If you're suffering from infertility, or simply want to increase your chances of having a baby, then this article is for you!
As a passionate health and wellness enthusiast, my wife and I decided we'd try for a baby after we married. Knowing I had a history of rock bottom testosterone (read more here) and my wife's own thyroid and gut health issues, we decided we needed to do everything we could to increase our fertility issues naturally.
There was no indication that we would have a problem conceiving, but given the increasing infertility rates, combined with past hormonal problems, we figured there was no harm making some changes if they were going to help.
This article, and my male focused article - 21 Effective Tips For Men To Increase Fertility Naturally are a result of all the research my wife and I did.
Hopefully our hard work looking into the literature on all things fertility will benefit you as much as it did for us... Because I can proudly say that we have a beautiful healthy baby boy!
And I can tell you know, though some of the tips and suggestions below may seem difficult to implement, they are totally worth it when you see your gorgeous newborn give you a big toothless smile for the first time!
You'd have to be living under a rock to know that fertility rates in the western world have been plummeting. In the decade between 2007 and 2017 fertility rates dropped by 12% in rural parts of the USA and 18% in metropolitan areas (1).
This decline continues the downward trend in fertility rates, with the America fertility rate being below 'replacement levels' since 1971 (2).
These rates can be explained by various reasons, not just declining health. But health issues are a significant cause of infertility, and that's what this article is going to focus on.
Before we get started - ladies, please share the responsibility with your partner. In approximately 40% of infertile couples, the male is often responsible (or at least part of the problem) (3).
So make improving fertility a team effort. While you read this article, be sure to send him my male focuses fertility blog which can be read here - 21 Effective Tips For Men To Increase Fertility Naturally
Also - if you are wondering how fertile you really are, make sure to do a LetsGetChecked in home Female Fertility Test. These tests don't require any doctor or nurses visits, and you get your results within 5 days. Use coupon code ALEXFERGUS to save on these tests at LetsGetChecked.com
I'm not a doctor, nor am I a fertility expert. However I have worked with 100's of clients addressing root health issues and hormonal imbalances through my Hormone Reset Program.
As a result of my own experiences and the amazing results my clients have had, I firmly believe that improving health through natural dietary, lifestyle and environmental changes should be the foundation of any health improvement strategy.
And I see no reason why this wouldn't apply to fixing infertility.
Like many things in the medical industry, a solution to a problem often comes with great expense and many side effects. IVF use is becoming more and more widespread, even with it's enormous emotional and financial cost.
So before you consider going down that route, or even if you're don't have any fertility issues at the moment, consider fixing those health foundations.
Alright, enough of the introduction. Let's get started!
Eating Organic food may be the best investment you can make in improving your fertility.
In fact, research has shown that eating an organic diet for 1 week reduced pesticide exposure in the diet by 90% (8).
Whats the dangers of eating pesticide laden non-organic food? Plenty.
Animal studies have long indicated that the ingestion of pesticide contaminations at 'environmentally relevant concentrations' decreases off-spring rates (9), and researchers have now started looking at the impact pesticides have on human fertility.
Unfortunatley, the findings are the same. A 2018 paper published in JAMA Internal Medicine concluded:
Higher consumption of high-pesticide residue Fruit & Vegetabless was associated with lower probabilities of pregnancy and live birth... These data suggest that dietary pesticide exposure within the range of typical human exposure may be associated with adverse reproductive consequences.
One of the worlds most used pesticides is glyphosate (also know as RoundUp).
I have explained, in great detail, why it's so important to eat an Organic diet free from pesticides such as glyphosate in my article Glyphosate: Why You Need To Eat Organic.
That article focuses more on the broad health dangers to consuming food with glyphosate residues, but there is a lot of evidence linking glyphosate exposure (or intake) with hormonal and reproductive disruption.
I have included some of the relevant text from that article below:
A 2012 European report in the Journal of Environmental & Analytical Toxicology found congenital malformations in young pigs fed glyphosate-contaminated soybeans.All organs or tissues had glyphosate in different concentrations. The highest concentrations were seen in the lungs and hearts.
Here are a few snippets from that paper (30):
These piglets showed different abnormalities as ear atrophy,spinal and cranial deformations, cranium hole in head and leg atrophy; in one piglet one eye was not developed, it had only a large one. Piglets without trunk, with elephant tongue, and female piglet with testes were also present.
Glyphosate and its commercial herbicides severely affect embryonic and placental cells, producing mitochondrial damage, necrosis and programmed cell death with doses far below the used agricultural concentrations.
The risk of malformation in human embryos is very high when their mothers are contaminated at 2 to 8 weeks of pregnancy
In conclusion, glyphosate could reach the animals through food and feed and is able to pass the placental barriers
Similar findings have been observed in poultry. (31).The direct effect of glyphosate on early mechanisms of morphogenesis in vertebrate embryos opens concerns about the clinical findings from human offspring in populations exposed to Glyphosate in agricultural fields. (31)
A 2010 study looked at the glyphosates' teratogenic (malformation of embryos) properties and found that glyphosate exposure to embryos was evident. The authors concluded:
This is just the start of the literature on glyphosate and birth defects. Given a large amount of data on this topic, I have summarised key findings below:
- A Canadian study found that farmers use of glyphosate was linked to an increase in miscarriages and premature births in farming families. (32).
- In rats, increasing glyphosate exposure increased the frequency of abnormal and dead sperm (33).
- Another rat study concluded 'glyphosate-Roundup is toxic [to pregnant rats] and induces developmental retardation of the fetal skeleton.'(34)
- Male rats born to a mother that was exposed to glyphosate had impaired reproductive impairment. Researchers found that glyphosate decreased serum testosterone concentrations before concluding: These results suggest that maternal exposure to glyphosate disturbed the masculinization process and promoted behavioral changes and histological and endocrine problems in reproductive parameters. (35)
- A report by Argentine physicians and scientists, detailed health effects from exposure to glyphosate. These effects included increased incidence of birth defects & miscarriages. Other health effects noted included difficulty conceiving, genetic damage (which can lead to cancer and birth defects); neurological developmental problems in children and allergies. DNA damage was also found in people exposed to spraying (36).
Why all the focus on glyphosate? As I mentioned above, glyphosate is one of the most commonly used pesticides and herbicides in the world.
Worst though, is it's literally everywhere - in the soil, in the water, in the air. Have a read of this for more - Glyphosate: The Weed Killer Found In Our Food & Water.
More worrying though is it's use in GMO cropping. Genetically engineered crops have been designed so that they are resistant to glyphosate - also known as roundup ready crops.
This means that growers can spray entire fields of crops with glyphosate, and know that their main crop will survive but everything else will be killed off. This is one of the biggest dangers with GMO food.
Another common use of glyphosate is desiccation - whereby growers spray the plants foliage before harvest. An example here is potatoes. Farmers will spray the crop with Roundup a few days prior to harvest to make the extraction process easier.
Now you know how widespread pesticide use is in farming, and the links between pesticides and fertility, hopefully now you will switch to organic eating.
- Spend the extra money, eat organic fruit, vegetables and meat.
- Read my 3 part series on glyphosate starting with part 1 - Glyphosate: The Weed Killer Found In Our Food & Water
What do I mean by this? Simple - sleep in the dark when it's dark outside.
Get outside in the morning and during the day.
Eat, play & move when it's daylight.
And reduce blue light exposure in the evening prior to bed.
Our body functions differently based on light cycles in our environment. The obvious cycle is our sleep and wake cycle, but circadian rhythms go further than that.
Our appetite, reproductive state, alertness, digestion and brain function all ebb and flow on a natural 24 hour cycle. This cycle is known as our circadian rhythm and more and more evidence is coming out showing that if this rhythm is broken, disrupted (think jet lag) or ignored (working night shift for example) then our health takes a massive hit.
A quick look at the research on night shift workers have a greater risk of all sorts of health diseases (10,11,12).
But even if you're not working nights, simply being exposed to light at the wrong time, staying up too late, eating at the wrong time or not getting outside during the day can all impact fertility.
This was proven by a study on mice. When their circadian rhythms were disrupted the mice had difficulty becoming pregnant with infertility issues (13).
Another important reason for having a stable circadian rhythm is due to females ovulation cycles. Darkness brings about the release of melatonin in the body.
The body is rich in melatonin receptors, when melatonin is released the body picks up on this and certain biological processes begin (or stop).
It is thought that the ovaries contain melatonin receptors as well. Our body works on regular light and dark cycles.
The following quote is from the extremely interesting article Fertility Awareness, Food, and Night-Lighting:
In the late 1960s, Louise Lacey, a writer, realized that being on the Pill took her body away from its natural rhythm. She began reading about circadian rhythm and the sexual cycles of some primates, which suggested peaks of sexual activity relating to the lunar cycle. Lacey wondered if the moon’s cycles relate to human reproduction, and if so, how? She wondered whether artificial lights could interrupt the moon’s effect.
A newspaper article that reported the effects of night-light on the menstrual cycle then caught her attention. John Rock and physicist E.M. Dewan found that women’s menstrual cycles became regular by sleeping in complete darkness Days 1-13, sleeping with a 100-watt bulb burning all night (under a lampshade in their bedroom) Days 14-17, and then returning to sleeping in complete dark.
Thrilled by the possibility that she could return to healthy cycles, Lacey tried variations on the above experiment, beginning in 1971. She also began to chart her temperature. She found that sleeping in complete darkness except for three nights each cycle (when she slept with a 40-watt bulb under a lampshade or with a 75-watt bulb beaming a shaft of light from a nearby bathroom (essentially mimicking full-moon light) triggered ovulation. She called the technique Lunaception, and found that it could be used to direct her fertility–and that of her women friends. By avoiding intercourse on the days they slept with light, Louise Lacey and 27 of her friends developed regular, healthy menstrual cycles, and used Lunaception to avoid pregnancy effectively until menopause.
Other clinical researchers have also found that sleeping in the absence of light (introducing it for a few days each cycle, or sleeping only in the absence of light) can help women in a variety of situations to strengthen their cycles.
This is why adhering to your environments light cycles (and sleeping in rooms void of artifical lighting) is paramount not only for fertility but for health.
- Broken or misaligned circadian rhythms are linked to all sorts of disease and illness.
- If circadian rhythm and health is new to you, be sure to readHow Blue Light Is Ruining Sleep and Making You Sick and How to Improve Your Sleep With Morning Sunlight
- Sleeping, eating and living in a stable, rhythmic fashion is going to do wonders for improving your fertility and overall health.
- Be sure to eat, exercise and get outside when the sun is up.
- Minimise light exposure in the evening, and wear your Swannies Blue Blocker Glasses
In my article mens fertility article I claimed that this issue may be the biggest factor in declining male fertility rates. My claim is supported by the vast research linking non-native electromagnetic fields (nnEMF) exposure to sperm damage and testosterone reductions.
But what about the impact this is having on females fertility?
It doesn't take much time in pubmed to discover that EMF is also contributing to escalating female infertility rates.
In the 38 page report titled 'Environmental Electromagnetic Field and Female Fertility' authors Leila Roshangar and Jafar Rad remarked:
“There is no doubt that cell damages are the basis of all disorders occurs after EMF exposure. In support of our findings Sandra et al/ (Sandra et al. 2000) suggested that EMF-exposure might impair mammalian female reproductive potentiality by reducing the capacity of the follicles to reach a developmental stage that is an essential pre requisite for reproductive success…
The present EMF-exposure model can be used when striving to find ways to improve the viability of ovarian tissue in order to grow follicles for subsequent IVF treatment, and or to protect reproductive organs from EMF effect. …” (7).
During my research into EMF and male fertility I cam across a paper titled 'The influence of direct mobile phone radiation on sperm quality'. Though the title points to a male focus, the researchers also covered female fertility. I quote the following:
Another interesting implication of the findings of our study is that women wishing to conceive a child should be careful about laptop and mobile phones usage. The fertile life of human sperm in the female reproductive tract may be 80 hours or more. Spermatozoa can survive in the female cervix uteri and likely oviducts where they might be in danger from electromagnetic waves [i, ii].
A topic, also, for numerous studies regards the probably negative RF–EMF influence on female fertility and embryo/fetus. Some data in animals and humans declare an adverse impact caused by RF–EMR on granulosa cells, ovarian follicle numbers, endometrial tissue, quality of oocytes and embryos, and even alterations on fetal heart physiology during pregnancy [iii]. For example, ninety women with uncomplicated pregnancies, and 30 full–term healthy newborn infants were included in the study by Rezk AY et al, 2008. The pregnant mothers were exposed to RF–EMR emitted by mobile phones while on dialing mode for 10 min during pregnancy and after birth. Researchers found that the exposure of pregnant women to mobile phones significantly increased fetal and neonatal heart rate, and significantly decreased fetal cardiac output [ix].
This is pretty alarming stuff right? Even if infertility is not a problem, mothers to be should still be very cautious with exposure to EMF fields.
Finally, there is a paper titled 'Radiations and Female Fertility' that was published in 2018. This in depth review not only looks at the effects of non-ionizing radiation (mobile phones, radio etc) on female fertility, but also ionizing radiation (chemotherapy, x-rays etc).
The authors paint an interesting picture - sure with all the new medical devices and screening, along with our advanced technological world, we live longer and with a greater quality of life, but we may be paying for these benefits through lowered fertility rates.
How long are you exposed to non-native Electromagnetic Radiation in your day? It doesn’t take much to impact your fertility rates.
So if you’re serious about boosting your fertility levels naturally, avoid putting your cellphone in your pocket close to your ovaries. And minimise any exposure to x-rays and wireless technologies.
- Understand the significance of wifi and cell phone radiation on sperm health.
- It will be hard, but reconsider your use of wireless devices.
- If you must use a wireless device, remember the 3 D's. Distance, Duration & Density. Keep duration and density (power) to a minimum and distance (from the device to your genitals) as high as possible.
Have you heard about Pottengers Cats experiment?
Dr. Pottenger Jr performed a multi generational study on cats. His experiment looked at 5 different diets over 4 generations involving 900 cats.
He discovered that when cats were fed a diet lacking in nutrients the cats - unsurprisingly - developed pour health later in the cats life.
However the surprising finding came when these cats gave birth. The second generation cats started developing health issues in midlife.
The second generation cats became parents to third generation cats, cats who started to develop health issues early in their life. These kittens developed allergies, had pour bone structure and were ridden with parasites.
Shockingly, some of these 3rd generation cats could not produce their own offspring.
The few forth generation cats that were born "suffered from most of the degenerative diseases encountered in human medicine" (6). Worst than that, none of the forth generation cats could produce offspring.
What is the takeaway from this experiment? Yes, your parents, grand parents and even your great grandparents diet could be influencing your fertility levels.
But more importantly, you should know that a nutrient rich, healthy human diet can turn the tide and start undoing damage from generations ago. Not only will this help your fertility, but you will be giving your future children a massive helping hand in their life.
This experiment has been backed up with numerous other studies. Researchers have found that the diet a mother consumes directly impacts their childs health and wellbeing.
Back to fertility, more recent research has shown the role minerals and antioxidants play in determining whether male and females will be fertile (4).
Where am I going with all of this? Simple, if you are suffering from fertility issues, and or simply want to create the best environment for your future children - then eat a nutrient rich diet (5).
What do I mean by a nutrient rich diet? Bone broth, egg yolks, plenty of vitamin rich saturated fats, full fat dairy, organic produce, pasture fed meats, wild caught seafood, organ meats are all great starting points.
- Start eating a healthier diet right away. For insight into my pre-baby diet see THIS.
- Be sure to incorporate nutrient rich traditional superfoods such as liver, bone broth & egg yolks.
- For more tips on healthy eating, tune in to my presentation this week by clicking HERE.
In my article 'Are Your Being Exposed To Dangerous Flame Retardants' I explain how compounds such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers are extremely damaging to our hormonal system.
Worst - research has found that 97% of Americans have detectable levels in their body! (13)
As these compounds are great an inhibiting fire, they are found in your furniture, your mattress, your carpet, airplane seats, home insulation and even in the plastics of your gadgets.
So what you may be thinking? Well these synthetic flame retardants are making their way into our bodies and having a dangerous effect.
In fact, numerous peer reviewed studies have found that PBDE’s and other flame retardants have been detected in: Human fat tissue, Blood, Breast Milk, Urine, Semen (15). And these flame retardants have been linked to issues with thyroid health, pregnancy, fertility, obesity, brain function and cancer (14).
We know for a fact that exposure to these toxins decreases fertility in woman (13), whilst at the same time exposure during pregnancy can impact babies health and increase risk of pregnancy loss (16).
- Read my article Are Your Being Exposed To Dangerous Flame Retardants
- Vacuum your house regularly with a HEPA vacuum cleaner
- Consider upgrading your mattress to one that's made of natural, flame retardant free materials (Mattresses are extremely high in flame retardants and you do spend a 1/3 of your life here. Plus, chances are this is where baby will be conceived right?! Read THIS for more info).
By common cooking oils I mean polyunsaturated fatty acid laden canola oil, peanut oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, vegetable oil and margarine.
Yes the oils that have been marketed as 'heart healthy' (this is a fallacy!)
Not only do these oils contain a highly inflammatory fatty acid (also known as PUFA's), they are commonly sourced from GMO grown crops. Meaning the crop is doused in cancer causing glyphosate and this is making it's way into the oil you're consuming (17).
Canola oil for instance is far from being natural. It is derived from the rapeseed plant, but as this plant is toxic to humans, it has been genetically engineered to lower these toxic compounds.
What you end up with is a Frankenstein plant that has been sprayed with chemicals, and then heavily processed to extract the oil. Oil which is extremely high in sensitive PUFAs, and then this oil is heated as cooking oil - damaging those PUFA's and causing massive health issues.
Industrial seed oils are pervasive in our food supply - most packaged goods contain a seed oil of some form, nearly every household will have this oil in their pantry and restaurants across the world continue to cook in what is incorrectly labelled as 'heart healthy oil'.
Why is seed oil consumption a problem for female fertility? These oils are not only damaging to our health (read more here - PUFA's: The Worst Thing For Your Health That You Eat Everyday), they deplete the bodies stores of vitamin E.
Vitamin E is was labelled 'tocopherol' in 1924. This came from the Greek term tokos which means 'childbirth', and ferein - which means 'bring forth'.
Although human studies are still lacking, deficiency in vitamin E in animals is linked to fertility issues in animals and early pregnancy termination.
The mass consumed seed oils strip the body of this vital nutrient.
In fact, gossypol - which is a cotton phenol found in cotton seeds (and the resulting oil) is well established to negatively impact fertility rates. So much so that it has been recommended as a contraceptive in men... Unfortunatley though there is pretty powerful of this contraceptive - permanent infertility! (5)
- Read my article PUFA's: The Worst Thing For Your Health That You Eat Everyday
- Stop cooking in canola oil or any other seed oil. Cook in butter, lard or olive oil instead.
- Avoid consumption of all mass produced packaged goods.
I know this is easier said than done, but it's an important step if you're looking at improving your fertility.
Let's think about it from an ancestral point of view. The bodies stress mechanism is a survival mechanism. In a life or death situation (i.e. wild animal chasing you, or extreme famine) your body activates it's stress response.
Adrenaline and cortisol surge through the body - pulling blood, oxygen and nutrients away from the stomach, digestive tract and reproductive organs and sending them to the muscles and heart.
Heart rate is elevated, blood pressure rises, sight and sound all sharpen and the body is primed to fight or run (your fight or flight response).
In such a scenario, bodily functions like digesting food are neglected (it's why in extremely stressful situations people will pee or poop themselves).
Fighting bugs or disease is pushed to the side (why people are more likely to catch a cold or a virus when they're stressed).
Fatigue and need for sleep is over-ridden (though the body may be exhausted, this is no time for sleep. Overcome the stressful event and you can sleep and recover later).
And of course sex is entirely off the cards. Even if you tried to have sex in such a situation, you'd soon fine that blood flow wasn't been sent to the right place.
Your body has one thing in mind - survival.
Reproduction can come later, for now, you have to overcome this stressful event.
This stress system is designed to be switched on for short periods - enough to overcome the stressful event (i.e. get away from the animal or have enough energy to find some food).
After which you will wind down, eat some food, share your wild tales with a pretty woman, make love, and then sleep.
Fortunatley most of us won't face a charging wild animal, or suffer through a famine. Unfortunatley, we have many other stressors in our life - stressors that may not be life threatening (worrying about a deadline or bills or being stuck in traffic), but this same stress mechanism is going to get in anyway.
Moral of the story - if you are constantly stressed, and or not balancing out your stress with adequate recovery, you're going to find reproducing is rather difficult.
This stress impacting fertility belief was tested by a PhD. In 2014 the doctor had published her findings in a report titled 'Preconception stress increases the risk of infertility'.
The research team tracked levels of a stress induced enzyme in females trying to get pregnant for 52 weeks. And they compared this with the womans ability to conceive.
Their findings were clear - Woman with higher stress levels had a doubled risk of infertility (19).
The thing to remember is stress comes in many forms. Lack of sleep is stressful on the body, bad foods stress the body. Wifi stresses the body. Air pollutants, overtraining, lack of sunlight, too much sunlight, financial worries, parasites, poor dental health... I could go on and on.
Human's are resilient creatures. We can survive through all sorts of stressful scenario's.
But if you're looking to boost your fertility, then you want to look beyond simply 'surviving', you want to thrive.
Thriving may require you to look at your stress load and see what you can remove.
Remember - it all adds up. Lack of sleep, combined with that extra strong coffee, combined with running late for work, combined with the bluetooth exposure in the car... what may start as a small stressor can soon compound into something more serious.
- Stress less! Train less, sleep more, eat healthier, worry less. Go on a relaxing holiday.
- Read my article on Stress, fat loss and health HERE
And I'm not just saying this because sleep will be a rare thing when baby arrives!
No I'm saying this as sleep deprivation is linked to infertility in females (20).
This ties in with what I covered in the circadian rhythm tip - stable, regular sleep patterns are crucial for optimal hormonal function.
And optional hormonal function is only going to help you with your fertility issues.
If sleep is a problem for you, be sure to check out my free sleep tips here.
- Prioritise Sleep - switch off TV earlier, make a sleep schedule.
- If you're waking tired in the morning, you're not getting enough sleep.
- Sleep in a dark room, and be sure to block blue light in the hours prior to bed.
- Sign up for my sleep tips here.
Ok this is a no-brainer. If you want to make a baby, you should stop taking birth control pills.
But even if you don't want to start trying for a baby right away, you should still consider stopping your birth control tablets.
Birth control pills have been shown to deplete the body of essential nutrients that babies need for neurological development (21).
The pill depletes thyroid hormone in females and zinc (22) Older studies have shown that it also depletes selenium, magnesium, vitamin c and the amino acid tryosine (24). These are crucial for reproductive development.
Sally Fallon, author of The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care recommends that would be mothers stop taking the birth control pill 2 years before they want to conceive.
Long term use of birth control pill can potentially lead to a reduction in cervical fluid. This fluid is vital for ovulation and safe passage of sperm. There are even rare cases where this fluid reduction becomes permanent even after discontinuation of the pill (23).
And it's well known that it can take up to 6 months for a regular period to return after coming off the pill.
If you're worried about the potential health effects of birth control medication, but you're not quite ready to start a family, I suggest you look into natural birth control techniques. Tracking your cycles is important here.
My wife stopped taking the pill 4 or 5 years before we wanted to start a family. In this time she tracked her body temperature (she used the Oura Ring - read my Oura Ring Review HERE - to help with this) and followed a tracking practice called 'Lunaception'.
- Consider stopping the use of birth control pills, even if you don't want to start a family right now.
- Look into alternative natural methods such as temperature tracking and Lunaception
I've already covered the dangers of pesticides above, but these aren't the only man-made compounds that are ruining your chances of becoming a Mother.
Air fresheners, cleaning chemicals, building materials, paints, glues, body care products, even your tap water - all of these things are exposing you to dangerous chemicals.
Chemicals such as parabens, propylene glycol, xenoestrogens, triclosan and BPA to name a few.
All of these have been shown to damage organs and impact the bodies endocrine system.
There was even a paper titled 'Human infertility: are endocrine disruptors to blame?' that looked at this exact issue.
Here are a few snippets from that paper:
Extensive detection of industrial chemicals in human serum, seminal plasma and follicular fluid has led the scientific community to hypothesise that these compounds may disrupt hormonal homoeostasis, leading to a vast array of physiological impairments. Numerous synthetic and natural substances have endocrine-disruptive effects, acting through several mechanisms. The main route of exposure to these chemicals is the ingestion of contaminated food and water. They may disturb intrauterine development, resulting in irreversible effects and may also induce transgenerational effects. This review aims to summarise the major scientific developments on the topic of human infertility associated with exposure to endocrine disruptors (EDs).
Current data suggest that environmental levels of EDs may affect the development and functioning of the reproductive system in both sexes, particularly in foetuses, causing developmental and reproductive disorders, including infertility. EDs may be blamed for the rising incidence of human reproductive disorders. This constitutes a serious public health issue that should not be overlooked. The exposure of pregnant women and infants to EDs is of great concern. Therefore, precautionary avoidance of exposure to EDs is a prudent attitude in order to protect humans and wildlife from permanent harmful effects on fertility.
Another paper published in the Endocrine Reviews Journal performed an extensive analysis on how chemicals impact our health and fertility.
If you have the time, I highly recommend reading it as it is chock full of amazing information (it can be read in full here). But for those who are tight on time, I will include the concluding remarks from this research team:
In this first Scientific Statement of The Endocrine Society, we present the evidence that endocrine disruptors (substances in our environment, food, and consumer products that interfere with hormone biosynthesis) have effects on male and female reproduction, breast development and cancer.
Furthermore, EDCs represent a broad class of molecules such as organochlorinated pesticides and industrial chemicals, plastics and plasticizers, fuels, and many other chemicals that are present in the environment or are in widespread use.
Unfortunatley it is very difficult to eliminate all exposure to these dangerous chemicals. As I mentioned they are found in all sorts of health products, fragrances, water supply.
Even your deodorant could be causing issues. I recommend reading my article How Your Deodorant Could Ruining Your Sex Life; And Fragrance Has Nothing To Do With It!
- Go natural (or as natural as possible) when it comes to skin care, deodorant, cleaning products and building supplies.
- Invest in a quality water filter - read more HERE.
- Throw out any products in your home that contain dangerous endocrine disrupting chemicals.
I nearly didn't bother with this tip, as it's so obvious. But this is an article on improving fertility, and therefore it needs to be said.
If you're serious about making a baby, you need to give up smoking, drugs and even alcohol.
Smoking has a huge impact on your bodies health and ability to conceive. In fact fertility experts recommend avoiding smoking for at least 3 months before you want to start a family (26).
The chemicals found in smoke damage the reproductive organs and harm eggs. Females should remember they have a limited number of eggs for reproduction.
Studies looking at 90,000 women showed that woman who smoked during their lives - even if only for a brief period - where 14% more likely to suffer from infertility.
Also, if you don't smoke but your partner does you may be effected just the same. One retrospective study of 225 women undergoing IVF treatment found that women exposed to second-hand smoke had implantation rates that were comparable to those of women who directly smoked (25).
Recreational drugs are linked to a range of health issues, and it's such a complex story that I'm not even going to investigate this further.
If you're struggling with your fertility and you're taking drugs and smoking, then you need to address these habits before anything else.
As for alcohol - this is another vice that should be eliminated while you are trying to conceive.
Researchers have clearly identified the link between infertility and alcohol consumption in woman (59,60).
I know it may be a big sacrifice, but starting a family is all about new sacrifices. If you are struggling with fertility or serious about your health, smoking, drinking and drugs need to be restricted.
- Stop smoking
- Stop drinking
- Stop taking drugs.
Yes animal based protein - so meat, milk, eggs and fish. If you are following a vegan based diet you should read this immediately - 8 Proven Reasons Why Vegan and Vegetarian Diets Easily Ruin Your Body.
Animal based proteins are far superior to plant based proteins (40) for general health and well being. And abundant protein intake is crucial for muscle growth, fertility and reproduction (41).
It's important to remember that not all protein is equal. Animal proteins contain a full spectrum of amino acids - unlike many plant based proteins.
Carnitine for example, is exclusively found in meat products or fish (though milk and eggs contain trace amounts). Carnitine in the diet has been shown to increase fertility (42).
Vegans will be missing out on this crucial amino acid.
Now you don't have to run out and start guzzling protein smoothies, instead just incorporate some steak, eggs and fish into your diet.
- Eat meat!
- If you're a vegan read - 8 Proven Reasons Why Vegan and Vegetarian Diets Easily Ruin Your Body
In my article '11 Reasons to Avoid Margarine' I explain how Trans Fats are synthetic fatty acids that have been converted from liquid into solid fats by the process called hydrogenation.
These trans-fats are extremely toxic and damaging to our health. Consumption has been linked to everything from heart disease to infertility (44).
A study on woman looked at their diet and fertility rates. The researchers found that woman who consumed a high ratio of trans fats had more problems with fertility (45).
Fortunatley the world is waking up to the dangers of trans-fats, and as a result there are regulations in place around food companies using trans-fats in their products.
However, it is still common to find these toxic fats in heavily processed products such as margarine. Though food labelling rules allow products to state that they contain 'zero trans fats' if there is less than 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving.
- Avoid all foods that contain trans-fats
- Stop eating margarine, eat butter instead.
In 2005 Environmental Working Group looked at the umbilical cord blood from newborn infants in America. What they discovered was alarming.
Tests revealed a total of 287 chemicals in the blood - these chemicals included BPA, flame retardants, PCBs and pesticides. All known to be damaging to human health.
On average, a typical newborn was exposed to 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants. (55).
This is should be concerning to parent to be. But what has this got to do with fertility?
The fact that these chemicals are in the newborns blood mean they making their way into mothers body, getting through her own detoxification barriers and through the placenta.
Western society lives in a toxic world. These toxins are well documented to impact health and fertility. Before embarking on a baby making journey, a serious detoxification protocol should be considered.
And by following a detoxification protocol, not only are you doing your baby a world of good, but you will be improving your own health as well. A healthy body is a fertile body.
As for finding the best detoxification protocol - this is a loaded question. Personally I believe with a healthy diet, plenty of rest and a low toxin environment, the body will be able to detoxify itself.
But if you have been exposed to chemicals, or bad diet or years of poor health, then sometimes the body needs a helping hand.
For this I would suggest looking into the Niacin Infrared Sauna Detox. It is a rather intensive protocol (involving a lot of sauna time in a ClearLight sauna) but the results seem very promising. Just note that if your wife is doing the same protocol, you may want to allow her body some time after the protocol ends before trying to conceive - let her body have plenty of time to eliminate any unbound toxins.
- Clean up your diet, environment and sleep to support your bodies natural detoxification pathways
- Consider doing a more comprehensive detoxification protocol.
Yolks and all!
Egg yolks are rich in Vitamin A, E, D and K. As well as a vast range of minerals.
The nutrients in a egg from a free roaming chicken are higher than caged eggs, so spend the extra few dollars when buying eggs. In a study done by Mother Earth News, omega 3 levels were twice as high in eggs from free roaming chickens compared to cage fed chickens.
And there was 7 times more beta carotene and 3 times more vitamin E (27).
Eggs are also a great source of saturated fats and cholesterol. Both of these have been attacked by governmental agencies for being damaging to our health. But this is well known to be a lie. Read more about this here - 9 Reasons Why Your Doctor Is Wrong About Fat.
These fats are needed for the creation of sex hormones in our body, and a fetus requires cholesterol for development.
Egg yolks are also a great source of choline, which is critical for fetal development (28)
Eggs are a nutrient powerhouse. With the perfect blend of fats, amino acids, vitamins and minerals they include everything needed to start building a body.
- Eat eggs, including the egg yolks.
- 2-3 a day is a great target
- Aim for eggs from free range chickens.
Really? Going to the dentist can help you with your fertility issues?
Turns out that having periodontal disease (inflammation of the gums) is associated with increased difficulty conceiving (29). Non-caucasian Women with periodontal disease took on average 2 months longer to conceive than woman who had healthy gums.
If it's been a while since you saw your dentist, it may be a good idea to book in a checkup.
Otherwise be sure to get out the toothbrush and floss and even look at some alternative treatments for oral health - like red light therapy.
- Get your teeth cleaned, and keep them clean!
Hard workouts decrease fertility.
Research done at Norwegian University of Science and Technology found that woman who exercise intensely have lowered rates of fertility (30).
The researchers believe that the extreme energy demands put on the body as a result of the workouts meant the body did not have enough reserves to fall pregnant.
Personally though the explanation is simple - exercise, especially intense exercise, is a massive stress on the body. Stress requires adequate nourishment and recovery to overcome.
Fertility requires a low stressed body in tip top shape.
Intense, and frequent, exercise is simply sending a signal to the body that the world is stressful. And if recovery isn't adequate, the signal effectively is saying - life currently is very tough, our body isn't in perfect health thus it may not be wise to grow a baby.
You can read more about stressors and the impact it has on our health in my article on stress HERE or read the epic book 'Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers'.
So how much is too much?
The research I cited above doesn't go into workout specifics, instead the results state:
"...women who were active on most days were 3.2 times more likely to have fertility problems than inactive women. Exercising to exhaustion was associated with 2.3 times the odds of fertility problems versus low intensity."
This doesn't reveal too much.
Instead, I suggest you track your bodies heart rate variability to see how your body is handling the workouts you throw at it, or even better use an Oura Ring as this will monitor a bunch of metrics (including heart rate variability, body temperature, sleep and activity) to show how much stress your body is under.
Just remember though - less is often more! One or two short (an hour or less), intense workouts a week is plenty (and this is coming from a guy who loves to train hard!)
- Don't over train!
- 1 or 2 intense workouts a week is the most you should be doing
- Track your stress readiness using the Oura Ring
If you read the point above and thought 'ha, this doesn't impact me, I never go to the gym anyway' then I have some bad news...
If you want to maximise your fertility odds, then you should be doing some exercise. Doing no exercise is actually linked to higher levels of infertility. And there is plenty of evidence to prove this (31, 32).
So if you currently live a sedentary lifestyle - maybe you drive to work and then sit in an office all day before driving home, it may be time to sign up for the gym, or at least get into gardening, or hiking or something that will get the muscles working.
If you're eating a nutrient rich diet (as outlined in point 4) you may think a supplement is needed.
But as I explain my my article Everything You Need To Know About Supplements todays food is still lacking in many key nutrients.
Therefore it is a wise 'insurance policy' to include a high quality supplement in your diet.
My wife was taking the Thorne Prenatal Multi-Vitamin as early as 6 months before we wanted to try for a baby. This was due to two reasons. One, Thorne supplements are my go to brand due to their quality of ingredients used (they are a little bit more expensive than other supplement brands, but the premium is worth it).
And two, because nutrition guru Rhonda Patrick used and recommends the Thorne Prenatal for mothers trying to conceive and who are pregnant.
If you are already eating a nutrient rich, organic, superfood diet, then I'd still personally take the prenatal, but maybe you can take a smaller dose (i.e. 1 capsule instead of 3) to save on funds.
You may already be doing this. Tracking your temperature is a great way to monitor the stages of your menstrual cycle.
When you have this data, you will know when you are fertile and thus should start doing the baby making dance!
Not only is temperature tracking useful to determine fertility stages, but your temperature reveals a lot about your health state. It's why I have all my clients track their temperature. You can read more about this in my article Why You Need To Measure Your Body Temperature.
My wife was using the temperature function on her Oura Ring - read my Oura Ring Review HERE -to track her temperature each morning.
By now you should have picked up on a key theme when it comes to improving your fertility chances - that theme is simple - improve your health.
A healthy body is a fertile body. It's true for farming, gardening and for us humans as well.
If you are having problems with fertility, don't rush to spend big bucks on drugs, pick the low hanging fruits first and work on your health.
Balanced hormonal health is so important for overall health, especially reproductive health, that it should be your main focus.
Sure following all the 20 tips above are going to help big time, but you may want to do some hormonal testing to see if there is a specific problem.
If you are needing help to improve your fertility and hormonal health, then do check out my Hormone Reset Program that was designed with one goal in mind - to help you improve your health from the ground up.
Alternatively, be sure to tune in to my free presentation I'm doing this week on the lessons I learnt fixing my own hormonal health. You can sign up for that presentation HERE. Or sign up to my email list below and I'll send you more details.
If you are health wreck, know that I was once in a horrible situation with my health. I extremely low testosterone levels and really messed up hormonal health. I wasn't trying to start a family at the time, but it was something I wanted in the future.
I share more of my story and the lessons you can learn in THIS presentation.
The changes I made all those years ago had a massive impact on my health.
My hormonal health is back where it should be, my energy is amazing, I look great and feel even better.
But most importantly, I am now a parent!
If you too are struggling with your hormonal or reproductive health, and want to turn it around so you can finally start a healthy then seriously consider actioning the tips I have listed above.
They are going to help you! I promise.
And remember if you need more direction turning your health around, look into my Hormonal Health Program or head over to my hormonal health resource page for more tips.
- Prioritise your health
- Watch my health journey presentation HERE
- Consider following the Hormone Reset Program
That's all folks. I hope this article has informed and inspired you. I really wish you all the best on your journey.
As a proud father of a 3 month old, I can assure you that all the sacrifices and changes are worth it! Being a parent is very very cool!
So now I hand it over to you. Good luck with on your health journey. Remember to subscribe to my newsletter for my content like this. And please feel free to leave a comment below, I love hearing from you all.
Also - remember you can do a female fertility test with LetsGetChecked without needing to visit a clinic or a doctor.
3. Reproductive Medicine News & Resources (n.d.). Retrieved February 05, 2017, from https://www.asrm.org/?vs=1
18. Ayre, E. A. and S.F. Pang, “Iodomelatonin binding sites in the testis and ovary: Putative melatonin receptors in the gonads,” Biological Signals 3: 71-84, 1994. Abstract: Through the synthesis and secretion of the hormone melatonin, the pineal has been assigned the role of synchronizing a reproductive response to appropriate environmental conditions. Theoretical melatonin target sites may occur at several levels of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal hierarchy, including a direct action on the gonads.
19. C. D. Lynch, R. Sundaram, J. M. Maisog, A. M. Sweeney, G. M. Buck Louis. Preconception stress increases the risk of infertility: results from a couple-based prospective cohort study--the LIFE study. Human Reproduction, 2014; DOI: 10.1093/humrep/deu032
21. Thureen PJ and Hay. Neonatal Nutrition and Metabolism: Second Edition. Cambridge Print. 2006. Page 26
22. Langer, Stephen, MD, The Riddle of Illness, Keats, 2000.
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