- June 5, 2017
- Posted by: Sally Gole
- Category: Blog
Without drugs, big needles or medical interventions
For a woman to conceive, and carry a healthy baby to term, there are many factors that determine success, but optimal health in both parents is where it all starts.
A woman is born with all the eggs she will release in her lifetime. As she ages and is exposed to environmental toxins, the effects of poor diet or lifestyle, and the natural decline of cellular quality, the condition of her eggs diminishes, making getting pregnant more challenging.
It’s the same for men. Diet, lifestyle and overall physical health can adversely affect a man’s sperm, drastically increasing his chances of infertility.
In the four months before a woman’s egg is released, her overall health will determine the health and DNA structure of that egg. Similarly, a man’s sperm is produced in the testes two to three months before it is released. This means that the health of both parents will directly affect the baby’s health for life, which is why it is vitally important to start preparing and balancing the body BEFORE you start trying to conceive.
For a woman to conceive easily, carry to term and deliver a healthy, happy baby, it takes good quality eggs, strong hormones and a man’s healthy sperm. Unfortunately our busy, modern lifestyle can adversely affect our reproductive health and ultimately the health of the baby.
We are constantly exposed to a multitude of toxins, nasty chemicals and environmental pollutants that affect the function and health of reproductive organs.
On top of that, research has shown that the majority of Australians aren’t receiving the recommended daily intake (RDI) for many important nutrients needed to prevent deficiency, however, the amounts needed for our bodies to function optimally is often much higher.
And while many of our nutritional requirements can be maintained with a healthy diet, some supplementation may still be required to reduce the risk of birth defects, miscarriages, learning difficulties, allergies and asthma.
Here are some additional tips and lifestyle shifts for improving your reproductive health and boosting fertility from a holistic perspective.
1. Lay off the lattes
Caffeine is probably the most widely used ‘drug’ in our society. It is found in many things we consume on a daily basis including chocolate, coffee, tea, and soft drinks. Excessive and long term caffeine intake can adversely affect fertility. In fact, even just one coffee a day has been shown to be enough to imbalance the hormones impacting sperm health. In women, it can disturb the uterine lining, preventing implantation of a fertilized egg. It inhibits the absorption of iron and B vitamins and can affect our overall nutritional status. Caffeine intake during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage and chromosomal abnormalities. The best thing for both men and women trying to conceive is to limit caffeine intake to one cup of tea or coffee per week. For pregnant women, try to eliminate it altogether throughout the entire pregnancy.
2. Lock the liquor cabinet
Australian’s love a drink, but it is well known that we also seriously underestimate just how much alcohol we consume on a regular basis. The problem is that one or two drinks can easily become three or four (or more!). We know that alcohol adversely affects the liver as well as levels of B vitamins, zinc, magnesium, calcium, chromium and vitamin C. This alone has huge effects on the reproductive cycle and hormone levels. Sperm can be easily damaged by alcohol and alcohol close to ovulation increases the risk of miscarriage and birth defects. Since sperm can take 116 days to be produced, and the ova is susceptible to damage for 100 days prior to ovulation, it is best to limit alcohol for at least four months prior to planned conception.
3. Clean up your diet
Healthy, nutritious foods provide your body with the ‘building blocks’ necessary for fertility and a healthy baby. This means buying fresh, clean produce to ensure a plentiful supply of nutrients. Avoid food that is highly processed, high in sugar and trans fats, junk foods, and all takeaway. These might taste good and be an ‘easy’ option, but they do not have much to offer in the way of nutrition and lack the essential nutrients needed to support a healthy pregnancy. Instead, eat lots of fresh vegetables, whole grains and a balance of proteins from animals, nuts and seeds.
4. Clear out your cupboards
Toxins are everywhere in our modern society, so it is important to limit the ones you can control – like the ones that come through our water and food supply, our workplace and home. For example, household oven cleaners, mould treatments, paints, cleaning agents, glues and solvents. If you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, now is NOT the time to renovate your house or have it treated for pests! Drink only filtered water where possible.
5. Manage your movement
Now more than ever exercise is an important factor in maintaining optimal health for both future parents. However, if you typically exercise hard, you may need to cut back. Intense exercise has been shown in studies to decrease fertility. Reduce the intensity during your workouts and replace some of them with a gentle yoga or pilates class. On the other hand, if you need to lose weight, it’s best to make dietary shifts and introduce moderate exercise.
6. Bring balance back
Acupuncture, together with diet and lifestyle shifts, can help prepare the body to conceive by creating a balanced environment. Using Traditional Chinese Medicine techniques such as pulse and tongue observation and abdominal palpation, practitioners can diagnose underlying issues affecting fertility – often observing and correcting issues that may not be obvious to Western Medicine Practitioners. A visit to an experienced fertility acupuncturist is a great way to kick off your preconception plan, whilst at the same time giving your health, hormones and energy a much needed boost!
If you’re unsure about how to start preparing and balancing your body for conception and pregnancy, we can help guide you with nutritional counselling, advice on lifestyle shifts and appropriate naturopathic supplementation.