If you're overweight, lose weight
If you're underweight, gain weight
Limit caffeine consumption
Walk 30 minutes per day
Deal with depression
Eat a balanced diet
Strictly limit alcohol consumption
Obesity can inhibit ovulation and wreak havoc with hormones. It also puts women at risk for a variety of health problems (such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure) that negatively impact fertility and can create complications during pregnancy. Women who are morbidly obese are also less likely to be successful with fertility treatments.
Part of the problem is the hormonal imbalance that's created by the fat cells themselves. Fat cells produce extra estrogen, the more fat cells, the more estrogen, so being overweight is very similar to being on birth control pills.
A normal, healthy Body Mass Index ranges from 18.5 to 24.9. Anything lower than 18.5 is underweight. For instance, woman who is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 105 pounds has a BMI of 18 and is considered to be underweight.
Being even slightly underweight can dramatically reduce your fertility, as fertility starts to plummet for women with BMIs of 18 or lower.
Women who are underweight are less likely to ovulate. Some will stop menstruating completely. Others will menstruate irregularly. But experiencing a monthly period doesn't necessarily mean you're fertile, since it's possible to menstruate without ovulating. But simply gaining some weight is usually enough for women to begin ovulating again.
Several studies have shown reduced fertility for women who consume more than 300 mg of caffeine each day. Fortunately, the threshold is high enough that you can still indulge in that morning cup o' joe, since the average 8-ounce cup of coffee only has 100 to 130 mg of caffeine. Don't forget, though, that black tea, green tea, chocolate, and some sodas also contain caffeine.
For women undergoing in vitro fertilization, however, the threshold is much lower: A mere 50 mg of caffeine—the equivalent of one cup of tea—can negatively impact success rates.
Walking just 30 minutes each day is a simple, inexpensive form of exercise that helps ward off problems like heart disease and diabetes, diseases which may impact fertility and can cause complications during pregnancy. In addition, regular exercise helps maintain a normal body weight, which is an important part of maximizing fertility.
Walking may also help boost fertility by increasing circulation to the pelvis and the reproductive organs, since some research has linked decreased blood-flow to the ovaries with ovarian aging and reduced success with in-vitro fertilization.
While many experts believe that depression doesn't cause infertility, but proper treatment for depression can help increase fertility.
Since it's not uncommon for women struggling with infertility to become depressed, try joining a fertility-focused mind-body group. These groups teach techniques to relax and manage the stress and anxiety associated with infertility. Research conducted at the Harvard Medical School found that women undergoing in vitro fertilization who participated in a 10-week mind-body program were more than twice as likely to get pregnant.
To maximize your chances of conception and a healthy pregnancy, eat a healthy, unprocessed diet rich in whole grains, beans, fresh fruit and vegetables, raw nuts and seeds (skip the ones with added oil and salt), healthy oils (like olive oil), lean meat, and cold-water fish like wild salmon that are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
A balanced, whole-foods diet will help you maintain a normal BMI, a critical component in maximizing fertility. In addition, by eating well and minimizing unhealthy fats, white flour, sugar, and salt, you'll reduce your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure—diseases that can decrease your fertility and also cause complications in pregnancy.
More than 100 research studies have consistently linked smoking to decreased fertility and increased problems in carrying a birth.
Smoking damages eggs, reducing the chances of getting pregnant during any given cycle, and smokers may hit menopause several years earlier than their non-smoking peers. Smoking also negatively impacts hormone levels, further reducing fertility.
The problems don't end when a smoker gets pregnant. Smokers are more likely to suffer from miscarriage and complication during their pregnancies, and babies born to smokers are more likely to be underweight.
Although smoking does damage eggs, quitting now can still help boost fertility. Going smoke-free will prevent further reduction in egg quality, help reverse hormonal changes, and increase the chances of carrying a healthy baby to term.
Most reproductive experts agree that drinking reduces a woman's chances of getting pregnant, with more excessive drinking further decreasing the chances of conceiving. And it's critically important that women cut out alcohol completely once pregnant.