Fertility isn’t just about having sex at the right time with the right person. It’s also about habits -- healthy habits. That’s right, your fertility is an extension of your health, and when all the pillars of mental, emotional and physical health align, many people see a positive shift in their baby-making potential. So if you are having a hard time conceiving, you may just need to kick a couple of bad habits to the curb.
As an acupuncturist specializing in fertility, I have helped thousands of couples on the path to conception and have become acutely aware of what healthy behaviors set a couple up for prime fertility. Want to boost your fertility and start a family? Now is the time to follow the lead of highly fertile people. Here are 5 habits you can adopt today to better your health and rejuvenate your fertility.
1. Sleep enough. Study after study shows us that a lack of sleep affects our health indices on every level. When we don’t sleep enough, our body doesn’t have time to restore, nor does it feel it has the resources or capability to create another life (aka get pregnant). To help your fertility flourish, you need to be sleeping 7 to 8 hours every single night.
2. Have more sex. Recent research has made it clear that when you're trying to conceive, it's not just about sex at your fertile times, it’s about regular sex all month long. Having regular sex, (2 to 3 times a week) primes your body and its immune system for optimal fertility. Not only does it boost your ability get pregnant, but it also help you stay pregnant. Even more, regular sex keeps the love and intimacy alive in your relationship. Even if you're going through fertility treatments like IVF or IUI, regular sex still benefits you from an emotional and physical perspective. So don’t “save up” for ovulation and have sex with your partner whenever you are in the mood.
3. Have fun. That’s right: fun optimizes fertility. Though there’s no hard scientific data linking happiness to better fertility, there is plenty of science linking it to better health. And, I’m a firm believer that optimal health equals optimal fertility. For many people who are struggling with infertility, fun goes out the window: there's no more fun sex, little to no fun dates nights, less adventure and less spontaneity. Life is put on hold. But emotional and mental health is very important in regulating the hormones that are responsible for your fertility. So plan a fun date, get yourself some sexy lingerie or plan a fun trip to rekindle your relationship with fun. Most importantly, try to make finding joy a priority; and think about the present, not what you’re longing for in the future.
4. Eat fat. At some point in the 80s, we got into the idea that fat was bad for us. But that is so not the case. Of course, not all fats are created equal, and there are fats, like hydrogenated vegetable oils and trans fats, that are terribly bad for us. But there are a lot of fats that are good for us and even imperative for optimal fertility. How is that? Fat cells in the body produce estrogen -- a sex hormone that is crucial in regulating a woman’s menstrual cycle and her fertility. Similarly, maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol, which is found in fat, is a must for a healthy menstrual cycle. Bottom line: having too little or too much fat can be detrimental to your fertility. So eat fats -- the right kind of fats, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Olive oil, coconut oil, seeds, nuts and nut butters are all great addition to your diet to try and boost hormonal balance. And, if weight is a concern for your, don’t skip the fat. Rather, skip the sugar and carbs.
5. Chill out. Stress can be healthy and motivating. But chronic stress, on the other hand, is bad for your health and for your fertility. Studies have shown that stress can get in the way of your fertility, deregulating sex hormones that are responsible for ovulation, which can then make it more difficult to know when you are most fertile. So though dealing with infertility issues, along with demanding jobs and other social obligations, can be stressful, try not to let you down and relax. One way you can do that is through meditation. Even a few minutes a day where you allow yourself to sit still and breathe can make a tremendous difference. Alternatively, meditation can be about simply focusing on how your food nourishes you while you are eating it (as opposed to answering emails while you wolf down your lunch), taking ten deep breaths in your morning shower, or listening to something meditative on your morning commute (rather than the stress-inducing news). Though you won’t see positive results overnight, you’ll eventually break the stress cycle and allow your body, and fertility, to thrive.
I understand you can’t do all of these all the time -- we have to live our lives, after all, so flexibility is key. But do your best to implement these tips 70 to 80 percent of the time. And if you want more tips on how to maximize your fertility, tune in to FREE fertility masterclass, The Top Ten Tips To Get Pregnant Faster (available until 4/3/17).
Photo by Ana Gambuto.