I am currently Trying to Conceive our 3rd child. It’s been an interesting journey! My 2nd child is 18 months old, and hubby and I have been TTC since last summer. We have had our ups and downs, of course, and even took a break from the stress of it all in the fall. But with renewed effort we are back at it again. Charting, ovulation kits, the whole shebang- including Holistic efforts as well.
I recently had the opportunity to attend a free seminar by Dr. Emma Stokes, at my local Library, called Fertility Optimization: A Holistic Approach. I’d like to share with you all some of the notes that I took, because it was quite interesting.
First, she gave us a recap on the conception process: One egg is released each cycle, and survives 24-48 hours. Sperm survive up to 6 days once inside, so timing is essential! The instructor recommended a program called Fertility Friend to find out when you are ovulating based on your typical period start and end dates. Some other suggestions include Cervical Mucous charting, Basal Body Temperature Charting and Ovulation Test Kits. I’m not going to go into to much detail on these methods here, as we want to focus on the Holistic approaches she shared with us.
Obstacles that Complicate Fertility
Some of the obstacles that she shared were particularly interesting to me. They include the following:
- Hormone Imbalances in women
- Stress! For both men and women.
- Blocked fallopian tubes or Uterine concerns such as cysts and fibroids or endometriosis
- Infections and Inflammation
- Auto-Immune issues such as hypothyroid, MS, psoriasis, Crohn’s Disease (which I happen to have) or antibodies that reject sperm
- Weight and diet,
- Smoking, which can prematurely age your eggs by 10 years as well as alcohol use
- Caffeine, which must be avoided (bye bye, cappuccino!) because as little as one caffeinated beverage per day is associated with a temporary reduction in conception.
- Environmental toxins and chemicals in our food, air, and water as well as products that touch our skin can affect both egg and sperm.
What a Naturopathic Doctor Does
Naturopathic Philosophy includes correcting imbalances in the body. Your body’s natural healing ability can be stimulated through nutrition, nutritional supplementation, herbal medicine, acupuncture, homeopathy and physical therapy.
If you are interested in seeing a naturopathic doctor to improve your chances of conception, you can expect an hour to an hour and a half consultation time for your first visit. The Doctor will address fertility-specific issues such as Food Sensitivities, Diet Changes, Detoxification and hormone imbalances and environmental toxicities. Blood tests and finger prick tests can be completed to get a starting point on your body’s hormone and nutritional state.
Dr. Stokes also offers vitamin and mineral injections at her office, which I found interesting. Food and Diet was a very important point of her fertility strategies, and for me personally I know I have difficulty absorbing my vitamins and minerals orally because I have Crohn’s Disease.
She also recommended Acupuncture and Acupressure during your conception journey. These can help to remove any blockages in the body and direct the flow of energy towards the reproductive organs. Specifically getting 30 minute sessions on Day 4 and Days 10-13 of your cycle can be helpful.
What You can Do At Home Now
Diet and Lifestyle Changes: Nutrition is very important to women’s fertility. You can improve chance of ovulation, conception and the birth of a healthy child by addressing diet and nutrition issues.
The recommended diet was a Mediterranean diet with focus on a greater intake of monounsaturated fats such as Olive Oil. Eat less animal protein and a greater intake of vegetable proteins. Increase your fibre intake and low-glycemic carbohydrates. Get lots of non-heme iron from green leafy vegetables and other plant foods that are high in iron.
If you suffer from any kind of inflammatory conditions (such as psoriasis, crohn’s disease, arthritis, etc.) it’s important to eat things that contain things which help reduce inflammation, such as Omega 6. Omega 3 and 9 are also important. Try adding some flax seed oil, fish oil and krill oil into your diet.
Physical activity is also essential. Make sure to get 30 minutes or more of vigorous activity per day! This is a tough one for me. I’m lazy🙂
If you haven’t already, quit smoking immediately. And decrease your caffeine and alcohol consumption.
Recommended Supplements: To get good quality supplements, and not a drug store brand, you will have to venture to a good health supplement store. Prenatal vitamins should be taken while trying to conceive and brands such as Thorne Basic Prenatal, N.F.H. Prenatal Sap are a good idea.
Also add some Vitamin D (3000-5000IU/day in the winter months), probiotics and calcium/magnesium. Fish oil, Antioxident Formula, Greens Formula and B Complex.
Get your husband on board! Some important supplements for men trying to improve sperm motility include Vitamins A,C,E, B12, Zinc and Selenium.
Increase your Progesterone in the second half of your cycle
If you have a short luteal phase, meaning you don’t have many days between your ovulation and your next period, you may consider trying to increase your progesterone. This will help enable your body to have a better chance of successful implantation. The supplement known as Vitex (Chasteberry) has been used for thousands of years to do just this. There are many brands of Vitex on the market, so visit a reputable health store.
I actually started taking Vitex 8 weeks before I conceived EJ- after years of trying to conceive unsuccessfully. Because I have a short cycle (Average 23 days) and a short Luteal Phase, the Vitex may have helped lengthen my cycle a bit and even out the hormones. You can read about Luteal Phase Defect here at natural-fertility-info.com.
According to Natural-Fertility-Info.com, “Luteal phase defect is estimated to affect 3-4% of women who have ‘unexplained infertility’, up to 63% of women who repeatedly miscarry and 6-10% of women who are fertile.”
Dr. Stokes emphasized the importance of Relaxation to us. Massage, meditation and coping strategies for stress in your life can help. For me personally, I enjoy meditating to soothing music from YouTube. Just sitting quietly in my room, without distractions, at least 5 minutes a day. Usually after the kids are in bed😉
Good luck with your conception journey, everyone! If you have anything to add please comment. Wishing you all lots of Baby Dust!