Naturally Optimizing Your Fertility
Check out Dr. Aisling on Cityline discussing what to eat, how to exercise and how acupuncture can all help to promote your fertility!
Where to start if looking to optimize your fertility naturally:
- Get to know your body and your cycle! Start tracking your periods, Day 1 is the first day of your period. Most women ovulate midway through their cycles and have about 1 menstrual cycle per month.
- You are most likely to get pregnant around the time of ovulation so first things first is you need to figure out when this happens:
- Basal body temperature: an increase in waking temperature indicates ovulation due to the hormone progesterone. This increase can be small 0.2C so it is best to use an electronic thermometer for oral readings or mercury for axillary readings. Temperature can be affected by late nights, illness, alcohol, stress or by not taking the temperature at the same time. Track this on a chart or using one of the many great apps on your smart phone.
- Cervical mucous: it’s normal and natural! Look out for slippery, translucent, stretchy mucous resembling an egg white, when this happens you are likely around the time of ovulation.
- Ovulation strips: great ifBBT are all over the place or you forget to track them. They are a bit pricey so best to wait until mid-cycle to start testing.
- Bottom line: Most likely to get pregnant 1 day before, during and 2 days after ovulation! So these are the days to capitalize on baby making!
- If you aren’t sure when you are ovulating, I recommend to have intercourse every other day from day 10 onwards, depending on the length of your cycle (remember day 1 is the first day of your period) – fun times for all!
Tips to optimize fertility through diet for both men and women:
- Make sure to have a protein source with every meal: balances blood sugar, promotes cell growth and development. Women with good protein intake have been found to have more success getting pregnant and maintaining pregnancy, this goes for women undergoing ART also!
- EX: Chicken breast, quinoa, lentils
- Dark coloured fruits: have a lot of vitamins and antioxidants and make the body more alkaline which helps protect against cell damage.
- EX: blueberries, raspberries, pomegranates
- Essential Fatty Acids: important to build up healthy EFA levels before pregnancy because they are important for baby’s brain, eye, and heart development. These are also very important for men as they improve the circulation to the genitals, which can help support the prostate gland and Omega 3 fatty acids are important to the production of sperm!
- EX: deep water fish: Salmon, Mackrel, Anchovy, Sardines, Anchovies, Herring – 2/week, ideally small fish as they have lower levels of heavy metals, flax seeds, avocado
- Dark leafy greens: alkalinize the body and sperm prefer an alkaline environment where the pH is slightly elevated to help optimize fertilization. Dark leafy greens also play a role in sperm development and health and by providing many nutrients and antioxidants.
- EX: kale, spinach, swiss chard
- Fibre: it not only regulates digestion but it cleans out the body by binding excess hormones and cholesterol and balances blood sugar. High blood sugar places women at risk for ovulation and fertility issues.
- EX: Legumes are #1 – also a great source of Folic acid, iron and fibre!
#1 Nutrient for Men while trying to conceive – Zinc! Zinc deficiency can actually reduce testosterone levels promote male infertility.
- EX: sesame seeds, raw pumpkin seed, oysters
#1 Nutrient for Women while trying to conceive – Iron! Low iron can cause anovulation (lack of ovulation) and possibly poor egg health, which can inhibit pregnancy.
- EX: Healthy cut of lean red meat, Lentils, spinach
Safe exercise when you’re trying to get pregnant:
– Best to be exercising before you get pregnant, so start now!
- Why: helps with increased physical demand of extra weight during pregnancy, strength for birth and makes it easier to get your body back after baby.
- Cardio: nothing too intense – Especially if you are a cross fit junky or marathon runner – we need to dial it back. Very intense exercise can effect menstrual cycles and can suppress ovulation. This doesn’t mean don’t work hard but keep it in the moderate intensity – 7/10 or less. Duration>intensity!
- Weights: great but again want to dial back the intensity – lower weight with more reps is a great way! Some body weight exercises any momma to be can do at home:
- Push ups – start on the knees – wide and narrow arms
- Plank – start on knees, advance to toes, advance to 1 leg lifts
- Lunges – add weights or another baby to work upper body as well
- Yoga: so amazing for body and mind! Breathing techniques can be employed during labour or any stressful situation, like reading the pregnancy test!
- Belly Breathing: calms the nervous system, aids in relaxation, deeper breathing increases oxygen in the body.
- Yogilini squat: open up hips and tones pelvic floor
- Cat Cow: strengthens and stretches the spine and neck, hips, abdomen and back, massages and stimulates organs in the belly, relieves stress and calms the mind.
Acupuncture for Fertility:
– Acupuncture is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine, one of the main modalities of Naturopathic Medicine. Acupuncture helps to promote fertility by balancing the body’s energy force through stimulating specific acupuncture points. Acupuncture is effective in promoting fertility in couples trying to conceive naturally and those undergoing ART (assisted reproductive technology).
Demo of acupuncture on Carter: Kd 3, Sp 6; isn’t scary