Potential titles: What can women do to maximise their chances of conceiving?/Lifestyle factors affecting fertility in women
Women who become pregnant are encouraged to adapt their lifestyle to minimise risks to the pregnancy; however it is becoming increasingly apparent that lifestyle factors also have a significant on a woman’s chances of conceiving in the first place. Research has shown that for both men and women, making positive changes to nutrition and lifestyle is associated with increased chances of pregnancy.
Here are some of the key lifestyle factors that may have an impact on women’s fertility:
It is well known that pregnant women should avoid drinking alcohol, but there is also evidence that women trying to conceive can boost their chances of pregnancy by cutting it out. It is thought that alcohol may cause hormonal fluctuations that interfere with ovulation, as well as increasing the risk of miscarriage in early pregnancy.
Studies suggest that women who smoke are less fertile than non-smokers, possibly due to the impact of toxic chemicals on the balance of hormones in the body and the function of the ovaries. Moreover, quitting should be a priority for anyone hoping to conceive due to the significant risks to the baby of exposure to smoking in the womb.
Drugs and medication
Recreational drugs are an obvious no-no, but some prescription and over the counter medications can also interfere with your chances of conception. If you take any medications, it is worth checking with your doctor or pharmacist whether you should continue to do so when you are trying to conceive.
It is thought that stress may affect hormone levels in the body, impacting on fertility. Research suggests that women suffering from anxiety who receive support and counselling have an increased chance of becoming pregnant, so it is worth seeking help if you are feeling anxious, especially if struggling to conceive itself is causing stress.
Weight, diet and exercise
You can maximise your chances of conceiving by maintaining a healthy weight, with a body mass index of between twenty and twenty-five, because being overweight or underweight may cause problems with ovulation. A balanced diet and regular exercise are important for maintaining a healthy weight, and these lifestyle factors are also associated with better fertility outcomes.
As well as ensuring you eat a range of healthy foods and keep processed foods to a minimum, it is also recommended that you begin taking a folic acid supplement as soon as you begin trying to conceive. Regular, moderate exercise is better than frequent high-intensity workouts as these may cause hormonal disruption, impacting on fertility.
Looking after yourself and your body is more important than ever as you embark on your fertility journey, and the right lifestyle choices may help to speed you on your way. Most importantly, don’t forget to make time to look after yourself, rest and relax as you prepare for pregnancy.
References and Further Information