Lose weight, don’t lose too much. Cut back calories, keep well nourished. Avoid gluten, eat plenty of wholegrains. Exercise, don’t exercise too much. When you’re trying to conceive the information can be overwhelming, conflicting and confusing!
Here we summaries some simple changes you can adopt to help improve your chances of falling pregnant.
Exercise is important when you’re trying to conceive, for both men and women, but over doing it can impair your chances of conception. So what is the best exercise to boost your chances of conceiving and carrying a healthy baby?
As with most things in life, both extremes can be detrimental to fertility and your health in general.
High impact training can reduce the body’s ability to produce progesterone, a hormone that is critical for ovulation. Extremely athletic women also often have greatly reduced levels of body fat. Low body fat reduces estrogen levels, which can lead to irregular or complete loss of the menstrual cycle as well as irregular or absence of ovulation.
Women participating in regular high intensity, strenuous exercise show increased levels of the stress hormone, cortisol levels (as found in those with high stress levels) and reduced thyroid hormones. Both of these factors can reduce fertility as well as affecting overall hormone balance.
However, before you throw out your trainers, at the other extreme, very little exercise also negatively impacts your ability to conceive. Just as women with very little body fat, may suffer from reduced estrogen production, those who carry excess body fat may experience increased estrogen production. This can have the same negative affect on the menstrual cycle as lack of estrogen, causing irregular or loss of periods as well as irregular or absence of ovulation.
Similarly, lack of exercise can increase cortisol levels in the same way as high level exercise. This high cortisol levels keeps your body in a constant ‘stressed’ state, which is not conducive to falling pregnant.
So what is the ‘right amount’ of exercise? There is actually no finite definition of exactly how many hours and how much intensity is optimal for each individual. However, most specialists agree that 30 minutes of activity 3 – 4 times per week is a great step towards boosting fertility. For those who already participate in slightly more than this, that’s likely to be fine, however if you are exceeding 7 hours per week it would be wise to consider cutting back. If you’re concerned whether you’re over or under doing it, it’s best to speak with your Health Care Professional about the level they suggest would be best for you.
Healthy exercise activities include
- brisk walking
- leisurely bike riding
- light aerobics
Activities to avoid include
- marathon running/training
- daily ‘boot camp’
- daily strenuous sports
- heavy weight lifting
- any exercise over an hour in duration more than 7 times per week
Diet is becomes very important when trying to fall pregnant. No only does diet assist in maintaining a healthy weight, it also provides essential nutrients vital to help improve egg quality, support sperm health, assist fertilisation, support uterine health and the progression of a healthy pregnancy and baby. We wouldn’t pump poor quality fuel into our cars and expect them to run efficiently. Yet as human beings, many of us continually pump poor quality fuel into our bodies and wonder why we’re feeling sluggish and our body isn’t functioning as well as it should.
A healthy diet is crucial to overall health and fertility specifically. Even dating back to ancient times, women trying to fall pregnant were fed increased amount of nutrient rich foods. Today’s research supports this practice with studies now showing that what we eat prior to pregnancy not only increases the chances of conceiving and carrying a healthy baby, but may also have a greater impact on the long term health and disease predisposition than genetics.
There are also key nutrients which you should aim to include in your diet daily. These nutrients are key to your ability to conceive and carry a baby. Without adequate supply of these essential nutrients your body cannot sustain a pregnancy (Watch the Key Nutrients Webinar here).
For more information, menu plans and recipes to help improve your chances of falling pregnant click here for your free introduction to the Fertility Diet (book and kindle edition). You can also enjoy our free superfood recipes including dishes from wellness chef and Conceive Baby contributor Tony Chiodo.
For those with health conditions affecting their fertility, The Fertility Diet including menu plans and recipes have been specifically designed to support these conditions. You can also read more about diet and lifestyle factors to support health conditions below.
If you suffer with endometriosis specific dietary choices can help to ease the inflammation and congestion associated with endometriosis. You can read more about dietary recommendations for endometriosis here.