A common question we frequently get asked is, “Is there anything I can eat that will make my treatment more successful?” I would love to be the person that comes up with the food or a magic vitamin that will make fertility treatments more successful, but I don’t think that will ever happen. Unfortunately, you cannot eat lots of carrots (and get cartonemia), eat pineapple (and gain weight from all of the calories), or drink Robitussin (and become nauseated from the sweet taste) as these are common myths found all over the internet. There are several things that you can do to be in your best health, which may help with your fertility.
It is important maintain a healthy body weight as being over or under weight can greatly affect your fertility. In women who are overweight the chance of becoming pregnant has been shown to increase with a 5-10% weight loss, primarily, because it helps to improve ovulation. Being too thin also has its affect on fertility as body fat is essential in the production of the sex hormones. In women that are too thin, estrogen levels are typically low and can lead to abnormal (and even absent) menses.
Diet and exercise play an important role in maintaining a healthy body weight. You should make nutritious choices that will ensure your body is getting the nutrients that it needs. Make sure to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, proteins, whole grains, and foods rich in calcium while keeping your portion sizes in control. While fish are an excellent source of protein and contain omega 3 fatty acids, it is important to avoid fish that are high in mercury content such as: King Mackerel, White Tuna, Swordfish, Shark, and Marlin to name a few. It is also important to avoid artificial sweeteners as these can affect blood sugar levels and thus can affect hormone levels. Caffeine should also be avoided as it can interfere with iron absorption in the body if consumed in large amounts.
Alcohol, drugs and smoking should all be avoided as well. Smoking and tobacco exposure has been shown to greatly reduce fertility potential in men and women.
Exercise is also a very important while trying to conceive. It is important to develop an exercise plan and try to stick with it. For many women it is therapeutic to exercise to help reduce the stress that can be caused by infertility. You can do up to four hours of cardiovascular exercise a week while attempting pregnancy and during a fertility treatment cycle. Excessive exercising can decrease fertility so it is important to make sure to have a balance.
It is important to make sure you are getting enough folic acid while trying to conceive. You should be taking at least 800 mcg/day of folic acid while attempting pregnancy. Taking folic acid greatly decreases the chances that you will have a baby with a neural tube defect. Recent studies have shown that having been on folic acid supplement months before conceiving decreases the chance of premature labor.
It is also important to make sure that your environment is safe as well. You need to make sure that the environment you work and live in is free of harmful chemicals and radiation, including second hand smoke. It is important to eliminate anything potentially hazardous to your body while trying to conceive.