When you and your partner are ready to have a baby, you want to see a “yes” on the pregnancy test as soon as possible. Healthy women who are under 35 should be able to conceive within a year of having regular, unprotected sex. If you’re older and don’t conceive within six months, you may need help from our fertility experts at Columbia Fertility Associates in Washington, DC, Bethesda, Maryland, and Arlington, Virginia.
No matter what your age, our doctors offer a few tips on how you and your partner can improve your health and fertility so you can get to “yes” ASAP. Here are 8 fertility-impairing habits you should ditch, starting today.
1. Smoking and drinking
Cigarette smoke has been linked to lower sperm counts in men. Overusing alcohol reduces men’s testosterone levels, increases the risk for erectile dysfunction, and lowers sperm count.
Both smoking and drinking impair ovarian function in women.
2. Burning the candle on both ends
While it may be fun to stay up all night hanging out friends or binging on your favorite web or TV shows, not getting enough deep, restorative sleep impairs your fertility and your overall health. Our doctors recommend improving your sleep hygiene by:
- Getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night
- Setting regular bedtime and wake-up times, even on weekends
- Blocking light in the bedroom with blackout curtains
- Avoiding devices and blue light within two hours of bedtime
- Sleeping in a cool room (60-67 degrees)
- Getting enough sunshine and exercise
- Avoiding caffeine after 1pm
- Avoiding nighttime snacking
If you still have trouble sleeping, or feel fatigued throughout the day, our experts can refer you to a sleep center for evaluation.
3. Stressing out
Stress is a normal part of life and can lead to growth, but if you feel overwhelmed by life events, you need to give yourself a break. Chronic stress raises your levels of cortisol, a hormone which keeps your body in a hyper-alert mode. Chronic stress can lead to health issues, such as heart disease, diabetes, and depression.
Trying alleviating stress with:
- Deep breathing exercises
- Talk therapy
- Spending time with friends and family
Never feel shy about asking for help if stress gets to be too much. Call your doctor or find a mental health provider.
4. Tighty whities and other testicle heaters
Guys, this is for you alone, of course. Keeping your sperm count up starts with keeping your testicles at a healthy temperature. Too much heat — especially wet heat — shuts down the factory for up to three months, so avoid:
- Tight underwear
- Tight pants or gym clothes
- Hot baths
- Saunas or hot tubs
- Laptops on your lap
5. Overeating or undereating
Thin may be in, but it isn’t necessarily healthy, and neither is being overweight. Staying clear of processed foods, loading up on fresh vegetables and fruits, and eating high-quality proteins and healthy fats is a good start to finding a healthy weight that supports fertility and a growing child. Your doctor can recommend a medically supervised diet and nutrition program, if necessary.
6. Ignoring your oral health
Did you know that gum disease has been linked to premature or underweight babies? Untreated gum disease can also create a life-threatening systemic infection.
Be sure you brush at least twice a day, floss once a day, and visit your dentist at least twice per year. And if you notice any blood on your brush or dental floss, call your dentist for an appointment right away.
7. Couch potato-ing
Your body needs to move to stay healthy and fit, so getting some kind of moderate exercise is recommended. But “moderate” is the key thing, because overly strenuous exercise that raises cortisol levels can impair fertility in both women and men. If you’ve been inactive for awhile, or if you miss periods (ladies) due to aggressive workouts, consult your doctor on how to modify your exercise regimen to boost fertility.
8. Lubing up
A tube of lube might make sex more exciting or comfortable, but some research suggests it could also impair fertility. Just to be safe, either take extra time with foreplay to increase natural lubrication or use a fertility-friendly lubricant, such as canola oil or Pre-Seed™.
Whether you’ve been trying to have a baby without success, or you already know you have fertility challenges, call our experts today to set up an evaluation for you and your partner. You can also book a consultation online.