavy metals like mercury.