We love helping people realise their dreams of becoming parents, and we dedicate ourselves to keeping up with the latest advances to make sure we can give them the very best possible chance of holding their own baby in their arms. But there are lots of things you can do yourself to help boost your chances of conceiving. So we’ve pulled together a guide of the top ten lifestyle changes you can make to boost your fertility.
Our first tip is simple: achieve and maintain a healthy weight. That doesn’t just mean lose weight: being too thin can have as much impact on your chance of getting pregnant as being overweight. A study in America found that 12% of ovulatory infertility may be attributable to being underweight (having a Body Mass Index of less than 20), with 25% of ovulatory infertility potentially being a result of women being overweight (BMI of 25 of more).
If you’re over weight, losing weight will not only increase your chances of getting pregnant, it will also reduce the chances of complications during your pregnancy. If you are obese (Body Mass Index is 30 or more), losing 5-10%* of your body weight delivers significant health benefits to you and your baby. Significantly, miscarriage rates are lower among women with a normal BMI than those who are obese.
Losing weight can also help improve specific conditions that can impair fertility. In one trial, 33 overweight women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) who were all anovolutary (having menstrual cycles where the ovaries do not release an egg), and 27 of whom were oligo-amenorrhoeic (infrequent periods), were put on a diet of 1,200 calories a day. The researchers observed a change in ovarian morphology during the diet, with a significant reduction in both ovarian volume and the number of microfollicles per ovary. Among the 27 patients with oligo-amenorrhoea, 18 had a resumption of regular cycles and 15 experienced spontaneous ovulation; 10 spontaneous pregnancies occurred in patients who lost at least 5% of their weight.
Being a healthy weight boosts the fertility of all women, whether they are trying to conceive naturally or through IVF or intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Research carried out in Norway found that obese women were 9% less likely to have a baby after three treatment cycles of IVF than women with a healthy BMI (18.5-24.9). The study found that obesity was associated with lower chances for live birth after IVF, increased risk of early pregnancy loss occurring before 6 weeks gestation and an impaired response to ovarian stimulation.
But this doesn’t mean you should go on a crash diet. It is important that any weight loss is achieved with a balanced, healthy diet, in a sustainable way, losing no more than 0.5-1kg (1-2lb) a week.