Getting to the roots of infertility

by Julie Snyder

Roots of InfertilityStarting a family begins with the decision to toss out the contraceptives and let the magic happen.

For some couples the "waiting game" stretches into months and in some instances years. Infertility isn't picky about who it affects or when. Studies show that one in six couples experience heartbreaking infertility issues.

You might be familiar with the usual baby-making tips, like finding out when's the best time to have sex. It's time to take your fertility back!

Take charge of your fertility!

Often, the first step in any infertility treatment is testing for underlying causes. Before seeking out a diagnosis, you and your partner can look for the roots of infertility in your diet, habits and around your home. Create a healthy preconception environment.

How does diet affect fertility?

Good nutrition can give your fertility a boost. These foods up your odds of getting pregnant.

Complex carbohydrates: Getting your carbohydrates from whole grains, fruits and vegetables enhances fertility. Eating sugar and processed foods increases your chance for infertility issues.

Plant proteins: Lentils, beans and split peas can help you get pregnant. Replacing part of the animal protein with plant protein was related to a lower risk of ovulation problems.

Healthy fats: These catalysts improve fertility. Trans fats do the opposite. Eating more trans fat reduces fertility.

"Color" your diet: Colorful fruits and vegetables raise the amount of antioxidants in your diet. Researchers equate these gems with a better chance of getting a baby on board.

Gluten sensitivity: Some couples say that they're parents today because they chose to skip gluten. New research supports their claims. Antibodies indicating gluten intolerance were five times more likely to be present in the blood of women with unexplained infertility, recurrent miscarriage and stillbirth compared to women without complications.

If you're contemplating going gluten-free, this primer will help you make fertility-friendly food choices.

Lifestyle affects fertility

Cigarettes, pollutants, obesity and stress all negatively affect your fertility.

Smoking makes it harder to get pregnant. Women who smoke take longer to get pregnant and face an increased risk for both primary and secondary infertility.

"Smoking doesn't make men sterile, but husbands or partners who chain smoke could add a couple of years of futile attempts before their wife is able to get pregnant," says Dr. Lani Burkman, a fertility expert at the University of Buffalo School of Medicine. The study found that cutting down to five or six cigarettes a day increased men's fertility.

Pollutants: Chemicals like phthalates, flame retardants and BPA can act like hormones. They can disrupt the way your own hormones works and affect ovulation.