You have big plans for parenthood in 2024, which means this is the time to start laying the groundwork for everything to come. While so much of conception is beyond our control, there are actionable steps you and your partner can take right now to support and nourish your fertility. In this three-month plan for trying to conceive in 2024, we’re sharing exactly how to become the healthiest you can to create, grow and welcome a new little life.
- Human sperm and eggs have specialized maturation and growth processes in preparation for fertilization. These processes take roughly three months and are heavily influenced by lifestyle choices, including nutrition.
- A daily prenatal vitamin is an easy way to shore up dietary gaps and nutritional deficiencies and help ensure you’re getting key nutrients for reproductive health.
- Eat a diet low in sugar and processed carbohydrates and high in lean protein, veggies, fruits, healthy fats and whole grains to support your fertility health.
- Make time for regular movement, which will benefit you physically and mentally. Exercise is an excellent form of stress management.
- Reducing your exposure to environmental toxins can help protect your fertility health.
Why Three Months?
Great question! It all comes down to biology. You may be thinking—correctly—that men produce millions of sperm every day. They do indeed, but those sperm aren’t yet ready for action. Every single sperm must go through a critical maturation process known as spermatogenesis. Guess how long this process lasts? Yep, it’s roughly three months long, a time during which sperm cells divide, mature and become mobile. Outside influences (i.e. lifestyle habits like your diet, how much you exercise, how you manage stress, etc.) can affect sperm during this development stage for the good and the bad. In fact, nutrient shortages can lead to major sperm deficiencies during maturation (1). The reverse is too true: The right nutrients during this stage can actually help support healthy sperm development, which is defined by specific parameters:
- Sperm count. The number of sperm cells in a given amount of semen plays an important role in overall quality.
- Sperm morphology. This describes the shape of the sperm, which should include an egg-shaped head and a long tail to help it move to the egg for fertilization.
- Sperm motility. The ability to move is an essential function for sperm, and they aren’t all great swimmers. In a male version of the biological clock, Sperm motility begins to decline around age 35.
On the female side of the equation, the three-month timeline is just as important. Women are born with all the eggs they’ll ever have, and age is of course a factor in the quality of those eggs. But in preparation for fertilization, human eggs must move through a complicated growth process in the ovary follicles that takes—you guessed it—about three months. Like men, women can benefit from the right nutrients during this growth period to support egg quality.
We get really specific about what exactly happens to sperm and egg health during the first three months on Beli if you’re interested. Otherwise, just be aware that a daily prenatal vitamin, along with a mindful diet, consistent exercise, stress management—all the components of what would be described as a healthy lifestyle—are known as pillars of fertility. And those are the things you want to prioritize beginning three months (or longer!) from when you hope to conceive. Let’s break it down.
Take a Daily Prenatal Vitamin
It’s such a small thing (literally!) with such an enormous impact. A daily prenatal vitamin is a simple way to help shore up nutritional deficiencies in your diet while also ensuring you’re getting nutrients that support your respective preconception health. For men, as we’ve covered, it’s all about sperm health. Keep in mind that a man’s health before conception has a direct effect on his partner’s pregnancy, their baby’s health, and even the health of the following generation (2). No pressure, right?
For women, the goal is supporting egg quality and balancing hormones. In both cases, men and women can benefit from the specialized nutrition of high-quality prenatal vitamins. Beli Vitality for Men™ and Beli for Women are formulated to deliver key micronutrients that can help support preconception health (3). But the benefits come from consistency! Start your prenatals, and keep on keeping on every darn day up to and beyond conception, pregnancy and the postpartum stage.
For all its benefits, a prenatal vitamin is only intended to supplement what you’re eating—it’s not a replacement for a nutritious diet and it won’t make up for a terrible diet, either. Fortunately, what you eat really is within your control, and you may be motivated to skip the processed carbs in favor of more veggies, lean sources of protein and healthy fats if you understand that nutrition plays a direct role in the fertility of men and women alike (4).
Pro tip: prioritize protein now, especially in the morning. That not only gives you sustained energy for the day, it helps balance insulin levels, which can also help support fertility. Women who eat diets high in sugar and refined or simple carbs are at a much greater risk of ovulatory infertility, and men don’t fare much better, so skip the sugary snacks in favor of a protein smoothie (5). Beli’s Collagen Protein Boost makes it easy!
Make a Fitness Plan—And Follow It
You already know that regular exercise is good for your body and mind. Well, it’s beneficial for your fertility health, too. In fact, healthy reproductive system function is dependent on overall health, and movement is part of that. In men, regular exercise can help reduce inflammation and support sperm function. In women, ovulatory infertility may be reduced or even avoided with consistent moderate exercise when it’s combined with other healthy lifestyle habits, like nutrition (6). Are you sensing a pattern here?
There’s also the undeniable stress-busting benefit, which is no small thing. Mitigating stress is another important step on the journey to parenthood, and recent research shows that healthy stress management is associated with an increase in pregnancy rates (7). Regular exercise is a twofer that supports your physical and mental health, which is exactly what you want when a baby is the goal. And you don’t have to go nuts, either. Pencil in some workouts, a weekend hike, a short walk a few times a day, whatever you enjoy, to boost your energy levels, improve sleep quality, and generally clear your head.
Reduce Your Exposure to Environmental Toxins
Toxic chemicals are rampant in our daily lives, and that’s particularly problematic for hopeful parents-to-be. The eggs of women who are exposed to toxic chemicals may age faster. Exposure also increases the risk of miscarriage and slows down fetal growth in women who are pregnant. For men, too much toxic exposure can lead to reduced sperm counts and poor sperm quality.
The good news is the body has an amazing capacity for healing, so do your research and become aware of the potential for exposure to toxins in your immediate environment. Then, check out our post with five tips for cleaning up your lifestyle. Carly Hartwig, a holistic reproductive health advocate and fertility awareness educator through CLWC, shares specific ways to minimize your exposure.
Planning for pregnancy really comes down to leading a healthy lifestyle, and that’s… kind of boring, to be honest. We get it! But facts are facts. The science is really clear on the long-lasting effects of the health of both parents prior to conception, and the three-month timeline gives men and women time to take steps that really support their fertility health. If you’re thinking of parenthood in 2024, embrace those healthy habits so you're the healthiest you can be for making, growing and having a baby next year.