Health and Wellness

How to Increase Fertility and Overcome Problems Getting Pregnant

5 Comments 05 February 2013

PregnancyTest_400The increase in environmental toxins, processed foods, and stress, as well as the advancing ages at which couples seek to have children, have made it more difficult for women to conceive. This is valuable information women and their partners need in order to conceive with ease and confidence, and to bear healthy children.

Q: It seems like women today are having a harder time getting pregnant. Is that true? Why is it that so many women are struggling with fertility these days?
The most important factors that impact a women’s fertility are her age, weight, and the chemicals and stress that can disrupt her hormonal balance. Fertility starts to go down in women as early as their late 20s but markedly decreases after age 35. Obesity, which is ever more common, makes it harder to conceive and increases miscarriage rates. Now women are exposed to thousands of environmental chemicals, many of which act as endocrine disruptors, altering the hormonal balance of the body. Even stress can alter our hormones by sending the message that the timing is off for bringing a new life into the world.

Q: Are there a few key things I can do to prepare my body before my partner and I begin trying to conceive?
Absolutely! This is an ideal time to take inventory of your diet, exercise, and stress management habits. You can reduce the toxins you are exposed to in personal care products and in food so that your body is as clean as possible.

I recommend that women and men take a multivitamin-multimineral. Women need to be sure it contains folic acid, iron, and iodine and men want a multi that is iron-free.

It makes sense to have a check-up with your doctor to be sure you are up to date on important immunizations as well as to review any medications you might be taking to see whether they are safe when attempting to conceive. Your doctor may also want to do some simple blood tests such as checking your blood count, thyroid level, and Vitamin D level.

Q: Do you recommend a special diet to bolster fertility?
A healthy diet with lots of vegetables and fruits, vegetable protein, avoiding simple carbohydrates, and enough Omega-3, is recommended for all women and men. There is substantial evidence to recommend particular foods when trying to conceive. These include eating 3 servings a week of low-mercury fish, switching to low glycemic index carbohydrates, increasing your vegetable proteins, and reducing your animal protein. I also recommend drinking whole milk and eating whole dairy yogurt in place of low-fat or non-fat products. Beverages to avoid include sodas and more than one alcoholic drink a day.

Q: Do you recommend a specific exercise regimen to bolster fertility?
Walking is the best exercise when you are trying to conceive. Thirty minutes a day at a moderate pace is what I recommend. It is best to avoid more vigorous exercise including training for marathons or ashtanga yoga. There are, however, specific yoga poses that can aid in conception and I describe them in my book, Be Fruitful.

Q: I’ve heard that acupuncture can aid in conception. Do you have any advice about how to find an acupuncturist with a specialization in fertility?
States license acupuncturists and the rules vary state by state. In general look for someone who has graduated from an accredited school, passed the NCCAOM certification, and then ask if they have experience treating fertility-related issues.

Q: How long should my partner and I spend trying to conceive before consulting a specialist?
It depends a bit on your age. If you are under 35 we usually suggest that you and your partner attempt to conceive for a full year before seeing a specialist. That time shrinks to six months for women aged 35-40 and to three months in women over 40. This is a bit paradoxical as it is likely to take longer to conceive as we age. Yet aging also confers greater urgency for treatment.

Be Fruitful: The Essential Guide to Maximizing Fertility and Giving Birth to a Healthy Child

Be Fruitful: The Essential Guide to Maximizing Fertility and Giving Birth to a Healthy Child

Victoria Maizes, MD

Victoria Maizes, M.D., is executive director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine and a professor of medicine, family medicine, and public health at the University of Arizona. An internationally recognized leader in integrative medicine, Dr. Maizes lectures worldwide to academic and community audiences on women’s health, aging, nutrition, and cancer. The co-editor of Integrative Women’s Health, the 2010 Oxford University Press textbook, she was named one of the world’s intelligent optimists in 2009. For more information, please visit

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  • Tee

    What about someone with irregular periods for years but now with large gaps between each (like 7 months)? Given that they have been cleared of any medical problems/ovary issues etc?
    It makes me worry for the future! I have a low but healthy BMI…am I supposed to eat more fats or what? Can this affect my fertility later on?

  • Kristy

    Hi Tee,
    Thanks for sharing your concerns. We believe that some of your questions may be answered in Chapter 2 of Dr. Maizes’ book, Be Fruitful. Here is a link:
    Best of luck,

  • Martina McKeough

    Great article but thought I would also mention Hypnotherapy for Fertility. Studies have shown that it can increase your chances of conceiving. As it involves deep relaxation it can help to reduce stress and negative emotions. On a deeper level it can also identify any subconscious resistance.

  • Phoenix Matthews

    Me and my husband have been trying to concieve for about 2 years with breaks from each other due to his military seperations. We have been trying very hard for the past 4 months with no luck. My periods are kind of out of whack but they always have been and we have one son already. We also both tend to cling to stress alot, we just cant get it off our monds long enough to even cuddle. Is there anyway to work on this without medical help cause we just cant afford that.

  • jennifer thomas

    If you want to increase your fertility, there’s really no need to consume expensive prescription drugs. You simply need to modify your diet to a healthy one, which promotes fertility. There are certain foods and recipes that will promote your fertility without medication.


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