In-vitro fertilization, or IVF, is considered one of the most effective forms of assisted reproductive technology. If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for a while and/or have been diagnosed with infertility, including unexplained infertility, it’s possible you’ve thought about IVF or even been given a referral to a clinic.
IVF is amazing technology, originally designed to help women with blocked fallopian tubes but now used for many situations. IVF comes with some major downsides though – in the US especially, it’s expensive ($15,000-30,000 per cycle), can have major side effects, and chance of success is only up to 66% after three cycles.
All that to say, while IVF is an excellent choice for many people, you may find it worth trying other, less invasive, natural remedies to get pregnant first. Many of the primary contributions to infertility can be mitigated with cycle tracking, nutrition, and other smaller changes! Check out these natural conception tips below.
Natural Ways to Boost Fertility
1. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle with Exercise & Proper Nutrition
To get pregnant, you need a healthy sperm to fertilize a healthy egg. Sperm quality (how well they can swim and how healthy they are), egg quality, and regular menstrual cycle all play a role, and all three are influenced by your overall health and nutrition.
Many of the tips to improve sperm and egg quality are similar! We’ll talk about specific nutrients later, but in general you should eat a balanced diet low in saturated fats but rich in omega-3s, fruits, and vegetables. Eating plenty of animal products like eggs, fish, seafood, liver, and dairy will also help your body get the nutrients it needs to make a baby!
Regular, low-intensity exercise is also important for good sperm and egg quality. For males in particular, exercise has been shown to improve sperm quality. For females, it’s more about regular exercise being good for your overall health, and also making sure you aren’t exercising so intensely that it’s affecting your menstrual cycle and resulting in irregular or absent ovulation.
2. Track Your Menstrual Cycle & Fertility Hormones
Did you know that mistiming intercourse is actually a primary cause of infertility? While period tracking apps and long-standing myths may have convinced us that ovulation is “supposed” to happen on day 14 for everyone, this isn’t true. Especially since sperm typically only survive 3-5 days, if you’re targeting day 14 but you actually don’t ovulate until, say, day 21, you might miss it entirely!
If you aren’t actively tracking your cycle and hormones, it’s also possible to miss if you aren’t ovulating at all or ovulating irregularly. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to track your cycle. Some of our favorite ways are:
- Proov Complete: Track all four main menstrual hormones to get full-cycle fertility & ovulation insights!
- Predict & Confirm: Predict and confirm ovulation from the comfort of home.
- Cervical mucus monitoring
- Basal body temperature
…or any combination!
3. Manage Stress Level with Stress Reducing Activities
While trying to conceive can be stressful enough on its own, it really is important to manage your lifestyle stress and work on relaxation. If your body perceives too much stress, it might not feel it’s a good time to use precious resources to grow a baby.
Ideally, you should prevent or eliminate stressful situations – we know, easier said than done – but stress mitigation techniques are also helpful. These include yoga, regular meditation and mindfulness, and therapy or counseling to have a professional help you manage your stress. Low intensity exercise also helps here too – regular exercise has significant antidepressant effects.
4. Optimize Sexual Health
Safe sex and hygiene matter, too! The biggest thing you can do here is getting tested for any STDs/STIs if you haven’t recently, especially since many infections may not show symptoms but do impact fertility. If you’re female and you get yeast infections, this doesn’t affect your fertility directly, but an infection passed to your male partner may reduce sperm quality, not to mention yeast infections often mean painful sex.
If you use lubricant, look specifically for lubricants that are hydroxyethylcellulose-based: This kind of lubricant best mimics the vaginal environment and does not impair sperm motility. There are several labeled “fertility-friendly” that have been cleared by the FDA! Other lubricants, including oils and saliva, hinder sperm travel and may make it more difficult to get pregnant, so steer clear.
5. Enhance Nutritional & Supplemental Intake
Finally, there are particular nutrients that have been shown in studies to increase either the likelihood of conceiving or sperm/egg quality. Check that you’re getting enough of these in your diet, or consider supplementation if it makes sense for you. These include:
- Folic acid: Prevents neural tube defects in early pregnancy and can increase your chances of conceiving. This is the main ingredient in prenatal vitamins!
- Iron: Reduces risk of anovulation/ovulatory disorders
- Zinc: an important antioxidant, found in high amounts in many fish/seafood and beef. Great for sperm and egg quality.
- Selenium: Deficiency of this mineral may reduce male fertility and lead to negative pregnancy outcomes.
- Vitamins C, D, & E: These vitamins all work as antioxidants and are important for sperm/egg quality.
- Choline: Choline is used by your cells for so many things, but most people in the US get less than is recommended, especially pregnant women. Aim for 550 mg a day – some good sources are animal products (especially liver and eggs), broccoli, brussel sprouts, beans, and potatoes.
The Importance of At-Home Testing
As you’re trying to make changes or track your cycle, it’s important to know if what you’re doing is working, or if you’re at risk for ovulatory disorders, low sperm count, or other conditions that might be easily remedied without IVF. This is why at-home testing, both on the male and female side, is important.
For instance, testing PdG will help you confirm that you’re actually ovulating and doing so successfully (that is, giving you a higher chance at possible pregnancy).
You can also test Motile Sperm Concentration at home, giving you an understanding of male fertility. You have lots of options–check out some of these to learn more!
Home testing also puts you in control of the process, and gives you additional information and options that you can take to your doctor. Both the Proov Insight app and the YO Sperm app will provide results that suggest fertility improvements and help guide your future testing.
Remember You’re on Your Own Journey
At the end of the day, it’s up to you what options you choose, how long you try, and what interventions you do or don’t go with. As long as you’re prioritizing your own health, none of your decisions are wrong!
If you need help deciding if fertility testing may be right for you, contact our customer care team – we’re happy to help. You can also talk to a doctor if you have more questions.Ready to learn more about at-home testing? Check out “Top 7 Benefits to At-Home Fertility Tests for Couples” or “Can I still use at-home fertility tests if my period is irregular?”