Fertility is the quality or state of being fertile, or having the ability to conceive and bear children. We know that some women who have successfully conceived and delivered children may have struggled in the beginning.

Women have been waiting longer to have children, perhaps for careers, finances, or for simply not being ready. Often, when women face challenges in conceiving, it’s because they haven’t asked the right questions, let alone asked the right professionals. So, how can you increase your fertility? Here are five key strategies to increase your chances of becoming pregnant.

1: Consult a Fertility Specialist

Obstetricians are doctors who provide pregnancy care from conception through birth; reproductive endocrinologists specialize in fertility and infertility. Choosing the right healthcare provider is essential to evaluating your fertility. You need a provider with whom you can have honest and vulnerable conversations.

2: Harness Nutrition

Food is medicine, right? Evaluating and improvingyour diet can play a big role in improving physiological function. Obesity rates are on the rise, and this factor alone can decrease fertility. An honest evaluation of our eating habits can help address the hormonal impact of being overweight. Take a prenatal vitamin daily.

3: Exercise

Exercise is important to fertility. Bringing conscious movement to your schedule promotes physical and mental well-being. Choose activities you enjoy. Balance that new doable diet plan with exercise to achieve healthy weight loss goals, or to simply maintain fi tness. Walking, tennis, swimming, yoga, dancing, and running are just a few examples of ways we can jumpstart a new routine. And of course, before you commit to any new exercise regimen, always consult your provider.

4: Communication with Your Partner

Our partners are an equally valuable part of the fertility process. Unless you plan to conceive through sperm donation, it’s important to have an honest and clear understanding of each other’s health history. Talk about your goals and desires with your partner, and don’t hold back when it comes to tracking your cycles. Intimacy is integral to the process and working with your ovulation peak times is key. Not only will the awareness of timing increase your fertility, it brings mindfulness to the process. And it gives your partner a chance to ask questions, give insight, and share their encouragement.

5: Alcohol and Drug Use

Alcohol and drug use are harmful in pregnancy. Did you know they can also impact your fertility? Excessive alcohol use can aff ect ovulation; and other drugs, such as nicotine, marijuana, cocaine, and heroin, can be even more harmful. These can cause organ damage not only for you, but for your developing fetus. Some of these substances can cause health issues that have severe consequences beyond conception and pregnancy. If you need help quitting any kind of substance, talk with your provider – we’re here to help, not to judge!

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Lakisa Ballard, MSN, RN, C-EFM, RNC-OB, is a Labor and Delivery Clinical Nurse Educator at Holy Cross Hospital in Maryland. She has worked in many high-risk facilities around the country and has a passion for educating future nurses.

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