Did you know there are some simple things you can do in your everyday life to improve your fertility? I’m helping couples trying to get pregnant almost every day. Mostly I help make sure everything is open and flowing and nourished enough to get pregnant, for both men and women, using Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs. Diet and lifestyle recommendations are always part of Chinese Medicine and what I do. Science is helping me with this! They are coming out with many studies on the effects of your daily habits on fertility. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Sex: YES! You gotta have it to get pregnant, of course, duh. But scientific studies are showing that it’s more than just the sperm being planted to get to the egg. In animal studies, even during IVF (in vitro fertilization, happening in a petri dish) the semen somehow also helps promote embryo development and implantation in the uterus. In humans, increased frequency of sex translates into increased chances of getting pregnant for more than one reason. The ideal amount was every 1-3 days. Pressure to have sex can be stressful, though, and that doesn’t help, so have fun with it!
And guys, it’s even been found that sperm quality decreases after 1-2 days of no ejaculation, so have at it, boys, both with your partner and on your own. You don’t need to save it up. On the other hand, some lubricants can be mildly detrimental to sperm. I recommend a water based lubricant if needed.
Alcohol: KEEP IT VERY LOW. I used to recommend that couples go away on vacation to de-stress and have lots of sex to get pregnant, including a couple of drinks. I now leave out the alcohol part. Here the studies are showing that too much alcohol can mess with women’s menstrual cycles and men’s sperm, shape, and speed, decreasing fertility. How much is too much? For women the general recommendation is not more than two “units” per week. A
unit of alcohol equals only one HALF of a glass of wine, or one THIRD of a pint of beer, and only a QUARTER shot of alcohol. So a half a glass of wine a couple times a week is the max. For men, not more than four units. This is also something a Chinese Medicine practitioner can help you decide based on your body’s constitution and and underlying balance or imbalance. Alcohol creates heat, so if you have an imbalance toward heat, I might tell you not to have any alcohol.
Smoking: BIG NO to smoking of any kind. Smoking definitively has been shown to lead to increased miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies, and decreased sperm quality and count. Sorry, people, this also includes marijuana and vaping. All of this also creates heat, and is depleting to the "essence" in Chinese Medicine, meaning it decreases your life energy and can even harm eggs and sperm.
Caffeine: KEEP IT VERY LOW. This is where a lot of people have trouble, but caffeine has been shown to decrease fertility leading to a greatly increased time to conception. More than 100 mg/day can cause increased miscarriages. For your average cup of coffee, that’s usually one cup, but be careful, it can be hard to tell these days. One espresso from a cafe can have anywhere form 50-300 mg of caffeine!! Black and green tea have less than 100 mg per cup, often less than 50, and are preferred.
Diet: Be Careful, Even the food we eat can have an effect on fertility. One of the biggest no-nos are trans-fats, you know, what used to be margarine. These have a strong association with infertility. Also, eating excess proteins, fats, carbs or dairy decreased fertility, whether general overconsumption, or consumption of excess amounts of any one food group. Sometimes I have to tell people to just lay off the cheese. In Chinese Medicine we say these excesses just clog up the mechanisms.
Don’t cut back too much on the protein though. Many women who come see me don’t get enough. Most women need at least 50 g per day, and sometimes more. It’s a big factor in nourishing the eggs and building the endometrium. Bone broth has become quite popular and has always been recommended by Chinese Medicine practitioners. Here’s a recipe to make your own.
Avoiding heavy metals is also extremely important. The major source is certain types of fish, so don’t eat wild caught large fish. On the other hand, Omega fatty acids found in fatty fish are very important for both fertility and fetal development, so increase fatty fish such as salmon, or take fish oil capsules. I recommend either getting my favorite brand, OrthoOmega, available only from practitioners, the best and best price for it, or Nordic Naturals, also excellent although more expensive.
It’s not all just about avoiding certain things. Eating healthy can also promote fertility in it’s own way. One big factor is getting plenty of anti-oxidants to reduce oxidative stress. Oxidative stress injures cells, and reproductive cells are particularly susceptible. So get lots of vitamins A, C, and E. That is, eat your fruits and vegetables!! A multi vitamin is always a good idea, and there are other factors found in whole foods that are crucial, so don’t rely solely on vitamin oils.
I hope that helps you adjust your life and, ultimately, get pregnant! If you would like more personal and detailed help and support, contact me for a consultation!