Weight loss has been shown to increase fertility, but losing weight in this way is rarely effective for increasing fertility because it deprives the body of the necessary proteins and fats necessary for hormone production.
Some nutritional ways to help optimize fertility:
- Remove processed grains, other processed foods, sugars and starches from the diet. Obtain more nutrient dense carbohydrates from vegetables, some fruits and starchy sources like sweet potatoes and squash.
- Increase healthy fats in the diet especially from sources like coconuts, coconut oil, olives and olive oil, butter, grass-fed meats, eggs, avocado and nuts.
- Get enough protein especially from grass fed meats, eggs, and nuts. This is also important during pregnancy as adequate protein can help minimize the risk of certain pregnancy complications.
- Eat a lot of vegetables, especially green leafy varieties like lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard, chard, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and similar veggies.
- Drink enough water- hydration is important for so many functions within the body, including fertility.
- Get insulin levels under control- even if you don’t have Type II diabetes, a high carbohydrate diet often goes hand-in-hand with some level of insulin resistance. Optimizing dietary factors with the above methods will help make your body more sensitive to insulin, which will help production of other hormones and proper function of the body.
Any doctor, or even a Google search, should reveal that habits like smoking, drug use, and high caffeine intake can severely impair fertility. There are many other lifestyle factors that contribute as well:
- Lack of sleep
- Exposure to harmful chemicals
- Lack of exercise (or too much exercise)
- High stress levels
- Certain medications or supplements
Most lifestyle factors are also easy to fix with a little effort. The most common lifestyle factors that can increase fertility are:
- Getting enough sleep– Sleep plays a vital role in production of many hormones. Studies have shown that women with low melatonin and serotonin levels have a shorter luteal phase (time between ovulation and menstruation) and consequently have a lower chance of conceiving. Lack of sleep also impairs the body’s ability to properly regulate adrenaline, cortisol and insulin, making conception very difficult. Make sleep a priority and get enough to feel rested, not just awake. This may mean taking a nap during the day or going to bed a few hours earlier. A completely dark sleep environment may also help melatonin levels and sleep.
- Minimize exposure to harmful chemicals- this should be a book in itself, but most women notice improvement from limiting exposure to household chemicals, plastic water bottles and conventional cosmetic and beauty products.
- Get the right amount of exercise– Getting adequate exercise is important for fertility, but too much can have the opposite effect. Most women do well with several hours of recreational activity a week (walking, fun sports, or swimming) and a few weight training sessions. Too much moderate/intensive exercise will keep the body from ovulation if done regularly. While weight loss can greatly help fertility, having too little body fat (below 15-18%) can make the body go into an anovulatory state.
- Limit Stress- Easier said than done, especially for anyone who is going through the emotions of fertility difficulties. You’ve probably been told that if you can relax, you will get pregnant. While this is certainly not true for everyone, reducing stress is a good idea. Often, the ideas above will help with many of the physical causes of stress, leaving you more time to (hopefully) relax.
- Check with your doctor to see if any medications you are taking could impair fertility. Steroids and antidepressants have been known to do so, as well as any other hormone containing or affecting medications.
While diet and lifestyle alone often reverse infertility, some women notice better or faster results with the aid of natural supplements and herbs. The single most important supplement that I’ve seen help women increase fertility, is Baby capsule, which is also excellent for a developing baby and a healthy pregnancy.