While conceiving a child is a natural process, there are several factors that can impact fertility. The good news is that there are a few steps you can take right now that have been shown to enhance your fertility and increase your chances of successful conception. These 9 top science-backed tips are a great place to start if you want to improve your reproductive health and maximise your chances of starting a family.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight: One of the key factors that can influence fertility is body weight (1). Both being overweight and underweight can disrupt the delicate hormonal balance in the body, affecting ovulation and sperm production. It is crucial to maintain a healthy weight by following a balanced diet and engaging in regular physical activity. Consult with a healthcare professional or a nutritionist to determine the appropriate weight range for your body type.
- Adopt a Nutrient-Rich Diet: A well-balanced diet plays a vital role in promoting fertility (2). Include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats in your meals. Opt for foods rich in antioxidants (such as berries, leafy greens, and nuts) that help protect reproductive cells from damage caused by free radicals. Additionally, ensure you're getting enough vitamins and minerals, especially folate, iron, zinc, and vitamin D, which are essential for reproductive health.
- Stay Hydrated: Proper hydration is essential for optimal cervical fluid production which helps transport and nourish sperm, creating a favourable environment for sperm survival and movement towards the egg. It also ensures adequate blood supply to the uterus and for men, dehydration can lead to a decrease in semen volume, affecting sperm concentration and motility.
- Reduce Caffeine and Alcohol intake: Excessive caffeine intake has been associated with decreased fertility. Limit your caffeine consumption to moderate levels (less than 200 mg per day) or consider switching to decaffeinated options (3). Similarly, excessive alcohol consumption can have detrimental effects on fertility, so it's advisable to moderate or eliminate alcohol intake while trying to conceive (4).
- Manage Stress Levels: High levels of stress can disrupt the hormonal balance in the body, potentially affecting fertility. Incorporate stress management techniques into your daily routine, such as exercise, meditation, deep breathing exercises, or engaging in activities you enjoy. Seek support from friends, family, or a professional counsellor if you feel overwhelmed (5).
- Regular Exercise: Engaging in regular physical activity offers numerous benefits for fertility. Exercise helps maintain a healthy weight, improves blood circulation, reduces stress levels, and promotes hormonal balance. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. However, avoid excessive exercise, as it may have the opposite effect on fertility (6).
- Quit Smoking: Smoking has been linked to decreased fertility in both men and women. If you smoke, consider quitting or seek professional help to quit. Smoking not only reduces the chances of successful conception but also increases the risk of miscarriage and other complications during pregnancy (4).
- Get Sufficient Sleep: Adequate sleep is crucial for maintaining hormonal balance and overall well-being. Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night. Establish a consistent sleep schedule and create a relaxing bedtime routine to improve your sleep hygiene (7).
- Visit a Healthcare Professional: If you have been trying to conceive without success for an extended period (usually one year, or 6 months if you’re 35+), it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional who specialises in fertility. They can assess your individual situation, provide guidance, and offer appropriate medical interventions if necessary.
Enhancing fertility involves adopting a holistic approach to reproductive health. By following these science-backed tips, you can create a fertile environment for conception and increase your chances of starting a family.
Remember that every individual's journey is unique, and it's important to seek professional guidance and support.
- Best, D., Avenell, A., & Bhattacharya, S. (2017). How effective are weight-loss interventions for improving fertility in women and men who are overweight or obese? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the evidence. Human reproduction update, 23(6), 681–705. https://doi.org/10.1093/humupd/dmx027
- Łakoma, K., Kukharuk, O., & Śliż, D. (2023). The Influence of Metabolic Factors and Diet on Fertility. Nutrients, 15(5), 1180.
- Bu, F. L., Feng, X., Yang, X. Y., Ren, J., & Cao, H. J. (2020). Relationship between caffeine intake and infertility: a systematic review of controlled clinical studies. BMC women's health, 20(1), 125. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12905-020-00973-z
- de Angelis, C., Nardone, A., Garifalos, F., Pivonello, C., Sansone, A., Conforti, A., Di Dato, C., Sirico, F., Alviggi, C., Isidori, A., Colao, A., & Pivonello, R. (2020). Smoke, alcohol and drug addiction and female fertility. Reproductive biology and endocrinology : RB&E, 18(1), 21. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12958-020-0567-7
- Rooney, K. L., & Domar, A. D. (2018). The relationship between stress and infertility. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 20(1), 41–47. https://doi.org/10.31887/DCNS.2018.20.1/klrooney
- Xie, F., You, Y., Guan, C. et al. (2022) Association between physical activity and infertility: a comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis. J Transl Med 20, 237. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12967-022-03426-3
- Zhao, F., Hong, X., Wang, W., Wu, J., & Wang, B. (2022). Effects of physical activity and sleep duration on fertility: A systematic review and meta-analysis based on prospective cohort studies. Frontiers in public health, 10, 1029469. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2022.1029469