The FUTURE WOMAN fertility countdown will show you how can you maximise your chances of conceiving and sustaining a healthy pregnancy.
In this article, we cover five tips that you MUST consider before trying to conceive (TTC), as well as three tips for your partner.
- A timeline of things to consider before TTC.
- The benefits of cycle tracking to understand if you are ovulating.
- How to track your cycle using cervical mucus and basal body temperature.
- How hormone testing can reveal important underlying imbalances.
- The importance of testing your thyroid for fertility.
- Key nutrients for fertility and how to test for them, including iron, B12, folate and vitamin D.
- What is a “Primester” and ways to prepare for pregnancy.
- The importance of your partner’s sperm health and tips to improve it.
fertility countdown: 1 year before TTC
Start tracking your cycle
Tracking your cycle is one of the best things you can do before TTC. It is free, easy and helps you to understand your hormone health on a deeper level.
Here are some of the benefits of tracking your cycle before TTC:
- Understanding if and when you are ovulating
- Understanding if you are making enough progesterone after ovulation
- Understanding if there are any possible hormone imbalances present that need to be addressed in advance of TTC.
You can sign up to our newsletter to receive our free cycle tracking guide. This guide will take you step by step on how to track your cycle with monitoring cervical mucus and basal body temperature (BBT).
Fertility countdown: 1 year to 6 months before TTC
Test your sex hormones
We recommend testing with our Advanced Hormone Test Plus Cycle Mapping as this allows a look at your hormones across the full month, as well as looking at your stress hormones and antioxidant profile.
What our Advanced Hormone test with Cycle Mapping looks at:
- Phase 1 and 2 detoxification of oestrogen
- Your HPA axis including cortisol response
- Organic acids including B12 and antioxidants
- Cycle mapping to understand your exact hormone picture over the month
Why is this important for fertility and TTC?
This test looks at your sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone across the month to determine if there is imbalance and if so, when the imbalance is occurring. If you do have a hormone imbalance, it can greatly impact fertility.
What our Advanced Hormone Test with cycle mapping can tell you:
- Whether you have low oestrogen, which can impede ovulation
- Whether you have high oestrogen, which can cause hormone imbalance
- Whether you have low progesterone, which can prevent conception
- Whether you have low progesterone, which can prevent maintenance of a pregnancy
- Your antioxidant status, which can impact fertility
- Your cortisol balance and HPA axis health, which can affect conception
If you have any issues, we can create a personalised health plan for you to focus on bringing your hormones back into optimal balance.
Test your thyroid hormones.
The thyroid gland is vital for your fertility because one of its main roles is to regulate the metabolism of the body. The thyroid therefore plays an important role in body weight, energy levels and body temperature, but also regulating your menstrual cycles, maintaining your heart rate and much more.
An underlying thyroid imbalance can affect your sex hormones in the following ways:
- It can create oestrogen dominance
- It can reduce your ability to clear excess oestrogen
- It can increase prolactin production, resulting in lack of ovulation
- It can cause irregular periods
- It can impede ovulation and therefore reduce chances of pregnancy.
Therefore it’s a good idea to test your thyroid before TTC to ensure there are no underlying imbalances that will affect your menstrual cycle and ovulation.
You may also want to consider the FUTURE WOMAN Full Thyroid Panel which looks at TSH, T4, Free T4, T3 as well as thyroid antibodies to rule out underlying thyroid autoimmune disease.
FERTILITY COUNTDOWN: 3-6 months before TTC
Ensure adequate nutrients.
There are so many important nutrients for conception and pregnancy but here are a few that we at FUTURE WOMAN believe are especially important. One of the best ways to ensure you have the right levels of these nutrients is to take our FUTURE WOMAN Nutrient blood test that looks at Vitamin D, folate, iron, B12 and more.
- Vitamin D – Studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency is a risk marker for reduced fertility. Vitamin D is important for healthy progesterone levels, for egg health and for regulating the immune system which is important for the conception process. Vitamin D is best obtained from sunlight, but you can also increase foods such as eggs, cod liver oil, oily fish and liver. Vitamin D may also need to be supplemented if testing reveals lower levels.
- Folate – Notice we want to ensure you have adequate folate levels NOT folic acid levels. Folate is the active form that is found naturally in food and in your body, whereas folic acid is the synthetic form. This is especially important that you do not take folic acid if you are a poor methylator (find out in our Advanced Hormone Test or Hormone Genetics Test). Folate is important for increasing fertility but also for the formation of the baby’s nervous system, brain and spinal cord. Folate foods include whole grains, brands, liver, seafood and dark green leafy vegetables.
- Choline – Choline is important for many aspects of the preconception journey and also pregnancy itself. Choline supports a healthy placenta and reduces the risk of neural tube defects. It is important to increase choline foods such as eggs, Brussels sprouts, beef, fish and spinach. As many modern diets are low in choline containing foods, supplementation is often recommended.
- Iron – Adequate iron levels are vital for conception. Low iron levels can impede ovulation and result in low progesterone. Iron foods include quality meat, tofu, seafood, legumes, dark green leafy veggies and liver. Depending on your iron levels you may or may not need additional supplementation, this is why testing is so important.
Please note that the efficacy of supplementing the above nutrients is determined by the quality of the supplements. Therefore we recommend booking in a FUTURE WOMAN Consultation in order to ensure you are taking the right dose and right type of supplement for your body.
FERTILITY COUNTDOWN: 3 months before TTC
Act as if you are already pregnant
Have you heard of the ‘primester’? This is the three months or so before you get pregnant and is just as important as when you actually are pregnant.
In fact, one of our favourite tips when TTC is to act as if you are already pregnant. This means the following:
- Say goodbye to all alcohol – alcohol disrupts quality sleep, hormones and blood sugar balance – all things that make it harder to conceive.
- Say goodbye to high intensity exercise – stick with low impact workouts such as weights, walking, cycling and yoga.
- Reduce your stress & take it easy – this is vital during the TTC period as stress is the number one disrupter of hormones. Time to roll out the yoga mat and rest up.
- Nourish yourself with nutrient-dense foods.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SPERM HEALTH FOR FERTILITY
We cannot forget that half of the preconception journey is all about the sperm. Here are some ways to support your partner’s sperm health:
- Avoid overheating – overheating can damage sperm therefore we want to avoid hot laptops on laps, cycling, intense exercise and saunas
- Increase zinc containing foods – zinc is a vital nutrient for sperm health (and egg health too!) so it is time to include foods such as seafood, nuts, seeds, red meat, legumes and beans.
- Increase antioxidant support – ensuring lots of antioxidants is vital to prevent sperm DNA fragmentation – think selenium , CoQ10, Vitamin E and Glutathione. Try foods such as berries, eggplant, nuts, green leafy veggies, artichokes, garlic and onions.
3 key takeaways:
- The pre-conception or fertility journey starts a year before you actually start trying.
- Testing is an important part of the pre-conception journey – testing hormones, thyroid and nutrients is especially important.
- Half the pre-conception journey is about the sperm too!