7 Evidenced-Based Ways to Increase Fertility Naturally
Medically Reviewed by Natalie Olsen, MS, RDN, LD, ACSM-EP
Published on March 11, 2022
If you want to get pregnant, you may be wondering how to improve your fertility. Fortunately, there are simple, powerful, and sustainable food and lifestyle choices you can make to improve your fertility and, thus, your chance of getting pregnant.
Whether you are actively trying to get pregnant or hoping to get pregnant in the future, understanding how to best support fertility is essential for both you and your partner.
While you may not be able to predict how long it will take for you to become pregnant, there are steps you can take to stack the odds in your favor.
Taking care of your body is a significant first step to boosting your fertility. Let’s look at seven evidence-based ways to increase your chances of getting pregnant fast, naturally.
One of the most impactful ways to increase fertility is by considering how you eat.
Following an optimal fertility diet may not only increase your chance of getting pregnant but will also benefit your overall health for you and your baby during pregnancy and beyond. (1)
Significant studies indicate that the majority of women in childbearing years are low in the following nutrients: (1)
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin D
- Folate/Folic acid
- Essential fatty acids
Refining your diet to include more of these nutrients can profoundly boost your fertility.
The following are foods to include in your optimal fertility diet.
Increase Whole, Low-Processed Foods
In one study, researchers determined that 39% of women who mostly avoided fast food became pregnant within one month of having unprotected sex.
Alternatively, women who regularly ate fast food had double the likelihood of not conceiving by 12 months. (2)
When possible, aim to eat whole low-processed foods, such as fresh vegetables, fruits, whole eggs, fatty fish, legumes, and lean animal protein.
Put It Into Action
- Plan ahead. Pack meals and snacks ahead of time for a busy day.
- Always include a fruit or vegetable with your meals. Aim for 2 servings of fruit and 3 servings of veggies daily. (3)
- Focus on color — each color of fruit and vegetable provides different essential nutrients.
- If eating fast food, ask for a “kids’ meal” and choose a grilled high-protein sandwich or burger with a side salad and water.
Include Healthy Fats
Increase your consumption of healthy fats, like avocados, olive oil, and fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines.
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public health found that consuming just 2% of daily calories from trans-fat increased infertility risk by 73%. On a 2000-calorie diet, this equates to only 4 grams of trans fat. (4)
Trans fat appears in many store-bought baked goods, shortenings, fried foods such as doughnuts and French fries, and margarine.
Additionally, these researchers found that women who ate the most monounsaturated fats, those found in nuts, seeds, avocado, and olive oil, were 3.4 times more likely to become pregnant than women with a higher intake of saturated fats. (4)
Here are a few easy ways to boost your healthy fat intake:
- Limit or replace butter, margarine, and high saturated fat oils like coconut and palm oil with unsaturated oils like olive oil, avocado oil, or flaxseed oil.
- Snack on nuts and seeds.
- Enjoy fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, or sardines two times a week.
Furthermore, researchers concluded that avocado contains the best fat for fertility, so these should be a regular addition to meals if you enjoy them. (4)
Put It Into Action
- Choose healthy fats like avocados, olive oil, olives, and fatty fish.
- Cut down on trans-fat by eating less fried foods and store-bought baked goods.
- Read the nutrition label to see what kind of fat you are getting and how much.
- Enjoy foods like nuts and seeds.
Power Up with Protein
Protein is essential for making our hormones — such as progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone — and is therefore vital for improving fertility.
Aside from hormonal regulation, sufficient protein is necessary for cellular energy.
Diets low in protein may lead to deficiency in amino acids, thus impacting the development of healthy embryo production and implantation. (5)
Additionally, a diet with optimal protein will help maintain healthy body weight, balanced blood sugar, and encourage regular ovulation.
The type of protein consumed also matters when trying to improve fertility. Consuming more plant-based proteins — such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas — compared to animal-based proteins can increase one’s chances of getting pregnant.
Small changes can make a big difference. Replacing 5% of calories from animal protein with plant protein can decrease the risk of infertility by 50%. (6)
Put It Into Action
- Start your day with a protein-rich breakfast, like eggs with beans or oatmeal with nuts.
- Eat protein with every meal and snack.
- Choose high-quality proteins like eggs, lean meat, fish, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
- Choose more plant-based proteins like legumes, nuts, and seeds compared to animal-based proteins like beef.
Focus on Fiber-Rich Carbohydrates
Research has shown that considering both the type and amount of carbohydrate is necessary for the role of optimal fertility and improving pregnancy outcomes. (7)
Overly processed carbohydrates digest quickly in the body, causing a rapid rise in blood sugar.
Studies indicate that overconsumption of high sugar carbohydrates may lead to an increase in insulin resistance. (7)
Insulin is a hormone that helps us bring our blood sugar back down to normal ranges, and when not working correctly, it may affect a female’s ability to ovulate regularly. (7)
For optimal fertility, work to include more high-fiber, low-processed carbohydrates in your diet. This includes legumes — like beans, peas, and lentils — whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Replace packaged foods like chips, cookies, and high sugar cereals with choices such as fruit and vegetables, sweet potatoes, yams, millet, and high fiber oats.
Put It Into Action
- Swap high sugar carbohydrates for fruit, veggies, and high-fiber grains.
- Read nutrition labels for “added sugar” content and grams of fiber.
- Slowly wean off added sugar and keep sweets to occasional treats.
Water is necessary for all bodily functions.
In the case of fertility, it is especially helpful in improving cervical mucus, removing toxins and waste, reducing inflammation, and is critical for cellular health.
Drinking enough water is especially important when trying to conceive.
Most of your fluid intake should come from plain water versus soda, caffeinated beverages, or alcohol.
According to the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study, women who consumed two or more sodas a day were almost 50% more likely to experience irregular ovulation versus women who drank less than one soda a week. (8)
Additionally, a study in 2017 found that caffeine intake of 300 mg/day, which is about 3 cups of coffee, may be related to increased pregnancy loss when compared to low or no caffeine intake. (9)
Finally, research has shown a woman’s alcohol intake is associated with decreased fertility, even among women with a weekly alcohol intake of five or fewer drinks. (10)
When trying to increase fertility, it is best to minimize caffeine and avoid soda and alcohol.
Put It Into Action
- Find a portable water bottle you enjoy drinking from, keep it filled and with you throughout the day.
- Make a reminder to take a few sips of water every 30 minutes.
- Skip the soda and alcohol and try unsweetened sparkling water or unsweetened tea instead.
- Stick to no more than 1 cup of coffee a day.
Many nutrients are needed to support optimal fertility.
Ideally, all of our nutrients would come from a balanced diet; however, as mentioned before, many women are low in such nutrients.
To fill the nutrient gaps, consider a prenatal vitamin. Your vitamin should be a high-quality multivitamin that also contains minerals.
Research indicates that women taking a prenatal vitamin are more likely to get pregnant; however, not all prenatal vitamins are created equal. (11)
The following nutrients are essential components of a high-quality prenatal vitamin and critical for boosting fertility.
- Folate is not only essential for a developing baby, but it is also vital in improving egg quality and optimal fertility. While many prenatal vitamins contain the synthetic form of folate as folic acid, methylfolate is the recommended form because it is the easiest form to absorb. Look for a prenatal vitamin that includes 400 to 800 mcg methylfolate. (11)
- Vitamin B6 supports healthy progesterone levels, supporting a healthy uterine lining needed for pregnancy. Many women, especially those previously on birth control, are low in B6. Look for a prenatal vitamin that contains B6. (11)
- Iron is an essential nutrient for optimal ovulation. (12) In addition to sources of iron from your diet, your prenatal vitamin should include at least 27 mg of iron; however, it is best to get your levels tested and supplement accordingly. Look for the form iron chelate, which is non-constipating.
- Iodine is critical for healthy thyroid function. Optimal iodine levels will promote fertility, healthy menstrual cycles, and pregnancy. Find a prenatal with a daily dose of 200 to 250 mcg of iodine. Note, if you are taking additional iodine, work with a dietitian or your physician to find a safe intake level for you. (13)
- Choline is essential for healthy pregnancy outcomes; however, many women fall short in this nutrient. Eggs are a wonderful dietary source of choline, but if you do not eat eggs, it is important to find a prenatal vitamin with choline. Aim for 400 mg per day. (14)
- Zinc is essential for promoting ovulation and critical for healthy estrogen and progesterone levels. While food sources include shellfish, oysters, beef, and pumpkin seeds, your prenatal should offer 15–45 mg per day. (1)
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids are associated with better pregnancy outcomes. (15) Some prenatal vitamins include fatty acids, but not all of them. Find a prenatal combination that has vitamins, minerals, and omega-3s or opt for an additional supplement of omega-3 fatty acids, most often found as DHA and EPA. Doses vary per individual. Depending on your diet, you may need 500–1000 mg per day. Speak to your practitioner to find out what is best for you.
- Vitamin D plays a vital role in producing sex hormones and improving fertility. Most individuals will do well with 2,000 IU daily; however, it is ideal to check your levels and supplement accordingly. (16)
Put It Into Action
- Look for a high-quality prenatal vitamin that includes the above nutrients.
- If you are able, begin taking a prenatal vitamin at least three months before getting pregnant.
- Add in an omega-3 supplement if your prenatal does not include omega-3s.
- Get your Vitamin D levels checked and supplement accordingly.
Keeping blood sugar balanced is essential for minimizing stress, improving hormone health, and optimizing fertility.
As mentioned before, a diet low in protein and high in processed, refined foods can affect how insulin works in your body.
On the flip side, eating consistent meals with high-fiber carbohydrates and sufficient protein will help protect your body against blood sugar highs and lows and increase fertility naturally.
Put It Into Action
- Eat regular meals and avoid that “hangry” feeling.
- Include a high-quality protein, such as nuts/seeds, eggs, lean meats, fish, beans, legumes, with each meal and snack.
- Swap high sugar carbohydrates for fiber-rich choices like fruits, vegetables, lentils, and wheat bran.
- Balanced meals = protein + fiber-rich carbohydrate + healthy fat.
While the stress response is a natural and vital part of our biological makeup, being in a constant state of stress translates into anxiety, overwhelm, sleep deprivation, and hormonal imbalance.
Evidence suggests chronic stress may suppress the production of your sex hormones – estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. (17)
This could lead to a missed period, loss of ovulation, and lack of sex drive. (17)
Engaging in mindfulness techniques lowers stress and leaves energy for the body to focus on necessary functions such as ovulation and pregnancy.
Put It Into Action
- Build-in daily habits – practice meditation, yoga, deep breathing, journaling, or daily affirmations and gratitude.
- Don’t go at it alone. Speak with a therapist about any mental health concerns or share with a dependable friend or family member.
- Ask for help. If it is an overload of responsibility in the home or workplace, get others involved to alleviate stress.
Regular physical movement improves your health, relaxes your mind, and is especially helpful in calming your stress hormones.
However, while exercise is an integral part of your fertility, too much exercise can negatively impact you.
Research has shown that women who engage in vigorous physical activity over 60 minutes/day may have a higher risk of fertility issues. Still, exercise between 30–60 minutes/day improves fertility health. (18)
In addition to movement, maintaining a healthy weight is important for improving fertility.
Being overweight may impair your ability to ovulate while being underweight can interfere with your menstrual cycle. (19)
Finding balance with movement and weight maintenance is a step towards boosting your fertility.
Put It Into Action
- If you are new to exercise, start with achievable goals and build up over time.
- Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity at least 5 days per week; it can be as simple as a walk around the neighborhood or yoga in your living room. You can break it up into smaller bouts, like 10 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the afternoon.
- Use everyday opportunities to increase physical activity, such as gardening, walking the dog, or parking further away to get extra steps in.
- Minimize the amount of time you spend sitting, take breaks, and move around as often you can.
Lack of sleep does more than impact mood and productivity; it also affects the hormones a woman will secrete throughout her cycle.
Getting the recommended 7–9 hours of sleep each night is essential for producing and regulating your sex hormones.
Recent studies have found altered sex hormones associated with sleep disturbances such as insomnia, shift work, jet lag, and daylight savings times. (20)
Put It Into Action
- Aim for 7–9 hours of sleep every night.
- Set a consistent bedtime and wake time.
- Put away electronics at least an hour before bedtime.
- Create a calming space in your bedroom to promote rest.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there reliable testing for fertility?
Depending on your medical history and physical examination, your doctor can perform an ultrasound and request blood work to determine hormone status and ovarian reserve.
Speak to your doctor if you are wondering about your fertility.
How can I track my ovulation?
Understanding when you are ovulating is key to becoming pregnant.
While many ovulation tests are on the market, they are pricey and not consistently accurate.
Nowadays, many free apps can help you track your cycle and determine when you are ovulating.
To track your cycle, make a note of the day your period begins. If your cycle is typically 28 days, you will most likely ovulate 14 days after the start of your period. You are most fertile on the day of ovulation and three days prior.
In addition to the calendar method, you can track your temperature. When you are ovulating, you will notice a rise in temperature between .4–1 degree Fahrenheit. This method may require you to track for a few months.
Does the length of my cycle affect fertility?
The length of your cycle is the time between the first day of one period to the first day of the next period.
On average, the length of a cycle is 28 days, but the "normal" range is 24 to 35 days. (21)
If you are outside this range, it is best to speak to your doctor.
How long should my partner and I try to conceive before seeking help?
Most doctors agree that women under 35 should consult a specialist if pregnancy does not occur after a year of regular, unprotected sex. However, you know your body best. If something does not feel right, always speak to your doctor.
If you have an existing medical condition that may interfere with pregnancy or are over the age of 35, speak to your doctor after six months of regular, unprotected sex.
At what age does a woman stop being fertile?
Menopause is the loss of a period for 12 consecutive months. The period loss, in this case, is not related to any other health conditions. Women are no longer fertile once they have gone through menopause.
The average age for women to experience menopause is 51 years of age.
Before menopause, you may experience irregular periods, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings, and other changes due to shifts in hormones. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
Taking care of your mind and body is fundamental for boosting fertility naturally.
Remember how you choose to eat, drink, move and sleep influences your fertility.
Consider the following:
- Eat an optimal fertility diet. Focus on plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, healthy fats, sufficient protein, and high-fiber carbohydrates.
- Stay hydrated. Adequate hydration, from mostly plain water, is essential when trying to conceive.
- Take a high-quality prenatal. Fill the nutrient gaps with a prenatal vitamin that offers optimal levels of folate, vitamin B6, iron, iodine, choline, and zinc. Consider additional supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D.
- Balance blood sugar. Keep your blood sugar stable with balanced meals, including protein, fiber-rich carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
- Manage stress. Practice mindfulness techniques to lower stress and allow energy for necessary functions such as ovulation and pregnancy.
- Incorporate movement. Regular movement is important for lowering stress and maintaining a healthy weight, which aids in boosting fertility.
- Get your Zzz’s. Getting the recommended 7–9 hours of sleep each night is essential for producing and regulating your sex hormones.
If you have questions about your fertility, it is always best to speak to your practitioner.
At WellnessVerge, we only use reputable sources, including peer-reviewed medical journals and well-respected academic institutions.
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