I was first diagnosed with endometriosis at age 25.
Over the next few years, my fertility took a rapid decline. I was eventually told that in vitro fertilization (IVF) was my only hope for conception. Unfortunately both rounds of IVF I pursued failed.
Today, I am a mother through adoption. Believe it or not, I am eternally grateful for how things turned out. It was those years of infertility that brought me to my little girl, and I wouldn’t trade her for the world. But I will never forget the struggle that was trying to conceive.
If I could make recommendations for how to improve your fertility based on my own years of experience, heartbreak, and research, this would be what I would suggest.
1. Period Tracker App
iPhone rating: 4.5 Stars. Free
The first step to getting pregnant is to understand your body enough to know when you’re ovulating. Thankfully, there are a lot of ways to track that. Apps like Period Tracker are a great place to start.
Also look for ovulation predictor kits like First Response Ovulation. Or there’s always the old fashioned method. Take your basal body temperature every morning with a thermometer like the DMI Basal Digital Thermometer.
2. Nicotine Patches
NicoDerm CQ: 4.5 Stars. $73
Experts agree that smoking is terrible for your baby, should you get pregnant. But it can also reduce your chances of pregnancy. It can even increase your risk for miscarriage. So if you are hoping to conceive, it’s time to give up smoking.
Ideally, you would also be off the patch (or whatever method you use) before you get started, but anything that helps you quit is a win.
Sunny Health & Fitness Treadmill: 4.5 Stars. $379
Regular, moderate exercise can improve ovulation and reduce miscarriage. No, you don’t have to get a treadmill. Any form of exercise will do. You just have to make an effort to stay fit and healthy. Aim for three, one-hour sessions a week.
But keep in mind that too much exercise has been associated with decreased fertility. It’s all about finding a balance and doing what needs to be done to stay healthy.
4. Thyroid Medication
Hypothyroidism can be a common, but often undetected, contributing factor to infertility.
5. Full-Fat Dairy
Consumption of low-fat dairy has been found to disrupt fertility, while high-fat dairy doesn’t appear to have the same effect.
So if you are trying to conceive, skip the skim milk and reach for full-fat.
6. Prenatal Vitamins
MegaFood Baby & Me: 4.5 Stars. $34.17
Both zinc and folate seem to have some promise for improving conception rates. A good prenatal vitamin should contain both. If you are trying to conceive, now is the time to talk to your doctor about which prenatal vitamin they recommend.
Note: Folic acid is essential to prevent birth defects. Start taking it before trying to conceive if you plan to try to have a baby. Take at least 400 mcg per day.
Acupuncture has been found to improve pregnancy rates for women already pursuing Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). Little research has been done on whether a visit to the acupuncturist could also improve your chances of conceiving the old fashioned way. But it certainly couldn’t hurt.
More and more fertility clinics are hiring acupuncturists today. This is a clear sign that the medical industry is starting to recognize the potential importance of this treatment method. Acufinder.com can help you to find an acupuncturist in your area.
8. The Fertility Diet Book
The Fertility Diet: 4 Stars. $17
Researchers out of the Harvard School of Public Health have developed and studied what they have dubbed the fertility diet.
One of the key factors of that diet is getting more of your protein from vegetables than from animal meat. Their research has found that this can reduce the risk of ovulatory infertility by 50 percent. So skip that steak and reach for some edamame instead.
9. Iron Supplements
Nature’s Way Iron: 5.0 Stars. $12.95
Another factor of the fertility diet is iron consumption, and for good reason. Iron supplements can also help to reduce the risk of ovulatory infertility.
The good news? If you are already on a quality prenatal vitamin, it probably contains all the iron you need. Or you can get an iron-specific supplement like the ones made by Nature’s Way.
10. Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)
No matter how hard you try on your own, pregnancy may still elude you. If you have been trying to conceive without success for more than 12 months, or more than six months if you are over the age of 35, it’s time to see a doctor.
It’s possible that a few simple tests will provide the answer. There might be a relatively simple solution to your struggles. Or, you may find you’re going to need some more help. There are a lot of options available with ART, so start by finding a doctor you trust. They can likely make a referral for a fertility specialist, or visit resolve.org for local listings.