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Women's Health

12 Things That Can Affect Your Fertility That You Might Not Know About

As a doula, a word that comes up sometimes is definitely “infertility.” If you’ve ever wondered how common it is,reportedly 1 in 5 women in this country (who are of reproductive age) will struggle with conceiving a child within a year of intentionally trying.


There are two things that you should immediately take away from this. One is that, if you’re trying to make a baby, you need to give yourself a year of having sex (2-3 times a week is good) before wondering if you or your partner has any type of fertility issues, and two, if it’s been more than 12 months, you should speak with your doctor as soon as possible to see if some underlying causes are standing in the way of you receiving a positive pregnancy test result.

While you’re trying, it’s also a good idea to take note of the fact that there are certain things that can literally stand in the way of having a smooth conception. Below, I’ve enclosed 12 — some things you may know, and some just might surprise you. Either way, the more you know about what to avoid when it comes to fertility, the easier it will be to get pregnant. Ready?

1. Gum Disease

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Honestly, I don’t know if it will surprise you or not to know thata little over 47 percent of people have some form of gum disease.Left untreated, it can lead to autoimmune diseases, diabetes, hormonal imbalances, heart disease, and yes, infertility — in bothmen and women. When it comes to us, whileresearchers are still trying to get to the root of it all, what they do know is women with oral health issues tend totake longer to conceive than those who don’t.

Also,non-white women tend to be more vulnerable to gum disease than white women. Bottom line, if you’re trying to get pregnant, that’s even more of a reason to brush and floss regularly and to keep up with your annual dental appointments as well.

2. Fast Food

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Did you know that, reportedly,2 out of 3 people consume some sort of fast food on a weekly basis? Not only that, but 13 percent of folks eat some form of it on a daily basis (which is not good — check out “Why You Should Consider Leaving Fast Food Alone”). On the infertility tip, fast food works against pregnancy because not only does it make it2-3 times harder for women to conceive,but the trans fat that’s in a lot of processed food messes with a man’s sperm mobility as sugary and processed foods canalter the environment of a woman’s womb in a negative way.

Does this mean that you can never have a French fry if you’re trying to make a baby? No. It just means that you need to cut way back and you should eat homemade meals that containfruits, veggies, and whole grains more.

3. Energy Drinks

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You can’t get pregnant without a male’s assistance (even if it’s just his sperm), so if you’re trying to get pregnant the old-fashioned way, please discourage your partner from consuming a lot ofenergy drinks. Although some studies reveal that they do very little to a woman’s reproductive system, they can reducethe chances of “easy” conception for men by as much as 54 percent. Theridiculously high levels of caffeine that are in energy drinks play a role in all of this. I’ll get more into caffeine later.

4. Artificial Lighting (at Night)

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Say that you’re someone who likes to sleep with some sort of light on in your room, you’ve got a neon light in your home office, or you can spend hours reading by a lamp with no problem. While in most instances, this is fine, if you’re trying to make a baby, lighten up on that some. As crazy as it might sound, artificial lighting has also been directly linked to fertility issues. Apparently, it can mess with your body’s internal clock and ultimately throw your hormonal balance off — and that can make it more difficult to conceive. Hell, I’m a doula, and the first time I heard that, it tripped me right on out.

5. The Quality of Your Cervical Mucus

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Long story short,cervical mucus is what your cervix produces. During various times of your menstrual cycle, it will change. However, when it comes time for you to ovulate, you will typically produce more of it, and it will be slippery and clear. This is a good thing because if you’re trying to conceive, that type of mucus will make it easier for sperm to move about in. Since an increase in estrogen helps to make your mucus ideal for pregnancy, this is just one of the many reasons why it’s a good idea to get your hormone levels checked if you’ve been trying to get pregnant for 6-8 months and you’ve yet to experience any success.

6. Breastfeeding

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If there are two fertility myths that really need to go away, stat, it’s that you can’t get pregnant while you’re on your period (you can if your menstrual cycle is unpredictable because that means your ovulation one is as well;it’s just not super common) and you can’t get pregnant while you’re breastfeeding. On the breastfeeding tip, whileduring the first six months of feeding a newborn, there is reportedly a 98 percent chance that conceiving another child won’t happen; after that, you could be in for quite a surprise. Bottom line here is, if you want to get pregnant back-to-back, breastfeeding can make it difficult, difficult yet not impossible. If, on the other hand, you want to wait a while…for the sake of your uterus’s health, 18 months between pregnancies are ideal.

7. Caffeine

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Everything in moderation, right? If you’ve ever heard that caffeine can impact infertility, the reality is thata couple of cups of coffee probably won’t. At the same time,the combination of stress and caffeine consumption can do a number on male infertility, and too much caffeine could potentially affectthe contractions of your fallopian tubes when it comes time for you to release your eggs. Again, coffee at the beginning of your day anddark chocolate (which also has some caffeine in it) can actually help with fertility — so while caffeine isn’t exactly the devil when it comes to getting pregnant, do make sure to not go overboard when it comes to consuming it.

8. Lubricant

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Lubricant can make for a really good time when it comes to sex (check out “The Wetter, The Better: 10 Creative Ways To Use Lubricant”). If you’re trying to get pregnant, though, do your best to go without it. The reason why is because some of the ingredients that are in the popular types of lubricants actuallycan mess with sperm’s mobility. Know what else is wild? Saliva can too. So, what should you do? From what I’ve read and researched, a hydroxyethylcellulose-based can help you out. While we’re here, if you’re thinking of going with a carrier oil, grapeseed and avocado should be OK; do avoid sweet almond, though.Some studies have linked it to premature births (the more you know).

9. Unsafe Sex

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When it comes to this one right here, if you’re thinking, “Who uses birth control when they’re trying to get pregnant?” — that’s a fair question and not exactly where I am going with this. What I mean by “unsafe sex” is, it’s important that you and your partner get a full blood workup if the two of you are ready to have a baby; that’s because STIs/STDs can make getting pregnant difficult — if not impossible — too. In fact, two of the most common ones (chlamydia and gonorrhea) are the greatest culprits. And since there are20 million new cases of STIs/STDs annually — well, just something else to keep in mind if you want to get pregnant (or are having trouble trying to).

10. Fad Diets

Although you’ve probably heard thatbeing overweight can make it challenging to get pregnant (because it plays with your hormones),crash dieting so that you can get to an ideal weight isn’t the smartest move either. A big part of the reason is that when you’re underweight, that can alter how much estrogen your body produces, estrogen that is needed to help you to get pregnant in the first place. So, whether you’re trying to lose weight because you know that you need to or because you want to “drop in order to gain,” speak with your doctor about the wisest way to go about it. These fad diets out here could be working against not for you.

11. Not Enough Seafood

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If you’re all about seafood, that can seriously increase your chances of conception, especially if it’s fish. Yep, there are studies that reveal that eating seafood on a weekly basis can make you want to have more sex, can improve the quality of your partner’s sperm, and can make ovulating easier to do. One study even revealed that 92 percent of couples who had fish on a regular basis got pregnant within a year compared to only 79 percent of those who didn’t. Pretty wild, right?

12. Phthalates

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If, off the top of your head, you don’t know what phthalates are, they’re chemicals that are found in a lot of plastics, including (oftentimes) bottled water and even the wrappings that fast food comes in (SMDH). The reason why they aresuch a no-no when it comes to conceiving a child isthey can make it harder to get pregnant; plus, they can cause oxidative stress, inflammation, and even premature births, autism, and ADHD in your baby later down the pike.

___

A baby is a blessing. What makes it even more divine is when conception is as seamless as possible. Well, you know what? If you take good care of your health and pay attention to what I just said, you are significantly upping your chances of that happening for you.

Here’s hoping that you do — and please, have tons of fun while you’re trying! #wink

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