We always hear about ways you can boost your fertility, but what about the things that may be hurting you? We’ve put together a list of the top 7 things that every TTC woman should take care to avoid.
It’s not just bad during pregnancy – smoking while you are trying to conceive can also have drastic implications for your fertility, and your chances of getting pregnant quickly. Cigarette smoke is loaded with chemicals that, if you do smoke, you probably don’t even want us to list, and these chemicals can seriously interfere with your normal functioning, including damaging the genetic material in eggs and sperm.
- Binge drinking (alcohol, that is)
Another pregnancy no-no, binge drinking while TTC may make getting pregnant more difficult. Although the exact link between alcohol and fertility remains under investigation, the statistics don’t lie: one 2009 study from doctors at Harvard found that women undergoing IVF were 18% less likely to conceive if they have more than six alcoholic drinks a week. This isn’t to say that you have to abstain from alcohol completely, but given the unknown effects of alcohol on fertility, and really during pregnancy too, cutting down on alcohol at the very least is not the worst of ideas.
Excess consumption of caffeine is linked not only to negative pregnancy outcomes, but to impaired fertility as well. Studies in mice show that overcaffeination can prevent eggs from maturing properly, which makes conception much more difficult. And because excess caffeine is also linked to negative pregnancy side effects, it’s definitely a good idea to cut back on your caffeine before you conceive.
- Big weight gains, or weight losses
Keeping your weight within a healthy range is important for conceiving, but if you need to gain or lose weight, it’s better to do so in a drawn-out, balanced way, as opposed to gaining or losing a lot of weight in a short amount of time. Big swings in weight will inhibit normal hormone functioning, which could throw off your body’s ability to ovulate regularly, or at all. So while it’s definitely better to not be significantly over or underweight, drastic weight gains or losses in a short period of time is not the way to go.
- Fish high in mercury
Bigger fish like shark, swordfish, and tilefish, among others, are high in the heavy metal mercury. Mercury can be devastating for a baby’s neurological development in the womb, so you should make sure that any fish you eat before or during pregnancy don’t contain high levels of it.
Although it’s very important to get plenty of exercise when you’re trying to conceive or are pregnant, there is definitely a thing as too much. Overexercise (think Olympic-level workouts, not morning runs) or a lack of body fat can disrupt the body’s normal hormonal functioning, resulting in irregular or absent ovulations, so if your workouts are overly intense, you should check with your healthcare provider to make sure it’s not taking a toll on your fertility.
- Water-based lubricants
Many couples use lubrication, but for those who are TTC, it probably isn’t the best idea. Many types of lubrication, particularly water-based ones, are not sperm-friendly, so except for lubes marketed specifically for promoting conception, you’re probably better off keeping it natural if you can.