A Simple Guide to Boost Your Fertility
Fertility issues are affecting more and more women worldwide due to increasing stress levels, toxic environments, and the fast food epidemic, to name a few of the common culprits. Fortunately, there are many ways we can promote fertility in the short- and long-term with holistic practices and nutrition. From herbs and superfoods to sleep and stress, we’ve got you covered with this comprehensive guide to reclaiming your natural fertility.
SLEEP- Sleep affects all body functions but is specifically connected to the regulation of leptin levels, our satiety hormone. Too high or too low leptin can negatively impact ovulation and fertility. Not enough sleep can affect our stress hormones and blood sugar balance, leading to inflammation.
When it comes to sleep, both quality and quantity matter. Make sure to get enough quality sleep by going to bed at an appropriate time (ideally by 10 or 11pm), sleeping in a cool and dark room, and aiming to get 7-9 hours a night.
REDUCE & MANAGE STRESS - Stress elevates the hormone cortisol, which has a direct effect on hormone production and thus reproductive hormones. It can significantly alter hormonal balance and fertility.
Some stress reduction techniques and resources:
Yoga: Helps regulate adrenal function by supporting the parasympathetic nervous system.
Meditation: Helps reduce anxiety and improve focus and mood.
Acupuncture: As mentioned above, acupuncture increases circulation and can also produce beneficial endorphins that help calm the nervous system.
Exercise: Produce endorphins that improve mood and anxiety.
Herbs: Ashwagandha, rhodiola, maca, licorice, and holy basil are all great herbs that help the body adapt to stressors and modulate stress hormones.
AVOID TOXINS- Reducing your exposure to xenoestrogens, synthetic endocrine-disrupting compounds, is a must because they throw hormones out of balance. Examples include BPA plastics, non-organic soy, meat, and dairy products, oral contraceptives, cosmetics and other beauty products, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and non-organic menstrual products.
Try to avoid these products to reduce exposure to toxins, which put a strain on your liver and affect hormonal balance. Choosing organic whenever you can is a great way to start! EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database is a great online resource to view beauty product ingredients and how they rate according to toxic ingredients. Switch your plastic containers for glass containers, especially for foods that will be heated up, and use reusable or paper bags instead of plastic.
TRY ACUPUNCTURE - Acupuncture has been shown to increase circulation to the uterus, ovaries, and reproductive organs. It helps to manage stress and support sleep by calming the nervous system. Find a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctor near you as they have a wealth of acupuncture knowledge.
HORMONAL BIRTH CONTROL - All forms of hormonal contraception - including the birth control pill, patches, NuvaRing, and injectables - are sources of xenoestrogens, and as such they disrupt the proper functioning of the endocrine system. They flood the body with significantly high doses of synthetic estrogens and suppress our natural hormone production. In order to develop optimal health for future pregnancy, the sooner you’re off the pill, the better for your long-term endocrine health.
Herbs & Supplements
Healing medicinal herbs have been used for thousands of years to promote women’s health and fertility. Here are some beneficial herbs to explore:
Red raspberry leaf: High in vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium, and B vitamins, red raspberry is nutrient-dense for optimal fertility needs. Commonly known as a uterine tonic, it helps to relax and tone the uterus.
Vitex (aka chasteberry): Commonly used for progesterone deficiency and estrogen excess, vitex acts directly on the pituitary (the “master gland”) to balance the endocrine system. It enhances progesterone production which promotes ovulation. Vitex takes time to work and you may see side effects when you begin using it, which just means your body is adjusting to the shift.
Nettle root: A uterine tonic, nettle root has phytoestrogenic properties that modulate estrogen levels in the body and help maintain hormonal balance.
Red clover: Known for its high vitamin and mineral content, red clover also contains phytoestrogens which are useful for menopause treatment and hormonal balancing.
Dandelion: Supports the liver detoxification process and is important for healthy hormone balance and processing toxins.
Most of these herbs can be brewed as a tea and sipped daily or taken in powder or capsule form.
We all love superfoods! These are foods that are especially nutrient-dense and beneficial for rebuilding our health. Some of our favorites include:
Avocados: Full of healthy fats, high fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, and folic acid, avocados help balance hormones in the body. Their high content of omega 3 essential fatty acids helps reduce cramps and may support healthier egg cells in women.
Maca: A nutrient-dense root that has adaptogenic and hormonal effects, maca helps you adapt to stressors, is energizing, and balances excess estrogen. It’s highly nourishing to the endocrine system. Maca also increases sperm count & integrity in men. Gelatinized maca is the easiest to digest because the starch and fiber have been removed. You can add it to your lattes or smoothies as a yummy concoction, as maca has a pleasant malt-like flavor.
Turmeric: This popular warming spice improves circulation to all organs (including reproductive). The active component, curcumin, is a potent anti-inflammatory and helps regulate blood sugar levels. Add to your meals, hot drinks, and smoothies!
Chia seeds: Rich in omega 3 fatty acids which help fight inflammation (a cause of infertility), chia helps to create healthy hormones.
Flax seeds: A great source of fiber and essential fatty acids, flax can help regulate the cycle, increase cervical mucus, promote ovulation, and excrete excess hormones.
Goji berries: With high antioxidant levels, which are very important in protecting egg health and reducing free radicals, Goji berries are little powerhouses.
Royal jelly: This highly nutrient-dense and powerful superfood is produced by bees. It contains many nutrients necessary for fertility, such as fatty acids for egg health, amino acids for hormone synthesis, and vitamin D for immune function. It’s a great option to add to smoothies!
Bone broth: The gelatin and amino acids found in broth improve gut health, which is linked to hormonal health. Full of vital amino acids, calcium, and collagen, it contributes to healthy hormone production and provides important fertility nutrients.
*You can also start taking a prenatal up to 1 year prior to conception - consult with a nutritionist to find what will work best for you.
By focusing on the key areas above - especially decreasing exposure to toxins, managing stress, and kicking your diet into high gear with herbs and supplements - you will be supporting all of your body’s major systems and signaling to it that it’s safe to get pregnant. Natural, holistic practices and nutrition have solved this dilemma for many women worldwide, without the need for pharmaceuticals or artificial hormone replacement therapy, both of which can have extremely damaging effects on the body.