Whether you’re planning to start a family in the immediate future or are still in the “someday” phase, you may have questions about your fertility. Will you be able to conceive a child when you’re ready to start trying? Fertility is a complex issue, impacted by many different factors. Let’s take a closer looks at the issue of female fertility, along with some simple measures you can take to improve your chances of conception.
The 411 on Female Fertility
The Mayo Clinic defines female fertility as “a woman’s ability to conceive a biological child.” When is it time to question your fertility, according to Mayo? If you’ve been regularly trying to get pregnant for at least a year with no success. (If you’re past the age of 35, the cut-off is six months.) Age, as well as a number of different medical factors — related to ovulation, your uterus, the fallopian tubes, and the uterine lining — can also negatively affect your fertility.
Healthy Lifestyle, Improved Fertility?
While some factors related to fertility are beyond your control, certain lifestyle choices can have a direct influence on your ability to conceive. Both overweight and underweight women face fertility challenges due to hormonal issues which interfere with ovulations. Keeping within a healthy weight helps regulate ovulation and increases your chances of getting pregnant.
While researchers are still working to identify the best diet for improving fertility and conception, this much is clear: a healthy diet plays a significant role in promoting fertility. Just how important is diet? Harvard’s Nurses’ Health Study II, a peak into women’s health issues in this country, concluded that women who followed healthy diets were six times more likely to ovulate and be fertile. A healthy diet was further linked with decreasing other causes of infertility, including endometriosis.
So what foods are recommended? The 2007 book, The Fertility Diet prescribes avoiding trans-fats, limiting saturated fats, choosing whole grains, opting for vegetable proteins over animal proteins, and using fruits, veggies, beans and supplements as an iron source.
In addition to good nutrition, it’s also important to take a prenatal vitamin containing folic acid — a valuable part of ensuring your baby’s good health.
Other lifestyle factors which promote fertility include not smoking, cutting back on caffeine and alcohol, avoiding environmental toxins, preventing STDs, managing stress, and regularly seeing your physician.
Research also indicates that stress can have a negative impact on fertility, although the results remain inconclusive. Regardless, relaxation and stress management techniques are widely considered beneficial.
The Role of Exercise
The Fertility Diet also reinforces the importance of establishing a daily exercise routine, although too much exercise can reduce your body’s production of progesterone and inhibit oblations. The Mayo Clinic recommends limiting your workouts to less than seven hours a week, although check with your doctor to confirm that this is the right amount of exercise for your particular situation.
And just think: establishing a daily exercise routine will make it that much easier to suit up for that important maternity workout when you do have a baby on board.
More than six million American women struggle with infertility every year, according to researchers at Harvard. By making healthy food choices, exercising, and adopting other healthy lifestyle behaviors, you can set yourself up for fertility success. And be sure to share this message with your fellow hopeful mamas-to-be to promote better fertility for all.
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