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Women's health

How living a healthy lifestyle can help improve your fertility

Find out how you can give yourself the best chance of conceiving if you decide to start a family.

Clinically reviewed on 12/5/2022 by Bryony Lathbury

We all know how important it is to lead a healthy lifestyle. Whether that’s your diet, sleep pattern, ensuring you get your steps in or even making sure you get regular health check-ups. And, although there are lifestyle changes you can make to help improve your fertility, it’s also important to know when to seek help. Everyone’s fertility journey is different and the more couples you talk to, the more you realise how many people have struggled1. Remember, support is out there.

 

Eat, sleep, workout, repeat

 

There is a lot out there about what you should or shouldn’t be doing to increase your chances of conceiving. From certain positions when doing the deed, to reflexology and supplements – it’s a minefield. The fact remains that living a healthy lifestyle and ensuring the big four (sleep, exercise, diet, emotional health)2 are kept in check will certainly improve your overall health and only positively affect your fertility. 

Catch some zzz’s



What does a good sleep routine look like? It’s getting your 8 hours (or more if you need it!) More than that, ensuring the quality is good. Are you checking your emails on your phone or binging Netflix right up until shuteye? Give yourself the gift of quality sleep and read a book, limit screen exposure and create a peaceful environment to improve sleep quality. If you still struggle to get off, why not try a guided sleep meditation app from Calm or Headspace?

Woman sleeping peacefully

Feed your body (and your mind) 

 

There is a lot of nutritional advice out there and, mostly, it’s a bit of trial and error to find out what works for you (dependent on your health goals). But, whether you’re trying to get pregnant or not, eating a balanced, healthy diet rich with fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and plenty of water is certainly going to contribute to a healthier, happier you3. Also, doctors have cited being underweight and overweight as potential issues when trying to conceive4.

 

Research has shown, eating as close to nature as we can, so as organic and unprocessed as possible, and ensuring a high-protein, nutrient dense diet can improve everything from bone density, organ function to muscle repair and mental health5. Fertility specific foods and supplements have been thought to include, folic acid, vitamin B, C, D & E, Iron and Zinc – all of which can be found in food and (if you need an extra boost) supplements 6. For vitamin B think dairy, eggs, fish and leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach. For C think citrus fruits, tomatoes and broccoli. Whilst vitamin D you can find in fish and dairy and E in almonds, peanuts and peppers. Always consult your GP when adding supplements to your routine to see if it interacts with any current medications. 

Get your pulse racing 

 

We’ve spoken before about how to cycle sync your workouts, but how does this differ for those trying to conceive? Again, staying physically healthy is important regardless of your fertility goals, but here is why staying strong and healthy when trying to conceive is important.

 

Keeping stress and anxiety at a minimum is key, particularly if you’re wanting to conceive. Exercise which increases your heart rate and gets your blood pumping will ensure you release endorphins and increase serotonin and dopamine when you need it most7.

 

You’re preparing for one of the biggest physical activities of your life! Give your body the best chance of recovering quicker by ensuring you’re building lean muscle and flexibility. It doesn’t have to be training for Iron Man, it could be walking 10k a day with your dog or weekly yoga classes, whatever your exercise choice, ensuring you’re raising your heart rate and building muscle will only serve you well when embarking on your fertility journey. Remember speak with your GP if you haven’t exercised for a while8

 

Research has shown, eating as close to nature as we can, so as organic and unprocessed as possible, and ensuring a high-protein, nutrient dense diet can improve everything from bone density, organ function to muscle repair and mental health5. Fertility specific foods and supplements have been thought to include, folic acid, vitamin B, C, D & E, Iron and Zinc – all of which can be found in food and (if you need an extra boost) supplements6. For vitamin B think dairy, eggs, fish and leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach. For C think citrus fruits, tomatoes and broccoli. Whilst vitamin D you can find in fish and dairy and E in almonds, peanuts and peppers. Always consult your GP when adding supplements to your routine to see if it interacts with any current medications. 

Know when to ask the professionals 

 

So let’s say you’re doing all of the above but still aren’t getting the result you’d hoped for, well, it may be time to speak with your GP. But before that, there are a few things you can look out for that could indicate why you and your partner aren’t conceiving as easily as you’d hoped.

 

Age is a factor in fertility, so if you’re over 36 this could be a reason why you’re finding it difficult to conceive9. Another factor could be an undiagnosed fertility related health issue such as PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) or endometriosis. If you have particularly painful periods, miss them all together or have abdominal pain, consult your GP so they can run tests – they’re here to help10. There could also be an undetected infection at play, is it possible you could have an STD such as Chlamydia11? Be sure you get tested so you can start medical treatment.

 

It is also worth noting, it takes two to tango. Has your partner had his sperm count checked recently or indeed the quality of that count? Ensuring you both take responsibility for your own health will allow you to face your journey head on together.

Couple holding hands

Fear not, you have options!

 

If you’ve been trying for a baby for 1-2 years without success, your GP may offer you fertility treatment. There are three main treatment options available, each of which will depend what’s causing your fertility issues12. For example, your GP may offer you medication and hormonal treatment to improve your ovulation. Or, tests could show particular internal blockages or growths which surgery could remove. Finally there are two assisted conception options including intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilisation (IVF)

But it’s important to remember there are a myriad of reasons why you may be struggling to conceive and, many more couples go through this than you think. Always remember to talk to someone and if you need any further support our 24/7 counselling services are there for you. Alternatively, a 24/7 video GP service is included in our health plans if you need advice and reassurance. 

Woman with arms around two friends on a hike

 

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Other articles around women's health, including menopause and pelvic health, written with the support of the Lady Garden Foundation.