Making lifestyle refinements can be a great way to prepare for an ovarian stimulation cycle for egg freezing or other fertility treatments like IVF.
That's because lifestyle factors have been shown to influence egg production.
Here are 8 Lifestyle Tips to Boost Fertility drawn from the scientific evidence:
1/ Eat for Omega-3s
Make sure your diet is rich in omega-3s (fish, nuts, seeds, flaxseed/canola oil) - as well as keeping it varied and vitamin, mineral and fiber rich through plant foods and whole grains, with adequate lean protein.
2/ Moderate alcohol intake
Most studies suggest there's no need to quit entirely, but high alcohol intake is linked to chronic oxidative stress - and oxidative stress is bad news for ovarian function. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine advises limiting alcohol intake to >2 drinks/day (with 1 drink >10 g of ethanol) in the pre-conception period.
3/ Moderate your caffeine intake
High levels of caffeine consumption (500 mg; >5 cups of coffee/day or its equivalent) have been associated with decreased fertility. Most guidelines suggest limiting caffeine to <200mg per day (around 2 cups of tea or coffee).
4/ Sleep Soundly
Enough good quality sleep plays a vital role in many physiological functions and fertility is one of them. That’s partly because the same part of the brain that regulates sleep-wake hormones like melatonin and cortisol is also involved in the release of reproductive hormones. Optimal sleep is around 8 hours on average, but figure out what works for you to feel rested and refreshed.
5/ Consider Supplementation
Sufficient nutrient intake is essential for optimal reproductive health. A good quality prenatal (containing folic acid and vitamin D) and omega-3s are a great place to start.
There is also some evidence that CoEnzyme Q-10 supplements can boost energy in ovarian cells, which could help produce more good quality eggs. If you’re going to supplement with this, make sure you look for ubiquinol (the bioactive form) rather than ubiquinone on the label.
6/ Exercise smart, not hard
Moderate exercise reaps so many benefits - from helping balance blood sugar and body fat levels to producing anti-inflammatory cellular responses (all with positive benefits for fertility). Studies show it increases the chance of success of assisted reproductive technology treatment.
Moderate exercise means any exercise that will raise your heart rate, make you breathe faster and feel warmer, though you should still be able to speak without pausing for breath. If you exercise vigorously on most days of the week, the advise is usually to reduce your exercise to a more moderate level. Vigorous and torsional (twisting) exercise should be avoided during the ovarian stimulation cycle.
7/ Oral health
An appointment with the dental hygienist could be just what the fertility doctor ordered... emerging research, dental health may impact fertility.
Between 1 in 10 people experience severe periodontal disease - or chronic inflammation of the gums. One possible theory between poor oral health and female fertility is an immunological connection.
8/ Reduce your cortisol levels
New research has shown the link between chronic stress and infertility. Nerve cells near the base of the brain play a key role in linking stress and fertility - they become active in stressful situations when the hormone cortisol is high and then suppress the activity of the reproductive system.
Meditation, yoga, being in nature, talking therapies and sharing with a support system can all help moderate stress, so now is a great time to try a new activity or double down on your self-care routine.