Every woman’s body is different, which is why some couples have a harder time getting pregnant than others. While many infertility issues are far beyond our control, there are some factors that can increase (and decrease) our chances of getting pregnant. Surprisingly, many of these influencing factors are simple lifestyle changes that could create the optimal circumstances for getting pregnant. If you’ve struggled to conceive, you may consider a few of the following habit changes to increase your chances of getting pregnant.
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Eating poorly can drastically affect a woman’s ability to conceive. Regularly eating doughnuts, chocolate, and pie (as well as foods high in trans fats) can increase fertility problems by as much as 70 percent. According to researchers at Harvard University School of Public Health, a woman who wants to get pregnant has to take precautions to avoid trans fat in their diet. Trans fat can disrupt the hormones in the system and interfere with the body’s ability to ovulate reliably. Malnourished or underweight women are more at risk of having irregular menstrual cycles, which has a negative effect on her chances of getting pregnant.
This might be an obvious mistake to some, however because of the addictive nature of cigarettes, many women plan to quit smoking once they get pregnant. As you can imagine, smoking presents challenges to getting pregnant. A report issued by the British Medical Association shows that smokers have a 40 percent lower fertility rate. And the American Society for Reproductive Medicine estimates that nearly 13 percent of cases involving infertility can be tied to tobacco usage. Smoking is associated with high rates of ectopic pregnancies as well as miscarriages. Studies also show that smoking disturbs how the ovaries function and can cause irregularities in menstruation. Not only is this a poor habit for health in general, but it could keep you from getting pregnant, or even worse—endanger your future child’s life.
Excessive Levels of Stress
Stress has also been tied to infertility in women on many occasions. Women who are under a significant amount of stress for a prolonged period of time are more likely to have problems with nerve issues that can impede ovulation. Researchers state that women with challenging, stressful jobs are particularly at risk for infertility. Research conducted by the Ohio State University College of Medicine found that women with higher levels of stress had a higher rate of infertility—women with higher levels of stress involved in the study were 29 percent less likely to successfully conceive.
Too Much Caffeine
High caffeine consumption in the diet is also a common problem for women trying to conceive. Research shows that women who had more than one cup of coffee each day were 50 percent less likely to become pregnant. Caffeine impairs the functioning of the muscles in the fallopian tube, which affects how efficiently the eggs travel throughout the women, according to research by the University of Nevada School of Medicine. If the eggs aren’t being transported properly to the womb, conception is difficult. Additionally, high caffeine intake can also cause infertility problems within men.
Poor Sleep Habits
Many think that a poor sleep schedule is bad because it just makes you tired, but the truth is that not getting enough sleep can affect the Leptin levels in the body. When Leptin levels become low due to sleep deprivation, infertility occurs. A team of Korean researchers found that with in vitro fertilization, sleep was critical to the success rate among those trying to get pregnant. Pregnancy rates were highest among those who had between seven and eight hours of sleep each night. According to research, 53 percent of couples in the study conceived compared to 43 percent of those who got between 9 and 11 hours of sleep. Couples who got between four and six hours of sleep had a success rate of 46 percent.
Inability to Maintain a Healthy Weight
Not maintaining a healthy weight also affects a woman’s chances of getting pregnant—although this highly depends on body mass index. Health experts recommend maintaining a healthy BMI level between 20 and 25. Being both underweight and overweight affects a woman’s chances of getting pregnant. According to a study published in Fertility and Sterility, women who engaged in vigorous exercise for five or more hours a week were 42 percent less likely to get pregnant when they had a BMI under 25. Women who lose as much as 5 percent of their body weight can improve their chances of conception.
In many cases, infertility is influence by health habits and lifestyle. Many women figure that they will start living a healthy lifestyle, stop eating junk food, or get more sleep after they get pregnant. However, the body needs special care and attention in order to create the perfect environment for pregnancy. Unfortunately, not all fertility problems can be fixed by altering the diet or getting more sleep—many issues are irreversible or more complicated. If you have tried altering your habits and are still struggling to conceive, seek the advice of a healthcare specialist who can help you get to the root of the issue. The information for this article was provided by the professionals who provide infertility treatments at Santa Monica Fertility and work with couples who are struggling to conceive.