By the time you are ready to have a child, or you're ready to think about having a child, you've probably become accustomed to certain routine choices and ways of living. When it comes to your fertility health, you also probably know the bigger factors to pay attention to, such as a healthy diet, reduced stress levels, and prenatal vitamins. Beyond the broader advice, however, there are also some surprising choices you might be making that can leave a real impact on your fertility.
As a fertility expert and acupuncturist, my practice's philosophy looks at the patient as a whole, which requires we take an inventory of how she lives day-to-day. I often find some real blind spots that only take a little insight to change. Here are five lifestyle factors that you might be overlooking day to day.
1. Artificial light and lack of sleep:
Committing to a restful sleep routine and even a nightly ritual on a regular basis can enhance your fertility by lowering your stress levels. The quality of your rest also matters for your overall health and likely your fertility, too. We sleep best in darkness, so switch off those lights (especially on screens or fluorescents) before bed, and be conscious of an intention to relax. If you can't avoid light pollution, try blackout curtains or an eye mask and allow yourself to go without an alarm for a few weekends to see how many hours of rest you honestly need.
2. Vitamin D and sunshine:
Research shows that this vitamin is important for both women (and men) who are trying to conceive. If you're not sure whether you're getting enough, ask your doctor to test for it. Your blood work will be able to show whether you are at a good level and whether you're absorbing it. Getting some sunshine on a daily basis (with sunscreen) can also help you absorb and process it in order to boost your fertility.
3. Personal lubricants:
You are likely getting intimate with your partner during ovulation, but you also want to make sure you're helping your chances of conception by using a proper, if any, lubricant. Lubricants often have spermicide and certain chemicals that reduce the impact of lovemaking. Look for lubes that are sperm-friendly, pH balanced, contain no glycerin, and are paraben-free.
4. Body weight:
Sometimes it's best not to go to the gym every single day or to double up on the spin classes. A BMI that is too high is well-known as a fertility issue but so is being underweight. Ideally, it's best for couples to discuss weight, diet, and exercise with their doctors as they begin looking forward to pregnancy. Your doctor can help you figure out a healthy body weight goal for you.
5. Phthalate and plastic exposure:
Although avoiding plastic seems like quite the feat, any sort of reduction can help to enhance your fertility. This is due to phthalates, which are released by a number of blended plastic products in our everyday lives, from food storage containers, to shrink wrap and plastic Saran wrap. These endocrine disrupters can affect your body's natural ability to regulate your reproductive system. Instead, opt for glass jars, paper bags, and (whenever possible) non-plastic reusable items.
Changing habits for optimal fertility is really about taking into account all of the factors in your life, including some that you've held on to for a while. While each of these factors might seem small in value, they definitely add up to a cleaner, more fertile lifestyle when approached together. Realigning your routine to be mindful of a quick walk outside or trading your plastic containers for glass could end up supporting your health and fertility far more than you could expect. And as with almost all fertility advice, these factors will also help your lifestyle, and the environment, overall.