What you can do to take charge and improve your own fertility.
- Pinpoint your ovulation. If you have only a vague idea of when you ovulate or if you think that just because you have a 28-day menstrual cycle you probably ovulate on day 14, then you may be missing your opportunity to get pregnant every month. Use basal body temperature, cervical fluid and ovulation prediction (either an ovulation predictor kit or a fertility monitor) to chart your cycle and pinpoint ovulation. Go to www.ovusoft.com for downloadable charting software and instructions or www.fertilityfriend.com for their free web-based charting service.
- Have a thorough medical & gynecological exam. Is your thyroid functioning properly? Do you have ovarian cysts or a tipped uterus? Are you at risk for a sexually transmitted disease? These and other factors can negatively affect your fertility and reduce your chances of becoming pregnant. Do yourself a favor and have a thorough medical and gynecological exam sooner rather than later to rule out possible barriers to conception
- Relax. This sounds cliché, but it’s true! The same area of your brain that regulates stress response also regulates sex hormones. We know that excessive physical or emotional stress can have a serious impact on blood pressure, heart rate, sleep, mood and immunity, why not fertility? Deep breathing, yoga, tai chi, meditation, relaxation CDs, massage and acupuncture all can trigger your body’s relaxation response.
- Make love more often. Most couples are busy working people who have little time to connect emotionally and physically. If the time you have to spend together is limited it may take longer to get pregnant. Make time for each other, rekindle your romance, look for ways to remind each other why you got together in the first place!
- Overhaul your diet. Are you skipping meals or eating fast food because you are too busy to feed yourself well? Look at your diet. Is it full of whole, organic, healthy foods or is it full of junk? If your diet needs work, start by eliminating foods that are highly processed and high in sugar and salt, replacing them with whole foods. If necessary, consult a nutritionist–you are what you eat and your baby will be too!
- Drink water. Is your day punctuated by several cups of coffee? Are you drinking soda and juice in lieu of water? According to the Mayo Clinic, every system in our body depends upon water, and your reproductive system is no exception. About 8 cups of water are needed to replace fluids normally lost throughout the day, with 1-2 more cups if you exercise. Both semen and cervical mucous can be negatively impacted by chronic dehydration. Try replacing most of your non-water beverages with water. If you hate the taste of water, flavor it with a slice of lemon, lime, orange or just a dash of juice.
- Revisit your exercise plan. Are you someone who dreads exercise or do you run 40 miles per week? Too little or too much exercise can create less than optimal conditions in the body for getting pregnant. If you’ve never exercised, start with short walks or moderate workouts at the gym. If you are a marathoner, think about cutting back to a more moderate training schedule or replacing your harder workouts with a gentle form of yoga or tai chi.
- Take an energy inventory. Are you someone who places other people’s needs ahead of your own? Write down all the ways you spend your energy, as if you were accounting for where you spend your money. If you find that you are giving all of your time and energy away and keeping nothing for yourself, then you are robbing your body of the energy it needs to conceive and hold a pregnancy. Begin diverting some of your energy back to yourself by resting more, making time for things that you enjoy, regularly treating yourself to fertility acupuncture treatment, massage or a gentle yoga class. If you can’t seem to say “no” to others and “yes” to yourself, find a good psychotherapist who can help you set and keep appropriate boundaries with family, friends and co-workers.
- Ask your male partner to have a semen analysis. Male factor infertility, an issue with a man’s sperm that keeps it from getting to and fertilizing a woman’s egg, accounts for around 40% of infertility cases! If you’ve done everything you can to enhance your own fertility and you still aren’t pregnant, a semen analysis for your partner is a must. A urologist will check sperm count, shape (morphology) and movement (motility). Diet, medications, tight underwear, hot tub use, alcohol and drug use can all affect the quality of a man’s sperm and keep it from fertilizing your egg. Click here for more on male factor infertility.
- Get help. If you’ve been trying to get pregnant on your own without success, there is help for you! Don’t suffer in silence, seek help from both alternative and conventional medicine. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help regulate and improve your cycle, increase blood flow to your ovaries and uterus, trigger deep relaxation, improve the quality of your partner’s sperm and even help increase your odds of success with IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization).
For a free consultation with Julie Permut, LAc, please call 603-924-6624. To book an appointment online, click here.
For more support coping with infertility, contact Resolve, a national organization that helps people understand and cope with infertility, providing support and resources at www.resolve.org.