Trying to Get Pregnant? Natural Fertility Enhancing Options
When I was trying to get pregnant with my son at age 40, I knew I was facing a challenge. So I decided to get my body in the best shape I could through some natural fertility enhancing choices. I dramatically cut down drinking alcohol and coffee and went on a fertility diet, following the advice of in the book, The Fertility Diet: Groundbreaking Research Reveals Natural Ways to Boost Ovulation and Improve Your Chances of Getting Pregnant.
“Even if you’ve decided to use reproductive medicine to get pregnant, natural choices and lifestyle changes can be a big help. And it’s never too early to start this kind of preventive medicine.”
I started to get weekly traditional Mayan massages of my abdomen, which were supposed to help guide the reproductive organs to a more balanced position. Every morning, I listened over and over to a visualization CD by a woman named Anji called Meditations for a Fertile Soul. In a calming, singsong voice, Anji told me to envision “a golden cord running the length of my spinal column.”
Some of it might sound a little, or a lot “woo woo,” but ultimately, it worked. I also took a dose of the fertility drug Clomid in the end, but I still believe the combination of the medicine and the natural methods helped to move things along. Even if you’ve decided to use reproductive medicine to get pregnant, natural choices and lifestyle changes can be a big help. And it’s never too early to start this kind of preventive medicine.
A Fertility Boosting Diet
Some studies have shown that there is a connection between caffeine and fertility as well as alcohol consumption and fertility, so why not curb both if you’re trying to get pregnant or thinking about trying soon.
If you have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the most common cause of infertility in women, try cutting out refined carbs. Because PCOS is a hormonal imbalance, it can get worse when your insulin levels spike, and this happens as a result of eating refined carbohydrates.
Fertility specialists explains that when women with PCOS eat too many refined carbohydrates, insulin flows into the blood, feeds back to the ovaries, and can lead to irregular ovulation.
Fish and Omega 3s supplements are also good because they help with the baby’s brain development.
Bright colored fruits and vegetables like kale, red peppers and blueberries are also good because they are full of micronutrients, like phytochemicals and antioxidants.
I have a colleague who is a meditation and yoga instructor. She has written that worrying is a kind of imagery. Think about it, how many times, have you had a physical response to worrying. If you think using imagery is too New Age-y, just think of it as the opposite of worrying. It’s picturing all the good stuff, and there have been numerous scientific studies that shows it works.
A study published in the October, 2009 issue of Fertility and Sterility found that women who worked on “letting go” had higher rates of success in IVF. The study concluded that “in the context of a low-control situation such as IVF treatment, women who try to be actively in control may pay a higher price in terms of pregnancy probabilities.” So it may very well be worth, meditating and imagining the sperm meeting the egg, your pregnant belly, and cradling your beloved newborn.
For years doctors have been proscribing Co-enzyme Q10, a supplement that helps to better produce energy in the mitochondria of cells, to patients with congestive heart failure and diabetes, and athletes have been taking it to improve their performance. Ninety-five percent of the body’s energy is generated with Co-enzyme Q10, and therefore, the organs with the highest energy requirements like the heart and the liver have the highest concentrations. Now some fertility doctors believe that the supplement may also improve female and male fertility.
Dr. Yaakov Bentov, an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto’s Center for Advanced Reproductive Technology, says that as a woman ages, her eggs become less efficient during fertilization because the chromosomes don’t replicate as well. “The egg needs to complete a demanding process and often when a woman reaches her late 30s and early 40s, there is not enough energy in the cells,” he says.
In a 2009 study published in The Journal of Fertility and Sterility, Bentov and his colleagues found that taking up to 600 milligrams a day of Co-enzyme Q10 — which can be purchased at any drug store — actually helped to improve egg quality in older women and improved fertilization rates.
“It may improve the quality of eggs by correcting their energy which improves the division of chromosome during fertilization,” Bentov claims.
Studies have also found that Co-enzyme Q10 may also improve male infertility. A July 2009 study in The Journal of Urology looked at 212 infertile men who took the 300 mg of the supplement for 30 weeks, and found that it improved both sperm density and motility.
You may want to ask your doctor what she thinks about this supplement.
Spa Treatments and Fertility Retreats
If “letting go” helps with fertility treatments, a week at a spa or a fertility boot camp may be just what you need. The Tiffany Kim Institute, a medical wellness spa in Chicago, has started to offer a “Fertility Boot Camp,” that promises participants a variety of aids to help get their “bodies, minds and spirits” ready for fertility. The one day retreat advertises its ability to “whip your eggs into shape,” which includes advice and consultation with an acupuncturist, a reproductive endocrinologist (fertility doctor), a pre-natal yoga instructor, a personal trainer, and a nutritionist. “People are busy and we wanted to create a retreat for women to get a lot of information in one sitting so they can have tools and information to improve and preserve their fertility,” says Jeanie Bussel, the spa’s director of Oriental Medicine.
The Fertility Boot Camp is part of a growing trend at spas — both medical and traditional — and wellness centers that is targeting a market of older, well-heeled women who are trying to conceive. The question remains, however, whether paying for fertility spa treatments or wellness advice is really going to help you get pregnant – especially when factors like age are involved. Are these spas worth a visit?
Google “spa treatments for fertility” and a plethora of relaxation-focused options appear that also include luxurious fertility boosting travel packages. For example, the Becoming Mom Pregnancy Spa in Mason, Ohio, offers want-to-be mothers a luxurious robe, slippers, and a “pre-conception massage.” Other spas that offer fertility-related services include Peaceful Beginnings in Greensboro, North Carolina and the Santa Monica Fertility Clinic in California, which combines fertility treatments with holistic medicine.
And if you’re looking for a longer getaway, hotel spas such as The Tides Riviera Maya feature the Ritual de Fertiladad, The Rosewood in Little Dix Bay offers Fertility Reflexology and Fertility Yoga , and there is the Program for Infertility at the Raj Ayurvedic Spa in Iowa.
Even though there are a number of studies that show that acupuncture helps infertility treatment and some studies have shown that stress can contribute to ovarian aging and lower IVF success rates, the majority of infertility is traditionally related to fallopian tube damage, endometriosis, hormonal imbalances, or fibroids, according to The Mayo Clinic.
“There is no proof that stress relief does anything more than . . . relieve stress!,” says Dr. Edward Marut, an RE with Fertility Centers of Illinois. “I tell my patients that these therapies have a fertility-neutral effect, but if it helps you deal more positively with the entire situation, then do it. I also emphasize that the only mind-body connection seems to be a positive outlook! Patients who are optimistic have better outcomes than those who are not.”
So a week in the Caribbean or even an hour massage may be worth the cost after all.