The decision to start a family is an exciting and very big decision! Pregnancy is a beautiful and intimate time in a woman’s life. More recently I’ve heard many couples share their struggles to conceive. It’s why I chose to create and dedicate an entire course to talking about how to improve fertility naturally.
Today, I’m sharing four very important fertility tips every couple (notice I didn’t say woman) should know!
It’s reported between 10 and 15 percent of couples are impacted by infertility. 1 That can be very discouraging, but know that you and your partner are worthy of having a child and the family you desire.
This guidance is helpful wherever you are in the process, whether you’ve already consulted with a fertility specialist for fertility treatment because you’ve discovered you have a fertility problem or you’re just wanting to get your body ready in anticipation of becoming pregnant.
Thankfully, there are easy, natural, and healthy ways for you and your partner to boost your fertility and conceive. Before we dive into how to improve your fertility, let’s briefly discuss what may be causing your fertility issues.
What May Cause Fertility Issues?
A couple can have trouble conceiving for any number of reasons. But Beauties, it’s important to know that fertility isn’t just a woman’s struggle. Male fertility issues are just as important to address as women’s issues.
In fact, according to the Office of Women’s Health, approximately one-third of infertility cases can be attributed to women’s problems, while another one-third can be attributed to men’s problems. 2
While the causes of infertility may be different for women and men, it’s important to know what signs to look out for so one or both partners can be treated if necessary. That way, you can both have the best chance for healthy conception. :)
Fertility Issues in Women
A major cause of infertility for women is underlying health issues. Some conditions that can cause or contribute to female fertility problems include:
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
- Absent or Irregular Menstrual Cycles
- Physical issues with the Uterus or Fallopian Tubes
Insulin Resistance and Fertility
Insulin resistance is another contributing factor to women’s infertility. Insulin doesn’t just keep your blood sugar under control— it also regulates how a woman ovulates. Developing insulin resistance, which is more common when overweight or obese, impacts how well the liver and muscles respond to insulin which makes it more difficult for the cells to absorb glucose.
Insulin resistance in women can impact the pituitary gland and impair fertility. 3 Studies show it can also compromise egg quality and inhibit ovulation. Higher than average blood sugar levels may also lead to smaller eggs and delayed maturation of eggs.
Too much insulin also increases androgen production in the ovaries, including testosterone. Thereby shifting from estrogen production to testosterone production in women.
You’re at higher risk for insulin resistance if you have PCOS, are overweight and don’t exercise.
How to Support Healthy Blood Sugar Balance for Fertility
Four ways to support healthy insulin levels and fertility are:
- Reducing your processed sugar intake
- Increasing the number of fiber rich plants you eat
- Reducing stress
Fiber helps slow sugar absorption and lowers how much insulin gets released into the body. Exercise makes your muscles more efficient at absorbing glucose. Stress hormones, like cortisol, raise your blood sugar levels. Starting a meditation practice or yoga practice are two ways to enhance relaxation and reduce your stress levels.
If you’re concerned you may already have issues with glucose levels, consult your doctor who can test your A1C, fasting insulin or glucose levels.
Interestingly, insulin resistance doesn’t negatively influence male fertility like it does female fertility. While diabetes does have a negative impact on male fertility, more research is needed to see if insulin resistance itself affects male reproductive functions the way it does female reproduction. 4
Fertility Issues in Men
Male Fertility can be impacted by underlying health issues, hormone imbalance, even conditions such as cystic fibrosis.
Environmental causes include heavy metal exposure and chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides. Lifestyle causes contributing to infertility include smoking, alcohol, drug use and weight.
These issues are linked to low sperm count or sperm production, sperm motility or low sperm quality.
Red flags when struggling to conceive are:
- Sexual dysfunction
- Decreased facial or body hair— this can be a sign of a hormonal abnormality
- Recurring respiratory infections
- Pain, swelling, or unusual lumps in the testicle area
When experiencing any of the listed symptoms above, it’s important to go see a doctor right away. Not only can these impact a man’s ability to conceive, but they can also be signs of more serious health issues.
If you’re struggling to get pregnant, figuring out a solution can sometimes feel like a long and frustrating process. But remember, stressing too much only contributes to fertility challenges. Instead, create a plan to give your fertility a major boost by addressing any potential complications you or your partner may be facing.
Even if there aren’t any immediate issues between you and your partner, there are ways for you both to boost your fertility and help you conceive.
Before we share some tips to improve your fertility naturally, let’s talk about one easy way to help determine when you’re most likely to conceive.
How Do I Know When I’m Fertile?
Ladies, did you know that there’s a way for you to check your fertility windows? It’s true! Your body can actually tell you how close you are to ovulating— you just need to know what to look for.
Cervical Mucus and Fertility Awareness
One helpful way to check your fertility levels is to observe the changes in your cervical mucus. Changes in color and consistency can indicate how close you are to ovulation, and by extension how fertile you are. So if you’re wanting to conceive, checking down there every so often is a great way to help you time when you and your partner have sex and have the best chances at conception. 5
Here’s what to look for if you want to find your ideal window for conception:
- Before ovulation, your cervical mucus may feel stretchy or gluey and be yellow, white, or even cloudy in color. Immediately before you ovulate, the consistency and even color become closer in appearance to egg whites.
- During ovulation, your cervical mucus will still resemble the consistency of egg whites. This texture and the pH are most conducive to sperm, and it keeps them healthy while they travel to fertilize an egg. So if you’re trying to conceive, be sure to have sex on days you’re ovulating.
- There will be less mucus after ovulation— You may even feel dry. But any mucus may become thicker, gluey, or cloudy-colored again.
Cervical mucus is also present during and after a woman’s menstrual cycle. However you may not notice it, or sometimes it may not be present, especially if you’re feeling dry. It may take a little practice, but learning how to read your body’s cues can be a huge help in helping you and your partner conceive.
How do I Improve My Fertility Naturally?
Your lifestyle can play a huge role in your fertility. In fact, a common cause of fertility issues in both women and men are lifestyle factors such as age, weight, diet, consumption of caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and stress.
In our perfectly imperfect lives, we may not always be eating, exercising or living exactly how we want to be at all times. And that’s okay! Life can be messy sometimes, but a healthy lifestyle can really make a difference in how you look and feel, and it can make a big difference in you and your partner’s fertility too! Consider the following options on your journey to healthy conception.
1. Eat a Healthy Plant-Based Diet
A healthy diet is a natural fertility booster, and the best fertility diet is a plant-based diet. If you’ve read my books, blogs or have joined the Solluna Circle, then you know all about the health benefits a plant-based diet provides. I can tell you from personal experience that incorporating a plant-based lifestyle during pregnancy and beyond promotes fertility and healthy pregnancies, and helps you look and feel great.
A nutritious, high-fiber plant-based diet is beneficial to both female and male fertility. In fact, a study has shown that when 5 percent of a woman’s daily calories consumed come from vegetable protein rather than animal protein, the risk of ovulatory infertility dropped by more than 50 percent. 6 What a difference!
Ideally, a plant-based diet will consist of all kinds of different fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. These wholesome, nourishing foods will help you look and feel great, boost your fertility, and prepare you and your partner’s bodies for creating new life.
Foods like fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts are high in antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene and folate (or folic acid), which can be greatly beneficial to your fertility. A study of 232 women showed that higher consumption of folate was associated with higher rates of implantations, pregnancies and live birth. 7
Are There Toxins in Your Diet?
Are you concerned about potential toxins in your food? If you’re new to Solluna’s Beauty Detox lifestyle, you may be unaware of the toxins that can lurk in some of your favorite foods.
Dioxins, a type of toxin that is present most anywhere, is also in the foods we eat. In fact, over 90 percent of human exposure to dioxins is through our food. Dioxins in food are most commonly found in meat and dairy products. In large enough concentrations, these toxins can cause real damage to your health, including hormonal, reproductive, and even developmental damage. 8
This is another great reason to go plant-based if you haven’t already— A healthy plant-based diet can significantly reduce your exposure to environmental toxins.
Along with your healthy plant-based diet, be sure to limit your alcohol and caffeine intake. Increased alcohol consumption can especially have a negative effect on your fertility, and endanger the health of your baby when you do become pregnant.
Changing your diet isn’t always easy though, so don’t be discouraged if perfection isn’t always attainable. The goal is to increase your intake of healthy nutrients and fiber to help your body perform at its best, so you can have some extra wiggle room if you need it.
2. Maintain a Healthy Weight
A healthy weight is vital to your fertility and increases your chances of having a healthy pregnancy.
It’s important to be just the right weight since being overweight or underweight can contribute to infertility.
A higher body mass index (BMI) for both women and men contributes to delayed conception or an inability to conceive, especially if both partners are overweight. 9
To arrive at your ideal healthy weight, there are a few aspects of your lifestyle you need to consider, such as your diet, and level of activity.
Whether you are overweight or underweight, a proper diet and exercise can make a huge difference in boosting your fertility. Speaking of exercise…
3. Exercise Safely
Moderate exercise is key when it comes to healthy fertility. When combined with a nutritious diet as described above, it becomes much easier to find your ideal weight as well.
“Moderate exercise” truly means moderate exercise. If you’re accustomed to more grueling workouts you may find it difficult to switch to lower intensity or the slower pace, but studies show it can help!
While increased physical activity is beneficial to conception, especially if one or both partners are obese, research shows that excessive high-intensity exercise actually has a negative effect on some women’s fertility. 10
Great exercises to try include light jogging or walking, riding a bike, or yoga. I find that yoga is especially helpful for de-stressing as well. Plus, if you’re able to exercise outside you’ll also be getting vitamin D!
Find a fun and safe exercise that works for you, and remember to stay hydrated!
4. Reduce Negative Stress
Not all stress is created equal. “Good” stress, or eustress, can be helpful motivation for getting things done. However, ongoing negative stress can be inhibiting and have adverse effects on your health.
Ongoing stress can leave you feeling anxious, depressed, and emotional, making it difficult to find peace in your everyday life.
While more studies are needed to more fully understand the impact stress itself has on infertility, infertility can definitely cause stress and contribute to anxiety and depression.
Some research does suggest that reducing psychological distress can contribute to increased pregnancy rates. 11 Plus, reducing your stress definitely doesn’t hurt when you’re trying to conceive.
In its various forms stress is a constant part of our lives, but you don’t have to let it control your life. Managing and controlling your stress is vital to helping you feel better each day, even when you’re not always feeling great.
Some tried and true stress relief methods for me include:
- Relaxing breathing techniques
- Physical activity, such as taking a walk or yoga
- Being kind to self and others
The path to conception isn’t always easy, but it’s not helpful to stress over what we can’t control.
Instead, try to focus on what you can control and making positive changes that will benefit you and your partner, as well as your future family.
Improving fertility doesn’t have a “one size fits all” solution— what works for one may not work for all. However, many of the same recommendations experts have for overall health and longevity are the same for a healthy pregnancy and successful conception too.
Even just a few healthy lifestyle changes to start can have a positive impact and are definitely worth it when it comes to your health and wellbeing.
It takes time and preparation to start a family, and understandably it can be disheartening when you don’t conceive right away. But take heart, tending to your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health can be just the boost you need for an easeful and healthy conception.
For a more in-depth guide to healthy fertility and conception according to the Four Cornerstones of True Beauty, keep an eye out for my Healthy Conception and Fertility course coming out Fall 2021.
- Sharma, Rakesh, et al. “Lifestyle Factors and Reproductive Health: Taking Control of Your Fertility.” Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology : RB&E, BioMed Central, 16 July 2013, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3717046/.
- “Infertility.” Womenshealth.gov, 1 Apr. 2019, www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/infertility.
- Staff, Live Science. “Infertility in Obese Women Might Be Explained by Insulin Levels.” LiveScience, Purch, 30 May 2013, www.livescience.com/34902-obese-women-infertilty-insulin-pituitary-gland-100907.html.
- H;, Verit A;Verit FF;Oncel H;Ciftci. “Is There Any Effect of Insulin Resistance on Male Reproductive System?” Archivio Italiano Di Urologia, Andrologia : Organo Ufficiale [Di] Societa Italiana Di Ecografia Urologica e Nefrologica, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24704923/.
- Chertoff, Jane. “Cervical Mucus: Stages, During Ovulation, Tracking, and More.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 8 Mar. 2019, www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/cervical-mucus.
- Chavarro, Jorge E, et al. “Protein Intake and Ovulatory Infertility.” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Feb. 2008, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3066040/.
- Gaskins, Audrey J, et al. “Dietary Folate and Reproductive Success among Women Undergoing Assisted Reproduction.” Obstetrics and Gynecology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4172634/.
- “Dioxins: Definition, Dangers, Sources, Types, and More.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/17685.
- Reynolds, Rebecca M, and Adrienne Gordon. “Obesity, Fertility and Pregnancy: Can We Intervene to Improve Outcomes?” Joe, Bioscientifica Ltd, 1 Dec. 2018, joe.bioscientifica.com/view/journals/joe/239/3/JOE-18-0199.xml.
- Evenson, Kelly R., and Kathryn R. Hesketh. “Studying the Complex Relationships Between Physical Activity and Infertility.” American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5123562/.
- Rooney, Kristin L, and Alice D Domar. “The Relationship between Stress and Infertility.” Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, Les Laboratoires Servier, Mar. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6016043/.