Last year in the United States a baby was born every 8 seconds. That‘s roughly 3.8 Million babies born last year alone! You don’t have to be a fertility doctor to know what that means. Millions of people just like you were trying to conceive.
Research tells us that most couples conceive within six cycles of timed intercourse, but many others (roughly 10% of couples) are struggling with fertility.
Here’s the funny thing about what I do. I don’t actually want you to be my patient. Of course, there are exceptions to that statement. (Like if you want to be proactive and preserve your fertility). But in general, I’d much prefer to share with you what I’ve learned about preparing for pregnancy in hopes that it makes your journey to parenthood easier. A journey that goes without needing to see me.
So here it is, the 10 things to avoid when looking to grow your family.
1. Avoid Ignoring The Obvious
If you see a sign, odds are you should pay attention. What is your body telling you? Are you taking the time to listen to it? There are both physical and emotional aspects of your life that could be making it harder to conceive.
Ask yourself the tough questions. Do you have pelvic pain? How are things going in the bedroom? Do you or your partner have depression or anxiety? Are you finding that stress is leading you to overeat? Sometimes it’s easy to ignore and overlook these aspects of life, but they could be the very things making it tougher to conceive.
2. Avoid Processed Foods
If you’ve heard the saying, you are what you eat, then you’re halfway there to understanding food’s impact on fertility. One of the most common questions I get from my patients is what they can or should be eating. I’ve dedicated an entire show just to this topic alone. For the sake of simplicity, avoid inflammatory foods. I’d recommend a quick Google search and you can learn more faster than I can tell you here, but suffice to say that inflammation is bad for your body and a baby that you may be trying to create.
3. Avoid Environmental Toxins
There are many chemicals we come in contact with in our daily life that can impact your fertility. I’d encourage you to research this, but a starting place is to carefully choose your food. Know where your seafood (and all meat) is coming from. Eat organic fruits and vegetables when you can. Stay away from cigarettes, lead, flame retardants, and plastic that contains BPA. Think about what you’re storing your food in, and wash your hands before you eat it! Maybe the simplest of them all—take off your shoes inside!
4. Avoid Smoking
I hate to be the one that breaks it to you, but smoking kills sperm. It also impacts egg quality. If you’re a smoker then IVF won’t help either. A bad sperm cell that’s been affected by nicotine will not produce healthy IVF results. If you’re a smoker and hope to conceive I’d strongly suggest you put down the cigarette. And no, it doesn’t matter that you know a heavy smoker that had healthy kids. Your biology doesn’t like cigarettes. Trust me on this.
5. Avoid Heavy Drinking
I have a question, how do you expect drunk sperm to find its way through a drunk tunnel followed by caves and narrow tubes? Answer: it doesn’t. Excess alcohol is not only bad for your waistline, but it is also bad for sperm. It’s not great for women either. Beyond the weight gain, it also increases blood sugar levels and changes your metabolism.
6. Stop Avoiding Help
Knowledge is power. Knowledge about your own body is empowering. While it may seem scary at first when you learn more about your body you can make a plan for conceiving that’s customized to your specific needs. Fertility screening isn’t commonplace yet, but it can be. I’m here to tell you it’s easy. Ask your doctor more about how you can implement the TUSHY method. Or start with understanding your fertility hormone levels here.
7. Avoid Blaming Yourself
Our timeline for life milestones—like marriage and children—has shifted. We are all doing things at a later age. If you’re struggling to conceive please don’t be hard on yourself. Self-love can go a long way in setting a healthy foundation for your future family. Give yourself patience and graciousness. Take care of #1 (that’s you!) and get the help you need.
8. Avoid Baby Showers
9. Avoid Stress
Easier said than done, right? Our society has made it seem that stress is the norm. That to be stressed means we’re just living life. True as it may feel, it is not the mentality that sets the stage for conception. Reduce your stress, practice mindfulness, and find your peace (and baby). (If only it were that easy!)
10. Avoid Abstinence
Contrary to what you may think, the best sperm is generated from lots of practice. If your guy is saving up for a rainy day (or that ovulation window) then you may be in trouble. For one, ovulation predictor tests are not that accurate, and secondly, the best DNA sperm comes after lots of practice. Sure the volume of the sperm may be lower, but the quality is much higher. I always tell my patients that really want a window for when their chances are highest to aim for 3 days before you think you’ll ovulate and for 3 days after.