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You are hereHome › Here Are Some Natural Fertility Tips
Here Are Some Natural Fertility Tips
Here Are Some Natural Fertility Tips
When you’re trying to get pregnant, your mind can be filled with both the excitement of expectation and the despair of infertility. Once you have made the decision to start a family, the waiting can seem interminable: Suddenly everything needs to be expedited. But when conception isn’t progressing as fast as you’d like, you don’t have to turn to conventional interventions.
“More and more data suggest that lifestyle changes impact fertility,” says Beth Heller, cofounder of Pulling Down the Moon, an integrated fertility care center with locations in Chicago and Washington, D.C. “This sends an empowering message to women—that they can make choices that support their fertility.”
Natural remedies and a holistic approach can play a huge role in increasing your ability to conceive, but they do take time to implement. Try not to get frustrated if you don’t get pregnant by next month. A healthy couple only has a 15 to 20 percent chance of conception per month, and this percentage declines with age. If after six months you still haven’t conceived, consider consulting a reproductive endocrinologist to rule out anatomical issues, hormonal or metabolic disorders, and autoimmune disorders that can affect sperm counts.
Here are two main areas that fertility specialists recommend focusing on to increase your chance of getting pregnant naturally.
1. Decompress from stress
Power down with yoga. Many fertility specialists have pointed out that women struggling with infertility issues have stress levels similar to those who are coping with cancer or heart disease. Consider stress as enemy number one of a woman’s reproductive system. A recent study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility suggested that it took otherwise healthy women longer to get pregnant if they had high levels of the enzyme alpha-amylase, which is a biomarker for stress.
Yoga is a highly effective tension tamer, but its benefits go beyond relaxation. “Yoga’s relationship to fertility is threefold,” Heller says. “Many studies reflect a link between a yoga practice and a more measured stress response. Secondly, yoga increases blood flow to the pelvis. Finally, classes such as Yoga for Fertility offer a healing environment to women who feel isolated and helpless in their struggle to conceive.”
Ask your yoga teacher about specific poses that help support a healthy menstrual cycle, such as Legs Up the Wall and Cobbler poses.
Go from needles to nursery. Acupuncture and conception are time-tested bedfellows supported by a wealth of research. A variety of studies suggest acupuncture leads to increased blood flow to the uterus (a key aspect of conception), strengthens the hormones that regulate reproduction, and lowers the stress hormones that can affect fertility. A University of Maryland study published in the British Medical Journal showed that acupuncture treatments boosted in vitro fertilization efforts by 65 percent. If you decide to try acupuncture, look for a certified acupuncturist. The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental medicine has an easy-to-access database of practitioners: www.nccaom.org.
2. Eat to conceive
Enrich your diet. Your body requires dietary fat to make hormones and regulate ovulation, so if you have been avoiding fat in your diet, ease off. The best choices are unsaturated fats from olive oil, nuts and avocados. Essential fatty acids, especially omega-3s and omega-6s, also play a vital role in balancing hormones. Look for them in walnuts, fatty fish, flaxseeds and olive oil, as well as in supplements.
Go organic. Unrefined, fresh, organic food may seem like a luxury, but the cost is small when compared to pricey fertility treatments. Choosing organic lets you avoid pesticides, chemicals and synthetic additives such as trans fats and artificial sweeteners that have been linked with infertility. You also should avoid mercury, found in certain kinds of fish, because it interferes with zinc’s role in the formation of healthy sperm and eggs. For more information, refer to the Natural Resources Defense Council’s guide to mercury in fish: www.nrdc.org.
Get supplement-savvy. One of the most effective fertility herbs for women is Vitex, also known as chasteberry. Research suggests that chasteberry helps regulate women’s hormones, which can lead to increased progesterone production—a crucial element for conception. A study published in Clinical & Experimental Obstetrics & Gynecology showed that after three months of taking FertilityBlend, a supplement whose active ingredient is chasteberry, 26 percent of women got pregnant, compared to 10 percent in the placebo group. But before you decide to take chasteberry, be sure to consult your health care specialist. Chasteberry should not be taken in conjunction with other hormones or fertility drugs or after your become pregnant.
Avoid the extremes. Several studies confirm that body weight may be one of the single most important determinants of fertility. Underweight women produce too little estrogen to fuel ovulation, and heavier women produce too much. Luckily, you don’t have to lose or gain much: You can jump-start ovulation with just a 5 to 10 percent change in your weight.
For more information on infertility, click here.
Elizabeth is an award-winning journalist who has written about everything from agave syrup to placebos to zero waste. She writes for the magazines Natural Health, Backpacker and FitPregnancy, among others, as well as a handful of websites, including Gaiam and Natural Medicine Journal. She also has coauthored a 52-card oracle deck with guidebook called The Mother’s Wisdom Deck (Sterling Publishers).
March 28th, 2012