Ovulation is influenced by a combination of factors – from your body to your environment. While this may feel overwhelming at first, focusing on practical steps can help you feel more in control, while also providing a measurable impact on your overall health and fertility.

Taking a look at your diet and routines is a great place to start. Here are four steps to take to increase your ovulation naturally today:

What Can I Eat to Improve Ovulation and Fertility?

The Nurses’ Health Study (NHS), covering 18,000 women over eight years, is a landmark study in determining fertility outcomes related to diet. In Harvard Medical School’s review of this study, doctors noted that specific dietary steps promoted fertility, including:

Avoid Trans Fats:
Trans fats’ impact on artery health affects more than just your heart and blood vessels. A separate Harvard study found that diets with more than 2% fat intake from trans fats – versus diets with carbohydrates or healthy fats – were 73-100% more likely to develop ovulatory infertility. Shifting your diet away from trans fats is a great first step for those looking to conceive.

Add More Unsaturated Oils:
The type of fat in your diet is important. The same study found a marked difference between simple carbohydrates and healthy fats. Increasing the percentage of fat in your diet from vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and cold-water fish like salmon and sardines will benefit both your fertility and overall health.

Switch to Complex Carbs:
Much like fats, getting your carbohydrates from the right source is key. Switch to complex carbs by choosing whole grains, vegetables, whole fruits, and beans. This not only smooths out your blood sugar and insulin levels, but also helps your body avoid disruptive spikes.

Try Full-Fat Dairy:
Studies have shown correlations between skim milk and infertility. Try mixing up your dairy intake with whole milk, ice cream, and full-fat yogurt. An added benefit? Calcium!

Use Folic Acid:
Folic acid is critical to all stages of conception and pregnancy. Additionally, folic acid helps reduce the likelihood of potential birth defects, such as anencephaly and spina bifida, in some pregnancies. Present in many leafy greens, citrus fruits, and enriched carbs like pasta and wheat bread, folic acid provides a multitude of health benefits.

Soak Up the Sun:
A review of studies on its effects published in the Oxford Journal of Human Reproduction shows that vitamin D, whether taken in via sunlight or supplements, is critical to reproductive health.

Can I Still Drink Alcohol While Trying to Conceive? What About Smoking?

On a general level, excessive drinking and smoking can be tough on the human body, causing a variety of health problems. This also holds true for conception and fertility.

Heavy drinking can negatively impact fertility for both women and men. While you don’t need to cut alcohol entirely out of your life if you are trying to conceive, you and your partner should keep things in moderation. A Case Western Reserve University study notes that over 50g of alcohol a week (about four standard drinks) seems to be the line at which decreased fertility is noticeable.

Smoking is even worse. An American Society for Reproductive Medicine study noted that the delay in conception for a 12-month period was 54% higher in women who smoked. For those seeking to increase ovulation naturally, quitting smoking is a good place to start. The National Center for Biotechnology Information found evidence suggesting that men should also be advised to abstain from smoking in order to improve reproductive outcomes.

Can I Drink Coffee While Trying to Get Pregnant?

Coffee is so important in many of our morning routines that it can feel impossible to function without it. However, a Danish study published in Clinical Epidemiology, found that, while fertility was not affected by caffeine, high levels of consumption did increase the risk of spontaneous abortion during pregnancy.

Luckily, there is no need to cut coffee cold turkey, but capping your morning coffee intake at a cup or two a day is a very sensible measure—the American Pregnancy Association recommends limiting yourself to 200mg a day, or one 12oz cup.

Does Losing Weight Help with Fertility?

While what you eat is important, how much you eat (and how much you burn off through physical activity), is equally as important. Working towards a healthy body mass index (BMI) can measurably assist with your fertility and natural ovulation.

A study in Human Reproduction scientific journal found a clear link between higher-than-normal BMI and infertility. Losing 5-10% of weight from a previously unhealthy level can dramatically improve ovulation and pregnancy rates. Obesity causes similar issues in men, so, if applicable, this can be an opportunity to support yourself and your partner in living a healthier lifestyle.

A BMI that is too low is also correlated with reduced fertility. If you are participating in marathons or other endurance sports and therefore maintaining a very low weight for your height, it might be time to pull back as you try to conceive. That level of physical activity is also correlated with several other factors that reduce your chance of conception, as shown in a UNC-Chapel Hill study in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.

Interested in Learning More?

Diet and lifestyle habits are of course only one element of fertility. At Dominion Fertility it is our mission to help clients through all stages of growing their families. If you have more questions, please schedule a consultation.