While you can never really know just how fertile you are until you roll the dice and ‘try’, there are ways to support your body and give yourself the best chance of success when the time comes.
Whether you’ve got babies on the brain, or just want to look after yourself, here are 5 ways to support and nurture your fertility.
1. SWITCH TO NON-HORMONAL CONTRACEPTION
One of the best things you can do for your fertility (and overall health) is to let your body do its thing, and have years of regular, ovulatory cycles between puberty and when you actively start ‘trying’.
This means letting your hormones rise and fall each month without suppressing them with hormonal birth control, such as the pill, IUD or injections.
The communication pathway between the brain and ovaries often starts out a bit awkward and ‘hit or miss’ around puberty, but after years of practise it only becomes clearer and more resilient.
Non-hormonal methods of contraception such as condoms, the copper IUD and fertility awareness are all great options if you are looking to support your fertility, and address any underlying hormone imbalances; without falling pregnant.
2. SUPPORT OVULATION WITH KEY NUTRIENTS
The ovaries need a steady supply of certain nutrients to do their job. In particular, the key-nutrients we need to support ovulation, regular cycles, balanced hormones and fertility include:
Zinc is a trace mineral that’s required for over 300 enzyme (chemical) reactions in the body. This wonder-mineral nourishes ovarian follicles (eggs) and promotes ovulation, which we know is essentially the ‘on-switch’ for female sex hormones.
Zinc-rich foods include lean red meat, oysters, and pumpkin seeds.
Vitamin B6 is essential for the synthesis of sex hormones (from cholesterol), particularly progesterone, and plays a key role in the production of key neurotransmitters in the brain including GABA, dopamine and serotonin.
The liver also loves Vitamin B6 as it helps it do its job and promotes the healthy metabolism of old oestrogen down more ‘friendly’ pathways.
Vitamin B6 is found in poultry, fish, bananas, oats and sweet potatoes.
Magnesium is a mineral that supports relaxation in our bodies. In times of stress, our cells actually dump magnesium to rev up our sympathetic nervous system - making it a common nutrient deficiency in the fast-paced modern world we live in.
Magnesium-rich foods include leafy greens, avocados, cacao and almonds.
3. BRING MORE ZEN TO YOUR LIFE
It’s no secret that stress and our hormones aren’t the best of friends. In fact, high stress levels is one of the most common contributors to fertility challenges in both men and women.
Whether it’s work stress, sleep deprivation, restrictive diets or overdoing it on coffee and alcohol, our bodies don’t know the difference. Anything that sends the body into a state of stress means it is prioritising the production of stress hormones over sex hormones. Over time, this can lead to hormone imbalance and irregular cycles that impact fertility.
Here are some ideas on how you can lower your stress levels and bring some more zen into your life:
- Make sleep a priority, and aim for at least 7-8 hours per night.
- Take a high dose, quality magnesium supplement to support the nervous system and promote total-body relaxation.
- Limit high-intensity exercise to a few times a week and opt for more restorative forms, such as yoga, pilates and walking.
- Try making coffee a weekend treat, rather than an every-day thing (it’s hard, we know!).
- Learn what makes you feel most relaxed—whether that's a yoga class, a hot bath or a good book—and make it a non-negotiable part of your week.
4. GET FRIENDLY WITH YOUR CYCLE
If you think you might like to fall pregnant one day (and even if you don’t), getting to know your unique cycle is one of the most powerful things you can do as a woman to build a deeper connection with your body.
Contrary to what we may have been taught in high school sex ed, you can actually only fall pregant in a window of 5-6 days each cycle; around the time of ovulation.
Whether you want to fall pregnant one day or not, knowing how long your cycles are, when (and if) you ovulate, and when you are fertile is all very helpful and empowering information to have about your own body.
There are a few ways you can go about this:
- If you’re just starting out, try downloading an app (such as Flo, Clue or Kindara) to track your cycle.
- To keep a closer eye on ovulation and your fertile window, you can learn how to track your basal body temperature and cervical mucus.
5. BALANCE YOUR HORMONES
Sex hormone balance and fertility go hand-in-hand. After all, the hormonal fluctuations that take place in the female body each month are all in the name of reproduction—whether that’s on your agenda or not.
Oestrogen builds a nice cosy lining in the uterus and helps to trigger ovulation, while progesterone holds the lining in place and helps to maintain a supportive environment for a developing fetus in the early stages of pregnancy - until the placenta takes over.
If your oestrogen or progesterone levels are imbalanced, it can be more difficult for your body to fall pregnant and stay pregnant.
Think of your cycles and periods like monthly check-ins with your body that provide valuable insights into your health and hormones.
Are your periods regular?
Are they heavy, painful, or otherwise a total nuisance?
Do you experience mood swings or feelings of overwhelm and anxiety?
What about acne? Tender breasts? Or low energy?
These signs (and many more) are important feedback from your body as to just how nicely balanced and in sync with each other your hormones are.
The Eve Test Complete can help you bring your hormones into balance, with comprehensive reporting on what your hormone levels are currently, and what you can do to support them if they are out of balance.
Above all else, remember to be patient and have faith - fertility is a journey that is different for everyone. Even when everything is working as it should, it can take healthy couples up to a year to conceive.
Make sure to check out our Preparing For Pregnancy Checklist to support your body through the next phase of your journey.