Think pursuing fertility treatments means that everything is now in your doctor's hands? Think again. The role of a healthy lifestyle and healthy body in fertility truly cannot be overestimated. This is true even when your body can't naturally get pregnant on its own. When you begin fertility treatments, there's still much you can do to increase your odds of a successful pregnancy.
Continue Monitoring Your Cycles
Monitoring your menstrual cycles can tell your doctor much about how fertility treatments are affecting your body. Your doctor will tell you what specifically to monitor, but in general, the more information. Try charting your morning basal body temperature to look for spikes and dips surrounding ovulation. This can also tell you if your luteal phase is sufficiently long to sustain a pregnancy.
Depending upon which fertility treatments you pursue, using an ovulation monitor, tracking cervical fluid, and keeping track of how frequently you have sexual intercourse may also help. Ask your doctor for more details on how to do this.
Other information about your lifestyle and health may also help. Consider tracking:
- What you eat, including caloric intake.
- How often you exercise.
- How well you sleep.
- Stress levels.
- Use of medications, including over-the-counter drugs.
Consider Alternative Treatments (With Your Doctor's Permission)
Alternative treatments are not a substitute for medical intervention, and treating them as such can harm your fertility because it wastes time. But there is some evidence that alternative treatments, such as acupuncture, nutritional counseling, and even products such as red raspberry leaf tea may help some women. The data is in its infancy, and some is merely anecdotal, so talk to your doctor about what is best for you.
Note that mainstream treatments, such as psychotherapy, will not get you pregnant. They can, however, help you deal with infertility issues, as well as other issues—such as obesity or avoiding a frightening medical procedure—that compromise your ability to get pregnant.
Eat a Healthy Diet
There is no miracle food that can treat infertility or suddenly make you fertile. But what you put into your body affects your overall health. Severe malnutrition may disrupt your menstrual cycle and even prevent ovulation. Obesity can trigger a host of ailments that reduce or eliminate fertility. Specific nutritional deficits can also prove problematic. Protein is especially important in the development of an embryo and fetus, so if you aren't getting enough protein, achieving a healthy pregnancy can prove challenging.
Prepare for a Pregnancy
A healthy pregnancy begins long before you are growing a baby. You can do much now to create a healthy uterine environment for your child. Try the following:
- Take a daily prenatal vitamin or folic acid supplement; much brain development occurs before you even know you're pregnant, and folic acid can help prevent neural tube defects.
- Limit your use of alcohol, or quit drinking entirely. There is no safe level of alcohol exposure for a developing fetus. If you smoke or use recreational drugs, now is the time to quit.
- Talk to your doctor about any prescription drugs you use. Most drugs pose some risk for the developing baby, and you will need to weigh the relative costs and benefits of these drugs before you get pregnant. For example, severe depression might prove more dangerous to you and your baby than antidepressants, but if your depression is mild, your doctor may suggest weaning yourself from antidepressants.
Get Plenty of Exercise
Exercise is the single best thing you can do to improve your physical and mental health. It can also help you cope with the anxiety of fertility treatments, and offset the weight gain that some hormones tend to trigger. One study found that 30 minutes of daily exercise could boost ovulation, impacting overall fertility more than nutritional and some other lifestyle changes. You don't need intense exercise; simply consistently moving your body can greatly improve overall health, offering benefits such as:
- Assistance with mental health, including a decreased risk of depression and anxiety.
- A lowered risk of diabetes.
- A reduction in inflammation and joint and muscle pain.
- Better cardiovascular health, including improved circulation.
- A reduced risk of pregnancy complications, since being overweight can cause a number of pregnancy issues.
- The possibility of a better labor and delivery, since healthy women tend to report better outcomes during childbirth.
Are you currently trying to get pregnant? Check out our free eBook, “The Simplified Guide to The Complicated World of Infertility” for a great deal more information about the process of conceiving a child.