Optimizing Fertility Naturally
Updated: May 27, 2020
There are many things that women can do on their own to increase their success of becoming pregnant. In fact, you should try all of these things before you go see your OBGYN to discuss any difficulty getting pregnant.
TIMING is EVERYTHING
Your chances of conception are highest when you have sex right before you ovulate.
You will ovulate mid-cycle, about a week or so after your period ends and 2 weeks before your next period. Track your cycles to note your pattern.
Then get your timing down. You can do this by..
Just have intercourse every other day
Look for cervical mucous changes that occur with ovulation - your vaginal discharge becomes clear and stringy and just make sure to have sex then
Use ovulation predictor kits (OPKs) to get that timing perfect. You can buy some OPKs online. After your periods ends, pee on one stick everyday, about the same time everyday. The stick will turn positive when you have your LH surge. The LH surge occurs the day before you ovulate, so have sex the day it turns positive as well as the next day.
If you use a lubricant for intercourse, know that mineral oil, canola oil and Pre-seed have not been showed to inhibit sperm.
(Olive oil and many commercial lubricants have been shown to inhibit sperm in a lab, but that may not be true in real life.)
I can't say there is any hard evidence to suggest that certain positions or even orgasms definitely increase your chance of conception, but it sure seems like an orgasm would help. So let's all agree to agree that we should try to achieve orgasm and our partners should be
very motivated to help us accomplish that.
Just to be to the safe side of course..
Get to a healthy weight.
Yes, you can do it. Now is the time.
BMI (Body Mass Index) is calculated based on your height and weight.
Ideally, your BMI should be between 19-25, but at least under 30.
To calculate your BMI: BMI calculator
If you're really overweight, it is so important you lose weight before you get pregnant.
Losing weight will greatly increase your chances of getting pregnant on your own
Losing weight will significantly reduce the risks and complications you will face once pregnant.
Aim to get your BMI under 30 (For example, if you're 5'5", you want to weight less than 180 pounds. You should be over 5'9" tall if you weight 200 pounds.)
You are underweight if your BMI is less than 19, and that also makes getting pregnant harder. When you are underweight, ovulation may not occur regularly and periods may stop.
Healthy diet and moderate exercise are the only ways of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
Your diet is the most important thing to change first.
Please see your primary care provider if you need help.
The Fertility Diet
OK, no doubt you already know the answer to this - it's simple. It's what we should all be eating.
All "evidence" based on dietary influence on fertility is based on observational studies. That means women were asked what they ate. So no hard evidence here either, but we can say that women with higher rates of fertility state they eat:
more healthy (monounsaturated) fats, which come from real foods like avocados and olive oil (rather than junk food)
more plant-based foods (fruits and vegetables) than meat
low-glycemic carbs like oats and whole wheat (less sugar, less junk food)
high-fat dairy (real milk, cheese and yogurt rather than ice cream and processed cheese products)
iron (green vegetables such as spinach and kale)
The take-home point is that maintaining lower insulin levels is key. Eat more fruits and vegetables, and make sure your diet contains adequate folic acid, fiber, iron, calcium. More real food and less junk food. Do the best you can most of the time.
Caffeine has been well-studied and completely vilified. Everyone loves to give up caffeine, which is fine, but it is perfectly safe to have up to 200mcg of caffeine per day - that's two 8oz cups of coffee.
It is just fine and is not going to affect getting pregnant. It's also OK when you are pregnant.
Studies showing caffeine's negative impact on fertility are with extremely high doses. So 10 cups of coffee a day is a problem, but caffeine in moderation is just fine.
That goes for your partner too.
Smoking doesn't help and you already know that. It's one of the most unhealthy things you can do.
Plus you absolutely can't smoke once you're pregnant anyway because it increases your chance of miscarriage, stunts the growth of the baby, increases your risk of preterm labor, and increases risk of SIDS for your newborn, so you might as well just quit now.
Talk to your primary care provider if you need help quitting - there are options.
I usually joke with my patients that alcohol has been helping women get pregnant for years, so they certainly don't need to completely abstain.
It's recommended women have no more than 2 drinks a day, so keep it to that.
Once you have a positive pregnancy test, then you must stop drinking alcohol completely.
You know you can't do any illegal drugs whatsoever. No excuses. No exceptions. Call your healthcare provider if you need help.
Run any and all prescription drugs you are taking past your OBGYN as well.
Don't assume all prescribed meds are safe to take in pregnancy.
Don't plan to quit a prescribed medication just because you get pregnant either.
The problem with over-the-counter supplements is that they are not FDA regulated. So that means you cannot be sure what exactly is in them, and also dosages can change from batch to batch. Most of these are harmless because there isn't much of anything in there. But some can be harmful, especially when taken over a long period of time.
It's best to get the nutrients you need from real food, not supplements. You can't be sure you even digest the supposed nutrients from that supplement, but you know you get iron when you eat kale. Just eat an orange to get some vitamin C.
So add more vegetables to your diet, and don't waste money on supplements. If you eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, then you don't need supplements. (Yes, you can take a delicious chewable prenatal vitamin, but make sure you're getting enough folic acid in your diet anyway. The whole idea of the prenatal vitamin is to supplement when a woman can't get nutrients in her diet - the idea is it's better than nothing.)
1. Arsenic - Arsenic is a naturally-occurring compound in the soil that can be toxic in high doses. This can sometimes invade well water or be found in rice. If you drink from well water, you could have it tested. It occurs in small doses in rice, so as long as you eat rice only in moderation it should be fine.
2. Lead - exposure would come from old paint (used before 1978) doing home renovations, herbal supplements or known work exposures.
3. Mercury - your most likely exposure to mercury will be from eating fish. Most fish, such as salmon, is really heathy and perfectly safe for you to eat. You just need to avoid the large predatory fish, such as tilefish, swordfish, shark, king mackerel and bigeye tuna. Check out the FDA's Mercury levels in fish for specifics.
Some cosmetic creams that cause skin lightening can have higher levels of mercury as well.
There are some chemicals found in plastics that could potentially be toxic in high doses, so if you're trying to conceive it may be beneficial to limit your exposure to these chemicals.
1. Phtalates - found in cosmetics, soaps, shampoos (common forms are DEHP and MEHP, so look at the ingredients list on the bottles)
2. Triclosan - found in personal care and cleaning products
3. Parabens - found in cosmetics and creams
4. BPA - already banned from baby bottles 2012, but still found in most plastic containers
To try to limit exposure to BPA:
Avoid plastic polycarbonate plastic (recycle number 7 and some number 3 plastics)
Do not microwave food and drinks in polycarbonate plastic
Hand wash polycarbonate containers rather than putting them in the dishwasher
switch to glass containers
Limit your exposure by not using pesticides in your home (insect sprays) or directly using them in your own garden.
Thoroughly wash all produce before you eat it and consider buying organic when feasible.
For more info... REPROTOX is an information system developed by the Reproductive Toxicology Center. It contains commentaries on the potentially harmful effects of chemicals and physical agents on human pregnancy, reproduction, and development. It is available for a fee on-line (www.reprotox.org). (source taken from UpToDateOnline)
And finally, Stress...
Women always ask about how their stress levels affect fertility and pregnancy. There is no hard evidence of course because you can't measure stress, but "stress" does increase cortisol, which is a hormone and can certainly affect the way your body functions.
The way to deal with stress is to try to manage what causes the stress. Easier said than done, but change what you can, if you can.
Then take control of the things you can control. Start to exercise more. Get a full night's sleep. Eat healthier. Do something that makes you happy.
And even if things are bad (say we're in the middle of a global pandemic or something), remember that certainly women have conceived successfully and carried healthy pregnancies through many stressful times throughout history.
Out of all of the above, timing and healthy weight are most important. Focus on those two things first and then work on the rest. Good luck and have fun!
(All information in this article verified on and REPROTOX resource taken from UpToDateOnline)