What to Avoid When Trying to Conceive?

Things to avoid in pregnancy
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What to Avoid When Trying to Conceive?

There is a lot of advice about what women should and should not eat once she becomes pregnant, but what about when a woman is trying to conceive?

There are a number of things that negatively affect the chances of conceiving and should be avoided:


Caffeine is not good for the unborn baby, but research is also showing that it can lower woman fertility by approximately 27%. Heavy caffeine consumption has been associated with fertility problems. Plus, during pregnancy caffeine interferes with women’s ability to absorb iron, can dehydrate the body and, in high doses, can increase miscarriage and preterm birth risk, so it is advisable to cut back as soon as you decide to try to conceive.


Women usually decide to quit smoking as soon as they get pregnant, but avoiding cigarettes prior to conception will be of huge benefit too. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, it takes longer for smokers to conceive, and smoking makes a woman’s eggs more prone to genetic abnormalities. Smoking increases the risk of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. Men should quit smoking too. Men who smoke cigarettes have lower sperm count and more sperm abnormalities.


There’s a strong association between having a BMI over 30 or under 20 and delayed conception. Both parents should ensure they get plenty of nutrients; exercise; and drink plenty of water. 

High-mercury fish:

Some fish are higher in mercury than others – most notably marlin, tilefish, swordfish, shark, and king mackerel. High levels of mercury in the blood have been linked to fertility issues in both men and women. Mercury can harm the developing brain and nervous system of a fetus. Woman can have two six-ounce servings of low-mercury seafood per week while pregnant.

Processed Foods:

Highly processed foods contribute to obesity and can contain pesticides, artificial hormones, and preservatives. These foods negatively affect woman fertility by decreasing hormonal health. Instead, a woman should try to eat as organically as possible and avoid the cookies, chips, and frozen meals. A good rule of thumb is avoiding any packaged item with more than five ingredients.

Red Meat:

Diets that are high in red meat consumption are associated with health concerns that can impact woman fertility such as endometriosis. Although, red meat is a good source of Iron which is an important mineral for conception health, recent studies show the type of Iron in plant-based sources to be more effective in conception health and preventing ovulation failure. 


Stress can affect the functioning of the hypothalamus — the gland in the brain that regulates appetite and emotions, as well as the hormones that tell ovaries to release eggs. If woman is stressed out, she may ovulate later in the cycle or not at all. 


Discuss with your doctor any medicines you may be taking that could possibly harm your reproductive health of unborn baby.  Make sure your doctor knows you are trying to conceive. 


There are a number of easy changes men and women can make in their lives for healthy conception: 

  • Get plenty of rest and sleep
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat foods that are high in zinc (whole grain cereals, seafood, eggs)
  • Avoid alcohol and smoking 
  • Avoid Hot tubs, saunas, heating pads, tight briefs and spandex
  • Take male fertility supplements to complement healthy eating
  • Eat well-balanced nutritional meals
  • Taking a prenatal vitamin or supplement with folic acid
  • Woman should track her cycle and know when she is ovulating
  • Target having sex two to three times in the 6 days before ovulation (if she can accurately track it) or every two to three days in the “fertile phase” starting on day 7 of woman’s cycle and ending on day 20 
  • Get a physical screening and genetic testing


Remember that pregnancy can take time. Most couples go 4 or more months before success. For others it takes much longer. It is important to try and relax and keep stress to a minimum.


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