The sheer number of people on this earth shows there are plenty of humans fully capable of having children; we are hardwired to reproduce. Many people view having offspring as an integral part of the human experience and intend to get pregnant as soon as they are ready. No one expects to encounter fertility issues, and when diagnosed, the news can be devastating.
The road to pregnancy can be an arduous one, but many people eventually do go on to have children. If you are interested in exploring natural ways to improve your chances of conceiving–whether you are interested in a totally natural path or as a way to increase the chances of success for fertility treatments– here is some important food for thought.
Unsurprisingly, how you eat can greatly influence your reproductive health. When it comes to fat, not all are created equal; several studies have linked the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats and low in harmful saturated fats, to improved fertility.
One study that was published in 2012 found that women whose diets contained 25 percent of calories from monounsaturated fats were three times more likely to have a successful IVF procedure compared to women whose diets were very low in this type of fat.
Women with higher levels of saturated fat in their diet produced fewer quality eggs suitable for fertilization, as did women whose diet was high in certain types of polyunsaturated fat such as corn and canola. Lots of saturated fat in the diet has also been linked to lower sperm count. Alcohol consumption may also exacerbate infertility issues in both men and women as can a high intake of caffeine in any form, particularly coffee.
The ancient practice of acupuncture works on a premise that is very foreign to Western medicine—that there is a life force underlying everything and when there are blockages in certain pathways, specific health problems manifest. Acupuncture stimulates points on these pathways and is intended to clear blockages and restore balance. This form of treatment has been used to address many types of infertility, but may not be a suitable treatment for all, such as tubal adhesions.
What it may do, however, is produce other positive changes in the body, such as a thickened endometrium lining necessary to support a growing fetus or improved ovarian or follicular function. If you are considering using acupuncture in conjunction with IVF, you are advised to start at least three to four months before you begin treatments and continue up to 12 weeks into the pregnancy, when miscarriage most commonly occurs. Typically, the acupuncturist will also prescribe certain herbal supplements, as well as suggested dietary modifications.
Herbal remedies have been used for thousands of years to address a variety of health problems from infertility to digestive issues; taking vitamins, minerals and other substances naturally found in foods in larger doses may also offer therapeutic benefits that you could not achieve through dietary intake alone.
When it comes to treating infertility, there are several supplements that may help address the myriad issues preventing normal conception. The B-vitamins all play an important role in healthy cell function, but vitamin B-6 and B-12 may be particularly beneficial in supplement form—the former for women and the latter for men.
Taking zinc may also help, as this is one of the most crucial nutrients for reproductive health—it influences how well the female body utilizes hormones necessary for pregnancy and is an essential component of sperm. For women, vitex may be a powerful tool; it is well-known for its ability to promote hormonal balance and is used to treat a variety of female health issues from infertility to menopause; it may be particularly helpful for women who are experiencing fertility problems because of a shortened luteal phase or elevated prolactin levels.