Ten ways to improve your fertility

by Mark Whalen

Wednesday, June 11 is Massachusetts Infertility Advocacy Day, so I thought it would be a good time to talk about infertility.

Infertility is defined as the inability to get pregnant after twelve consecutive months of trying. Current statistics indicate that 1 in 8 couples will be unable to get pregnant or maintain a pregnancy within one year.

Getting pregnant is not as easy as people think. Did you know that there are only 36 days a year that a woman is at peak fertility? A young couple aged 29-33 has only a 20-25% chance of achieving a pregnancy each month.

Ten tips to help you improve your fertility:

1. EAT A HEALTHY DIET
Avoid hormones and antibiotics in meat and dairy products if you eat them. Increase your consumption of vegetables and include some fruit in your diet. Include a large variety of colors to maximize the benefits.

2. AVOID UNHEALTHY FOODS
Kind of goes along with #1, right? In addition to eating the right foods, it’s important to avoid the bad foods. Avoid sugars, refined grains, processed foods (cookies, crackers, chips—most items in boxes and bags), artificial sweeteners, trans-fats (hydrogenated oils—read the labels!)

3. QUIT SMOKING

Nothing damages ovarian health as much as smoking. Smoking also damages male sperm parameters.

4. LIMIT ALCOHOL

Alcohol can also damage ovarian health. Alcohol can also interfere with the delicate balance of hormones during the menstrual cycle. It’s uncertain how much alcohol is ok and how much can be detrimental so it’s best to err on the side of caution.

5. LIMIT CAFFEINE

Reduce or eliminate caffeine intake. Caffeine (from any source) intake has been linked to increasing the amount of time it takes to get pregnant. Similar to alcohol, just how much is ok is up for debate. Some experts recommend no more than 100mg a day, which is about the amount in 1 cup of Drip coffee.

6. DE-STRESS

Coping with fertility is very stressful and can be a roller coaster of emotions every month. Find ways to cope with your stress- meditation, yoga, acupuncture, low intensity exercise, therapy-whatever works for you. Circlebloom has some useful guided meditations.

7. TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Learn how to identify the signals that indicate when you are at peak fertility. Some options:

• Ovulation Predictor Kits: The most reliable (and most expensive) are the ovulation predictor kits, which will give you an indication of a surge in the Luteinizing Hormone (LH). You will typically ovulate within 12-24 hours after the LH surge.

• Basal Body Temperature Charts are not effective for tracking ovulation for the current cycle. By the time the temperature rises after ovulation, it is too late. Tracking your temperatures will help to identify a pattern over a few months. You should take your temperature at the same time every day (even on weekends), before getting up out of bed—keep the thermometer next to the bed.

• Cervical Mucous - monitor for changes in your cervical mucous beginning at the end of your menstrual cycle. Your mucous will change from white/crusty to egg-white and stretchy-this is the peak mucous that you want to see. Egg white stretchy mucous should last for 1-2 days.

8. “JUST DO IT ”. THE NIKE APPROACH

Forget everything from # 6 and just go for it. For some patients, trying to time ovulation and schedule intercourse becomes an added layer of stress.

One easy way to avoid this is to have intercourse every day or every other day from the end of the menstrual cycle until ovulation occurs. This way you maximize the changes for conception. Male sperm can survive 3-5 days, while the egg is viable for approximately 12-24 hours after ovulation.

9. AVOID ENDOCRINE DISRUPTING CHEMICALS
Many common products contain chemicals that can interrupt our normal hormonal signaling. Some of these chemicals are: BPA, Phthalates, Pesticides, Herbicides, Dioxins. For more information, read my previous blogs on this topic: https://www.fivepointsacupuncture.com/blog/endocrine-disrupting-chemicals/ .

10. GET ACUPUNCTURE

This should really be #1. Acupuncture influences fertility in three major ways.

MENSTRUAL CYCLE: Regulating the menstrual cycle and balancing hormones is typically the first step when working with patients trying to conceive naturally.

STRESS: Acupuncture works to reduce stress hormones, which in chinese medicine are a key contributor to infertility. New studies are starting to confirm this.

BLOOD FLOW: Acupuncture helps stimulate blood flow to the uterus and ovaries. Proper blood flow is important in promoting a healthy endometrial lining, and providing the uterus and ovaries a healthy environment to flourish. Better blood flow = more oxygen, more nutrients, better health. Remember; nourish the soil before planting the seed.

For more information on how Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can help you, please visit www.fivepointsacupuncture.com/infertility.

If you’re interested in learning more about support groups and political activity surrounding infertility, check out Resolve at http://www.resolvenewengland.org/

Mark Whalen is a Licensed Acupuncturist and Board Certified Herbalist and the founder of Five Points Acupuncture & Wellness in Reading, MA.

Mark Whalen – who has written posts on Acupuncture Reading MA - Five Points Acupuncture & Wellness.


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Five Points Acupuncture & Wellness
20 Pondmeadow Dr #107, Reading, MA 01867
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