Photography by: Pornchai Mittongtare
Clean up your act
Many of the chemicals in products we use every day contain endocrine-disrupting compounds called xenoestrogens, which mimic estrogen in the body and block real estrogen from doing its work (bisphenol-A, or BPA, and phthalates are two examples). High blood levels of the chemicals used in nonstick cookware and waterproof clothing have been shown to significantly increase female infertility risk. David suggests eating organic foods and keeping your home as green as possible: Avoid microwaving in plastic containers, steer clear of cosmetics containing phthalates or parabens and include phytoestrogens, such as flaxseed or soy, in your diet; they’ll bind to the estrogen receptor sites before xenoestrogens can.
Avoid weight extremes
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, 12 percent of female infertility cases are a result of weighing too little or too much. That’s because estrogen is produced in fat cells. Too little body fat and the body can’t produce enough estrogen to fuel ovulation; too much and the body reacts as if it were on hormonal birth control. Gaining just 6 to 8 pounds (if underweight) or losing 10 to 14 pounds (if overweight) may do the trick.
Exercise in moderation
David recommends gentle exercise, avoiding workout intensities that elicit an endorphin rush, as this may suppress hormone and egg production. A 2006 study in Obstetrics & Gynecology found that IVF patients who reported exercising four hours or more per week for one to nine years were 40 percent less likely to have a live birth than women who did not exercise. Women are advised not to work out while undergoing IVF treatment because doing so could harm the ovaries.