Who knew spending time in the dark can up your baby-making odds?
If you are tryingÂ to get pregnant (or thinking about it),Â you're probably familiar withÂ the standard advice: Maintain a healthy weight. Go easy on the coffee and booze. And avoid stress (if only!). But there are a handful ofÂ otherÂ things that may help boost your baby-making oddsâfrom changing your sushi order to mixing up your workouts. Read on for six tips to consider.
Cut back on long-distance runs
"Exercise is a good thing," says James Grifo, MD, PhD, the program director of the NYU Langone Fertility Center. âBut itâs like anything else: If you cross the red line, youâre going to burn out your engine.â In his book, The Whole Life Fertility Plan ($26, amazon.com), he points to a large Danish study published in 2012 that found that normal-weight women who did vigorous workouts (such as running, swimming, or fast cycling) for at least five hours a week experienced a delay getting pregnant. The researchers also found that women who stuck to low-key exercise (think brisk walking or leisurely cycling) had slightly higher odds of conceiving. Dr. Grifo recommends seeking balance and moderation: âVary your routine with cardio and light weights, yoga, and Pilates-type workouts,â he suggests. âAnd here and there, give yourself a day off.â
Skip the spicy tuna rolls
And avoid eating other large predatory fish, like swordfish, mackerel, and shark. Ocean-dwellers at the top of the food chain tend to have high levels of mercury contamination. âAnd an accumulation of mercury in the bloodstream over time has been associated with infertility,â says Shruti Malik, MD, an ob-gyn at Shady Grove Fertility Center in Fair Oaks, Va. âI tell women who are trying to conceive to avoid or limit consumption of those fish.â
Make breakfast your biggest meal
A 2013 study published in Clinical Science found that eating a hearty a.m. meal may improve fertility for some women who have irregular periods. The Israeli researchers recruited 60 women with polycystic ovary syndrome, a hormone imbalance that affects up to 10 percent of women of childbearing age, and interferes with the development and release eggs. The study subjects were divided into two groups: One group had a little more than half their daily calories (980) at breakfast, and the other consumed the same amount at dinner. After three months, the âbreakfast groupâ had a much higher rate of ovulating women.
Go beyond missionary
Thereâs a myth that doing the deed with your partner on top will result in optimal sperm placement. Nonsense, Dr. Malik says. âThereâs no evidence that position has any effect on fertility.â So go ahead and try whatever positions feel right. What really matters is when you do it, and how often, Dr. Malik says. During your fertile windowâthe five days leading up to ovulation plus the day of ovulationâsheÂ recommends having sex every one to two days. (âSometimes daily intercourse can be stressful,â she explains.) The last two to three days of that window offer your greatest odds of getting pregnant. Worried about predicting the dates? An ovulation predictor kit might be helpful, Dr. Malik says. (A monthâs supply of test sticks costs around $20.)
Switch your lube
Some popular brands (including KY Jelly) may actually impede your efforts, says Dr. Malik. âCertain components of water-based lubricants can make it more difficult for sperm to make their way into the cervical canal,â she explains. A better option: Pre-seed, a product designed to mimic natural fluids for couples who are trying to conceive ($19, amazon.com). Or if you prefer a more natural lube, try mineral oil, Dr. Malik says.
Sleep in total darkness
You know that artificial light at nightâlike the glow from your iPad or TV screen, even a streetlamp outsideâcan mess with the quality of your Zâs. But it could interfere withÂ your ability to conceive, as well, according to aÂ review of studies published in the journal Fertility and Sterility. Late-night light exposure suppresses production of the sleep hormone melatoninâwhich also happens to play a key role in protecting a womanâs eggs from corrosive free radicals, especially during ovulation. Even turning on a bathroom light could impact melatonin levels, study author Russel J. Reiter, PhD, told LiveScience. âIf women are trying to get pregnant, [they should] maintain at least eight hours of a dark period at night,â he urged.
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