There are a wide range of factors that can contribute to infertility in both men and women. Serious natural fertility problems can’t be healed through changes to diet or alternative therapies alone. However, it is possible to have a positive impact on fertility through leading a healthy lifestyle.
This may include combining nutrient-rich foods or dietary supplements with alternative medicine, exercise and other positive modifications to your daily routine. These lifestyle changes complement other treatments and can significantly increase the potential to fall pregnant and start a family.
One of the great benefits of making adjustments to your lifestyle to aid fertility is that there are no adverse side effects. In fact, your general well-being can be improved dramatically, so that you can benefit across the board from changing your habits.
The importance of a healthy and balanced diet to improve fertility should not be underestimated. Your body needs an adequate supply of nutrients and vitamins in order to support the healthy development of the foetus and without this nutrition it can be difficult to conceive. If your body is malnourished you may suffer from amenorrhea.
Amenorrhea is the medical term for the absence of menstruation and is common in people who suffer from serious eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. While these are extreme conditions, lesser degrees of malnutrition can still occur in seeming healthy individuals and this can impact fertility. By having a healthy, balanced diet you can ensure that your body is receiving all the nutrients and vitamins it requires.
Women who are overweight or obese can also experience reduced fertility because of hormonal imbalances. Avoiding foods high in refined sugars and saturated fats is important. Focus your diet around whole foods and fresh fruit and vegetables. Try to limit meat to only two or three times a week and consume more fish and dairy products. Drink plenty of water and avoid caffeine as much as possible.
For individuals that have allergies to certain foods or may not be receiving a balanced diet, it’s recommended that you take appropriate dietary supplements rich in vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. Many vitamins play a crucial role in the development of female sex hormones associated with oocyte maturation and the implantation in the uterus. Particularly important are B vitamins niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and folic acid (B9), also vitamin C, E, and beta carotene, the precursor of vitamin A.
Today many women lead very busy lifestyles and achieving a balanced diet can be difficult. There is often a lack of time to prepare fresh fruit and vegetables. This means that many people have a diet rich in highly processed foods that lack essential vitamins. Furthermore, it has been found repeatedly in studies that the vitamin content of fruits and vegetables over the last 20 years have declined by up to 30%. This is thought to be a result of current cropping methods and our reliance on high-yield varieties that are not necessarily the most nutritious.
One key vitamin is folic acid. Not only is it essential for fertility, it’s also plays a critical role in early embryonic development. Doctors recommend that all women planning on starting a family take folic acid as a dietary supplement prior to conception and throughout the first few months of pregnancy.
Caution should be taken with vitamin A supplements. Although vitamin A is essential for life, too high a dose can harm the embryo. Women who want children should eat liver or take cod liver oil in moderation. While supplements containing vitamin A are still acceptable, it’s important to only take small doses in accordance with proper medical advice.
Two highly recommended nutritional supplements for women wanting to conceive are All-Natural Feminine Vitality and Orthomol Natal. Orthomol is more widely available, while Feminine Vitality is less expensive and also contains omega 3 fatty acids. Both are great options to help improve well-being and enhance fertility. There are also similar products directed towards improving male fertility, such as Vitality M Forte. Originally designed to treat erectile dysfunction, this natural supplement also increases the number of healthy sperm.
Exercise & Sport
Staying physically fit is important for your health and has a positive effect on fertility. Moderate exercise regulates insulin secretion, which helps to maintain hormone balance. Regular jogging, walking, and swimming are some activities that can help you stay fit.
Yoga and tai chi are great options if you want to combine fitness and relaxation. There are several branches of yoga that focus on women’s health. Hormone yoga can be particularly helpful. Originally designed for women experiencing menopause, this yoga also helps to regulate the activity of the ovaries and can increase fertility. Luna Yoga is another type of yoga that focuses on the menstrual cycle, physical well-being and activating the self-healing powers of woman. While these branches of yoga may not be for everyone, many women do find them helpful.
It’s important to recognise that excessive exercise can have a negative impact on fertility (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19801570). Excess exercise forces the body to use up all the reserves for regeneration, which can disrupt the hormonal balance. It’s not unusual for women who exercise excessively to stop menstruating. Stick to regular, moderate exercise regimes to help improve fertility.
Today we live in a fast-paced society and stress is often part of our daily life. Whether it’s the pressures of work, financial insecurity or some other influence, stress is hard to avoid. Unfortunately, stress can also have a negative impact on fertility through promoting hormonal imbalance.
Actively take time out to focus on yourself and relaxation. Try to concentrate on all the positive aspects of your life and avoid thinking about influences that create stress. Relaxation exercises, massage and meditation can all enhance well-being and may also help improve fertility.
Avoid Nicotine & Alcohol
It’s important if you are a smoker to cut down on the number of cigarettes you smoke daily and ideally, stop altogether. There are plenty of support programs and products available to help smokers kick the habit. Avoiding second hand smoke is also important.
Many studies have showing that the ingredients in tobacco can promote infertility. Both men and women can experience fertility problems as a result of smoking. For men the toxins can damage the gonads, interfering with the production of progesterone and preventing implantation. Women can experience a decrease in oestrogen production and a lower egg count, amongst other problems (for a summary of findings visit www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18460944, amongst others).
It is well known that consuming alcohol during pregnancy must be avoided. However, consuming alcohol can also impact fertility. Alcohol can disrupt hormonal balances in both men and women, reducing fertility and making conception difficult.
These five tips are very important steps to follow when you want to enhance your fertility. The following suggestions are also recommended, although you don’t need to adhere to them as strictly.
Avoid Environmental Toxins
We are exposed daily to a variety of environmental toxins, pesticides, heavy metals, chemical solvents and gases. They can all have a negative impact on fertility. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to escape all these environmental toxins. However, you can restrict the intake of toxins in part by washing fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly and using organic products wherever possible.
Often couples consider home renovations before starting a family, such as adding on an extension for a nursery, or re-painting or carpeting their home. While this can be a great idea, it’s also important to remember that items such as new furniture and carpets continue to release gases for many weeks. These toxins may reduce fertility. Household cleaners and cosmetics can also be harmful.
Some gynaecologists also recommend avoiding getting hair colouring treatments while trying to conceive, although previous studies have shown no effect of reducing fertility in humans (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17012331).
If you work in an environment where you handle chemicals or other toxic substances, it’s a good idea to limit your exposure a much as possible to improve fertility (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17966264). If possible, talk to your employer and find solutions to avoid toxic substances within the workplace.
Enough sleep is important for many body functions. Research has shown that fertility can be disturbed by constant lack of sleep. When the internal body clock is disrupted for long periods it can negatively impact hormone production. Studies have shown that female shift workers tend to have more irregular menstrual cycles and related fertility problems than other women (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21364464). Having a regular sleeping pattern can help you improve fertility.
Positions During Intercourse
While having sex during the ovulation period is critical to fall pregnant, favourable positions during intercourse can also help to improve the chances of fertilisation. There are positions where the sperm passes directly in front of the cervix so that the sperm can easily find their way to the egg. For example, the missionary position and penetration from behind makes it easier for the sperm to reach the cervix following ejaculation. Positions where the sperm can be easily flushed out of the vagina, such as intercourse while standing or sitting, are less desirable if you are trying to conceive.
If you use KY Jelly or other lubricants, check that they don’t contain spermicides. Ideally you want to avoid lubricant whenever possible. It’s also recommended that for about half an hour after sex that you lie on your back and elevate your pelvis slightly by placing a pillow underneath your lower back. This is to help sperm get enough time to reach in large numbers through the cervix into the uterus.
The more pleasurable sexual intercourse, the more humid is the vagina. This in turn helps the sperm on its way through the vagina and cervix. While a male orgasm is essential for pregnancy, many scientists believe that the female climax promotes fertility. This is because the resulting muscle contractions during orgasm help to mobilise sperm towards the uterus.
If you have been trying unsuccessfully to fall pregnant for a lengthy time, this can put stress and pressure on both partners during intercourse. This is especially the case if you are adhering to a strict schedule of love-making. Try to remove the stress and enjoy spending time with your partner, as well as some spontaneity.
The fertility massage is a technique with origins linked to “Creative Healing” developed by 1874 English-born Joseph B. Stephenson. It is designed to bring the hormonal cycle into balance and to purify the body. The massage technique was developed further in the 1990s by the physician, Dr. Gowri Motha. Not only does it aid in fertility, it is also considered to help with overall well-being in women. While there are not a large number of practitioners offering fertility massages, couples can learn the techniques themselves to assist with fertility.
Alternative practitioners recommend women to undergo a detox treatment. This can help to eliminate toxins which are known to reduce fertility and cause other health problems. There are plenty of different detox programs available. Most of them involve dietary changes. It’s important to seek some professional advice before launching into a detox plan, as what may be a suitable program for one person, may not necessarily be appropriate for another person.
Acupuncture has been used successfully to treat many different ailments. Today, even Western doctors recognise the benefits of this Chinese form of therapy. Some studies suggest that acupuncture may improve female fertility. It is believed that through targeted acupuncture endogenous messengers are released, which in turn positively affect the hormonal activity. Blood circulation can also be improved and this can enhance fertility.
One particular research paper has shown that women that receive acupuncture have improved fertility. Unlike the control group, significantly more women became pregnant following acupuncture treatments (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11937123). While there needs to be more in-depth studies to determine the extent of the relationship between fertility and acupuncture, the initial findings suggest that this treatment can have a positive influence.
Many women have benefited from homeopathy treatments in order enhance fertility. While there is very little scientific research available to back up these claims, homeopathic journals are filled with support for these forms of natural fertility treatments. Many cultures have traditionally used certain herbs and brews to enhance fertility, so it’s not surprising that there is support for these types of treatments. As with any form of medical intervention, it’s important to seek professional advice and weigh up the benefits and risks of the specific treatment.
While some women can fall pregnant within a month of stopping the pill, this is not typical. For many women it can take several months or even a couple of years before their natural cycles are restored. Most scientists agree that on average it takes at least three months to regain regular ovulation. You need to give your body time to adjust and settle back into its natural rhythm. If you are concerned about the impact the contraceptive pill is having on your body you may want to consider other alternatives, such as condoms.
Helping Men Enhance Fertility
Without a doubt, fertility problems are complex and can impact one or both partners. Generally, 20% percent of cases involved both partners, 40% are associated with male infertility and 40% are linked to female infertility.
While this article has focused on helping women improve their fertility, many of the tips provided can also help men. There are several natural health supplements specifically designed to help men boost sperm count, including Profertil, Orthomol Fertile and Fertilovit M Plus. Any male planning on starting a family should consider natural vitamin supplements to enhance their fertility, along with any other applicable information outlined about.
It’s important to remember that if you are having problems conceiving that you are not alone. It’s very common for couples to struggle starting a family. However, there is a wealth of information and advice available to you. Focusing on healthy living is one of the best approaches to improving fertility. Stay fit, eat well and limit your stress. There are many other supporting measures that you can take along the way, such as homeopathy, acupuncture, purification, massages and other practices. Choose what works best for you and what you are most comfortable with.
Improve your fertility with micronutrients
Several micronutrients such as vitamins, vitaminoids, amino acids and trace elements have proven themselves effective in improving sperm quantity, mobility and shape. This directly translates into better overall sperm quality and therefore a higher chance of pregnancy.
- relatively inexpensive
- effective after three to six months
- able to increase sperm motility by up to 23%, ejaculate volume by up to 33% and sperm count by up to 215%1
- without side effects
For those reasons, male fertility food supplements are most definitely recommended as the first step in the treatment of oligospermia and asthenospermia.
Also men who have not yet taken a semen analysis test will benefit from supplementing micronutrients to ensure they are able to deliver high-quality semen.
There are no contraindications or side effects to this form of natural ‘sperm boosting’.
An excellent and detailed overview of many studies can be found in Steven Sinclair’s Male Infertility: Nutritional and Environmental Considerations.
A considerable range of male fertility supplements available on the UK market.
However, the products differ widely in price and composition. Menfertility.org has compared 10 of them in terms of value for money and the nutrients they provide.
The most effective male fertility nutrients
A multitude of studies has shown that highly dosed nutrients have potentially significant impact on overall sperm quality.
Vitamin D has been shown to improve sperm count, motility and morphology6.
Vitamin B9, better known as folic acid has been shown to increase count, motility and morphology7.
Zinc improves the immune system and significantly improves sperm count in combination with folic acid8.
Sperm cells take 11 weeks to mature in the testicles. Only then they are ready for ejaculation.
If you adjust your diet today it will thus take three months for the better sperm to be ready for fertilisation.
You must therefore keep the diet or supplement on an ongoing basis – ideally until your partner is pregnant or you decide for a different treatment.
All of the male fertility supplements in our great test include several of these nutrients at once, albeit at a lower dose. This is a cost-effective and convenient way making this type of fertility therapy affordable and requiring taking only one all-in-one supplement instead of many.
To find out more about the effects of the individual nutrients and how the various supplements compare, please read menfertility.org’s male fertility supplement review.
The top male fertility supplements
- “Imhof, Martin et al., “Improvement of sperm quality after micronutritient supplementation”, e-SPEN, the European e-Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism, Epub published ahead of print.” ↩
- “http://www.altmedrev.com/publications/5/1/28.pdf” ↩
- “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7701414” ↩
- “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12568837” ↩
- “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8085668” ↩
- “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21427118” ↩
- “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20978181” ↩
- “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11872201” ↩
- “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21403799” ↩
- “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12623744” ↩
- “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8862739” ↩