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Can You Increase Fertility?

Feb 21, 2022 | 2 minutes Read

When you look at the many factors which are important for a successful conception, it's a wonder human are able to reproduce at all. Male and female fertility both rely on a delicate balance of hormones. These can be influenced by environmental factors ranging from the food we eat to toxins in the environment, age, stress and other emotions, illness, physical activity even the temperature.

One of the key factors which women can do to increase fertility is to be aware of their usual cycle and the influence of external factors. For men, an understanding of their own fertility and steps to better sperm health are also a critical component of increasing a couple's fertility.

So, can  fertility be increased? If so, what can you do to increase your fertility?

The 3-month lag in increasing male fertility

Sperm takes around 3months to develop in the testes before traveling through the epididymis, where it matures over 2 to 10 days. During ejaculation, sperm are transported to the urethra where they combine with seminal fluid from seminal vesicles, the prostate, and Cowper's glands.

Activities and environmental influences during this window of time can affect the quality of sperm produced over the next 3 months.

No need to spend big to increase your fertility

Trying to get pregnant can be an exciting, emotional, and, at times, traumatic journey. Couples who are going through this experience can feel very vulnerable. In this instant-gratification society, if you don’t get pregnant in one to two months, it could be easy to reach for the credit card and try to buy your way to increased fertility.

Just be aware that you may be feeling a little sensitive at this time and so it's probably even more important to check for evidence before signing up for any too-good-to-be-true fertility deals.

There are many, many websites, advertisements, and services that offer all sorts of amazing products that promise to increase fertility using goji berries or mojo powder or the like. They all seem to involve sending a check and crossing your fingers.

It's quite possible that some of these products may actually help increase fertility, but there are lots of proven, evidence-based simple strategies that you should try first and these don’t usually cost money and might even save you some dollars.

Smoking and fertility

There is solid evidence that smoking tobacco or marijuana has a negative effect on fertility. A large number of studies have found that smoking has an adverse effect on both male and female fertility.

In women, cigarette smoking can disrupt egg maturation, follicle development, ovulation frequency and fertilization rates, with eggs exposed to nicotine having higher levels of chromosomal abnormalities. Smokers also have increased rates of miscarriage and less success of a positive pregnancy with in vitro fertilization (IVF).

In men, smoking lowers sperm count and motility and has been found to increase abnormalities of sperm shape and function.

Alcohol and fertility

Even relatively small amounts of alcohol can have an adverse effect on both male and female fertility.

Moderate to high levels of alcohol consumption in women is linked to increased miscarriage risks, hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian dysfunction, ovulation dysfunction, luteal phase defect and abnormal development of the endometrial lining.

Moderate to high levels of alcohol consumption in men is linked to abnormal liver function, raised estrogen levels that interfere with sperm development, and a significant drop in sperm numbers.

Caffeine and fertility

There are a number of studies that show direct links between high levels of daily caffeine consumption—more than 300mg a day—and low fertility in both males and females. And continued high intake of caffeine during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage.

Many fertility experts suggest that couples who are keen to get pregnant cut caffeine from their diets.

Healthy diets increase fertility

Try to stick to a balanced diet that follows the healthy diet principles of loads of fruit and vegetables, particularly green leafy vegetables and legumes; low-GI complex carbohydrates; and low-fat protein including meat, poultry, and fish.

Dairy appears to have positive benefits in supporting conception.

Avoid fatty foods, highly processed foods, and foods high in sugar as these can impact hormone balance.

Trans-fats may impact on fertility. These can be found in highly processed foods such as chips cooked in fat, some highly processed cereals, pastries and pies, some cakes, and even pizza.

While fish can be an important part of a healthy diet, increasing levels of toxins and heavy metals may make some fish a risky food choice when you are trying to maximize your fertility.

Smaller fish like sardines and anchovies tend to have a lower risk of toxins and are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids but larger fish like shark (often called flake) can be higher in heavy metals like mercury.

Avoid soft drinks and high levels of coffee and tea. Herbal teas and water are the best drinks when trying to conceive. Fruit juice is high in fructose which can interfere with the sensitivities of insulin and other hormone balances.

Chemicals and fertility

Check your cleaning cupboard. If you're an enthusiastic user of chemical cleaners, this could be a good time to switch to low-toxin or more natural products.

Avoid using pesticide sprays in particular. Try a fly swat and liberal doses of harmless pest-deterrents like lemon oil, citrus, and cloves. The catnip plant makes a good roach deterrent, especially when brewed into a cockroach herbal tea that can be sprayed at points of entry.

Physical fitness and fertility

The human body is a complex creature. Not enough physical exercise can reduce fertility in both males and females, but too much activity will also have a negative effect on fertility. Aim for a healthy balance of diet, exercise, sleep, and activity. Speak with your healthcare provider if you have any individual concerns which you feel may be impacting your fertility.

The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.