Natural Fertility: The Essential Guide to Improving Your Fertility Naturally

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When trying to get pregnant on your own isn’t working, it’s a great idea to start implementing new ideas to increase your fertility naturally. And while this article really focusing on natural fertility and conceiving without the assistance of fertility treatments, all of the tips here can also be applied to improve pregnancy outcomes with treatments like IUI and IVF; that’s because these tips to increase your natural fertility work by improving egg, sperm, uterine, and overall health, something that virtually all fertility treatments still greatly rely upon.

In this article, we will explore over 20+ natural fertility boosters, from diet, supplements, and lifestyle changes to a simple intercourse guide to make sure you’re doing it when it counts.  Ready, here we go!

Optimizing Intercourse for Natural Conception

You may have had a sex-ed class way back when, but unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) most of those topics are focused on preventing pregnancy. Long story short, we think it’s a good idea to have a little refresher on all the best moves you can make in the sack.

The Fertile Window 

Women can only get pregnant during a few days of their menstrual cycle, also known as their “fertile window.”  To effectively calculate when your body is most fertile, it is important to understand your menstrual cycle as no two women’s menstrual cycles are exactly the same.  Your fertile window depends on the duration of your individual cycle.  

Day 1 of your cycle is the first day of your period.  Days 1 through 14 of your cycle are known as the Follicular Phase.  During the Follicular phase, your body is focused on egg growth and maturation and womb preparation.  For a typical 28 day cycle, most women ovulate, or release an egg, around Day 14.  This signals the start of the Luteal Phase of a woman’s cycle when fertilization can occur.  

After the egg is ovulated, it can only be fertilized for 12 to 48 hours.  Since eggs have such a short fertilization window, and because sperm have such a far distance to swim, it is best to have intercourse before ovulation.  This gives sperm the best chance of successfully reaching the egg and fertilizing it in time.  Most fertility specialists recognize that the fertile window is around five days long, although there are studies that claim it may be as long as ten days 

Fertile Window - Ovulation Calendar

To increase fertility and ensure sperm have sufficient time to reach the egg so successful fertilization can occur, fertility specialists recommend having intercourse during the 72 hours leading up to ovulation.  If sperm arrive before the egg is ovulated,  they wait in the fallopian tubes for the egg to be released.  Sperm can survive for up to 5 days in a woman’s body. 

Sex Positions 

It is a commonly held belief that missionary sex gives you the best chances of getting pregnant.  The truth is, there isn’t a whole lot of research to support that notion.  In fact, most of the research in support of the missionary position is based on IUI studies.  One IUI study did find that women who laid flat on their backs for 15 minutes after insemination had higher conception rates compared to women who immediately got up .  Based on this study, some specialists have extrapolated that if the man ejaculates while a woman is on her back, like during missionary sex, that it may improve conception odds.  

Other people believe that positions that allow men to penetrate deeper and closer to the cervix may be helpful to increase fertility.  Unfortunately, there is also little research available to support this belief.  What we do know for certain is that any position that allows sperm to be delivered near the cervix can result in pregnancy. 

Although there is no specific position proven to improve sperm’s chances of fertilizing the egg, research has indicated that arousal may influence pregnancy chances.  Studies have shown that longer foreplay and higher arousal in men can increase sperm count .  Similarly, research has shown that when women orgasm during sex, they may have a higher chance of getting pregnant.  In one study, women who achieved orgasms had higher conception rates .  

Conclusion:  While there isn’t one position that can increase natural fertility or cure infertility, keeping things fresh can keep partners emotionally connected, add renewed excitement to your relationship, and reduce the stress associated with trying to get pregnant each month.  

How Often 

Couples who have sex every day or every 2-3 days have the best chances of getting pregnant.  As previously mentioned, tracking your period and ensuring you are having sex just before or during ovulation gives you the best chance of getting pregnant.  Even if you aren’t closely tracking your fertile window, having sex more often increases the chance that sperm will be alive and waiting in the fallopian tubes when an egg is ovulated.  Make sure that the frequency with which you are having sex is enjoyable because the more aroused both partners are, the better the chances of successful conception.  

Lube

Most reproductive endocrinologists recommend against using lubricants when you are trying to get pregnant unless they are absolutely necessary.   Most vaginal lubricants are highly acidic and can damage sperm hurting natural fertility.  In addition to the acidity, lubricants are thick, which can interfere with sperm’s ability to reach the uterus.  

Instead of using traditional lubricants, specialists recommend focusing on foreplay to increase arousal.  In addition to increasing your chances of getting pregnant, arousal can help to boost your body’s natural lubricants.  The cervical mucus women’s bodies produce naturally has the perfect thickness and acidity for sperm to survive and reach the egg.  A high percentage of women report that they require at least 15-20 minutes of kissing and intimate contact to get in the mood.

Some couples turn to warm water as a source of lubrication.  Water is not toxic to sperm, and it doesn’t interfere with sperm’s ability to reach the cervix.  If water doesn’t work, and you do require lubricant for enjoyable intercourse, look for products labeled “fertility-friendly,” or non-spermicidal.  There are a few lubricants that are backed by clinical trials and are dubbed to be both safe and effective. 

Conclusion: While lube isn’t likely in increase your natural fertility, many lubes can harm sperm and the chance of pregnancy. If you really need lube, go for a fertility-friendly non-spermicidal version.

Lifestyle Changes for Improved Natural Fertility

Exercise

Yoga 

Yoga is a wonderful way to naturally improve your fertility and to increase the likelihood of fertility treatment success.  Frequently practicing yoga can help improve your natural fertility through three main benefits: 1. reducing stress 2. improving circulation 3. balancing your immune system.  

Stress Reduction – Stress can impact your fertility, and fertility can cause heightened levels of stress.  Yoga is a highly-touted stress-reduction technique that can help to reduce concentrations of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the body.  This, in turn, can increase your chances of conceiving. Keep reading this article for more information on stress and fertility.

Improved Circulation – Many cases of infertility arise due to blockages that impede blood flow.  With yoga, you can increase your blood circulation and ensure that nourishing blood flow is reaching your reproductive organs.  Increased blood flow helps to provide these reproductive organs with more oxygen and other vital nutrients. 

Balanced Immunity – Yoga is a great way to boost and balance your immune system.  The immune system is responsible for causing inflammation when harmful things enter the body.  It is believed that inflammation caused by the immune system may be behind a large number of “unexplained infertility” diagnoses.  Practicing yoga helps you find your inner calm, which in turn can help raise the number of white blood cells in the body.  This not only helps keep common diseases at bay, but can also help you increase fertility naturally.

The Bottom line about Yoga for Fertility: Several studies have concluded that yoga helps couples boost their natural fertility and increases the success rate of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) by improving the physiological and psychological states of both men and women .  While some high-intensity exercises increase inflammation and decrease fertility, the low impact movement of yoga may help you get pregnant faster .

Other Light Exercise

The benefits of exercise and the impact it has on overall and fertility health are well documented.  Exercise is known to strengthen your heart and to improve circulation.  As previously discussed, the improved circulation caused by exercising brings more nutrient-rich blood to the reproductive organs, increasing fertility.  Exercising also helps to reduce stress and improve sleep, but more on that later.  Consider adding 30 to 60 minutes of low-intensity movement into your daily routine if you don’t exercise regularly and are experiencing fertility issues. 

Highlight for Men: Testosterone is highly associated with sex drive, and it plays a vital role in sperm production.  Research has shown that men who exercise regularly have higher testosterone levels and better semen parameters .  Exercising may increase testosterone and thereby improve your natural fertility. 

The Downside of Intense Exercise

Fertility specialists recommend against rigorous and high-intensity exercise to increase fertility when trying to get pregnant.  Too much exercise can negatively impact both male and female fertility. 

For men:  Research has shown that exhaustive exercises can cause a decrease in thyroid hormones and testosterone levels .  In one study, men who participated in high-intensity resistance or endurance training had lower levels of testosterone than men who were sedentary or exercised with lower intensity.   The study also found that men who were endurance-trained runners had altered sperm density, motility, and morphology .  Other studies have measured the semen parameters of men who exercise at different intensities.  One study found that semen parameters are more greatly affected as intensity and volume of exercise increase, especially morphology .

For Women:  Research from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) has shown that high-intensity and exhaustive exercises can affect a woman’s natural fertility and chances of getting pregnant .  Researchers believe that women’s bodies may not have enough energy to support both hard workouts and achieving pregnancy.   NTNU studied the effects of exercise on fertility in 3,000 women.  24% of women who exercised with high-intensity or until exhaustion had fertility problems.  Women who exercised with moderate or low intensity showed no evidence of impaired natural fertility.   

Good news: If you are a heavy exerciser, don’t be too worried.  Research has shown that decreases in natural fertility likely only last as long as the hard training.  Studies have shown that supplementing Zinc can also help to overcome these decreases and increase fertility .  

Quit Smoking

Smoking is known to cause many health problems, and natural fertility is just another factor that is negatively impacted when you decide to smoke.  Fertility specialists believe that the toxins found in cigarettes can damage the DNA of the ovarian follicles, where eggs develop.  Smoking can decrease a woman’s ovarian reserve and can cause her ovaries to age prematurely.  Smoking before pregnancy can also impact the health and development of your baby; it can cause birth defects, or possibly even lead to miscarriage.  Smoking can increase the stress associated with trying to get pregnant because it can extend the time it takes you to conceive.  According to a 2017 study,  smoking six or more cigarettes per day can significantly impede your ability to conceive .

To improve your fertility and overall health, doctors recommend quitting smoking as far in advance of trying to get pregnant as possible.  The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) found that women Women who quit a year before trying to conceive can significantly improve their fertility rates .  In addition to causing increased miscarriage rates and causing women’s eggs to die off faster, ASRM notes that smoking can cause a decrease in sperm’s ability to fertilize eggs

A study that measured the semen parameters of over 2,000 men found that smoking impairs semen quality.  The study also found that heavy smokers had 19% less sperm compared to men who didn’t smoke.  

A large study of 1,700 men found that smoking affected sperm density, count, and motility .  The percentages in the figure below reflect the results of the study.  

Sperm DensitySperm CountSperm Motility
-15.3%-17.5%-16.6%

In conclusion: All of the research out there appears to point to the same consensus, smoking is bad for your health, and it can significantly impact both male and female natural fertility.  Stop smoking to increase your natural fertility! 

Limit Alcohol to Improve Natural Fertility in Men and Women

The occasional glass of wine doesn’t appear to have a significant impact on fertility, but excessive consumption of alcohol can impair fertility.  Research has shown that women who have 8 or more drinks per week can take longer to conceive than those who do not

Studies that measure the effects of moderate alcohol consumption on natural fertility are not as conclusive.  In some studies, moderate drinking had limited to no adverse effects, but in other studies, women who drank five or fewer drinks per week saw negative effects on their fertility

In the past, the bulk of the research on alcohol and its effects on fertility has been focused on women.  Mainly because we are well aware of the potentially devastating consequences of drinking alcohol during pregnancy.  Recent research on male fertility has found that alcohol can negatively impact men’s overall sexual health. 

One particular study that focused on the difference in sperm quality between alcoholic and non-alcoholic men found that decreased semen quality is linked to increased alcohol consumption .  The study also found that sperm volume, vitality, and survival rate were progressively affected as the quantity of alcohol consumed increased.  Only 12% of alcoholics from the study had semen parameters that were considered normal.  For the non- alcoholic men, 37% (three times as many) had normal semen parameters. The study concluded that alcohol abuse greatly affects sperm morphology, sperm production, and natural fertility .  

Another study focused on the semen parameters of men with a history of chronic alcohol intoxication.  The study displayed a drastic improvement in semen characteristics within three months of alcohol withdrawal .  A review of 15 studies on alcohol and its effects on male fertility found that daily alcohol consumption had a consistently negative impact on sperm morphology and volume .  Using alcohol and tobacco together has been shown to cause a decline in semen quality and an increase in sperm DNA damage .  

Conclusion: Limit alcohol consumption to increase natural fertility when you are trying to have a baby.

Good zzz’s for Improved Natural Fertility in Men and Women

Everybody needs sleep! Many studies have confirmed that insufficient sleep and sleep disturbances can affect men’s and women’s overall and reproductive health.  When couples struggle with fertility, they usually focus on their sex life.  In reality, they should be focusing on the other, and possibly more impactful bedroom activity.   One study on women who have sleep issues found that those with insomnia are 400% more likely to have fertility issues .  Women are twice as likely to suffer from insomnia than men. 

Sleep can affect all stages of the female fertility process.  Poor sleep has been shown to impact menstruation, conception, and can also lead to pregnancy complications.  But what about too much sleep? Research has shown too much sleep can also impact female fertility.  A study focused on the sleep patterns of women undergoing IVF treatment placed the participants into three categories: short (4-6 hrs/night), medium (7-8 hrs/night), and long sleepers (9-11 hrs/night).  In the study, moderate sleepers achieved significantly higher pregnancy rates compared to both short and long sleepers .  

A study of 981 healthy men reviewed the affect sleep patterns have on semen parameters.   Similar to the study on sleep and female fertility, men were also placed into three categories, short, moderate, and long sleepers.  For this study, men who slept less than 6 hours per night were categorized as short sleepers.  The sperm counts, motility, and survival rates of these men were lower compared to both moderate and long sleepers .  In addition to the impact sleep length has on sperm, the study concluded that late bedtimes were also associated with impaired sperm health.  

Sleep quality is also believed to impact male fertility.  A study of men undergoing fertility treatment found that poor sleep quality is correlated with lower total motility, concentration, and total sperm count

Pro Tip: If you want to increases your fertility, focus on your sleep. Try reducing your stress levels before bed by swapping out TV time for late-night yoga, meditation, or stretching. Stick to a schedule that will help ensure you are getting 7-8 hours a night of good quality and restful sleep. 

Avoid Toxins

Research has shown that toxins like metals and chemicals that are found in the air we breathe, the food we eat, and beauty aides we use are damaging fertility in several ways.  Environmental toxins are becoming more prevalent by the day, causing an increase in exposure to human populations.  Toxins affect both men’s and women’s infertility.  Environmental toxins are damaging both men and women’s reproductive systems, causing endocrine disruption and impairing fetal ability.  These effects aren’t only impacting natural fertility, toxins also cause decreased IVF success rates. 

You’ve certainly heard the warnings about BPA, a common chemical that is used to make plastics, and its negative effects on our health.  Unfortunately, BPA is found in a high percentage of water bottles, cans and food packaging. BPA products contaminate the liquids and foods they contain. Studies have shown that for women undergoing IVF treatment, high levels of BPAs significantly impact implantation chances.  In one study, women with the top 25% of BPA levels were 211% more likely to suffer from implantation issues

Additional studies support these findings on toxins’ effect on IVF success rates .  Research has found that organochlorine compounds (chlorinated pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, and dioxins), bisphenol A (BPA), and organophosphate pesticides and herbicides are the worst fertility disrupters. Other chemicals, metals, and air pollutants have also been shown to damage fertility.  In men, environmental toxins disrupt the endocrine system and damage the male reproductive system causing infertility.  Reducing exposure to environmental toxins can be hard, especially if you encounter them as part of your profession.  But toxins don’t only enter our bodies through our environment, and reducing exposure elsewhere can be much easier.  

A study conducted in Spain focused on the role environmental toxins play on male infertility.  Researchers measured the impact of toxins on men who were undergoing treatment at an assisted reproduction clinic.  The study consisted of 61 participants. The participants were 31 males with sperm considered to be normal, and 30 males diagnosed with infertility.  23 of the 30 infertile males were found to have been exposed to toxins or pollutants at work like glue, solvents, and silicones.  Of the 31 men with normal sperm, only 10 were exposed to toxins occupationally.  The results of the study suggest that occupational exposure to toxins may often be the cause or a contributing factor to male infertility .

 

 

Limiting Exposure: Try to cut back or stop using products known to contain toxins. Be critical of the foods you are consuming and try to avoid prepacked meals. Be sure to avoid using non-stick cookware as it contains some of the same chemicals found in pesticides. 

Hot Tubs and Saunas (Men Take a Break)

High temperatures have been shown to cause spermatic damage.  Participants in a study on heat stress saw a decrease in sperm motility and an increase in the percentage of sperm with defects .   A study conducted by the University of California San Francisco concluded that exposure to hot baths or hot tubs can contribute to male infertility .   A 2013 study focused on the effects of continuous sauna exposure on seminal parameters.  The study produced similar results to UCSF’s study on wet heat exposure.  Dry heat, or sauna exposure, was found to cause impairment of spermatogenesis, including alteration of sperm parameters and sperm DNA packaging .

Relax and take a break!  Don’t panic if you’ve been using the hot tub or sauna.  Research has shown that the damage caused by exposure to heat, whether dry or wet, is reversible over time.

Reduce Stress for Improved Natural Fertility

Numerous recent studies have established a link between a woman’s day-to-day stress levels and lowered pregnancy chances . In one study, women who had high levels of alpha-amylase, a marker for stress, in their saliva took 29% longer to get pregnant compared to women with lower levels.

When our bodies sense stress, they recognize it is not an ideal time to have a baby and react accordingly. Periods of stress greatly impact our lifestyles and can influence us to have sex less frequently.  Stress can also cause people to turn to unhealthy habits like drinking too much caffeine, or smoking, and drinking too much alcohol—all of which are detrimental to a woman’s overall health and natural fertility.

Stress is the brain and body’s natural response to any demand.  If stress lasts long periods of time, it can contribute to serious health problems.  Stress impacts and causes strain on almost every part of the body, so there’s no wonder it impacts both female and fertility.  Stress is one of the most complex causes of infertility because a diagnosis of infertility only makes the problem worse.  Stress can increase after diagnosis of infertility, follow-up appointments, and failed in-vitro fertilization treatment .   

Specific to men, studies have found that stress can affect semen parameters.  Stress can negatively impact the production of luteinizing hormone (LH) and testosterone.  This causes complications in spermatogenesis, resulting in reduced sperm quality .  

A review of over 30 studies found that relaxation techniques have been effective in reducing negative emotions in patients undergoing medical treatment .  In extreme cases, fertility specialists sometimes recommend professional psychological intervention.  Numerous studies have found that psychosocial interventions focused on eliminating stress can help to improve psychological outcomes, marital relationships, and pregnancy rates among infertile couples .  

Resources: At CNY Fertility, we recognize and understand how important it is to manage stress throughout fertility treatment. We offer fertility support and many additional resources to our patients who are looking for a little empathy and encouragement.  Click here to visit our fertility support page.

Massage 

Massage offers many physical and psychological benefits.  Massage can help to improve circulation, reduce muscle tension, reduce stress hormones, and help you to relax.  In addition to the emotional and physical tension caused by stress, doctors believe that stress may negatively impact fertility.  Unfortunately, as any couple who has had trouble conceiving can tell you, undergoing fertility treatment is a stressful process.  

During fertility massages, the muscles and connective tissues that hold the pelvic organs are gently manipulated to correct any blockages.  This movement encourages blood flow, which helps the body to self-regulate, heal, and regenerate.  Fertility massages can be used to increase blood flow to the reproductive organs, increase lymphatic flow, and optimize reproductive physiology.  

There is data that suggests massage can help to treat several known causes of infertility like blocked tubes, Endometriosis, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), and elevated FSH levels.  In a study of 1,392 women who were diagnosed with various causes of infertility, massage helped to clear the fallopian tubes of 60.85% of participants .  56.64% of the women whose tubes were opened by massage treatment achieved pregnancy.  42.81% of the patients who were diagnosed with Endometriosis and 53.57 % of the women diagnosed with PCOS were also able to achieve pregnancy after receiving massage treatment.  

Click here for information on how massages for fertility can help with male fertility issues!

Acupuncture

Similar to massage, acupuncture is a great way to relieve stress.  Acupuncture uses sterilized needles to stimulate certain pathways and regulate the flow of energy and blood in the body.   Research has shown that acupuncture causes the brain to release opioids, the body’s natural painkillers, as well as other endorphins that help to moderate stress.  Acupuncture is also known to help balance hormone levels, especially cortisol, the primary stress hormone.  Acupuncture has been shown to help reduce depression, which unfortunately can be severe in people undergoing infertility treatment

If you are struggling with stress or depression related to fertility treatment, you may consider reaching out to a fertility counselor.

In addition to there being research that supports acupuncture’s ability to reduce stress and depression, several studies have shown that it can also help to improve IVF pregnancy outcomes.  In these studies, women undergoing IVF treatment displayed increased pregnancy rates and birth rates when they underwent acupuncture treatment leading up to, immediately before, and after their embryo transfer.  

Laser Therapy (Low level)

New studies are beginning to establish a connection between improved natural fertility and laser therapy.  Research continues to emerge to support the use of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) to improve both male and female fertility.  High-power lasers are commonly used in medical procedures to cut through or destroy tissue.  Low-power lasers can be used to relieve pain and to stimulate and enhances cell function.  

Specific to improving female fertility, LLLT helps stimulate and increase blood flow to the reproductive organs. This helps to enhance cellular energy production, which can improve egg quality.  LLLT can be especially impactful for older women who may be suffering from age-related decline in egg quality.  One study in Japan looked at the effects of LLLT on severely infertile women who had previously unsuccessful results with assisted reproductive treatments.  The study started with an initial trial of 74 patients.  16 of those patients (21.7%) achieved pregnancy.  Due to the immediate success, the trial was extended and expanded to 701 patients.  Of the 701 women who underwent LLLT, 22.3% (156) achieved pregnancy.  Over 50% of those pregnancies resulted in live deliveries .  No adverse events or side-effects were noted in any of the patients from the study.  Researchers concluded that LLLT is a pain-free technique that can be used to support women undergoing fertility treatment.  

For male fertility treatment, LLLT has been shown to increase the percentage of live sperm cells and improve sperm motility.  Fertility specialists have touted LLLT as an essential treatment for male infertility due to its high effectiveness and lack of alternative treatments that produce similar results.  Researchers believe that LLLT should be used as widely as possible, due to the lack of side-effects .  

Optimizing Nutrition for Increased Natural Fertility

Dietary Changes

Eat High Fat

One of the primary causes of infertility is inflammation.  Chronic levels of inflammation can be caused by micro contaminants that enter our bodies through the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat.  Inflammation triggers an immune response, which can send our body into a state of distress.  An overactive immune system can damage sperm, egg, embryo, and even a developing fetus. This damage can cause difficulty in achieving pregnancy, maintaining pregnancy, or repeated miscarriages.

Fat is the key element of fertility.  It provides essential building blocks for our cells and helps synthesize vital reproductive hormones.  Dietary fat provides our bodies with energy and essential fatty acids that it can’t produce on its own.  The fatty acids from animal meat assist with blood clotting and increase brain function.  Fat also enables the body to absorb essential vitamins like A, D, and E, which all increase fertility.  The most important benefit of eating fat for fertility is that it helps to reduce inflammation!  

Omega-3 fatty acids and saturated fat may help reduce inflammation, whether it’s through intravenous intralipids or dietary consumption .  Fat is believed to hinder the activity of harmful cells that trigger an immune response and cause inflammation. At CNY Fertility, we recommend eating a high fat, moderate protein, and low to no carbohydrate diet, nicknamed the B.E.B.B.I. Diet Bacon, Eggs, Butter, Beef, and Ice cream made from full-fat heavy cream (with little sugar).

Quick Tip: Remember to reduce trans fat intake and increase healthy fat intake. 

Hight Fat Meats and Full-Fat Dairy for Natural Fertility

Natural fats from high-fat meats like ribeye, pork belly, and ribs, or from full-fat dairy products like butter, cream, and whole milk are needed to keep the lymphatic system running.  Eating fat lubricates the lymphatics and helps filter out harmful pathogens, protecting the body from invaders that can cause illness.  The lymphatic system is part of the circulatory and immune systems and is critical to maintaining optimal health. Besides being a rich source of cholesterol, full-fat dairy also contains many nutrients. 

Full-fat dairy contains protein and other nutrients known to support fertility like zinc, choline, selenium, vitamin A and vitamin D.  Vitamin A is essential for reproduction in both males and females.  In females, vitamin A supports egg quality, ovarian response, embryonic development, and placental function.  In men, vitamin A is required for maintenance of the genital tract.  Vitamin A is known to support immune health in men and women.  

Full-fat dairy also contains lots of calcium.  In addition to supporting bone, heart, muscle, and nerve health, calcium is involved in sperm production in men. It is important to ensure you are eating full-fat products as the calcium found in skim and other lesser-fat products do not absorb as effectively.

But Avoid Trans Fats

Highly processed and fried foods are usually high in trans fats. These types of fats can be harmful. They’re a form of unsaturated fat. Trans fats that are high in omega-6 are the most damaging, and they are formed when common cooking oils (vegetable, canola, soybean, corn) are chemically altered to remain stable at room temperature. Research has shown that trans fats are associated with ovulatory problems and infertility.

An eight-year-long large observational study concluded that eating a diet high in trans fats and low in unsaturated fats was linked to infertility .**)

Trans fat is contained in foods as either naturally-occurring or artificial trans fat.  Naturally-occurring trans fats are commonly found in animal products like milk and meat.  Artificial trans fats can be found in fast foods, snack foods, and other processed foods. These processed foods contain “partially hydrogenated oils.”  In the past, research has mainly focused on trans fats’ role in increasing the risk of heart disease.  Recent research has shown that the negative impact of eating trans fats doesn’t stop there.  Trans fats have also been linked to male infertility, especially decreasing sperm counts .  

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends checking for partially hydrogenated oils on ingredient lists on food packages to help monitor and limit your artificial trans fat intake .

Lower Carbohydrate Intake

Fat has always been blamed for causing obesity.  New research suggests that carbohydrates are the reason for the increase in obesity and other chronic conditions.  The Standard American Diet is a carbohydrate-rich diet that causes systemic inflammation.  High levels of carbs cause chronically elevated blood sugar levels, which lead to advanced glycation and other damaging body responses that cause inflammation.  Carbs from sugar and grains are especially known to cause inflammation.  These food are known as high-glycemic-index foods, and they fuel the production of advanced glycation end (AGE) products that stimulate inflammation.  Carbohydrates are not considered an essential part of the human diet, unlike fat and protein.  

In addition to causing inflammation, large amounts of carbs can also affect reproductive hormone levels.  Sugars and carbohydrates play a direct role in determining blood sugar and insulin levels.  If insulin or blood sugar levels get too high, reproductive hormone levels can be thrown off, which can cause anovulation and directly affect female fertility.  Foods that are high in sugar and carbs include fruits, bread, rice, potatoes, and sugary sweets like candy.

A diet high in carbs causes fermentation in the bowels, which produces excessive amounts of heat.  Fermentation is the enzymatic decomposition of food, especially carbs, by microbes.  The bowels are located right on top of the reproductive organs,  so when they create heat, it causes inflammation in those organs.  Inflammation reduces the amount of nourishing blood flow throughout the body (especially in the ovaries, uterus, and testes. 

Limit Caffeine

For many people, coffee is a vital part of their morning.  Drinking a cup of coffee each morning is fine.  It’s when you start drinking multiple cups of coffee or high caffeine drinks throughout the day that you can adversely affect your fertility.  Drinking high amounts of caffeine can make successful conception take longer and raise the miscarriage risk.  When attempting to conceive, it’s good to monitor and limit your caffeine consumption .

Cut Fiber

Fiber is the part of plant-based foods that the body can’t properly break down.  Fiber passes through the body and aids in keeping the digestive system clear and healthy.  Therefore, it is important to eat some fiber, but new research has shown that too much fiber could have a negative impact on female fertility.  A two-year case study that followed 250 women focused on the effect of daily fiber on reproductive function.  The goal of the study was to see if fiber consumption affects hormone concentration and the risk of anovulation.  The study found that the higher the amount of fiber the women in the study ate, the lower their levels of estradiol, progesterone, LH, and FSH.  The researchers concluded that eating a diet high in fiber diets is associated with a decrease in the concentration of hormones associated with fertility and a higher probability of anovulation in women .     

Soy Intake and Natural Fertility

For Men: Soy products are known to contain sperm damaging xenoestrogens called phytoestrogens.  Phytoestrogens have been shown to reduce sperm concentration .  A study of 99 men undergoing fertility treatment found that a higher intake of soy is associated with lower sperm concentration .  The results of this study have been published and discussed in the Harvard Health Publishing by the Harvard Medical School .  In the past, doctors have touted soy for its health benefits like lowering cholesterol. Soy is a main staple of most Asian diets. It can be found in foods like edamame, meat alternatives, and products like soymilk. 

For Women: Women’s ovarian function can be affected by high levels of soy.  Eating excess soy can lead to lower circulating levels of hormones, especially lowered gonadotropin levels.  High soy levels have their greatest effect on premenopausal women during their reproductive years.  Eating a diet containing lower levels of soy should not pose a threat to the function of the ovary .  

Fertility Vitamins 

Many of the vitamins and nutrients in fertility supplements can be found in different foods.  However, it is extremely difficult to ensure your body is getting all of the vitamins and minerals that are essential to reproduction through diet alone.  The popularity of fertility supplements continues to rise as additional research emerges supporting the importance of different vitamins and minerals for natural fertility and reproductive health.  Our team of specialists recommends fertility supplements to all couples who are having difficulty conceiving either naturally or with reproductive methods.  Fertility supplements should be taken 90 days prior to trying to get pregnant to offer maximum support for egg and sperm production.  

The supplements we recommend: Molecular Fertility products are designed by leading experts in fertility and backed by science in peer-reviewed journals and clinical fertility care experience.  They are packed with clinically tested and patented nutrients shown to provide better absorption and benefits for natural fertility.

Click on the image below to shop Molecular Fertility Supplements!

Ensure Adequate Iron levels 

Research has shown that low iron levels can lead to a lack of ovulation, increasing a woman’s risk of ovulatory infertility.  Fertility specialists recommended taking iron supplements while trying to conceive and throughout pregnancy, as iron deficiency is extremely common in pregnant women.  Supplementing iron has been shown to significantly lower the risk of ovulatory infertility .  In addition to helping ovulation, taking iron supplements when trying to get pregnant can help to prevent anemia once you are pregnant.  

Iron is an essential mineral that our bodies need for growth, development, and the production of hormones.  It can be found naturally in beans, lentils, fish, and other seafood. Our bodies use iron to make hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to organs and tissues, and myoglobin, a protein that provides oxygen to muscles. The amount of blood in a woman’s body increases by up to 50% during pregnancy.  Extra iron is needed to support the additional blood volume.  Iron deficiency is believed to increase the chances of babies being born prematurely or undersized.

Antioxidants to Increase Fertility

Antioxidants can be found in foods like fruits, vegetables, different nuts, and grains.  Health professionals have touted them due to their ability to defend the cells in our bodies from potentially harmful free radicals. Free radicals are unstable cells that cause damage and disease.  When free radicals build-up, they cause oxidative stress, which damages cells and can affect natural fertility, especially the quality of sperm and eggs.  

Eating foods that are high in antioxidants can help improve sperm quality in men and increase fertility.  Various studies have shown that common antioxidants like folate and zinc may improve fertility in both men and women .  One study showed that eating 75 g of walnuts, a food packed with antioxidants, a day can improve sperm quality .

Antioxidants like folate and zinc can also be found in fertility supplements.  To read more about fertility supplements and how folate and zinc can help with fertility, click here!  One study showed that taking antioxidant supplements can improve IVF success rates.  The study followed 60 couples undergoing IVF treatment and found that antioxidant supplementation increased their chances of achieving pregnancy by 23% .

Get More Sun and Vitamin D

Sunlight is the best possible source of vitamin D for your body.  When our skin is exposed to the sun, it makes vitamin D.   Our bodies use cholesterol to produce vitamin D, so getting more sun can also help to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood.  Studies have shown that nearly 40% of adults in the U.S. suffer from Vitamin D deficiency.  Vitamin D deficiency has been shown to negatively impact fertility in both men and women.  It can be difficult to ensure adequate vitamin D levels, especially in the winter, when sunlight is scarce.  That is why fertility specialists recommend taking vitamin D supplements when you are trying to conceive.

One recent study showed that men with vitamin D deficiency had significantly lower total sperm motility .  Another study found that men suffering from vitamin D deficiency were more likely to have lower testosterone levels .  Testosterone is required for many aspects of men’s’ overall and reproductive health, including sperm production. 

Vitamin D deficiency is very common in pregnant women.  Vitamin D is necessary for the absorption of calcium and other nutrients that are essential for a healthy pregnancy.  Vitamin D deficiency in mothers can contribute to the development of childhood rickets and long-term health problems like type 1 diabetes.   Research has shown that most women require vitamin D supplementation to ensure appropriate levels throughout pregnancy .  

Looking for an easy way to increase natural fertility and get more vitamin D? Check out Molecular Fertility Supplements!  Both the male and female supplements contain the Vitamin D you need to support your natural fertility! 

For men:  Research has shown that supplementing vitamin D can increase testosterone levels by 25% in one year

For fertility treatment:  Research has shown that vitamin D supplementation can have a positive impact on pregnancy rates and fertility treatment outcomes.  In one study, women with adequate levels of vitamin D had a 52.5% chance of pregnancy per IVF cycle compared to women with insufficient levels only having a 34.7% chance .

 

Treatment for Existing Conditions 

Get Tested (STDs and STIs)

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are proven to affect the male and female reproductive processes.  If there is a possibility that you or your partner may have a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or STD, go get tested!  A review of World Health Organization research found that in 2012 alone, there were approximately 273 million cases of curable STIs in adults aged 15-49. Of those 273 million cases, 128 million adults had chlamydia, 27 million had gonorrhea, 101 million had cases of trichomoniasis, and 18 million had syphilis .  

STDs can cause infectious semen, and they increase the chances of transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) between partners.  HIV causes immunodeficiency and can act as a catalyst for semen deterioration in men decreasing their natural fertility .  If HIV is passed to the female partner, it can cause reduced pregnancy rates and higher chances of miscarriage.  

Studies have shown that chlamydia, a common STI, can cause inflammation in the testicles, which leads to epididymal obstruction .  The testicles are connected to the male reproductive system by the epididymis.  An obstruction in the epididymis can lead to male reproductive issues. Chlamydia is also known to negatively impact female fertility, and if left untreated, it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Get tested, and if necessary, get treated!  

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrom (PCOS)

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrom (PCOS) is the most common cause of infertility in women.  Many women suffer from PCOS for years, and they don’t discover they have it until they seek fertility treatment after struggling to conceive naturally.  More than 50% of PCOS cases go undiagnosed. 

Women who have PCOS have larger ovaries that develop many small cysts.  These cysts are known to create hormone imbalances that disrupt or prevent ovulation.  25 to 30% of infertility cases are caused by women’s inability to ovulate.  

To learn about PCOS, how it causes infertility, and treatment options, click here! 

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a disorder where tissues that normally grow inside the uterus grow outside on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or intestines.  It is known to negatively impact female fertility in many ways.  Endometriosis can be identified through common symptoms, but a true diagnosis cannot be made until a laparoscopy is performed.  By performing a laparoscopy, fertility specialists can grade the level of severity to determine the appropriate treatment.  

To learn more about Endometriosis, how it impacts natural fertility, and available treatments, click here! 

The Bottom Line About Improving Natural Fertility

That was a lot; we wanted to give you as many possible ways to increase your natural fertility as possible that way you have lots to choose from. While it’s recommended to do as much as possible, we understand that some things will be a bit more difficult than others. Go slow, take your time, but keep it up. Remember, sperm take sperm and eggs approximately 75 and 90 days to develop respectively so it’s a marathon, not a sprint. While it’s great if you can jump on board with everything listed here, try starting with a few and adding more as those become easy.

Perhaps most important is to know when it’s time to seek help. While trying on your own is an important part of the trying to conceive journey, infertility for heterosexual couples is typically defined as the inability to conceive within 6-12 months of regular unprotected intercourse. After that time, it becomes rarer and rarer for pregnancy to happen naturally. 

Fortunately, the experts here at CNY are able to help those from anywhere in the world through our one of a kind travel program. Our state of the art treatment options including Artificial InseminationIVF, Donor Egg program also happen to be the most affordable in the nation.

If you’re in need of a little extra help, we are here. Schedule a Consultation here to get the help you need.

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