( 1 ). Fortunately, there are a number of ways to improve your fertility and get pregnant faster. Diet and lifestyle changes can increase fertility by up to 69% ( 2 ). This article contains 17 proven tips that can increase fertility and the chance of pregnancy.
Eat antioxidant-rich foods
Antioxidants such as folic acid and zinc can increase fertility in both men and women ( 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 ). Antioxidants deactivate the free radicals in your body, which can damage both sperm and egg cells ( 7 ). One of the studies in young adult men found that eating 75 grams of antioxidant-rich walnuts per day improved sperm quality ( 6 ). Another study that followed sixty couples who underwent IVF treatments found that an antioxidant supplement resulted in a 23% increased chance of getting pregnant ( 8). Foods such as fruit, vegetables, nuts and grains are full of antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, folic acid, beta-carotene and lutein ( 9 , 10 ).
Eat a larger breakfast
Eating a good breakfast can help women with fertility problems. A study found that eating a larger breakfast improved the hormonal effects of PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), which is a major cause of infertility ( 11 ). In women with normal-weight PCOS, insulin levels decreased by 8% when most calories were taken during breakfast.The testosterone values decreased by 50%. High values of both of these hormones can contribute to infertility ( 11). In addition, these women ovulated 30% more than women who ate a small breakfast and larger dinner, indicating improved fertility. However, it is important to remember that a large breakfast, without adjusting the size of the dinner, can lead to being overweight. More details available on over the counter clomid substitute
Avoid trans fats
Eating healthy fats daily is important to improve fertility. Trans fats are, on the other hand, associated with an increased risk of ovulatory infertility due to the negative effects on insulin sensitivity. Trans fats are often found in hydrogenated vegetable oils, margarine, fried foods, processed products and pastries. A large-scale study found that a diet with many trans fats and few unsaturated fats is related to infertility ( 2 ). Eating trans fats instead of monounsaturated fats can increase the risk of ovulatory infertility by 31%. Eating trans fats instead of carbohydrates can increase this risk by 73% ( 12).
Following a low-carbohydrate diet is usually recommended for women with PCOS. Low-carbohydrate dietary patterns can help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce insulin levels and promote fat loss. This also promotes the regularity of menstruation ( 13 , 14 , 15 ). A large study found that when carbohydrate intake was increased, the risk of infertility also increased ( 16 ). In this study, women who ate more carbohydrates were 78% more likely to have ovulatory infertility than those who followed a low-carb diet ( 16). Another small study among overweight people and obese women with PCOS showed that a low carbohydrate diet reduced hormone levels, such as those for insulin and testosterone. Both can contribute to infertility ( 15 ).
Eat less refined carbohydrates
Not only the amount of carbohydrates is important, but also the type. Refined carbohydrates in particular can be a problem. Sugar-rich food and drinks, processed grains such as white pasta, bread and rice are covered by refined carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are absorbed very quickly, which causes blood sugar levels and insulin levels to peak. Refined carbohydrates have a high glycemic index (GI). A large study found that food with a high glycemic index was associated with an increased risk of ovulatory infertility ( 16 ). Since PCOS is related to high insulin levels, refined carbohydrates can have a negative impact on it.
Eat more fiber
Fiber helps your body remove excess hormones and keep blood sugar balanced. Examples of fiber-rich foods are whole-grain cereals, fruit, vegetables and beans. Certain fiber types can remove excess estrogen by binding it in the intestines. The excess estrogen is removed from the body as a waste product. A study found that eating 10 grams more cereal fiber per day was related to 44% less chance of ovulatory infertility in women over 32 years of age ( 16 ). However, the evidence concerning fibers is divided. In another study involving 250 women between the ages of 18 and 44, eating the recommended 20-35 grams of fiber was associated with nearly ten times the risk of abnormal ovulation cycles ( 17).
Change protein sources
Replacing certain animal proteins (such as meat, fish and eggs) with vegetable protein sources (such as beans, nuts and seeds) is linked to a reduced risk of infertility ( 2 ). A study found that a higher intake of animal proteins was linked to 32% more chance of ovulatory infertility ( 2 ). Eating more vegetable proteins can protect against infertility ( 18 ). One study found that when 5% of total calories were vegetable proteins instead of animal proteins, the risk of ovulatory infertility decreased by over 50% ( 18 ). Consider therefore replacing proteins from meat with vegetable proteins from vegetables, beans, lentils and nuts.
Opt for whole dairy products
High intakes of low-fat dairy products can increase the risk of infertility, while whole dairy products can lower this ( 2 ). A major study looked at the effects of eating whole dairy products more than once a day or less than once a week. This showed that women who ate one or more servings of whole dairy per day were 27% less likely to have infertility ( 19 ). You can replace a portion of low-fat dairy per day with a portion of full dairy, such as a glass of whole milk.
Women who take multivitamins are less likely to suffer from ovulatory infertility. It is estimated that 20% of ovulatory infertility can be avoided if women take three or more multivitamins per week ( 20 ). A study found that women taking multivitamins had up to 41% less chance of infertility. Multivitamin supplements with folic acid can be extra beneficial for women who want to become pregnant. Another study found that a dietary supplement with monk pepper, green tea, vitamin E and vitamin B6 improved the chance of pregnancy ( 21 ). 26% of the women who took this supplement for three months became pregnant. Of the women who did not take the supplement, only 10% became pregnant. Exercise Exercise has many health benefits, including improved fertility ( 22 ). A sedentary lifestyle is associated with an increased risk of infertility ( 23 ). A study found that every hour of exercise per week was associated with 5% less chance of infertility ( 23 ). For obese women, moderate or intense exercise and weight loss can have a positive influence on fertility ( 22 , 24). However, keeping measurements is important here. Excessive and very strenuous exercise is again associated with reduced fertility in women. Excessive exercise can change the energy balance in the body and negatively affect the reproductive system ( 25 ). A large study found that the risk of infertility was 3.2 times greater in women who moved intensively compared to inactive women ( 26 ).
Take a rest
When your stress levels rise, your chances of getting pregnant decrease. This is due to hormonal changes that occur when you are stressed ( 27 ). A stressful job and long working days can make it take longer for you to become pregnant ( 28 , 29 , 30 ). Stress, anxiety and depression affect about 30% of women who walk at fertility clinics ( 31 ). Getting help and counseling can reduce anxiety and depression levels, which increases the chance of pregnancy ( 32 ).
Caffeine can negatively affect fertility in women. A study shows that women who drink more than 500 mg of caffeine take up to 9.5 months to become pregnant ( 33 ). A high caffeine intake before pregnancy is also associated with an increased risk of miscarriage ( 34 , 35 ). However, other studies did not see a strong link between caffeine intake and the increased risk of infertility ( 36 , 37 ).
Get a healthy weight
Weight is one of the most influential factors when it comes to fertility. Being underweight or overweight is related to increased infertility ( 23 , 38 ). A major study shows that 12% of ovulatory infertility in the United States is due to being underweight and 25% to being overweight ( 23 ). This is because the amount of fat in the body influences menstrual function. Underweight or overweight women have a longer cycle time, making it more difficult to get pregnant ( 23 ). To improve the chance of pregnancy, try to lose weight if you are overweight and to gain weight if you are underweight.
Increase iron intake
Taking iron supplements and non-heme iron from plant-based foods can reduce the risk of adulatory infertility. A survey of 438 women found that iron supplementation was linked to a 40% reduction in the chance of ovulatory infertility ( 39). Non-heme iron was also related to a reduced risk of infertility. Heme iron, from animal sources, did not appear to have any effect on fertility. Nevertheless, more evidence is needed to confirm whether iron supplements should be recommended to all women, especially when the iron levels are already healthy. However, increasing the intake of iron-rich foods could help. Non-heme iron sources are difficult for the body to absorb. It is advisable to combine this with food or drinks rich in vitamin C to improve the intake.
Avoid excessive alcohol
Alcohol consumption can negatively affect fertility. However, it is unclear how much alcohol causes this effect. A major study found that drinking eight glasses of alcohol per week makes it take longer to get pregnant ( 40 ). Another study involving 7393 women revealed that high alcohol consumption was associated with more infertility studies ( 41 ). However, the evidence for moderate alcohol consumption is divided. One study found no link between moderate drinking and fertility, while other studies reported that moderate alcohol consumption affected fertility ( 40). For example, a survey of 430 couples reported that drinking five or fewer glasses of alcohol per week was associated with impaired fertility ( 42 ).
Avoid non-fermented soy products
Some sources report that the hydrogenates in soy may adversely affect hormone levels and cause fertility problems. In a number of animal studies, soy was associated with a lower sperm quality in male rats and reduced fertility in female rats ( 43 , 44 ). A study found that even small amounts of soy products caused sexual behavioral changes in male offspring ( 45). However, few studies have looked at the effects of soy on humans, so more evidence is required. In addition, the negative effects usually only apply to non-fermented soy. Fermented soy is usually considered a safer food.