Most of us spend our youth trying NOT to get pregnant. It’s quite a shock to our cultural conditioning to realize we might not get pregnant as soon as we feel ready, even though many of us have delayed that moment to anchor other important aspects of our lives. Turns out that difficulty conceiving is really common. One in eight couples in the US has trouble getting or staying pregnant. More than nine million American women seek fertility treatment each year and many men need treatment too. In our clinic we see women struggling with fertility every day, both with and without western a diagnosis. Men usually come in when they get the unexpected news that they have a poor sperm analysis. Challenge with fertility can be quite frustrating and emotionally painful. It is possible for the women and men who work at naturally optimizing fertility to end up more grounded and healthier in the process. Best of all, Chinese medicine can give very tangible help to enhance fertility. Among its research supported benefits, acupuncture can help regulate ovulation, improve blood flow to ovaries, support the hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian axis and lower stress hormones. While at Double Happiness Health we carefully evaluate and customize each client’s treatment plan to get the best results, here are five tips on diet and lifestyle changes you can make to start optimizing your chances of conceiving right away and feel better in the process:
- Reducing stress might sound cliche these days, but figuring out what works for you personally, and actually creating simple habits that change your stress level on a daily basis really does help couples get pregnant. A 2011 study published in Fertility and Sterility showed women that attended a mind/body program had greatly increased pregnancy rates. Try incorporating one thing: breathing, yoga, meditation or even a walk after work.
- Clear inflammation. Inflammation is at the root of many fertility issues; go for an anti-inflammatory diet. The Chinese have it right when they suggest mostly eating deliciously cooked veggies, healthy fats, power packed whole grains and yummy proteins. This basically cuts out wheat, dairy, sugar and processed foods. If you aim for this most of the time, you will absolutely optimize your egg and sperm quality.
- Detox. I know you love your morning americano. Me too. But you don’t want to rely upon caffeine for energy. Try to limit coffee to one cup per day unless you are having trouble, then give it a break altogether. Too much caffeine can reduce sperm motility, decrease blood flow to the uterus and possibly cause problems with implantation. A large Kaiser Permanante study in Oakland study showed drinking ½ cup of green tea or even black tea instead produced twice the pregnancy rates than in coffee drinkers. Alcohol is best avoided while trying to conceive.
- Timing is everything. If you are having a natural cycle, get to know when ovulation is occurring for you by using an over-the-counter ovulation predictor kit, or, better yet, learn your body’s signs of ovulation by tracking your BBT. Once you know when you are ovulating, the key is to have sex a little ahead of time. Sperm generally live for up to 72 hours, but an egg only has a 24-hour window to be fertilized. Try to conceive the day before and day of ovulation.
- Read “Making Babies” by Sami David M.D. and Jill Blakeway L.Ac., my current fav of all the fertility self help books out there, it’s a balanced east/west view and provides truly helpful information for men and women to prepare you for your 3 month “pre-mester” of fertility enhancement.