For both men and women, getting good amounts of sleep and limiting stress are two of the main things you need to manage. Of course, difficulties with fertility send stress skyrocketing, but that makes it even more important to find ways to relieve this tension. Meditation, yoga, relaxing with friends, enjoying the outdoors and any other calming activities that work for you are highly encouraged.
For men, skip saunas, hot tubs and tight clothes, all of which heat up sperm and can affect motility and morphology.
For women, enjoy the foods noted above, use exercise as a stress reliever and to maintain health but don’t overdo it since excessive exercise depletes Yin.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs have a long history of benefiting fertility in many ways.
Benefits of acupuncture include:
1. Improved uterine lining
2. Increased blood flow to the uterus
3. Regulation of hormones
4. Reduction of stress associated with fertility problems
Recently a study demonstrated that sperm quality and motility improved after the men received acupuncture treatments. The men treated experienced increased sperm motility levels, increased the number and percentage of healthy sperm, and significant improvements in sperm structure and quality as compared to a control group. An important German study that received notable attention in the American press showed that acupuncture significantly increased the effectiveness of IVF success. Impressively, pregnancies were documented in 34 out of 80 patients (42.5%) in the acupuncture group as compared to 21 out of 80 patients (26.3%) in the control group.
It is advisable to begin acupuncture 3-6 months before attempting to get pregnant, but most women wait until they are actively trying to conceive. In my practice, I see women 2 times a week until we get a positive pregnancy test result and 1 time weekly for the first trimester to reduce the risk of miscarriage.
As I said before, the main objective is to nourish and tonify BOTH of your bodies in order to ensure the perfect environment. It may take patience and many difficult changes and modifications to your lifestyle, but do not give up. Exhaust your resources. Think long-term. Get educated. Give your body the opportunity to fight and reach its optimum function naturally. A balanced heart, body and mind can transform your body and your life.
The DO’S and DONT’S
1. Don’t wait! If after a year (6 months if you’re over 35), you are not seeing that positive sign, don’t hesitate to see a fertility specialist. If you aren’t crazy to jump head first into Clomid or IVF, seek out a fertility specialist who practices Oriental medicine or other complimentary and alternative therapies (much like myself, if I may add).
2. Ladies! Don’t walk around barefoot! Doing so “cools” your uterus, thus leading to discomfort and irregularities of your conception channel.
3. Gentlemen, get a cooling fan! After prolonged use, your laptop could get too hot over your “family jewels”. This could result in elevated temperatures and decreased sperm count.
4. Include Brazil nuts in your diet! These are some of the best nuts you can eat to boost fertility. (No pun intended!)
5. Relax! Increased levels of cortisol have been directly linked to fertility issues.
6. Dust off your yoga mat! Yoga not only calms your mind, but it also helps to increase blood flow to your pelvic floor. More blood in your uterus and ovaries means higher quality follicles and endometrium!
7. Don’t do this alone! It might seem as if everybody is getting a baby except you, but you can’t keep these feelings in. When we confide and feel understood during a long conversation or an big bear hug, our brains secrete oxytocin, thus, relieving some of the stress we have!
8. Track your period! I am an advocate of educating women about their menstrual cycles, but when it comes to trying to conceive, tracking your cycle with basal body temperature and cervical mucus (sounds nastier than it is) is a wonderful way to narrow in on your fertile days and to figure out what to do at specific times of your cycle.
9. Missionary! While I encourage my patients to use this “baby making time” to get wild with their partners, lying on your back after sex actually gives the little swimmers an advantage. Allowing the sperm to pool gives them a better shot at reaching the egg due to the natural slope of your vagina.
10. Give your body a chance. Our bodies are wise! If the test came out negative this month, continue to improve your health by exercising, eating right and getting some acupuncture! As your hormones become balanced and your body receives the nutrients it needs, things will fall into place.
Love and serenity,