Health and fertility are like a jigsaw puzzle – both are made up of lots of little pieces and it’s the combination of those pieces, not the pieces in isolation, that determine the bigger picture. If you’ve been doing all of the ‘right’ things and eating all of the ‘right’ foods but still not where you want to be on your fertility journey then perhaps it’s time to look at some of the additional jigsaw pieces that could be preventing you from getting that much longed for baby.

In this post I’ll be focussing on non-food factors that we know impact fertility and whether a woman is able to get and/ or stay pregnant: sleep, stress and exercise.


How well do you sleep? Are you able to bank those elusive 8 hours a night we are told to aim for or is it more of a 5/6 hour stretch with a few night wakings? If it’s the latter then you might want to listen up.

Sleep is the time of day when our bodies go into rest and repair mode. This is essential not only for us feeling better when we wake but for our bodies to function at its best. If (for whatever reason) your body isn’t given an opportunity to do that imbalances can creep in throwing your blood sugar, nervous system and hormones out of whack. And this can in turn prevent your body from functioning at its optimal, think: irregular periods, mood swings and sugar cravings. None of which feel great when you’re in the middle of them, am I right?

“Sleep is the time of day when our bodies go into rest and repair mode.”

For fertility espeically your circadian rhythm (your sleep/wake cycle) is intrinsically linked to your menstrual cycle. If your sleep is off, most likely your fertility will be too. A few simple swaps and sorting out your sleep hygiene could make all the difference.

Try limiting your screen time before bed by switching all blue light sources off for at least an hour or if you can’t get away from screens try blue light blocking glasses instead. Also, avoiding caffeine after midday can be helpful because whilst everyone processes caffeine differently (it’s mostly down to genetics) biochemically you might be still feeling the affects even if you feel physically feel tired, which could be impacting your body’s ability to sleep. Switch to decaffeinated or herbal drinks and be mindful that chocolate, energy/fizzy drinks and even some over-the-counter painkillers contain caffeine.


The World Health Organisation has classified stress as the health modern epidemic. This may sound excessive but our ever-rising levels of unhappiness and worry we are experiencing have a very real impact on our bodies. Long term high stress levels contributes to the development of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, as well as compromised thyroid function (often leading to auto-immune disease) and sub-optimal fertility.

Every day we are exposed to multiple ‘micro-stress’ doses such as use of screen time first thing in the morning, always being connected to emails and not switching off, working too many hours, no time off or self care planned, commuting, multiple family and work commitments to name a few.

“The World Health Organisation has classified stress as the health modern epidemic.”

From a biochemical perspective if your nervous system is always switched on at red alert it won’t feel safe enough to make and carry a baby. And the real kicker? You don’t always have to feel stressed for your body to be exhibiting a stress response. Put simply even the thought of your daily commute could be contributing to your body staying stressed.

To combat this ask yourself the following questions:

  • How many committments do I have in a day and which are 100% necessary?
  • How much of my time is spent doing things I like and things I don’t like but feel obligated to (obviously I’m not talking about working or paying bills which are essential)
  • How many projects or mental tabs do I have on the go and where do I need to focus more?
  • Am I getting enough time away from screens?
  • How much time am I spending outdoors or in nature?
  • Have I planned something every single day that brings me joy (this can be as small as a cup of tea) and something larger to look forward to longer term? (
  • Am I moving my body every single day in some way?

Take a quick assessment of everything you’ve got going on and see which areas might need some attention. You can eat all the right foods or take all the right supplements but if your body doesn’t feel safe and calm it won’t let you get or stay pregnant.


Let me start this section by saying that exercise and movement are amazing and much needed. They most definitely have a place in a balanced healthy lifestyle but there are some special considerations when you’re trying for a baby.

Remember everything we said about stress needing to be kept to a minimum when you’re trying to conceive? Exercise is something that puts stress on the body. Confusingly it’s a good stress – one that’s found to help improve your immune system, gut health and build resilience – but if you’re doing 7 HIIT workouts, lots of bootcamps and too much high energy activity without rest or slower paced exercise you could be putting your body under too much stress.

The body doesn’t understand the difference between stress from a HIIT workout vs a looming project deadline at work and a grumpy boss. Our bodies operate with prehistoric software which only looks at safety not subtleties. The key to healthy exercise for fertility is a balance between higher and lower impact workouts. Walking, yoga and swimming are all brilliant alternatives to Crossfit, running and bootcamp.

An additional consideration about exercise, along with the stress factor, is that exercising for weight loss liberates toxins from your fat cells. Doing this too quickly and not buffering these with the appropriate support for your liver or adjusting your diet can result in egg and sperm damage on a cellular level – the complete opposite of what you want. As with everything it’s about the cumulative picture (remember the jigsaw puzzle analogy at the top of this article?) So zoom out and look at your activity levels and activity type across the week. Keep moving but consider being strategic about it.

Did any of these surprise you? Will you consider making any changes to your current sleep, stress and exercise regime as a result of this article? If I’ve given you food for thought or you’re confused and wanting to know more then click HERE to book in for a free 15 minute support session with me. I have so many suggestions for how this gets to be easy for you and I can’t wait to hear from you.