As you navigate through the journey of trying to conceive, it's natural to feel overwhelmed and uncertain about what may be hindering your chances of getting pregnant. That's why we're here to shed light on some everyday factors that you may not have considered, but could be playing a major role in your fertility. So, grab a cup of tea and get ready to dive into this engaging discussion on how to improve your odds of conceiving.
1. How Poor Nutrition and Diet impacts your fertility
A diet rich in processed foods can impact fertility negatively. These foods are often laden with additives and high-calorie content, fostering inflammation in the body. They offer scant nutritional value, which is critical for reproductive health. Furthermore, their frequent consumption can contribute to a higher Body Mass Index (BMI), adversely affecting crucial fertility indicators.
Excessive sugar intake - this can trigger major fluctuations in blood sugar levels, initiating an amplified insulin reaction. This metabolic disruption may have a ripple effect on our reproductive hormones, manifesting as irregular menstrual cycles, non-existent ovulation, and suboptimal egg and sperm quality, impinging on overall fertility.
Lack of nutrients, often seen in strict dietary regimens like veganism or other extreme diets that eliminate entire food groups, can lead to macro and micronutrient deficiencies, impeding fertility. Such dietary restrictions require smart eating habits and potential supplementation to prevent deprivation of key nutrients essential for optimising fertility.
Lack of diversity in your diet - repeatedly consuming identical foods can curtail variety in micronutrient intake, resulting in nutrient deficits and disrupting gut and vaginal microbiome health, creating hormonal imbalances. Broadening the scope of food types, particularly fruits and vegetables of varying colours, can significantly enhance fertility potential. The emphasis should be on a rainbow diet for a favourable fertility outcome.
2. Sedentary Lifestyle and Lack of exercise
Adopting a sedentary lifestyle - prolonged periods of inactivity can significantly contribute to an increase in BMI. This higher BMI can adversely affect both egg and sperm health, hindering fertility. It can also provoke habitual snacking, lead to diminished energy levels and productivity, and negatively impact sexual drive.
Frequent, strenuous workouts, such as intense HIIT sessions or sustained endurance training, can increase cortisol levels, causing inflammation. Continuous strenuous exercise without adequate rest and recovery exacerbates the stress response. A very low BMI can negatively influence sex hormones and menstrual cycles, thus decreasing chances of conception.
Moderation and balance are key for optimal health and fertility.
Not achieving the recommended 10,000 steps a day can impact fertility. A balance is needed, rather than spending all day sedentary, followed by a burst of gym activity. Low impact activities such as walking, spread out throughout the day, offer fertility benefits. Regular, light movements improve weight control, glucose management, cognitive function, energy levels, and overall health.
Incorporating calming exercises such as yoga into your routine serves as an effective stress relief tool. These restorative workouts aid in relaxation and mental disengagement, creating a balanced and serene mental state beneficial for fertility.
3. Chronic Stress
Long-term stress can severely impact our reproductive health. It can virtually shut down our reproductive system, dramatically increase inflammation in our bodies, and interfere with essential hormones such as progesterone in women and testosterone in men.
Having a good work/life balance is crucial. Without downtime from work-related stresses, it's vital to carve out daily moments to connect with loved ones, rejuvenating mentally and emotionally for overall well-being.
One way to alleviate stress is through daily engagement in calming activities you find enjoyable. By dedicating just 5-10 minutes a day to practices such as painting, gardening, or simply breathing exercises, you encourage a shift from a 'fight or flight' mode to a 'rest and digest' state, which aids in regulating and balancing your reproductive system.
Strive to incorporate a single mindfulness activity into your daily routine - be it yoga, a nature walk, expressive writing, meditation, savouring music, engrossing yourself in a good book, or a relaxing bath.
4. Lack of sleep and hormone imbalance
Understanding what constitutes a healthy circadian rhythm is essential. It begins with a surge of cortisol in the morning to prompt wakefulness and encourage us to rise. This should then lead into stable production of serotonin, our mood-enhancing hormone, throughout the day.
As evening approaches, these serotonin levels should trigger the production of melatonin, making us feel tired and ready for sleep.
However, an overactive lifestyle often induces excessive cortisol spikes during the day and into the evening, which disrupts this rhythm and negatively impacts both our mood and sleep quality. Activities like checking work emails, indulging in social media or watching TV incessantly create information overload.
This triggers cortisol spikes that disrupt serotonin and melatonin levels, leading to a delayed bedtime. Implement a fixed sleep schedule, adhering to it daily. Try incorporating relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga before bedtime. These activities help in unwinding, reduce cortisol levels, and foster a state conducive to quality sleep. * Refrain from eating at least 2 hours before bedtime since digestion can induce alertness, thus hindering sleep onset. Also, avoid intake of caffeine or alcohol near bedtime as they can interfere with your sleep rhythm.
5. Harmful Environmental Toxins
Every day, we're subjected to numerous external toxins - including air pollution, insecticides, plastic materials, beauty products containing phthalates, various medications, and more. Regrettably, these substances can disrupt our endocrine system, causing hormone imbalances that may potentially affect our fertility.
Consequently, it's imperative we reduce our exposure to such harmful substances. It's crucial to understand that these toxins can be everywhere, from the food we eat to the air we breathe, creating an inescapable cycle of exposure. Simple changes to our lifestyle can have profound effects, ensuring a safer, toxin-free environment.
Top tips for reducing environmental toxins
Implement practical steps like discarding plastic materials and opting for alternatives such as glass or stainless steel for storing food and beverages.
Consider wooden utensils over plastic ones and avoid using non-stick cookware due to their harmful properties.
Moreover, be mindful of the types of clothing and textiles you buy, as some fabrics undergo treatments with harsh chemicals. When redecorating, opt for eco-friendly, low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) paints to reduce toxin exposure.
Drink filtered water to ensure you are not ingesting toxins often found in unfiltered tap water. Maintaining a well-hydrated body can also promote a healthy reproductive system.
Invest in organic where possible such as opting for organically grown fruits and vegetables, which are produced without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilisers.
Organic meat and dairy are also a good choice as they come from animals that have been reared without the routine use of antibiotics, growth hormones or genetically modified feed.
Try and replace your beauty and cleaning products with alternatives that use more natural ingredients .These alternatives often have fewer harsh chemicals and toxins, offering a gentler approach for your skin and home whilst simultaneously lessening your environmental impact. Look out for brands that openly list all ingredients and commit to eco-friendly practices.
If you are concerned about your fertility and would like to speak to our fertility nutritionist then please book a free call below.
Registered Nutritional Therapist, Fertility & Pregnancy Specialist
Gail Madalena is a registered nutritional therapist specialising in fertility, pregnancy and women’s health. Her expertise lies in hormonal imbalances, such as irregular cycles, debilitating PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, thyroid issues and sub-optimal fertility. Her goal is to reduce hormonal side effects and symptoms by addressing the root cause of the issue. Gail helps couples optimise your nutrition and lifestyle choices, supporting you on your journey to achieving a healthy pregnancy.