10 Fertility Tips
Sandra Sapio, Acupuncturist and Naturopath
Making the right food choices before you conceive can support fertility and your baby’s growth and development. Eating a healthy well-balanced diet which is rich in healthy fats, plant-based proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables in a variety of colours, leafy greens rich in folate, nuts, good quality protein rich foods (organic free range meats and eggs, legumes, pulses) and whole grains is one of the first steps to support fertility.
Blood Glucose & Insulin Resistance
Avoid high sugar foods to help keep glucose and insulin balanced. Maintaining balanced Insulin and glucose levels helps the body send out the right messages to your endocrine system, which controls hormones and support for the nervous system and relaxation. High insulin can also contribute to poor egg quality with some studies showing high insulin lowers implantation rate with in vitro maturation and in-vitro fertilisation embryo transfer cycle.
Stress Reduction & Mindfulness
There is enough evidence to suggests that stress does affect fertility. Some studies found that women with higher levels of a stress producing enzyme had a harder time getting pregnant.
It’s easy for someone to say “Don’t Stress” when they aren’t going through a fertility struggle and certainly the last thing anyone who is struggling will want to hear.
Relaxational breathing and mindfulness can help the body feel more rested and assist your body in achieving a much deeper REM cycle.
Other therapies that can help you cope with the emotional and physical stress surrounding fertility including; Acupuncture, meditation, yoga, counselling and hypnosis.
Excessive intake of caffeine could make you feel restless, anxious and irritable and may also cause you to experience heartburn. Decaffeinated coffee is always a better option to consider when decreasing or substituting caffeine intake. Caffeine is present in chocolate, cacao, cola, energy drinks, coffee and many teas.
Omega -3 Essential Fatty Acids
“Good Fats” in our diet provide the body with Essential fatty acids which are beneficial for general health and fertility. Omega – 3 fats cannot be made by the body, so they must be ingested through diet and supplementation. The outer layer of an egg-membrane needs enough EFA’s which can come from oily fish such as salmon, olive oil, nuts and seeds or a good quality fish or Algal oil supplement.
CoQ10 is an antioxidant that your body produces naturally, however its production naturally decreases with age. The middle powerhouse of the egg ‘mitochondria’ needs energy for when the egg divides after being fertilized. CoQ10 provides that fuel source for healthy cell division. Sperm also needs coQ10 in the same way and to also provide energy/power to successfully get to the egg and achieve fertilisation. Not all CoQ10 supplements are created equal and are notoriously difficult for the body to absorb. Choosing a high quality and highly absorbable form is best.
Maximise your health by choosing a quality prenatal supplement. Key ingredients include; folate (including activated folate), Iodine, Vitamin D and K2, Iron, Zinc, Activated B vitamins. Your health care practitioner can best recommend a specific prenatal to help address any health issues and tailor any additional supplements to support fertility.
Sleep & Melatonin
Ensuring you get at least 8 hours of quality sleep at night can be very beneficial for the body’s regulation of mechanisms that are essential to good wellbeing, hormone regulation and production. Lack of sleep and adequate REM state could spike levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, impacting fertility. Melatonin is our body’s sleep hormone that plays a vital role as an antioxidant in protecting the eggs, especially during ovulation. Exposure to blue light from mobiles and gadgets can interfere with melatonin production and the sleep-wake cycle.
With an increase number of couples and women requiring IVF, helping your body physically and emotionally may be supported through the treatment of Acupuncture by an experienced Acupuncturist. The Chinese medicine focus for fertility is to provide support to the body through stimulation of acupuncture points that influence the internal physiology.
Examples of this can include;
Stimulation of Qi & blood flow to the “conception vessel” meridian influencing the blood flow to the uterus/reproductive organs.
Relaxation of the nervous system to reduce stress and anxiety.
Healthy Weight Management
Becoming overweight or underweight can equally compromise fertility and cause issues trying to conceive. Achieving a healthy weight by means of healthy diet and exercise can not only help fertility but also help your chances of a healthy pregnancy. BMI index is a guide, although some women who fall within their BMI for normal weight aren’t always eating healthy, so healthy diet and lifestyle factors should be the primary focus. Other factors such as PCOS can contribute to weight management issues and in this instance it’s best to speak with your fertility specialist, Acupuncturist, Naturopath, Nutritionist or health care practitioner for additional information/treatment to support PCOS.