If trying to conceive is taking longer than you expected, you probably feel like you’ve read everything there is to know about improving your chances of getting pregnant. However, there is some new research and lesser-known advice that can still make all the difference.
What it means to “improve” your fertility is complex, as many factors converge to make sure we successfully conceive and sustain a pregnancy—from hormone levels, to cervical fluid, to the health of your vagina (and that’s only on your side of the equation!). However, there are some ways you can take control and give your body a little support.
1. Check out your medicine cabinet
If you’re prone to popping pills because of headaches, persistent backaches, or to help you sleep, you may want to reconsider the habit and look for alternatives. NSAIDs—that’s anti-inflammatories and painkillers like Aspirin, Motrin, Advil, and Aleve—can prevent ovulation when taken frequently. That means these seemingly innocuous medicines can actually cause infertility. The impact is reversible, but you may be currently delaying conception because of your painkiller intake. Stop using them and you may find this was the problem all along.
In this study, ovulation was reduced in the subjects by a significant percentage, between 75 and 93 percent depending on the specific NSAID taken. For some women who experience pain around ovulation (known as Mittelschmerz) and take defensive doses leading up to that time, this could be particularly useful information. Women who find themselves reaching for Motrin prior to their period should also take note.
2. Clean out your cleaning products
Although many of us already studiously avoid pesticides and have swapped out our old beauty products for natural, toxin-free brands, household cleaning products might be the last frontier when it comes to the female fight against endocrine disruptors (those chemicals that mess with our hormones).
Women, unsurprisingly, have far more contact with cleaning products on a daily basis than men do, and we tend to forget what that can mean. Contact with our skin and breathing in the fumes that leave us fully exposed to the toxins those products contain. One study showed that the quaternary ammonium compounds used in many household cleaning products to sterilize bathroom and kitchen surfaces are also sterilizing women. Plus, we need to worry about more than just those harsh, bleach-based cleaners that might cause us to use gloves. Commonly used antibacterial wipes and dryer sheets also contain these fertility-suppressing chemicals.
3. Keep eating avocado toast
Yes, it’s super trendy and overdone, but there’s one really good reason to keep eating avocado toast: Avocados can boost your fertility. A study revealed avocados help women in their 30s struggling to conceive to actually achieve that much-wanted pregnancy. Many women’s health experts have begun highlighting the importance of good fats in a woman’s diet—avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, butter from grass-fed cows—for fertility and overall health.
We already know restricting calories, poor nutrition, and over-exercising can all negatively impact fertility by suppressing ovulation, so it’s good to hear that eating something most of us already enjoy is also helpful. In fact, these healthy fats may make you 3.4 times more likely to conceive! If you’ve been trying to conceive, you’re probably all too aware of the advice about all the things you shouldn’t be eating or drinking, so, there’s some good news for you.