Written by: Dr. Amy Kohlmeier, a board eligible reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist at CCRM Fertility of Minneapolis
You’re thinking about getting pregnant and might be wondering what you can do to increase your odds. Unfortunately, there are some things that affect your fertility that you don’t have control over such as your age and your genetics. The good news is, there are several things you can do to boost your fertility and improve your chances of pregnancy success.
Intercourse timing and frequency
It might seem obvious, but the timing of when you have intercourse is important. You’re fertile on the day you ovulate and five days prior—known as your fertile window. Pregnancy can only occur within this time frame. There are different ways to track your ovulation, including basal body temperature, ovulation predictor kits, tracking changes in cervical mucous and fertility apps, such as Flo and Clue.
Synthetic chemicals such as phthalates and Bisphenol A (BPA) are found in household packaging, plastics, and cosmetics. There has been increasing evidence that BPA might negatively impact fertility both in males and females by disrupting hormone levels in the body. This could lead to reproductive conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and decreased egg quality. Because phthalates and BPA are in so many household items, it’s almost impossible to completely get rid of them. As much as you can, try to use clean cosmetics, and fewer plastic food containers.
The chemicals in cigarette smoke can damage your eggs and increase the risk of miscarriage. If your male partner smokes, they are more likely to have lower sperm counts and motility, or how well sperm can move around. If you or your partner smoke, now is a great time to find resources to quit.
Being over or underweight
If you have a high or low body mass index (BMI) you can still have a successful pregnancy, but weight can be an important factor in fertility. Increased fat tissue can release certain molecules that might negatively affect egg production. Being overweight or obese can also put you at an increased risk of miscarriage.
However, being underweight can affect your ability to get pregnant as well. With a low body fat percentage, the hypothalamus that regulates hormone production can slow, leading to irregular or absent menstrual cycles. Talk with your doctor to find out if your BMI could be affecting your ability to get pregnant.
High amounts of red meat, sugar, refined grains, and fats can impact health in many ways, including your reproductive system. Though more research is needed to find out how exactly certain foods can affect fertility, we do know a diet containing plenty of fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains can be beneficial when you’re trying to get pregnant.
Some studies have shown alcohol may impact your egg quality and overall fertility, so it’s a good idea to decrease your intake when you’re actively trying to conceive.
Exercise is good for your overall health and for reducing your stress—both great reasons for fitting it into your schedule. But regular exercise has shown to improve fertility as well, so aim for 30 to 60 minutes a day. However, exercising too much can actually do more harm than good and decrease your chances of getting pregnant. Now is a great time to come up with a pregnancy-friendly workout routine. Talk with your doctor if you have questions or concerns about your fitness regimen.
There are many factors that you and your doctor need to consider when it comes to your fertility. If you are trying to get pregnant and it hasn’t happened yet, we recommend making an appointment with a CCRM Fertility specialist to discuss your options.