If you're ready to get pregnant, here's what you need to know.

According to a 2012 study that appeared in the U.K. journal Human Reproduction, most people overestimate the age at which their fertility will start to decline. The study revealed that 67 per cent of women believe their fertility will flag after the age of 40—but the reality is the slowdown begins between the ages of 35 and 39. And while reproductive science can ensure miracles do happen, it’s never too early to take matters into your own hands.

Here’s how to boost your fertility naturally, so you can worry less about your ticking biological clock.  

1. Find balance.

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A 2012 study of 3,000 Danish women who were attempting to get pregnant without fertility treatments found that the women who reported moderate exercise—like walking or slow bike riding—were more likely to get pregnant than the women who reported engaging in five or more hours of intense exercise (as in running, spinning and aerobics) per week. This might be because underweight women are more likely to have trouble conceiving. But so are overweight women, so, ultimately, you should do what you need to do to stay fit. (Just never overdo it!)

2. The right diet.

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According to The Fertility Diet (by Jorge E. Chavarro, MD, Walter Willett, MD, and Patrick J. Skerrett; McGraw-Hill), diet and fertility can go hand-in-hand. And we’re not talking supposed aphrodisiacs, like oysters and ginseng. According to the book, which is based on an eight-year-long study of more than 18,000 women, the foods that can truly enhance fertility include whole grains, healthy fats, proteins, and even the odd treat, like ice cream.

3. Butt out.

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Smoking cigarettes is bad for conception because it affects how receptive the uterus is to the egg. And in men, smoking can reduce sperm production and damage DNA. Especially when you consider the other health benefits of ditching the cigarettes, including a decreased cancer risk, quitting all together before trying to get pregnant is a wise move, indeed.

4. It’s not you, it’s him.

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The damaging effect of alcohol on sperm quality and sperm count has been scientifically proven: alcohol inhibits the body’s absorption of zinc, and zinc is a key mineral in the development of healthy sperm. Although not all men with fertility problems drink alcohol, many reduced fertility rates can be traced back to too much alcohol on the part of the man. So if your guy enjoys a beer—or two, or three—you may want to discuss limiting his alcohol consumption while you’re attempting to get pregnant.

5. Switch to tea.

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Studies have linked infertility with high levels of caffeine consumption: between 300 and 700 mg a day. Since one cup of coffee has 100 mg, and one cup of tea has about 30 mg, consider making a switch. The bonus: studies have linked increased fertility to tea consumption. Women who drink at least two cups of tea per day are twice as likely to conceive, and this may be because of the antioxidants in the tea.

6. Get your D's.

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Acording to a 2012 study published in the European Journal of Endocrinology, vitamin D may have a positive impact on in vitro fertilization (IVF) outcomes. It may also improve endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) symptoms, and this is a good thing because both of these disorders can contribute to infertility. Plus, adequate levels of vitamin D may boost levels of progesterone and estrogen, both of which regulate menstrual cycles and improve the likelihood of successful conception. According to the Institute of Medicine’s expert committee, the average adult needs 600 IU/day of vitamin D and the maximum safe upper level of intake is 4,000 IU/day.

7. Detox.

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Some studies have shown that those exposed to certain chemicals on a daily basis, like agricultural workers, hair stylists and people who work at printing businesses or dry cleaners, may be at risk for lowered fertility. The chemical bisphenol A (BPA), which is in many plastic bottles and is used in the lining of tin cans, has also been linked to decreased fertility. Although quitting your job is likely not an option, demanding less toxic working conditions is. Wherever chemicals are used, there should be adequate ventilation. You should never be forced to work with dangerous chemicals. And you should also share any concerns you have about exposure to toxins with your doctor.

8. Be safe.

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Long before you’ve even thought about having children, you may already have damaged your fertility by contracting an STD (sexually transmitted disease). It’s an uncomfortable truth to have to face: STDs, and especially chlamydia and gonorrhea, can go undetected and cause pelvic inflammatory disease, which can lead to fallopian tube damage. Protect yourself from this at any age by always using condoms, asking your partners about their sexual history and getting tested regularly if you’re sexually active.