Fertility – What You May Not Know

Image10 percent of couples end up facing infertility, which is defined as an inability to conceive after having unprotected sex for six months to a year. Though age is the most common cause, researchers are identifying a host of other factors that could cause trouble. The good news is that many are easy to change. Read on for a pre-baby correction course.

1) Exercising too much may hurt your chances of getting pregnant

If you’ve got babies on the brain, consider giving your body a break. New research in the journal Fertility and Sterility found that normal-weight women who exercised vigorously (including running and fast cycling) five or more hours a week were 42 percent less likely to conceive each month than those who were sedentary. Intense exercise can disrupt hormones and ultimately interfere with ovulation. The group with the best luck getting pregnant consisted of moderate movers who enjoyed activities like walking.

2) Make sure to add vitamin D to your prenatal vitamin mix

The “sunshine vitamin” is emerging as a major player in the fertility game as it may affect egg quality and embryo implantation. Ask your doctor to test your levels. If you’re lacking, she’ll probably recommend a supplement, as it’s hard to get ample D from the sun or food sources.

3) Scale back caffeine intake while you’re TRYING to get pregnant

A study from Denmark revealed that women who downed 300 to 700 milligrams of caffeine per day had a 12 percent lower chance of conceiving in a given cycle; those who drank more than that reduced their odds by 37 percent. Caffeine may decrease uterine blood flow, which can make conception and implantation more difficult.

4) Too much mercury could reduce your chances of getting pregnant

This toxin is well-known for interfering with neurological development in the womb, but it’s also associated with conception problems. In fact, a Chinese study found that infertile couples at more fish and had higher mercury concentrations in their blood than fertile pairs. Researchers think that this harmful compound may damage eggs as well as sperm.

5) Garden-variety stress can wreak havoc on fertility

Intense emotional turmoil can throw off your cycle, and even at lower levels can cause ovulation problems. A recent research review of women who had used assisted reproductive technology found that stressed-out women were less likely to conceive than their calmer counterparts.

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Fire Up Your Fertility

After years of using contraception, many women may wonder about their ability to conceive. Well, not to worry: Research shows that these lifestyle tweaks will increase your odds.

Weigh In

Being in a healthy weight range (a BMI between 18.5 and 25) reduces the time it takes to get pregnant, according to a study in Fertility and Sterility. For each number over 29 a woman’s BMI climbed, her chance of pregnancy fell by 4 percent. Underweight? Having too little extra cushioning not only impedes conception, it also increases a woman’s risk of miscarriage and premature birth, says Mark Perloe, M.D., a fertility specialist in Atlanta.

Check Your Lube

Studies show that water-based lubricants might damage sperm and make it harder for them to swim. If your lovemaking could use less friction, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine recommends using plain mineral or canola oil, or a pH-friendly hydroxyethylcellulose-based lubricant like Pre-Seed Personal Lubricant.

Forgo “Bad” Fats

Women who consume lower levels of trans fats and sugar and more vegetable protein are more fertile, say researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health. In one study, getting just 2 percent of total calories from trans fats doubled the risk for ovulation-related fertility problems.

Get Some Shut-Eye

Too little sleep leads to low levels of the hormone leptin, and this dip may signal the brain to suspend nonessential functions like ovulation.

Relax Already!

The more stressed women are, the less likely they are to conceive. Try yoga or meditation, both of which may lead to increase pregnancy rates.

When To “Go For It”

The best time to try baby-making is right after your body releases a surge of luteinizing hormone (LH). This increase triggers ovulation, which is the most fertile time of your cycle. Aim to have sex one to three days following the LH rise, with peak fertility – and your best chance at hitting baby bingo – occurring during that window, 36 hours after the spike.