Let’s be real – when the topic is fertility, so much is completely out of our hands. Between genetics and that unknowable, sometimes unsolvable X factor, we don’t have control of everything. But there’s no question that the elements we can control go a very long way to support and nourish our fertility. In many instances, improving your chances of conception goes hand in hand with a lifestyle that just makes you feel better. That lifestyle is the cumulative effect of all the things we already know we should be doing – eating well, sleeping well, meditating, exercising, and just generally supporting our bodies and minds.
It’s an interesting truth that many people trying so hard to conceive are willing to try just about anything – special herbs and teas, medications, you name it – but have often jumped straight past the fundamentals of plain ol’ good health. In other words, they aren’t prioritizing sleep or managing stress or eating a nourishing diet or staying consistently active, all of which can be a factor in infertility. In the interest of keeping things simple, we’re sharing five pillars of fertility. And spoiler – there are no secret teas or herbs on this list.
Mindset & Sleep
Sounds almost too simple, doesn’t it? And while, obviously, you can’t think yourself pregnant, there’s something to be said for keeping a positive mindset. After all, our mental health directly affects our physical health – studies have associated a more positive mindset with stronger immune systems, healthier bodies, and reduced stress, all of which benefit fertility.
The real secret about maintaining a positive mindset is the influence it has on our behavior. When we’re feeling good, we’re more likely to do all the things we know benefit us – sticking to that bedtime, eating nutritiously, exercising, meditating. All of these small, daily decisions add up.
Prioritizing sleep is a prime example. Intellectually, we know sleeping is how we recover and recharge. But for many of us, sleep is the first thing we sacrifice when our schedules get busy and our responsibilities pile up. We burn the midnight oil and then we’re up at the crack of dawn, and maybe we try to “catch up” on missed sleep on the weekends. But messing with our circadian rhythm takes its toll. This is the system that directly affects hormonal homeostasis, and balance is exactly what you want when you’re trying for a baby.
Make a point of getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night. Be mindful about creating a calming sleep environment that is quiet, dark, and cool. Be consistent about bedtime, and remember that timing sunlight exposure and darkness directly dictate your circadian rhythm. In the morning, try to get some sunshine or at the very least artificial light to stimulate cortisol production. In the evenings, do your best to avoid screen time at least an hour before bed so you don’t interfere with melatonin production.
Food & Drink
We all know that it’s important to eat well, but what about eating for fertility? Surprise – it’s largely the same thing. Reach for whole foods that are naturally high in nutrients. Aim for colorful fruits and vegetables and be mindful about balancing protein, carbohydrates, and high quality fats.
One of the best ways of fueling your body is to eat larger meals earlier in the day – the ol’ eating like a king for breakfast, a queen for lunch, and a pauper for dinner expression. This gives you sustained energy as you need it. Remember the importance of including adequate amounts of protein in the morning to help balance insulin levels, and keeping refined carbs to a minimum. These empty calories are notorious for negatively affecting ovulation and triggering cycle irregularities.
And don’t forget to drink up. Far too many of us walk around all day chronically dehydrated – and completely unaware. That’s an issue itself, but in terms of fertility, poor hydration can affect everything from egg health to cervical mucus secretion to sperm quality and quantity. What’s more, dehydration is stressful on the body and circulatory system – another pitfall to optimal fertility.
The key isn't necessarily drinking more water, but hydrating better. Look for hydration packs that are low in sugar and high in electrolytes and minerals, and get in the habit of toting around a reusable water bottle if you aren’t doing so already.
It’s settled science that environmental toxins impact fertility. And the thing about these toxins is that they’re everywhere. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDC) affect both male and female fertility, in addition to triggering the development of diseases like obesity, diabetes, and certain cancers. EDCs are also, unfortunately, found in everything from industrial chemicals and pharmaceuticals to foods, household goods, and beauty products. This stuff can be found in your tea, your water bottle, your favorite laundry detergent, and your go-to lipstick.
Offering an alternative to products loaded with worrisome ingredients is how all the various “clean” movements got their start. These days, you can shop clean beauty, clean skincare, clean nail care, clean household products, and ahem, clean prenatal vitamins. And the companies that are doing this well really are offering an alternative that’s not only better for you and your health, but the planet.
Make simple swaps in your personal care and home good products – use glass and silicone storage containers instead of plastic bags. Switch to a metal water bottle. Avoid parabens, phthalates, and PEG. Buy organic whenever possible. Don’t panic about making a clean sweep all at once, just make gradual changes over time to limit your exposure and create a safer environment.
Since even the best diet may be lacking in nutrients shown to support reproductive processes in men and women, include a high-quality prenatal vitamin in your daily routine. Experts recommend starting prenatals ideally six months before conception to build up nutrient stores and prepare for all the hard work to come.
Beli for Men and Beli for Women are science-aligned formulas with bioavailable forms of all the vitamins and minerals you both need to support fertility health. They’re a great addition to a healthy lifestyle as you prepare for impending parenthood.
Healthy reproductive system function is dependent on overall health for both men and women. In men, regular exercise helps reduce inflammation and supports better sperm function. Research suggests that ovulatory infertility in women may be avoided with consistent moderate exercise when combined with other healthy lifestyle choices, like nutrition.
Regular exercise is also a key stress buster. Research shows that mitigating stress levels is associated with a significant increase in pregnancy rates. And you don’t have to go nuts to benefit. Even small amounts of movement – a short walk after meals, some weight lifting a few times a week, weekend hikes – can help boost energy, improve circulation, and generally clear your mind.
Exercise is also an often-overlooked part of self-care, a concept that has become unfortunately synonymous with things like face masks and manicures and massages. But true self care is about more than your skin or nails – it’s about doing the things that support our mental, emotional, and physical health. That includes regular exercise, nutritious meals, and time spent reflecting. A daily meditation practice can be as minimal as five to ten minutes of focused intention, and it will pay off in spades.
It’s one of nature’s neatest tricks – all the things that keep you healthy and nourished in general also directly support your fertility. These five pillars of fertility can be considered the low-hanging fruit in the hierarchy of “things to do to get pregnant,” so make a point of covering these bases first.