Deciding you’re ready to have a baby is such an exciting time. You’ll quickly realize there’s mountains of advice you can find online about what you should and shouldn’t do when you’re trying to conceive.
You’ve probably started looking for advice on what you can do to boost your chances of conceiving. You already know it’s important to eat healthy, exercise, and reduce your stress.
So what else can you do?
Did you know that there’s a connection between your dental health and your fertility? And that evidence has found certain vitamins can positively impact your dental health and fertility?
It turns out there are steps within your control – beyond the basics of exercise, healthy eating, and stress management – that can maximize your fertility.
If you’re trying to conceive, it’s critical you have excellent dental health. Let’s look at what studies say about fertility, oral health, and how you can increase your chances of getting pregnant.
If You’re Trying to Get Pregnant, Consider Your Teeth
Studies have found that improving your oral health is a relatively easy change you can make to your daily routine that helps your overall chances of conceiving.
A recent study found that a common periodontal pathogen can hurt your chances of conceiving. This study looked at 256 healthy non-pregnant women who had stopped taking birth control so they could get pregnant.
Researchers tracked the women for one year to see if they were successful. They discovered that a bacterium associated with periodontal diseases, Porphyromonas gingivalis, appeared more frequently in the saliva of the women who didn’t conceive compared to those who did. And that the first group of women had higher levels of salivary and serum antibodies.
In fact, the women with P. gingivalis in their saliva (and higher saliva or serum antibodies against the bacterium) had a threefold risk of not conceiving compared to the other women. If more than one of these qualities and clinical signs of periodontitis were present, that risk was nearly four-fold.
That’s a significant potential impact to your fertility.
Which is why I want to emphasize the importance of regular dental checkups and good oral hygiene, especially if you’re planning to start a family.
Unfortunately, periodontal disease is quite common. In fact, one in three adults and more than 50 percent of Australians above age 65 suffer from moderate to severe periodontitis, so I recommend that you have your teeth checked out before trying to conceive.
Oral health has wide reaching consequences people often overlook. In addition to directly impacting your fertility, oral health can impact your sexual health and indirectly make conception more difficult.
Researchers reviewed several studies to assess the association between poor oral health and fertility problems. They came to the conclusion that oral hygiene is not only an important part of general health but also sexual health.
Studies consistently showed possible positive associations between poor oral health and fertility problems, such as erectile dysfunction, sub-optimal sperm characteristics, increased time to conceive and endometriosis.
Once again, these studies show just how important dental health is to your overall quality of life and general well-being. I urge you to consider your dental health when trying to get pregnant, especially if you’ve been having difficulty.
Fat-Soluble Vitamins: The Fertility Booster
Beyond staying on top of your oral health, you don’t have to look any further than your local grocery store for another way to boost your fertility.
Increasing your fat-soluble vitamin intake is one of the best things you can do for your fertility, dental, and general health.
Found in food – and in supplements – fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E and K can positively impact sex hormone production and other aspects of fertility.
Mighty Vitamin D
Or consider another fat-soluble vitamin powerhouse: vitamin D. You can find vitamin D in fish (such as salmon, herring, canned tuna), eggs and fortified foods (e.g. cow’s milk, soy milk, orange juice and cereal) or in supplements. It’s also known as the “Sunshine Vitamin” since it’s produced in the skin when exposed to the sun.
Research suggests that vitamin D levels affect many aspects of male and female fertility including:
- The production and maturation of sperm cells in men
- Egg cell and uterine lining maturation in women
- Sex hormone production in both sexes
Vitamin D levels have also been linked to positive in vitro fertilization (IVF) outcomes, improved polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and endometriosis in women – all important factors in overall fertility.
Studies have also shown benefits of supplementing with vitamin D in some stages of egg cell maturation and menstrual cycle regulation in women with PCOS. This is great news for anyone trying to get pregnant – simply make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D.
Did you realize getting the right vitamins is just as important for men as it is for women when it comes to getting pregnant?
Vitamin D has been linked to improved semen quality and male hormone levels in men. There’s also evidence that vitamin D supplementation can improve semen quality, fertility outcomes, and testosterone concentrations.
One study found vitamin D deficiency and low testosterone to be correlated; after soaking up some sunshine, participants’ vitamin D levels rose, as did their testosterone levels. In another study, half the men took 3,300 IU of vitamin D daily; their vitamin D levels doubled and their testosterone increased by 20 percent!
So remember, it’s important for both partners to be getting all the right vitamins when trying to conceive.
Fertility-Friendly Vitamins K2
If you’ve been struggling with infertility, you may want to take a closer look at vitamin K2. It turns out that this vitamin was associated with a shorter time to conceive when women 35 years and older with unexplained infertility increased their intake.
In an animal study, another fat-soluble vitamin – vitamin K2– enhanced testosterone production. Rats were fed a diet supplemented with vitamin k2 (MK4) (one of the main K2 vitamins present in the testis) for five weeks. The testosterone levels of the MK-4-fed rats were significantly higher than those in the control rat group.
Your body converts vitamin K1 into K2, so it’s important to get both forms of the vitamin.
Vitamin K1 is found in dark leafy greens, cabbage, green onions and brussel sprouts.
Animal products are packed with vitamin K2, but other good sources include organ meats, eggs, certain fish, butter, cheese, japanese natto, and fermented foods.
To increase your likelihood of getting pregnant, try increasing your vitamin A intake. Vitamin A is found in a variety of animal meats, vegetables and fruits and supplements.
Vitamin A supplementation has been shown to increase testosterone and estrogen levels. Studies founds rats who were deprived of vitamin A experienced a quick decline in testosterone and bump in estrogen. Increasing your vitamin A may improve your fertility and help you get pregnant faster.
Vitamin E is also good for men – supplementation can help produce healthier sperm. When 690 infertile men took 200 micrograms of Selenium with 400 IU of vitamin E every day for at least 100 days, over half had better sperm motility, morphology or both. Nearly 11 percent impregnated their partners! Luckily, vitamin E can be found in most foods. Cooking oils, seeds, and nuts are especially good sources of this vitamin.
Maximizing Your Chances
If you’re looking to start a family – or if you have been trying to get pregnant for some time – I recommend that you make sure you are getting enough of the fat-soluble vitamins mentioned above.
And don’t forget about your dental health – I suggest seeing a dentist before you get pregnant as you now know some of the ways your oral health can impact your fertility.
It’s also worth noting that good oral health is important for a healthy pregnancy as well as for the dental health – and overall health – of your child.
Gum disease has been linked to low birth weight, preeclampsia, and preterm birth. While you may be tempted to skip those dentist appointments during pregnancy, going regularly will pay off when it comes to your health and baby’s.
I hope through good dental health and proper nutrition, you and your partner can improve your fertility and bring a precious and healthy baby into the world. Good luck!
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Want to know more? Dr Steven Lin’s book, The Dental Diet, is available to order today. An exploration of ancestral medicine, the human microbiome and epigenetics it’s a complete guide to the mouth-body connection. Take the journey and the 40-day delicious food program for life-changing oral and whole health.
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