When we talk about “fertility”, we usually associate it with the ability to conceive a baby. When you really are ready to start a family, though, you must adopt a different perspective, defining fertility not only as the ability to conceive, but also the ability to carry a baby to full-term and deliver it. From that perspective, your concern for fertility includes your reproductive health, your cardiovascular health, and your psychological well-being.
According to Dr Hilary Randolph, an OBGYN from southern California, at least 20% of first-time pregnancies end in miscarriage, usually because of a genetic defect in the fertilized egg. Most of these miscarriages happen soon enough after conception that women mistake them for late periods. You have no control over the quality of your eggs or the viability of your partner’s sperm. You do, however, have control over just about everything else.
Get Physically Healthy
Several reputable studies indicate that one in six couples has difficulty conceiving because of health problems only indirectly related to reproductive function. In other words, they cannot conceive because the man cannot produce enough sperm or the woman cannot sustain pregnancy. Unless a fertilized egg is perfectly viable, the uterus is ready to nourish and protect it, and the woman’s body can manage the stress of pregnancy, a woman’s immune system will prompt her body to reject it.
Do not begin training for the Olympics, because too much exercise can compromise your fertility. Do begin that fitness program you have postponed since New Year’s Day in 1998. Set aside one sacred hour every day for exercise, and make your partner join you.
Get Psychologically Healthy
Stress, anxiety and depression affect your endocrine system almost as much as they affect the neurotransmitters in your brain and central nervous system. The more you worry about getting pregnant, the less likely you are to conceive. The more you hear your mother’s voice rasping and carping in the back of your mind, the less likely you are to give her the grandchild she wants. The more you hear your own biological clock echoing in your ears, the less likely you are to beat it.
Dr Randolph strongly recommends that you “Carefully monitor your cycle, and take your temperature every day, so that you see it rise at mid-month, signaling your ovulation. Then, relax, enjoy sex as you never have enjoyed it before, and let Nature take care of the rest.”
Improve Your Diet
Do not go on a diet or begin a radical cleanse. Instead, start developing healthy eating habits to sustain you all the way through pregnancy and breast feeding. Cut down your carbohydrates, increase your fiber, and stay hydrated. Give-up soft drinks, substituting them with water and all-natural fruit juices. You may not entirely give-up coffee, but switch to de-caf. You may continue to enjoy robust red wines, because they have tons of anti-oxidants and other healthy stuff your body needs. Go crazy with fruits and vegetables, but be careful not to add sugar to your fruits and not to drench your veggies in salad dressing or butter. Remember that a healthy salad smothered in blue cheese dressing has more fat than a Big Mac. You may lose weight to achieve your ideal BMI, but you should be careful not to gain weight. You are not yet eating for two.
Your diet influences your fertility, because it affects your body’s pH, and it contributes to your urinary and vaginal health. If you plan to conceive, radically reduce your intake of yeast and gluten, because they contribute to infections. If your body is using all its natural defenses to combat infection, it is likely to treat your partner’s sperm as foreign invaders instead of good friends visiting for a play date.
Some naturopaths suggest eating a diet rich in isoflavones — estrogens derived from plants. Soy products, especially soy milk, deliver lots of healthy estrogens, and they limit your consumption of fats and cholesterol. Do not entirely eliminate dairy from your diet, though, because your body will need lots of calcium to feed the baby and maintain your own bones and teeth. Under the care and supervision of a well-trained, experienced naturopath, you may begin taking herbal supplements. Try Chasteberry, which stimulates the pituitary gland and balances estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Also, try Dong Quai, which balances estrogen levels and improves the egg’s chances of successful implantation.
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