Lifestyle considerations when trying to conceive

Starting the journey to conceive can be one of the most exciting times in your life. Oftentimes, when we are in the preparation stage of parenthood, lifestyle factors can go unnoticed even though they are some of the most important and attainable aspects that can support us. Some people may experience added stress and anxiety along their family building journey when they don’t get pregnant at the time they plan to, and it isn’t until then that they really take a look at their lifestyle. But being proactive and focusing on how to care for yourself now can really help to reduce anxiety as you work towards your family building goals.

It can be helpful to think of these lifestyle considerations like prepping a garden, we need to tend to the foundation in preparation for the seed to achieve optimal growth. Furthermore, not only will healthy lifestyle habits make a difference in preconception, but also support you in pregnancy, postpartum, and beyond.

Key takeaways:

  • Diet is a key component of our overall health, and what we eat can impact male and female fertility. Focusing on a Mediterranean based diet is a good rule of thumb when considering how to optimize your reproductive health.
  • Overall mental well-being is important to fertility health and should be an area of focus as you plan ahead.
  • Moderate exercise of about thirty minutes five days a week is important for improving both male and female reproductive health.
  • Factors such as alcohol, smoking, and drug use can negatively impact fertility health and ability to conceive. Consider adjusting these prior to pregnancy in order to take important steps that can help you meet your family building goals.

How does diet play a role in my reproductive health?

Our diet plays a major, foundational role in our overall health. And when it comes to reproductive health, there is a direct link between what we eat and female menstrual health and male sperm health. We also know that pregnancy is one of the most nutritionally demanding times in a woman’s life, and your diet during pregnancy can influence your and your baby’s health. Properly nourishing your body now will not only support the conception stage, but support you through the next stages of your family building journey. That goes for your partner too! A well nourished body is able to handle stress better, sleep better, and overall feel better. Studies show that a diet rich in whole fruits and vegetables, lean protein, fiber, healthy fats, with limited processed foods and added sugars, such as the Mediterranean diet, is best for optimizing fertility health. To learn more about why exactly diet matters so much and what we recommend, check out our blog post that hones in on nutrition and fertility.

Why does my mental well being matter?

It’s no secret that stress plays a critical role in our health, and while the research is evolving on this topic, it may also impact our fertility health. However, when we embark on any journey, especially trying to conceive, it's nearly impossible to completely avoid stress. There are a lot of emotions involved and many unique factors depending on what your path looks like. The goal isn’t necessarily to be “zen-like” or completely “stress-free.” Instead we encourage you to implement little habits to support your mental well being during this time. This could look like taking a nap in the middle of the day, indulging in that evening bath, or doing something joyful with your partner or friends. Really anything that can emotionally nourish you as you continue to face the stress of daily life and your conception journey. Being able to develop stress management techniques that support you now will also be beneficial for the next stages of parenthood.

Is there such a thing as too little or too much exercise when it comes to my fertility?

Absolutely! However, this one can be trickier to navigate depending on various factors such as type and degree of exercise and unique body composition. Overall, what we do know is that moderate exercise supports everyone regardless of what stage of conception they are at. A good general guideline is to focus on moderate movement of 30 minutes a day, about 5 days a week. Depending on your current exercise regimen, this might look like slowly increasing to get to that goal or incorporating more low impact movement.  On the other hand, too little or too much vigorous exercise can have negative impacts on fertility. This is true for both male and female fertility health, as amount of exercise impacts semen quality, ovulation, menstrual cycle length and regularity, and reproductive hormones.

While it’s important to move your body, remember to incorporate balance so that you are not asking too much from your body. It can also be helpful to remember that walking is an excellent form of movement whether you are struggling with getting enough exercise or needing to incorporate more low impact exercise into your routine.

What other lifestyle factors should I consider as I plan ahead?

More often than not, it’s not until we are pregnant that we start to think about our lifestyle choices and how we may need to make some adjustments for our health and the health of our baby. But research shows that it’s important to consider making changes to lifestyle practices such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and use of drugs prior to trying to conceive, as these can negatively impact reproductive health. In females, the use of alcohol, drugs, and smoking can impact hormones associated with healthy ovulation, regular periods, and onset of menopause. In males, semen quality is impacted by these lifestyle factors.

Instead of waiting until you are pregnant to begin making changes, we encourage you to start thinking about these choices in the preconception stage. It is recommended that those who are actively trying to conceive to limit alcohol intake and consider taking steps now to quit smoking and drug use. It can be helpful to think about how you and your partner would want to treat your body today if you were currently expecting now.

How can Frame help me?

Whether you are starting to think about your first child or you are thinking about your next child, preparing your body for pregnancy is a crucial step in the process. Focusing on these lifestyle considerations will support both you and your partner during preconception, pregnancy, postpartum, and beyond. Whether you are a few months away or a couple years out, it is never too early to implement lifestyle changes for optimal health and fertility. At Frame, our Coaches are there to support and guide you every step along the way. Together, we can help you pinpoint exactly what lifestyle changes could support you during preconception and provide guidance in implementing these changes into your life. As health coaches, we do not strive for perfection and instead we focus on attainability. We take it all one step at a time to support you exactly where you are, but help you move towards where you’d like to be in terms of your long term goals. In addition, we can provide you with education, resources, advocacy, and emotional support as you move through this experience. You do not have to do this alone, we are here every step of the way!

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