Research is showing that the decisions you make about your nutrition, exercise, stress, and environmental toxin exposure can influence your health and fertility. Additionally, these lifestyle factors also influence the health and development of your baby once your pregnant! While some aspects of lifestyle may not be modifiable, there are many that can be modified in order to promote health and fertility. The main factors that are influential to creating a fertile environment in both men and women include:
Eating a clean diet of organic whole foods, plenty of antioxidants in berries and a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, essential fatty acids (like those from wild salmon and cod liver oil), nuts and seeds, and protein from organic, grass-fed animals will nourish your body, support your hormones and sexual health, reduce oxidative damage and inflammation, and create a healthy, well-functioning system that is ready to support new life. Strengthening your digestive integrity with organic whole foods is a foundational step to supporting your body’s fertility. A strong digestive system promotes a healthy immunity. And it is essential in order to properly absorb, assimilate, and use the nutrients from your food.
Body weight can have significant effects on health, and infertility is more common in those with a BMI over 25. Excess weight can be especially problematic for men because adipose tissue produces estrogen hormones and can thus disrupt the high testosterone levels that promote the growth of virulent and highly mobile sperm.
A healthy amount of physical activity promotes fertility in men and women. Being active, getting your lymphatic system circulating, exercising your heart, and strengthening your muscles all promote your health and therefore work to tonify your body and prepare for pregnancy and raising a child.
Psychological and physical stressors
While stress seems to be unavoidable (infertility itself is stressful!), it is in your best interest to find ways to manage your stress and not let it wear you down. In fact, research shows that successful fertilization of female eggs decreases when the woman is dealing with too much stress and no way to manage it.
Cigarette smoking, coffee and alcohol
Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals and is associated with numerous health conditions. Smoking negatively impacts the DNA of sperm in men and may decrease ovarian function, hormone levels, and menstruation in women.
Drug use (both prescription and recreational)
Not all medications have been tested for their influence on fertility, but some examples of pharmaceutical medications that can negatively influence fertility include antibiotics, antidepressants and antipsychotics, antiepileptics, anti-hypertensives, opiates, and even non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil. Research is not well funded on the influence of recreational drugs on fertility, but common drugs like cannabis and cocaine do negatively influence hormones, ability of sperm to travel through the oviduct, and male production of sperm. Cannabis has been shown to disrupt the development of the brain and nervous system, predisposing the baby to neuropsychiatric illness later in life. Avoiding all pharmaceutical and recreational drugs (even coffee, tea, and alcohol) will allow your body to maintain optimal hormone levels and foster a strong reproductive system, thereby supporting fertility.
Exposure to toxins in the home and work environments
Air pollution, cleaning supplies, pesticides, personal care products, exposure to heavy metals, plastic components such as phthalates and BPA, and Teflon-coated cookware, can be contributing factors to infertility. Toxic chemicals in the environment may lead to inflammation, damage to sperm DNA, altered hormone levels, and issues regulating weight and metabolic factors. Therefore it is critical to use non-toxic products for home and personal use, eat organic food free of pesticides, cleanse your body before trying to conceive, remove all amalgam fillings, drink clean water, and avoid EMF radiation from Wi-Fi and cell phones as much as possible.
Transitioning your daily habits to be health-promoting will not only lead to your health improving, but it will create a fertile body ready for raising a baby.