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Being Stressed Can Lower Your Chances of Getting Pregnant
The stress you feel in your day to day life causes your body to produce a variety of different hormones, many of which are not helpful if you are trying to get pregnant.
Adrenaline, one of the stress hormones, signals your body to be ready to run. This is known as “fight, flight, or freeze” response. This is an evolutionary response that was extremely valuable and kept your prehistoric relatives safe and alive but not so valuable now. The chance of you being chased down by a bear is very slim but our body doesn’t know the difference between the fight or flight response due to an actual bear or something non life threatening. Of course, some the the stress you feel in your day to day life can make your life a bit miserable, but you won’t die from that. Your body doesn’t know the difference though and will produce the same fertility unfriendly hormones in both situations.
Negative Effects of Stress on Fertility
For women, ongoing stress can cause hormone imbalances. If your reproductive hormones are not being produced in the correct amounts, ovulation could be impacted or your uterine lining may not develop enough to sustain a pregnancy. For men, studies show that stress can have a negative impact on sperm motility, sperm count and sperm morphology. The stress that both you and your partner experience on a daily basis can make getting pregnant more difficult than it should be.
If you are overly stressed, your libido will probably suffer as well. Honestly, it’s pretty difficult to be “in the mood” when your body’s hormones are saying you might encounter something that needs to be fought or run from. Ultimately, if you are not having sex, the chances of getting pregnant is slim to none.
If your body thinks that a fight is impending, it will not be cooperative in your baby making endeavors. Really, why would you want a baby if a bear could get you both. Yes, I know, there is no bear, but the chemicals and hormones your body pumps out when you are under stress say that there might be! While this response is valuable when there is a life or death situation, day to day stress doesn’t warrant this bodily reaction. If you are trying to get pregnant, helping your body de-stress will increase your chances of getting pregnant.
Reduce Your Stress By Adopting These Practices
There are many ways you can reduce the stress you encounter in your life. These practices will help calm your mind, allowing your body’s stress response to reset itself. The journey from high stress to healthy reaction to life can be a bit hard but every positive change you make will help retrain your automatic stress responses.
Numerous scientific studies have shown that meditation can be an effective way to reduce stress and help build resilience to future stressful situations. Circle and Bloom has a great free meditation that will get you on the path to fertility relaxation.
There are some more specific stress reducing mediation programs available too.
In addition to helping improve your overall health, regular exercise can also be an effective stress buster. When you exercise, your brain produces feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins. As the endorphins in your body increase, they help counteract the “the bear is going to get me!” adrenaline that stress causes. Less adrenaline means less feelings of stress.
Sometimes, everything just seems too overwhelming and stress inducing. A trained therapist can help you help you learn how to effectively deal with the stressors in your life. When you are in the midst of a stressful situation, chance are you are not seeing things all too clearly. Talking with an uninvolved third party can help bring clarity and hopefully a plan that will help you move forward.
Aim for between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night. When you don’t or can’t get this much sleep, it makes you less able to deal with the normal day to day stress. For women, erratic sleep cycles can throw your hormones off as well. Definitely not what you want if you are trying to get pregnant. You may have to implement some of the suggestions above first to help lower your stress. When you are super stressed, chances are it is making you unable to actually fall asleep as your mind replays all the stress on a loop.
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In order to get pregnant, your body needs to be ovulating. Ovulation is when your body releases an egg from your ovary. Much of what we focus on when we look at getting pregnant has to do with knowing when you’re ovulating and then timing your baby-making attempts accordingly. Ovulation prediction kits, for example, are a wonderful tool for the couple who are trying to conceive. You should ovulate within the next 24 to 36 hours after you get a positive test result.
While every woman’s body is different, there are some common signs that you might be ovulating. Know what to look for, and you’re ahead of the game. You probably won’t have all the signs that you are ovulating. If you’ve got several of them going on, there’s a good chance it’s time to try to conceive.
5 signs You’re Ovulating
1. Your BBT is on the rise. Basal body temperature – which is the temperature your body is at first thing in the morning before you start any activity – is a good indicator of ovulation. Typically, BBT will rise about 0.4 degrees just after ovulation. Consider getting a good basal body thermometer to measure your BBT. In order to utilize this method effectively, you will have to chart for a couple of months to see what your pattern is like. You will receive the temperature increase in your ratings AFTER you ovulate, which is typically too late to get pregnant in that cycle. Fertility Friend is an awesome website that will help you learn how to chart your temperatures so you can figure out when you are ovulating.
2. You’ve got egg-white cervical mucus. – This is not one of the more pleasant things to track when you’re trying to conceive, but it’s pretty reliable. Your cervix secretes mucus throughout your cycle. When you’re about to ovulate, it will be the consistency and color of an egg white. Chart changes to your cervical mucus to track when it’s time to try to conceive.
3. You’ve got abdominal pains. About one in five women will have some abdominal discomfort when they ovulate. This is known as “mittelschmerz,” and is a good indicator for some women that ovulation is occurring.
4. Your libido is increasing. Generation after generation of human beings have tried to propagate the species, and one of the ways this is built into your genetic code is to have an increased sexual desire around the time that it’s best to conceive.
5. Your breasts are tender. Many women experience breast soreness or tenderness during ovulation due to hormonal changes.
There are other possible symptoms, including things like swollen labia and mood swings, that some women experience when they ovulate. While BBT, cervical mucus and ovulation predictor tests are your most reliable tools, after you’ve been charting your fertility for a few months you might notice some of these other signs, as well.
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What is Low Sperm Count?
Low sperm count means that, when tested, the total amount of sperm in your semen is below a certain amount. The most current World Health Organization guidelines define low sperm count as having less than 15 million sperm in a milliliter of semen (15 million/ml).
Having low sperm count means that you have lower odds of fertilizing your partner’s egg. While it is true that it only takes one sperm to fertilize the egg, you really need a significant number of sperm to make it successfully through the obstacle course that is the female reproductive system.
If you don’t get pregnant in the first couple of months of trying to conceive, don’t worry. The statistics show that, for some couples, it just takes a bit longer to get pregnant.
- 20% will conceive within one month
- 70% will conceive within six months
- 85% will conceive within one year
It is hard to let nature take it’s course when you have baby on the brain. Fertility specialists typically want to see you after you’ve tried unsuccessfully for a year, or at the 6 month mark if you are over 35 years old.
There are many things you can do proactively to help improve your overall sperm health before you reach the 12 month “Call the Dr.” mark. Changes you make now will improve your chances of getting pregnant. Take a look at your lifestyle to see if something your are doing or dealing with on a daily basis is known to cause sperm health issues.
Environmental Causes of Low Sperm Count
- Chemical Exposure – If you have a job that requires you to work with industrial chemicals on a daily basis, that exposure could lead to a lower sperm count. Jobs that work with pesticides, solvents, or heavy metals can have a negative impact on your overall sperm health.
- Overheating Your Testicles – Your sperm like a cooler than body temperature environment. If you regularly squash your testicles close to your body with tight pants or underwear, your sperm count could suffer. Sitting for long times will also increase testicle temperature. If you are trying to get pregnant, you might also want to avoid saunas and hot tubs for the same reason.
- X-rays – If possible, ALWAYS make sure a protective apron is used if you need x-rays. This will help shield your sperm and sperm producing organs from the damaging effects. Failure to do this can cause a dramatic decrease in sperm count that can last a long time.
Lifestyle Changes to Improve Low Sperm Count
Sometimes, you can boost your sperm count by making changes to things you do on a daily basis. Some are easier to accomplish than others but all have the potential to improve your sperm count and all other aspects of male fertility. What you do and eat on a daily basis is directly related to your overall fertility.
Keep in mind, unless you have a medical cause for your low sperm count, the changes you make in your day to day life will take 2 to 3 months to show up in improved sperm health.
– Exercise Regularly – If you are a couch potato, your fertility can suffer. Research shows exercise helps balance your hormones (yes, men have fertility related hormones, too) and help improve your sperm count (and other aspects of your sperm too!).
– Quit Smoking – You already know that smoking isn’t good for your overall health. Smoking increases your risk of heart disease, stoke, cancer and a multiple of other diseases. In addition to the well known health risks, smoking can also cause a decreased sperm count and overall sperm health. Low count and low sperm quality make it more difficult for your sperm to fertilize your partner’s egg.
Oh, and let’s not forget how you smoking affects your partner’s fertility. Research has shown that exposure to secondhand smoke can cause fertility problems and earlier onset of menopause in women.
– Check Your Medications – Anabolic steroids (not good news body builders out there), antibiotics and certain medications used to control conditions like high blood pressure, ADHD and antidepressants can reduce your fertility. You can ask your prescribing doctor or pharmacist about the effects of your medications on your overall fertility.
– Take Natural Supplements to Boost Sperm Health – In addition to the other changes you are making, adding supplements that are proven to improve your sperm health can improve your chances of getting pregnant. The most helpful supplemental nutrients that help improve your sperm are Vitamin C (at least 2,000 mg a day), Zinc (66-200 mg per day) and Folic Acid (5,000 mcg per day). The vitamin C helps improve the motility and morphology of the sperm. The zinc, when taken with the folic acid, has been shown to increase sperm count and improve sperm motility and improve the sperm’s ability to fertilize the egg. FertilAid for Men, in combination with CountBoost, provides all these nutrients and many more that are proven to improve overall sperm health and sperm count.
– De-Stress – Extreme and long term stress can cause the hormones required for healthy sperm production to become unbalanced. Balance your mind and your body will go in the direction of balance as well.
Eating for Improved Sperm Health
Focus on eating foods that ensure your body has the right amount of sperm friendly nutrients. Most of these nutrients can be purchased in supplement form, but your body will benefit more if you try and incorporate them into your daily diet. Many research studies have show that the nutrients below help improve sperm count and overall male fertility. To receive the biggest nutritional and sperm count friendly benefits, you should stick with organic, grass fed, and wild caught food whenever possible.
|Nutrient Recommended for Sperm Health||Foods To Eat|
|Vitamin C||Bell Peppers (All colors), Guavas, Dark Leafy Green Vegetables (Kale and Spinach for example), Kiwifruit, Broccoli, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Peas, Papaya, Chili Peppers, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts, Mango|
|Zinc||Beef, Shrimp, Spinach, Flax Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Oysters, Lima Beans, Kidney Beans, Egg Yolks, Turkey, Salmon, Dark Chocolate, Beef Liver|
|Arginine||Turkey, Chicken, Pork Loin, Pumpkin Seeds, Peanuts, Dairy, Chick Peas, Lentils, All Types of Seafood|
|L-Carnitine||Beef, Pork, Whole Milk|
|Essential Fatty Acids||Salmon, Herring, Mackerel, Flax Seeds, Almonds, Walnuts, Eggs, Dark Green Vegetables|
|Chromium||Whole Grains, Broccoli, Potatoes, Raw Tomatoes, Green Beans, Barley, Oats|
|Selenium||Tuna, Shrimp, Sardines, Turkey, Chicken, Lamb, Beef, Brazil Nuts, Eggs, Spinach|
|Folic Acid||Dark Leafy Greens, Broccoli, Citrus Fruits, Beans, Peas, Lentils, Brussel Sprouts, Sunflower Seeds, Peanuts|
|Copper||Sunflower Seeds, Lentils, Almonds, Dark Chocolate, Mushrooms, Beef Liver, Oysters|
|Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)||Beef, Chicken, Salmon, Herring, Tuna, Soybean Oil, Canola Oil|
|Antioxidants||Goji Berries, Dark Chocolate, Kidney Beans, Berries, Pinto Beans, Sweet Cherries, Apples, Red or Purple Grapes, Sweet Potatoes|
It should be easy to increase your daily intake of these sperm friendly foods. Unfortunately, totally changing the way you eat isn’t always possible. Adding a fertility supplement might give you the added nutrient boost that you need to improve your count. FertilAid for Men and Countboost are two of the best selling male fertility supplements on the market. These supplements are formulated to include the scientifically proven nutrients for improving sperm count and overall sperm health.
How To Get Your Sperm Count Checked
If a doctor’s visit is daunting, you can take an at home sperm count test. These tests let you assess your sperm count in the comfort of your own home. Keep in mind, it will only let you know about sperm count. The test will not alert you if there are any problems with sperm motility or morphology.
You may discover that the sperm count appears normal with the at home test, awesome! BUT … that doesn’t mean you are off the hook. All it says is that sperm count may not be the issue. A fertility doctor visit should be your next diagnostic step.
Many men are hesitant to get a semen analysis done. Unfortunately, it’s the only way to find out if you are the reason why you and your partner not getting pregnant. You are going to have to “Suck it up, Buttercup!” and get the testing done if having a baby is important to you and your partner.
If you are trying to get pregnant and have low sperm count, these changes may help your achieve your dream.
- Visit a fertility specialist if you have been trying to conceive for over a year.
- Evaluate what you do and eat everyday and make changes if you have activities that can harm your sperm count and overall health.
- Eat healthy foods with nutrients that support healthy sperm count and overall male fertility.
- Take a fertility supplement with ingredients that help improve sperm count.
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- The epidemiologic evidence linking prenatal and postnatal exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals with male reproductive disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis, Human Reproduction Update, 2016, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,