How to improve your fertility in 2023
You may be finding it harder than planned to get pregnant or want to ensure you have the best chance of getting pregnant.
Changes to your lifestyle could help you to boost your fertility. TFP Fertility Group, one of the leading IVF and fertility specialists with clinics across the UK and Europe, offer some key information about the kind of changes you should consider.
A healthy lifestyle
Everyone is unique and therefore so is their fertility.
There could be many reasons why it’s taking you longer than you thought to get pregnant, but there are a number of things you can do to help things along and make sure you’re giving yourself the best chance.
Ensuring your lifestyle is as healthy as possible before starting a family will help you mentally as well as physically.
Take care of yourself by eating well, exercising regularly, taking some key supplements, and addressing unhealthy habits.
If you’re concerned about your lifestyle and the impact on your fertility, a fertility assessment with TFP Fertility UK could be a good first step to help you identify ways to increase your chances of getting pregnant.
In the assessment, as well tests to accurately measure your fertility and a consultation about your options, the team can give you advice on nutrition, exercise, and managing stress, all of which can have an impact on fertility.
Factors affecting fertility
What you eat may affect your fertility. Ideally you should include a variety of fresh, healthy foods in your diet, and avoid highly processed or sugary food.
Here’s a list of good foods to include in your diet:
- Wholegrain high fibre foods such as bread with seeds, brown rice, and pasta
- Fruit and vegetables
- Lentils and beans as these have antioxidant properties which protect against oxidative stress, which can be harmful to eggs and sperm
- Unsaturated fats such as avocados, nuts, oily fish, and seeds
- Full fat dairy such as milk or yoghurt can help to improve egg quality
Vitamins and supplements
There are some key vitamins that may help increase fertility. You can buy these over the counter at chemists, supermarkets, and health stores.
Folic acid (women)
The advice is to take a 400mg supplement of folic acid every day before you get pregnant and every day afterwards, up until you’re 12 weeks pregnant. This reduces the risk of developmental abnormalities.
Well-woman or well-man supplements
Including antioxidants, Omega 3, zinc, and selenium. This is particularly important in cases of low sperm production.
Weight and BMI
Being overweight or underweight, and having a correspondingly high or low BMI (body mass index), can impact your fertility.
BMI is a measure of height vs weight to identify if your weight is in a healthy range.
A higher BMI can have an impact on hormonal imbalances, pregnancy risks, and the number of drugs required for fertility treatments in women.
In men, a higher BMI can affect the quality and quantity of your sperm.
If your fertility treatment is NHS-funded, your BMI must be no more than 30.
You can find out your BMI by using the NHS BMI calculator.
As well as the obvious health benefits, regular moderate exercise can help boost fertility through improved enzyme activity.
Male fertility can be improved by avoiding intense exercise, tight underwear, and other potential sources of excessive heat such as saunas or hot baths.
If you take any supplements as part of your exercise regime, ask your GP for advice about the impact these may have on your fertility.
If you smoke, it’s very likely it will take you longer to get pregnant.
Cigarette smoke contains toxins, including cadmium and cotinine, that can reduce sperm quality and AMH levels, so impacting egg production.
Smoking can also cause increased sperm DNA damage, as well as reduced fertilisation and development potential, which leads to lower pregnancy rates.
Female fertility should start to improve three months after quitting smoking.
There’s limited evidence to date but, as with smoking, vaping is also thought to have a negative impact on fertility.
It’s better not to drink alcohol at all if you’re trying to conceive. Alcohol can reduce your fertility in many ways, in particular the way it affects hormonal balance in both men and women.
In women, oestrogen levels are altered which can have a negative impact on ovulation, and also on number of eggs, or ovarian reserve.
In men, alcohol can reduce testosterone, affecting the quality and quantity of sperm.
On a positive note, improvements can be seen soon after reducing your alcohol intake.
Excessive consumption of caffeine has been linked to low birth weight and a higher risk of miscarriage.
And research has shown that too much caffeine may negatively affect male fertility, possibly due to sperm DNA damage.
Guidance can vary but the consensus is that you should aim to limit your caffeine intake to no more than 200mg of caffeine a day, which is equivalent to two cups of coffee.
As well as coffee and tea, caffeine can also be found in energy drinks, chocolate, and cola.
Some medications can impact your fertility and are not suitable to take if you’re trying to get pregnant.
If you regularly take prescription or over-the-counter medication, check with your pharmacist or GP.
There’s no proven evidence that stress and anxiety can impact fertility, but they may affect some of the lifestyle factors that do.
For example, if you’re stressed you may find it harder to eat healthily or exercise regularly.
It’s therefore important to focus on your overall physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Talking to friends and family about your thoughts and feelings may help.
Our fertility counsellors are also available to support you at any stage or reach out to a support network such as Fertility Network UK.
Here to support you
TFP Fertility understand that changing your lifestyle can be challenging, but once you have made the decision to start your fertility journey, TFP can support you with advice about diet, supplements, and managing your weight.
If you’ve got any questions or would like to book an appointment at your local TFP Fertility clinic, you can enquire here.