Ten ways to naturally increase your fertility

meditationIn our external-oriented culture, we often seem to search for a magic pill, procedure, or treatment that will help solve our problems.  Sometimes we forget that the answer can be much more simple and that it is found right inside ourselves.  Our lifestyles exert a tremendous effect on myriad elements of our wellbeing, including our fertility.  While we don’t always have control over all the factors that affect our fertility, we can make lifestyle choices that support our ability to conceive new life.

Here are ten lifestyle-oriented ways to support fertility.  The only potential side effects are reduced stress, improved relationships, and greater joy.

1. Talk it out

It’s important to keep the channels of emotional expression open so that blockages in this area of your life do not lead to fertility “blocks”.  Talk about how you are feeling with someone you trust—express your fears, your frustrations, your disappointments, your hopes, your desires, and your dreams.  Keep connected to your emotions and your needs at this time.  Don’t be afraid to ask for support.  You don’t have to go through this experience alone.

 2. Sleep optimally

Sleep is paramount to fertility.  A diminished amount or quality of sleep has been shown to decrease fertility, so it’s important to make sure that you are well rested.  Sleeping in a completely dark room gets our circadian rhythms working optimally, setting ourselves up for the regenerative and restorative phases that support our hormones and ovulation.  Sleeping in silence and comfort are also key.  Lastly, it is important to get enough sleep.  Sleep needs vary by individual: some people need only 7-8 hours and others need 9 or 10.   Your body will tell you what you need if you really listen.

3. Practice yoga

Practicing yoga can encourage conception by:

•    Reducing stress
•    Increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs
•    Opening the pelvic and hip region
•    Aligning the spine
•    Releasing toxins
•    Releasing emotional tension
•    Regulating the endocrine system
•    Elevating mood
•    Relieving insomnia

 4. Get creative

Practicing what creativity looks like to you—perhaps gardening, cooking, dancing, drawing, painting, writing, singing, crafts, knitting, etc.—is a way to get creative energy flowing.  Those same creative forces are what support fertility.  Connecting to your creative side actually supports the creative act of conception.  It also can relieve stress and anxiety and increase enjoyment.

5. Eat optimally

A Harvard Medical Study found that the following dietary habits support fertility:

  • eating a mostly plant-based diet
  • consuming high-fat dairy instead of low-fat dairy
  • taking a prenatal vitamin
  • avoiding trans fats
  • choosing healthy monounsaturated fats
  • choosing low-glycemic foods

6. Enjoy sexual expression

When fertility comes to the forefront in a relationship, it can cause challenges in a couple’s sexual relationship.  A couple may become distanced from the recreational and relational aspects of sexual expression, favoring the procreative aspects.  It can be helpful to intentionally rebalance this and allow yourself the ability to enjoy sexual expression, not “just get a job done.”  This can relieve pressure and stress and increase calmness and joy, which can actually support your fertility.

7.  Be Still. Relax. Take deep breaths.

The link between stress and infertility is well recognized. The trouble is stress and cause infertility and then the stress of coping with fertility challenges can compound the problem by adding more stress.  Studies have shown that the diagnosis of infertility can create a “stress response” similar to that experienced by patients with terminal illnesses.  Physiologically, stress hormones, such as cortisol, ACTH, norepinephrine and epinephrine, are released into the bloodstream and force the body into “survival mode”.  In this state, vital functions are prioritized over reproductive function.  A constant surge of stress hormones over time interferes with hormonal balance and ovulation patterns.

Taking time daily to consciously counteract stress can change this physiological pattern.  This is a great time to develop a mediation practice, a yoga practice, or just start simple with a few deep calming breaths throughout the day.  Try to imagine your breath going all the way down into your lower abdomen as you inhale, and breathe out all the stress of the day on an exhale.

Other steps that can reduce stress are found in #s 8-10.

 8. Be kind to yourself

You and your body are doing the best you can.

 9.  Set boundaries so you don’t overextend yourself

10. Do things that make you happy

Health Foundations offers preconception planning services that can greatly support/increase your fertility.  Contact us to schedule an appointment today.

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Preconception Planning

PPcoupleMost couples don’t think about preconception planning—yet it can make a world of difference in fostering a healthy pregnancy and birth.

Every couple benefits from addressing their overall health and wellness in preparation for pregnancy, even if they are not having fertility issues. This preparation supports a healthy and happy pregnancy and eases the transition through postpartum into parenthood.

preconceptionP1For all the gardeners out there, consider this metaphor: preconception planning is much like preparing/improving the soil. Creating a healthy environment for your growing darlings even before they are planted optimizes their chances of thriving — sometimes in ways that later care doesn’t allow (e.g. water and sun; or, in our case, pregnancy care).

Health Foundations offers preconception planning services, including comprehensive visits to discuss your health and create an individualized plan that works for your family.

When should preconception planning begin?

Ideally, we love to see couples three to six months before they hope to conceive.  This gives us time to correct any nutritional deficiencies (such as low iron or Vitamin D), which can have a significant impact on the pregnancy.  Sperm live for approximately 3 months, so we want to get dad as healthy as possible before conception so that his contribution to the pregnancy is healthy and strong.  Eggs begin their maturation process around this time too; when, like sperm, they are most vulnerable to toxins, radiation, and nutritional deficiencies.

What does a preconception planning visit look like?

During a preconception visit, we will talk with you and your partner about your current health, lifestyle, diet, personal and family medical history, medications you are taking, work and home environments, past pregnancies, and you and your partner’s desires and concerns about getting pregnant.  Here are some of the issues we will explore during your appointment:

  • General current health:
  • Blood Sample
    • We recommend women receive a pap and cultures during a well-woman visit (which Health Foundations can provide)
    • Visit a dentist to get a cleaning and any necessary work done prior to conception
    • Talk to your provider about current medications to make sure they are safe at this time
    • Discuss any history of hormonal birth control
    • Have diagnostic/lab tests for various issues that can impact pregnancy and maternal health (all offered at Health Foundations)
  • Diet/Weight
    • Love coupleWe can work with you to optimize your diet to ensure the greatest health prior to and during pregnancy
    • Eliminate caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and recreational drugs.
    • Drink plenty of water (aim for 8 glasses a day)
    • Weight: women 15% below their ideal weight may benefit from added pounds during pregnancy; women who are overweight, however, do not benefit from crash dieting prior to pregnancy, as this can deplete their health.  In either case, we can create a plan to create optimal health for you.
  • Lifestyle
    • Establish a consistent exercise pattern
    • Inventory your environment for chemical, heavy metal, and other toxic exposure (you may want to work with a professional on a detox plan)
    • Address emotional health and stress
  • Use of supplements
    • We recommend women begin prenatal vitamins at least three months prior to conception (folic acid is especially important to begin prior to conception to avoid neural tube defects in baby)
    • Omega-3 and DHA are also important
    • Nutritive herbal infusions such as alfalfa, nettles and red clover can support overall health
    • Vegans and vegetarians may want to begin B12 supplementation
    • Additional supplements may also be recommended based on the individual
  • Men’s health
    • Men should follow the same dietary and lifestyle recommendations as their partner
    • Men should also take a multi-vitamin for the months leading up to conception
  • Fertility awareness
    • PPchartingWe help couples understand their fertility so that they can maximize their chances of conceiving.
    • Taking Charge of your Fertility by Toni Weshler (book and website) and Fertility Friend (website) are great resources for understanding fertility awareness and how to chart your fertile periods each month
    • Inexpensive, reusable fertility test kits are available (less expensive than one-time ovulation tests)
  • Useful therapies
    • Acupuncture has proven benefits for women wanting to conceive
    • Massage, yoga, aromatherapy, and chiropractic can also help by reducing stress, balancing hormones, and overall physical wellness.
  • Having fun
    • Above all, we encourage couples to have FUN during this process!  It takes an average of 6 to 9 months to conceive—being stressed during this time will only make conception more difficult.  Plus, this is your time to really enjoy your partner and all those things that can be a bit more difficult to enjoy during pregnancy and into parenthood.