Top 7 Things to Consider Before Trying to Conceive

There are many factors to consider before trying to conceive. You’ve likely come across a lot of conflicting information online, so let’s simplify things! Below are the top 7 things to consider before trying to conceive. I’ve touched upon how each of them may help the conception process, as well as recommendations on how to incorporate them into your journey.

Diet to Prepare to Conceive

1. Diet

As you may already know, diet is incredibly important when it comes to fertility. The foods we consume can have a big impact on ensuring that all our organs are working properly. Sticking to a nutrient-dense diet with whole grains, lean protein, healthy fats and lots of vegetables is key when it comes to preparing your body for a pregnancy.

Interestingly, this can often look like a typical Mediterranean diet. In fact, higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet is  associated with increased ability to achieve a clinical pregnancy among non-obese women <35 years of age.  

Keep in mind that diet is always related to what your body is going through. For example, modifications to the Mediterranean diet may be required if there are other factors present, such as PCOS, endometriosis, or certain autoimmune conditions.

2. Movement

Movement in general is important to overall health. When it comes to fertility, however, exercise can be very beneficial in helping to reduce inflammation and support your hormones.

Depending on your situation, you may want to seek advice on the best type of exercise for your body. In some cases, high intensity exercise can impact hormones negatively. This in turn may influence your ability to conceive. Always stay attuned to your body and its response to the exercise you do. If you feel tired and exhausted after working out, consider reducing the intensity.

3. Stress Management

We know that stress can impact the body in terms of hormones. In fact, higher stress levels can affect our ability to produce hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. In turn, this can ultimately impact the endometrial lining, ovarian function, and implantation.

It can also negatively impact the immune system, which may increase the risk of miscarriage. Find a self-care activity that you enjoy, and can do each day. These may include meditation, listening to music, going for a walk, repeating affirmations, drinking tea, or taking a relaxing shower.

4. Sleep

Lack of sleep can impact the HPA (hypothalamic pituitary adrenal) axis. This is the connection from the brain to the adrenal glands that create cortisol: our stress hormone. As you can imagine, this can ultimately impact hormone production. There are very few research articles on the impact of sleep and fertility. However, some research suggests that sleeping too much or not enough can reduce conception in a given month.

Additionally, sleep apnea can increase the risk of infertility in women. More research needs to be done, but that said, it’s important to make sleep a priority.

5. Ovulation signs & A Tracking app

Using an app to track your cycles can be helpful to determine how regular your cycles are. Quite often, these apps will be helpful in predicting ovulation. That said, while it  can be accurate for some women, this is not true for everyone.

Try to watch for physical signs of ovulation, which include changes in cervical mucous, tenderness around the ovaries etc. Additionally, you can purchase ovulation stripes (aka LH stripes) to help you to determine when your Luteinizing Hormone is surging.

Once your LH is surging, this means that you’ll typically ovulate within 24-36 hours of the peak. This is the best time to have intercourse. Learning when your body is ovulating is one of the most important keys to increase your chances of conceiving!

6. Lab Testing

Getting a full workup of your health via blood testing can also be helpful in preparing your body to conceive. Some of these tests include Complete Blood Count (CBC), thyroid health (TSH, Free T3, Free T4, Anti-thyroglobulin, Anti-thyroperoxidase), ferritin, Vitamin B12, lipid panel, Hba1c, Fasting insulin, Fasting glucose and 25 OH Vitamin D.

These tests will help to determine which areas you need more support in. You can also go a step further and test your hormones such as Luteinizing Hormone (LH), Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), and estradiol on the third day of your menstrual cycle. Additionally, hormone testing includes prolactin, testosterone, and progesterone (7 days after you ovulate to prevent a miscarriage).

7. Supplementation

When it comes to supplementation to prepare for pregnancy, it can be overwhelming to decide what to take. There are so many vitamins and supplements on the market that the choices are dizzying. One supplement to consider is a good quality prenatal.

A prenatal complex should have B vitamins in their active forms, and forms of the other vitamins that are easily absorbed such as the citrate form. For example, calcium citrate, magnesium citrate, zinc citrate, and so on. It’s also important to choose a prenatal that has enough folic acid. The recommended folic acid dose 1mg.

Next Steps

  • Our naturopathic doctors can help get you ready for trying to conceive by assessing your health history and lifestyle.
  • Check out our huge library of blog posts related to hormones, fertility, and general health!

References:

Karayiannis, Di., Kontogianni, M. D., Mendorou, C., Mastrominas, M., & Yiannakouris, N. (2018). Adherence to the Mediterranean diet and IVF success rate among non-obese women attempting fertility. Human Reproduction, 33(3), 494–502. https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/dey003

Kloss, J. D., Perlis, M. L., Zamzow, J. A., Culnan, E. J., & Gracia, C. R. (2015, August 1). Sleep, sleep disturbance, and fertility in women. Sleep Medicine Reviews, Vol. 22, pp. 78–87. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smrv.2014.10.005