Farmers know it: If you hope for a good harvest, prepare the field well before planting. That’s as true for your family as it is for a crop of barley. This is true for both men and women, particularly if you are experiencing fertility problems or planning to undergo IVF treatment.
As science and medicine unlock the intricacies of our genes, we already know that they’re not an unalterable inheritance from our own parents. Your body is constantly rewriting biological code. Add to this the contraceptive pill and HRT- major risk factors for heart and arterial disease and cancer (to name a few), nutrient deficiencies and stress, and you have a pretty potent chemical mix. Poofh ! and you have a new biological code giving the orders resulting in fertility problems.
When you give it optimal fuel and avoid environmental hazards, you help it repair transcription errors and disarm disease triggers.
If you are of reproductive age–even if you don’t intend to have children now, are not in a long-term relationship or aren’t sexually active–these suggestions are wise to consider. Life can change in an instant. Birth control can fail. And even an unplanned-for child is entitled to be born as healthy as possible. Just like a farming crop it takes 3 months for an egg or sperm to mature, so start to make changes as early as possible to get your health in good order.
Here are some helpful tips both for fertility problems or if you are planning to get pregnant.
- Recognize that your physical and mental well-being are your greatest assets. If you’re in a relationship, encourage your partner to value good health too.
- Good hormone status indicators are a regular menstrual cycle, free from pre-menstrual tension and mood swings. Hormones are highly dependent on micronutrients. Western diets high in processed foods, carbohydrates and sugar, along with antibiotics and use of hormones increases the risk of yeast infections e.g. vaginal thrush.
- Take a good-quality daily multivitamin, essential fatty acids and vitamin C, D. This applies to both parents. No matter how good your diet is, the challenges of modern life put enormous stress on your body. Questionable modern farming methods also compromise the value of nutrients in food. Good health is more than the absence of disease, and many of us are deficient in essential micro-nutrients.
- If you are a smoker or drinker, your body is under even more stress, and you may be deficient in vitamin C and B-complex vitamins. Low levels of folic acid, for example, are a leading cause of some preventable birth defects, and B-vitamins are essential for good nerve function and energy metabolism. It’s important to remember that by the time most women realize they’re pregnant and begin receiving prenatal care, crucial developmental stages have already occurred in their babies’ brains and nervous systems. Get help in quitting. Unknowingly, you may be self-medicating for undiagnosed anxiety or depression. Having a discussion with a non-judgmental health professional is the first step in freeing yourself from addictive behaviors. Improving your diet may help you to resist cravings or to eliminate them entirely.
- Reduce your toxic chemical load from e.g. processed foods, coffee, tea, alcohol, sugary drinks, additives, deodorants, shower gels and pesticides.
- Stress is one of the biggest cause of fertility problems. Take time to relax. Stress affects the hypothalamus (part of the brain) which regulates the hormones needed for normal menstrual cycle and release of the egg. During stress the body behaves like it is in survival mode and starts to make more cortisol and adrenaline hormones. In chronic stress they have to be kept constantly high, and this is where the problem lies. For the adrenal glands to make cortisol they need progesterone – the pregnancy hormone. Thus, low progesterone levels create an imbalance with oestrogen and testosterone. Strengthening the adrenals and managing the stress will allow them to return to good function. The effectiveness of therapies such as acupuncture and massage in increasing fertility may be in their ability to counteract stress and support the adrenals thus normalizing hormone regulation.
- A family health history will tell you if there is a history of early menopause or fertility problems then take this into consideration. Find a trusted health professional to discuss any concerns you may have now. In many cases, just because an illness may run in your family doesn’t mean you’ll inevitably get it too, or pass it down to future children. Improving your diet, exercising and reducing stress can all help armor you against a predisposition to serious disease.
- If you have existing health problems then do all of the above plus get professional advice.
If you are planning to undergo IVF (fertility) treatment, then you may need additional support. Most clinics advise on having acupuncture treatments to alleviate stress, but also regulate your hormones. Acupuncture is well known to greatly boost your chances of IVF success.
Do you have questions or want further information on how we can help you have a healthy and successful pregnancy ? Contact us.