It’s an aspect of our health that most of us take for granted: Have sex, get pregnant, right? In reality, even minor stressors can throw your body out of whack. If you’re trying to conceive, these simple health tips can help maintain homeostasis, boost your hormones and increase your fertility naturally.
Do you notice your skin breaks out before your period? Have you ever wondered why you get sugar cravings or bloated before your period starts? Or perhaps you are more fatigued and suffering from mood swings. Don’t be alarmed, your hormones could be to blame and when they are out of balance, life too can feel the same.
Hormones are the chemical messengers secreted from our endocrine glands that travel via the bloodstream to every organ and tissue in our body, helping to regulate and maintain the delicate balance of life and homeostasis.
Hormones control our mood, digestion, energy, libido, metabolism, fertility, ageing and brain power.
Today, our modern lifestyle has created many challenges for our hormones to function optimally. A significant portion of our food has been altered and processed, causing a decrease in nutritional value and an increase in dietary and environmental toxicity. Our stress response is more sensitive to physical and emotional stress and many cleaning and beauty products contain hormone disrupting chemicals. Reducing chemicals and increasing your intake of whole foods, protein and essential fatty acids can help balance your hormones and increase your fertility naturally.
We are what we eat
One of the simplest and easiest ways to improve our health, wellness and increase your fertility naturally is by improving both the way we eat and what we eat. Food plays such an important role in our day-to-day lives that we forget it is a natural medicine for our health and wellbeing. Hippocrates once famously said: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Remember the food you are eating provides your body with the building blocks needed to create happy hormones, healthy eggs and sperm and ultimately a healthy baby. The rules are straight forward: no gluten, dairy, soy, caffeine, alcohol, sugar, processed and packaged foods. Cut out the crap and instead choose organic, whole foods and clean foods.
The ancient idea that we are what we eat can either help you with hormonal production or cause unpredictable imbalances.
The truth is, our body is designed to be in a natural state of wellness. If we are not feeding it correctly, we start to see a breakdown in our health and general wellbeing.
Eat to nourish yourself and your body. Make this a lifestyle choice. It will helping increase your fertility naturally and be the best decision you have ever made!
Clinical research suggests that alcohol intake negatively impacts IVF success, is associated with a longer time to conception and is associated with increased miscarriage risk. For men, chronic alcohol consumption negatively impacts sperm quality and can cause acute drops in sperm count. So yes, both you and your partner need to get clean starting now.
Most people agree that this change isn’t too much to ask for what you really want. Remember, you want to treat your body like it’s already pregnant! Giving up now will put you ahead of the curve when you do fall pregnant.
Studies on caffeine and fertility are somewhat inconclusive, however there are many showing a negative link between caffeine intake and IVF success rates and caffeine is known to decrease blood flow to the uterus. Caffeine can also increase anxiety and stress levels. Too much caffeine may increase the risk of clotting and miscarriage.
It’s best to avoid caffeine in all forms, including tea, chocolate, energy drinks and even decaf, especially if you’re having implantation problems or a history of recurrent miscarriages.
Give up gluten
Bread, pasta, cereal, noodles, processed foods may be the reason why you are not falling pregnant. There is a growing body of evidence that has highlighted the link between infertility, celiac disease, diet and gluten. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology in January found that women with infertility have more than triple the odds of having celiac disease in tandem, and for those with unexplained infertility. Gluten intolerance is not only related to unexplained infertility, but also to recurrent miscarriage. It also noted that the incidence of gluten intolerance or celiac disease is higher in women experiencing unexplained infertility than among the general population, a big finding for those trying to conceive.
Gluten is found in wheat and is a member of the prolamine class of proteins, predominately found in various grains including wheat, spelt, barley and rye. When we eat gluten, the gut has an inflammatory response to it and makes antibodies to deal with it. This response has a cascade effect on the body, gut and immune system. Affecting the way, we absorb our nutrients from various digestive issues to anemia, fatigue, skin, auto-immune, brain fog and malabsorption. Whilst, you may not have been diagnosed with celiac, you still may have a food intolerance or sensitivity to gluten. If you are keen to increase your fertility naturally and you are up for the challenge, simply forgo gluten in all forms. Go on a gluten-free diet for a few months. Or alternatively try buckwheat, millet, quinoa and amaranth.
Early to bed
In Chinese Medicine the best sleep is before 10pm. Sleep a minimum of at least 8 hours. Sleep helps restore your body back to its natural state of wellness, balance your hormones and most importantly your circadian rhythm. If you’re experiencing difficulty sleeping try meditation or relaxation techniques before bed. Even simply cutting out ‘screen time’ half and hour before bed can be of huge benefit.
If you’re a smoker, stop. Women smokers have an ovarian age that is two or three years older than their biological age, and a 40 per cent lower success rate with techniques such as IVF than non-smokers. Treat your body like it’s already pregnant. Quitting now will have a positive influence on helping to increase your fertility naturally.
We know that each woman’s length of cycle is different. Knowing your body and menstrual cycle is key to conceiving. This is the first step to understanding your fertility and fertile period. Find out more here.
From personal experience within the clinic and my own journey, timing is of the essence. This why it is so important to understand your own menstrual cycle. Following an app will not always give you the correct timing.
The million-dollar question is, “when is the best time to have sex”.
The answer of course should be simple but sometimes it’s not. There many factors that contribute to having sex at the right time. Most women don’t really know or understand when their fertile period is because ovulation can be difficult to pinpoint.
From day 1 of your cycle it takes around 14 days for a follicle to fully mature. When this happens, there’s a surge in the lutenizing hormone (LH), which ruptures your mature follicle and propels your egg out like a cannonball waiting to be fertilised. Your egg only has a life of 24 – 48 hours once released, sperm must be present during this time for conception to be possible.
On a 28-day textbook cycle you would ovulate on day 14.
After your period has finished you want to be having sex regularly but not every day of the month or every second day as some people believe. Believe me, sperm get just as tired as we do. It is important your partner’s sperm regenerates before you ovulate. Secondly and equally as important you definitely want to have sex around that fertile 48-hour window.
Optimally we want to capture the release of the egg down the fallopian tube. What we need to understand is, if your partner has poor sperm morphology or motility then we need to preserve his sperm for the right time of ovulation.
TIP: Try having sex day 13, 14, 15 & 16
Having an orgasm is not crucial but will help stimulate blood flow to your uterine lining, nourishing your follicles and your endometrial lining. It’s all about tuning into our bodies and listening to what it is trying to tell us. Sometimes we dismiss the signs or become so used to them that we miss the flashing neon sign that says ‘Go have sex now!’. Find out more about how to tune in to your body’s signals to help increase your fertility naturally.
Shaping up for Conception
If your tipping the scales beyond your healthy weight range then your could be reducing your chances of conceiving naturally or reducing your rate of success during an IVF cycle. The links between heart disease, diabetes and being overweight are well known. But what’s less well publicised is that an unhealthy weight – in either partner – can also have a significant impact on your ability to conceive. The truth is lifestyle choice matters. If you want healthy eggs and active sperm you also need to be healthy and active. Fitness, exercise and the correct diet will help control your body weight, regulate your hormones, increase your self-esteem and help manage your stress levels. All of which help increase your fertility naturally.
Diet, lifestyle, and stress all impact the balance of homeostasis. Through a healthy lifestyle, incorporating an appropriate diet, adequate exercise and managing our stress levels, we can balance our bodies and regulate our hormones to a create healthier, happier, more fertile you!