3 Lifestyle Habits to Improve Your Fertility

When trying to get pregnant, it’s natural to want to do everything in your power to make conception happen quickly. If it doesn't happen after a month or so, people often search for safe, natural, and healthy ways to boost their fertility.

Simple lifestyle tweaks can often help improve your overall health while reducing the anxiety that can significantly impact your ability to conceive. Here are the three lifestyle fixes you should consider.


Lose Weight

brightly colored socks of woman on bathroom scale

Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

Numerous studies have shown that losing just 5% to 10% of your body weight can significantly improve ovulation if you're overweight or obese.

According to a study from the Assisted Reproduction Unit at the University of Aberdeen, for every unit decrease in your body mass index (BMI), your odds of conceiving go up by a surprising 5%.​

It's important to approach any weight loss in a healthy manner, avoiding crash diets, detoxes or other methods of rapid weight loss.

At the same time, you shouldn't focus solely on the number of pounds you lose but rather the lifestyle changes you can reasonably sustain to keep the weight off. This includes regular exercise and reducing smoking and alcohol intake for both you and your partner.

Not only will these changes improve your chances of getting pregnant, but they can also keep you healthier as you prepare the arrival of your newborn.


Manage Stress

Woman in Meditation Pose

RunPhoto / Getty Images

Research has long established the link between stress and infertility. High levels of stress trigger the release of the stress hormone cortisol. Continual exposure to cortisol increases the production of insulin which, in turn, alters the balance of female sex hormones, including those needed for ovulation.

One study from the Ohio State Univerity College of Medicine confirmed that high levels of stress, as measured by another stress enzyme known as alpha amylase, resulted in a twofold increase in infertility.

Some of the more effective ways to manage stress include meditation, exercise, yoga, and counseling.


Change the Balance of Your Diet

Woman Eating Fresh Salad At Wooden Table

Irene Wissel / Getty Images

There is growing evidence that many of the foods we eat regularly can impact our chances of becoming pregnant. This seems especially true in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

In this population, it's known that nutritional deficits are linked to hormonal aberrations that can contribute to irregular periods (oligomenorrhea) and the loss of menstrual function (amenorrhea). Furthermore, it's been established that for ovulation in women with PCOS, energy balance is more important than BMI.

Studies have shown that an informed approach to diet and exercise can enhance a woman's hormonal function and improve ovulation. Among their recommendations:

  • Calorie intake should be distributed between several meals per day with low calorie intake from snacks and drinks.
  • High intake of low GI carbohydrates should be avoided as this contributes to weight gain while stimulating hunger and carb craving.
  • Whole grains, fiber, and non-starchy vegetables should be a primary focus when meal-planning.

What to Eat and Avoid

Women with PCOS can boost fertility by eating more:

  • Whole grains
  • Vegetable proteins (lentils, beans, nuts, seeds)
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables

It's important, meanwhile, to avoid processed foods such as bagels, white rice, crackers, and low-fiber cereals that can cause insulin to spike.

An increased intake in plant proteins has been associated with a reduced risk of ovulatory infertility, according to a 2017 study.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Pandey S, Pandey S, Maheshwari M, et al. The impact of female obesity on the outcome of fertility treatment. J Hum Reprod Sci. 2010;3(2): 62-67. doi:10.4103/0974-1208.69332

  2. Lynch C, Sundaram R, Maisog J, et al. Preconception stress increases the risk of infertility: Results from a couple-based prospective cohort study—The LIFE Study. Hum Reprod. 2014; 29(5):1067-1075. doi:10.1093/humrep/deu032

  3. Porcaro G, Filati P, Unfer V. Looking at the link between diet and PCOS onset and management. J Nutr Heal Food Sci. 2016;4:1-5.

Additional Reading

By Nicole Galan, RN
Nicole Galan, RN, is a registered nurse and the author of "The Everything Fertility Book."