3 Ways to Maximize Your Fertility

couple in park

If you are planning a pregnancy, MU Health Care’s fertility specialists are here to help you and your partner succeed.

During a fertility consultation, our team will identify medical conditions and prior injuries or surgeries that could hamper your fertility. However, don’t fret if your doctor spots a few potential problems. Many medical issues that impact fertility can be treated.

Even if no red flags are raised during your consultation, it’s important for both partners to treat their bodies properly when trying to conceive.

Here are three things men and women can do to increase their odds of conceiving:

Rebecca Keller-Tracy, MD
Rebecca Keller-Tracy, MD

Aim for a healthy weight.

“Women who carry around extra weight tend to have lower ovulation rates, and overweight men are known to have lower sperm counts,” said Rebecca Keller-Tracy, MD, an obstetrician who specializes in infertility. “Losing 5 to 10 percent of your body weight could dramatically improve your fertility.”

Keller-Tracy said cutting back on processed food, fast food and soda will help you lose weight. She also said exercise is a great way to shed pounds, especially if you are a relatively inactive person.

“Nobody can just snap their fingers and lose 20 pounds,” Keller-Tracy said. “I suggest starting with light cardio. Approximately 150 minutes per week of walking will send you in the right direction. If walking is too easy or too boring for you, consider mixing in intervals of jogging.”
 

Avoid pesticides and other chemicals.

“I encourage my patients to eat organic fruits, vegetables and meat, because some of the pesticides used on crops can damage your fertility,” Keller-Tracy said. “I also suggest drinking filtered water and avoiding specific types of fish that are high in mercury. This includes swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel and shark. Lastly, do not heat your food in plastics. Plastics contain chemicals that are known to impact fertility in a negative way.”

Organic food is often more expensive. To reduce the strain on your wallet, Keller-Tracy recommends checking out the Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.

Limit your vices.

“Smoking is known to increase the length of time it takes for women to get pregnant,” Keller-Tracy said. “It is also known to cause complications during pregnancy, such as miscarriage. Second-hand smoke is just as dangerous, and even smokeless tobacco presents many of the same risks. MU Health Care’s primary care providers are very well versed in helping people quit nicotine products, so don’t hesitate to ask for help.”

Keller-Tracy said men face similar fertility-related risks from smoking. Tobacco users and marijuana smokers have lower sperm counts, and the quality of their sperm is worse. Beyond quitting smoking, she said men and women should limit their caffeine intake to approximately 200 milligrams per day — which is about one cup of coffee. 

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