By Monica Cox, Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner and Infertility specialist at Finding Fertility
Whether you’re currently planning for pregnancy, or just wanting to look after your fertility health in the longer term, there are important steps you can take to improve your preconception health.
This matters because your environment, diet and lifestyle all have a major impact on your fertility health - both positively and negativity - long before you're even ready to start trying for a baby.
You might even find that you've been so busy trying not to get pregnant, that you've overlooked the importance of your fertility health. Most likely you've been taught all the ways NOT to get pregnant, but little to nothing on how to optimise your health and support fertility before you're ready to start trying to conceive.
For many of us, we're told it's common to have minor issues, including headaches, gut issues and hormonal problems however these issues are anything but ordinary and should be addressed as early as possible. For many women struggling to conceive, these common issues can coalesce to create a more significant problem: infertility.
My fertility journey
When I started trying for a baby at the age of 27, I saw myself as fit and healthy. For the first four years of our fertility journey, I never gave a second thought to the way I ate, drank and lived life. I was fit and active; I ate better than most, never had an eating disorder, smoked or took drugs, and drank what everyone else was drinking.
So why wasn't I getting pregnant? After years of never getting pregnant, two failed IVFs and no other clear signs; we discovered that my normal lifestyle was not only affecting my fertility but making me infertile.
I was able to start taking steps to restore the peace inside my body and achieve my dream family but, had I been aware of some of the simple changes I could have made during my 20s, I could have saved myself a lot of time, effort, money and heartache.
There are a few key changes you can make today, to support your body in maintaining true health and to keep your fertility strong for when you're ready to start a family.
5 top ways to support your fertility, long before you're ready to conceive.
1. Be aware of thyroid health
Thyroid dysfunction is relatively high in the general population and is often undiagnosed. One in eight women will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime, according to the American Thyroid Association (ATA). Every cell in the body depends upon thyroid hormones being released from the thyroid gland, including the body's metabolism, blood calcium levels, fat metabolism, energy production, oxygen utilisation, the balance of other hormones and weight maintenance. So, you can see why it's so important to keep it healthy. The best way to do this is by eating clean and limiting exposure to heavy metals, including mercury, fluoride, and bisphenols. Moderate exercise is beneficial to thyroid health, and managing stress is essential.
2. Take care of your gut
It all starts in the gut – a healthy gut dramatically improves your health and fertility. Also, your growing baby’s digestive tract will be colonised by the same bacteria in your gut, so it’s worth prioritising good gut health. Again, this is done by eating clean, being conscious about how much sugar you're having each day and supporting a healthy microbial balance by eating lacto-fermented foods and taking a good probiotic.
3. Know your body on birth control
As women, we're lucky to live in a time when we have control over our bodies, including the many different birth control options available to us. However, hormonal birth control can have unwanted side effects on a woman's body, including unwanted weight gain, depression, and oxidative stress. In some cases, this can lead to chronic stress, hormone imbalance, and infertility. Being aware of how your body is affected by hormonal birth control is key: listen to what your body is telling you. If you don't feel right on it, remove it and look for alternative options.
4. Movement and sleep
Keep moving – you're young and fit, you love to dance and be active, so this should be no problem! Find what works best for you and do it 3 to 5 times a week.
And then sleep. Sleep is one of the most underrated things you can do for your health. Find what works for you – I'm a 7 to 9 hours type of girl and that works great for me! I do find that if I go to bed later than midnight, I feel like a zombie, even if I get 7 hours. If this sounds familiar, try to get to bed before 10pm and see if this improves your overall energy levels throughout the day.
5. Learn how to handle life's stressors
The way you handle stress will determine the way stress handles you. If you let stress get the better of you, it can impact every area of your body - including your fertility.
Do not underestimate stress and its ability to harm your hormones, digestive function, immune response and brainpower. Learning to become zen-like to your best ability is going to be hugely beneficial to your health.
Let's face it, we all could do with relaxing more in our lives. Find work works for you - meditation, journaling, yoga, breathing or emotional freedom tapping. Practise your new skill daily and bring it into your life when you're feeling stressed out.
Whether you're planning on starting your family sooner or later on in life, your nutrition, movement, sleep, and the way you manage stress are all going to play a role in preconception health. Thyroid and gut health are often overlooked areas when it comes to fertility health and deserve special attention.
There are many natural ways to support fertility health and improve your chances of conceiving and creating a happy, healthy baby. Get in touch with me to find out more and arm yourself with the education, action, resources, and support that can improve your chances of finally finding fertility.
You can learn more about fertility and functional health at FindingFertility.co.
For a limited time, Monica is offering a free 15-minute consultation for Functional Self customers. Click here to book your free consultation and find out how you can improve fertility naturally.