How do you boost fertility?

Medically reviewed by Rosanna Sutherby, PharmD on April 13, 2020. Written by Jordana White. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.


When you’re trying to get pregnant, knowing how to boost fertility can make all the difference. Read on to discover what you can do to improve the likelihood of pregnancy, methods that don’t work, and more.


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How can I boost fertility naturally to increase my chances of getting pregnant?

How to increase fertility in women

Diet

While there isn't any specific "fertility diet" a fertility specialist would recommend if you're trying to conceive, the food you eat can affect your fertility: following a healthy diet rich in key nutrients may help improve one's fertility. An in-depth study revealed that the best diet for fertility should include:

  • Folic acid (vitamin B9) - most easily found in prenatal vitamins
  • Vitamin B12 - commonly found in animal products like fish, meat, eggs, and milk; many breakfast cereals are also fortified with vitamin B12
  • Omega-3 fatty acids - good sources include fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines

Weight

Obesity and being overweight are associated with infertility in women—but studies show that fertility can improve with a weight loss approach that emphasizes a reduced dietary intake of saturated fat and refined carbohydrates, plus regular aerobic exercise. So if you are trying to conceive, ask your healthcare provider or fertility specialist for advice on how you can maintain a healthy weight and follow a healthy diet.

Timing of sexual intercourse

You can increase the likelihood of conception and pregnancy by having sex about one or two days before ovulation—the part of the menstrual cycle that involves the release of an egg from your ovary. (Related: What are normal estradiol levels in women?)

Typically, ovulation takes place about 14 days before the start of the next period. But because menstrual cycles are different for every woman, it isn't always easy to know when you ovulate. Here are a couple tips that can help:

  • Watch for changes in your discharge. Just before you ovulate, your discharge will likely be clear, wet, and stretchy. After ovulation occurs, however, your cervical mucus will decrease, and any secretions will be less noticeable.
  • Check for changes in your basal body temperature. When you ovulate, your basal body temperature rises slightly (basal body temperature refers to the body’s temperature when at rest). You can detect when this happens by taking daily measurements with a thermometer that measures basal body temperature.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that there’s very little scientific evidence for the belief that specific positions during intercourse improves the odds of conception. Similarly, lying in bed for a while after intercourse—or deliberately not using the restroom—hasn’t been shown to improve pregnancy chances.

How to boost fertility in males

Studies show that healthy diets—like the Mediterranean diet—improve sperm quality in men, which has a positive effect on fertility. But sperm quality suffers if diets are high in saturated and trans fats.

Additionally, preventing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is important for keeping sperm healthy. (Routine testing is key for protecting yourself against STIs—something you can easily do from the privacy of home with the Everlywell at-home STD Test for men.)

Effectively managing stress is another way to support male fertility. Stress hormones like cortisol can not only interfere with sexual function, but also affect levels of hormones men need to produce sperm.

Here are a few other tips that can help boost fertility in males:

  • Avoid cigarettes, since smoking cigarettes is associated with low sperm counts.
  • Talk with your healthcare provider about medications you’ve been prescribed to learn if any medications you’re taking can negatively affect your fertility.
  • Wear protective gear if you’ll be exposed to potentially toxic chemicals like pesticides (many toxic chemicals can affect both sperm quantity and quality).

Conclusion

There are practical steps you can take—highlighted above—to increase the chances of pregnancy. One other step you can take? Check in on hormones that play key roles in fertility with the Everlywell at-home women’s Fertility Test. This test measures 5 hormones that can help reveal potential imbalances that may be contributing to fertility issues you’re experiencing. Taking the test is easy—you just collect a small blood sample with a simple finger prick and send your sample to the lab with the prepaid shipping label included with the kit.


What are normal estradiol levels in women?

Women’s fertility and age: knowing what to expect

What are the signs of infertility in women?


References

1. Gaskins AJ, Chavarro JE. Diet and fertility: a review. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2018;218(4):379–389. doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2017.08.010

2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids. National Institutes of Health. URL. Accessed April 13, 2020.

3. Best D, Avenell A, Bhattacharya S. How effective are weight-loss interventions for improving fertility in women and men who are overweight or obese? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the evidence. Hum Reprod Update. 2017;23(6):681–705. doi:10.1093/humupd/dmx027

4. How can I increase my chances of getting pregnant? National Health Service. URL. Accessed April 13, 2020.

5. What ovulation signs can I look out for if I'm hoping to conceive? Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed April 13, 2020.

6. Practice Committee of American Society for Reproductive Medicine in collaboration with Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. Optimizing natural fertility: a committee opinion. Fertil Steril. 2013;100(3):631–637. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2013.07.011

7. Fertility and diet: Is there a connection? Harvard Health Blog. URL. Accessed April 13, 2020.

8. Healthy sperm: Improving your fertility. Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed April 13, 2020.

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