If you’ve been struggling with getting pregnant, you may be wondering if it’s possible to increase or improve your fertility on your own. Maybe there are lifestyle changes you can make, a fertility diet you can try, or some other non-treatment steps you can take to boost your chances for conception.

First, the bad news: While research has found correlations between fertility and certain good health habits, there’s not much data to suggest direct causation. In other words, just because women who ate full-fat dairy products like ice cream were more likely to conceive, it doesn’t mean that eating ice cream will get you pregnant, or that the ice cream had anything to do with it. (And yes, that’s a real study finding!)

The other bad news is that most couples dealing with infertility will need more than lifestyle changes to overcome their fertility challenges. There are people who make serious lifestyle changes and get pregnant without further treatment, but there’s little data to suggest this is going to happen for the majority of infertile couples.

Now, here’s the good news. Researchers have found that some healthy changes may improve the chances of fertility treatments working. There are also some bad health habits that decrease fertility. If you drop the bad habits, your fertility may increase.

But how do you go about making these changes? And how do you know what changes to make?

Make Health Changes for the Right Reasons

In my opinion, a vital key to making successful health goals is not to do this only for your fertility. That may work for some, but for most, this is a recipe for disaster.

Why? Because as your fertility challenges increase or decrease, you may feel more or less motivated to continue. If you have a depressing month, your motivation may drop completely.

Another reason not to tie health improvement only to fertility is that you may judge your success or failure by your pregnancy status.

If you lose 10% of your body weight, and you were overweight, that’s a great health success. Research has found that losing 10% of your body weight can improve ovulation in obese women. But if you do this solely to get pregnant, and you don’t get pregnant after losing the weight, you may misjudge your efforts as a failure. That may lead to reverting to old habits and regaining back all the weight.

Instead, make lifestyle changes because you want to be healthier. Do it so you’ll feel better physically and emotionally. And yes, maybe it’ll improve your fertility too — but don’t see that as the sole purpose.

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