There are fertility tips couples can implement to improve their fertility.
Contrary to popular opinion fertility is not just about having a balanced diet. Other important points include sports activities, avoiding toxins in the environment and optimal positions during sex.
Regularly participating in a sporting activity can have a positive impact on the fertility of both partners. Light endurance training and more moderate athletic sports get your circulation going and can help to regulate your hormone production. Exercise increases endorphin levels, making you happier and more confident. And of course it helps to lose excess weight, which can sometimes have a negative effect on a person’s fertility.
How to start training
Couch potatoes can improve their fertility by beginning slowly, for example by going for a fast walk, slow jogging, or swimming twice a week.
Aim to make just small changes to your everyday life. These can include taking the stairs instead of the lift, riding a bike instead of taking the car to go shopping, and going for a short walk during your lunch break.
Over time you will gain momentum and the many small changes will add up to have many positive health effects in your life.
It is very important that the exercise programme is tailored to your individual capabilities. Only take part in a type and level of sport that you enjoy.
Make sure your training does not affect your fertility
In extreme endurance sports heat can become a problem and interfere with the sperm production process in the testicles. It is important to wear comfortable sports clothing which is not too tight, to make sure that the testicles are not pressed against the body too closely.
When cycling, men should avoid using saddles which are hard and narrow.
Keep an eye on your weight
Ensuring you have a normal BMI and favourable body composition through regular exercise will help both partners to improve their fertility. Even if you lose just a little excess weight, your statistical chances of having a child will increase.
Be wary of extreme crash-diets, because they can disturb the hormonal balance and cause an undersupply of important nutrients in the body.
Weight and male fertility
A high BMI is also negatively impacts male fertility. Overweight men are more likely to have a lower sperm count (quantity), as well as poorer sperm quality compared to men with a normal BMI1.
This is caused by a hormone imbalance and negatively affected blood circulation, affecting the blood supply to the reproductive organs.
For men being underweight is associated with nutritional deficiencies, which is highly likely to result in infertility due to a lack of important micro nutrients.
Weight and female fertility
Studies have shown that women with a BMI (body mass index) value of over 30 are treated for infertility significantly more frequently than women with a BMI value between 20 and 252. One of the reasons for this is that obese women are more commonly affected by polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)3.
This condition involves the presence large number of harmless cysts (fluid filled sacs) developing in a woman’s ovaries. These may be unable to release an egg, impairing the woman’s ability to ovulate. Furthermore, the woman’s hormonal balance may be compromised, for example as a result of blood sugar spikes.
Since oestrogen is not only formed in the ovaries but also in adipose (fat tissue) cells4. An oversupply of oestrogen from fat cells may therefore cause an overall hormone imbalance, which fertility scientists suspect could contribute to infertility5.
Excess adipose tissue also negatively affects circulation across the entire body, including the uterus. This can be detrimental when attempting to conceive, because the uterine region requires large amounts of nutrients to initiate pregnancy.
A BMI (Body Mass Index) value below 18 can also cause problems in couples who want to have a child.
This is because a woman’s body does not have enough energy reserves to go through pregnancy6. As a result, the body may adjust its rate of egg production, which results in absent or delayed menstrual cycles.
Amino acids and antioxidants can improve male fertility by 400%
Combined micronutrients as well as single, high dose regimens of aminoacids have proven very effective in increasing semen quality. The amino acid L-Arginine can directly affect male fertility and quadruple it by improving sperm volume and morphology (% normal shapes), which has been demonstrated in a number of American studies7 8. The core components in semen, the polyamines spermine and spermidine, contain a high proportion of Arginine.
L-Arginine also affects male fertility indirectly by improving erectile function and the overall health of the aspiring father. Arginine is sometimes found in male fertility food supplements.
Psychological stress can disrupt the hormonal balance in both men and women and has been specifically researched as a cause for idiopathic (unexplained) male infertility9. Therefore it is recommended that couples who want a child regularly treat themselves by taking time-outs more frequently, to help reduce any stress and pressure they may feel.
Relaxation exercises such as yoga and meditation, ensuring a non-hectic schedule, a romantic meal or a wellness weekend can be very beneficial for both partners and help to reignite a couple’s feelings for each other.
The couple should enjoy this special time for each other. Once the pregnancy is successful, they will have a lot less time for each other for many, many years to come.
Get enough sleep
A long-term sleep deficiency will lead to hormonal imbalances, which will have a negative effect on a number of bodily functions. As stress and cortisol levels increase, the fertility levels of both men10 and women11 drop. Couple’s planning to conceive must therefore make sure that they get enough sleep.
Sleep and male fertility
Sleep and female fertility
Stop contraception early
Theoretically, a woman is able to become pregnant immediately after she stops using contraceptives. Studies have shown that a woman’s cycle is statistically likely to return to normal within the following three months, although sometimes it can take much less time than this.
After coming off the contraceptive pill, it is very difficult to predict when a woman will become fully fertile again. This depends largely on the lifestyle and health profile of the individual.
It is thought that Agnus Castus can help a woman return back to regular menstrual cycles following long-term use of the pill.
Don’t abuse substances
Caffeine and female fertility
Numerous studies have attempted to investigate the effects of caffeine on female fertility15, but the results are inconclusive.
After evaluating all of the evidence, the US based organisation ‘Teratology Information Services’ recommends that all women who want to have a child consume no more than approximately 200 mg of caffeine a day. This is around two cups of coffee. Caffeine in other products such as Coca Cola, chocolate and black tea is included, which can result in the recommended daily limit being reached quickly.
The mechanisms through which coffee consumption can have a negative effect on female fertility are still unknown. Experts suspect that caffeine disrupts the balance of hormones.
Caffeine and male fertility
Whilst the liver is breaking down alcohol, it is unable to carry out other functions such as converting oestrogen into its waste products at the same time. This leads to an excess of the female sex hormone, which can have negative effects on fertility both in men and women18.
Long-term alcohol abuse in men can result in irreversible negative effects on sperm quality19.
It is still not clear whether occasionally drinking alcohol also damages fertility. Therefore experts recommend that when hoping for a child, you should only drink alcohol a maximum of three times a week. If you want to be on the safe side and maximise your chances, refrain from drinking alcohol altogether.
Smoking has a negative impact on the fertility of both men and women. Numerous studies have found that the sperm cells of smokers are less effective at fertilising egg cells, die more quickly and are less mobile20.
Both sperm count and normal shapes (morphology) are affected the more a man smokes.
In women, smoking has multiple negative effects on fertility as a result of impaired blood circulation. It negatively affects both the production of hormones and the implantation in the uterus21.
Even passive smoking can reduce fertility. Pregnant women who smoke have a higher risk of miscarriage. In addition to this, babies born to mothers who smoked during pregnancy have a worse general state of health than the babies of non- smokers. Therefore it is highly recommended that women stop smoking if they are trying to have a child.
Illegal drugs can have numerous harmful effects, one of which is reduced fertility.
Consuming illegal substances should therefore be out of the question for both partners when trying to have a baby, during pregnancy and after the birth of the child.
A study found that cannabis reduces the number and motility of sperm cells in the ejaculate22. Also the number of sperm cells with malformations was found to be higher than average.
This damage was shown to be long-term as even after several months of abstinence, normal levels were still not achieved23.
Cocaine and other substances have similar effects on fertility. In the worst case scenario, drugs can damage the genetic material in sperm and egg cells. Therefore if a parent takes drugs, this can have a hugely damaging impact on the long-term development of a child.
Experiments on mice have shown that when a female takes marijuana shortly after fertilisation occurs, this can result in far-reaching developmental disorders in her male offspring24. The action of the psychoactive component of marijuana also results in numerous egg cells dying whilst travelling towards the uterus, or becoming incorrectly implanted in the fallopian tubes.
When a pregnancy occurs outside of the uterus this is known as an ectopic or tubal pregnancy, and it can have life-threatening consequences for the mother25.
Medication, which interferes with the delicate balance of hormones in the human body can reduce fertility. The list is long and includes many psychotropic drugs, cortisone, blood pressure medication and anabolic steroids. Cancer drugs can cause lasting infertility.
Make sure you have a discussion with your doctor about whether any medications you may be taking regularly can interfere with your fertility. If this is the case, with the guidance of your doctor you will need to look into the possible alternatives.
Reduce all pollutants
Studies have repeatedly shown that a variety of pollutants have a negative effect on the fertility of men and women. Heavy metals in food, dust and water are just as dangerous as pesticides and plasticizers.
For example, male agricultural workers who come directly into contact with pesticides have been shown to have abnormalities in their sperm quality significantly more frequently than other men26.
Many substances which are synthetically produced bear a chemical resemblance to oestrogen. In the worst case scenario this can cause the male hormonal balance to be disrupted, which can negatively affect both the quality and the quantity of sperm produced.
They can also result in reduced fertility levels in women. Even just the air around us is loaded with numerous harmful substances from furniture, wall paints, decorative items and packaging. So it is impossible to protect yourself from them completely.
By following a few rules, you can minimise the number of pollutants that you come into contact with through the air, skin and food.
More frequent and passionate sex
For a long time experts disagreed over whether you should remain for several days abstinent before a woman is in her fertile phase. However, it was found that having sex more frequently actually resulted in better quality sperm29.
When a woman is in the mood for sex, the vaginal secretions help the sperm to reach their destination. Keep in mind that unless specified otherwise lubricants and creams usually includes substances that can harm the sperm cells.
Assume the optimum sex position
The missionary position is the optimal position to conceive a child. The penis can penetrate quite far into the vagina and the sperm cells are less likely to leak out.
It is recommended that the woman stays lying on her back for a few minutes after having had sex and raise her pelvis a little higher than the rest of her body using a pillow. This is because the cervix and uterus are found at an angle below the vagina, so gravity can help facilitate the transport of sperm cells.
Also when a partner penetrates the woman’s vagina from behind, while they lie on their stomach with their knees slightly bent, many more sperm cells are able to reach the uterus. This happens because in this position, the penis can penetrate far into the vagina so that the path of the sperm cells to the uterus is shortened.
All positions which involve sitting or standing are unsuitable when trying to conceive a child. This is because a large amount of sperm will leak out of the vagina due to the force of gravity. This results in relatively few sperm cells reaching the uterus, which statistically reduces the likelihood of a woman becoming pregnant.
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- Heine PA, Taylor JA, Iwamoto GA, Lubahn DB, Cooke PS. Increased adipose tissue in male and female estrogen receptor-alpha knockout mice. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2000. 97(23): 12729-12734 ↩
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