It is estimated that up to one in eight Canadian couples experiences infertility. A couple is considered to be infertile if they have had unprotected sex for a minimum of one year without a successful pregnancy.
Once thought to be a “woman’s problem,” infertility is actually experienced by both sexes. Forty percent is due to female problems such as blocked or scarred Fallopian tubes, endometriosis, hormonal fluctuations, and age. Another 40 percent is related to male causes such as low sperm count, ejaculation disorder, spermatic cord occlusion, and age. Ten percent can be attributed to issues shared by both males and females, and 10 percent remains unknown (idiopathic infertility).
Natural Approaches to Conception
While medical approaches to treating infertility such as medication, injections, or in vitro fertilization (IVF) can often be successful or taken as a last resort. I advocate gentle detoxification of the body in order to increase the odds of conceiving. Here are five ways to improve fertility.
1. Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
Of all the natural steps to take, maintaining a healthy body weight is one of the most effective. Being either overweight or underweight can impact a woman’s chance to ovulate normally. According to research, it is estimated that women need approximately 17 to 21 percent of their total body weight as fat in order to ovulate properly.
Studies have shown that in overweight women having difficulty getting pregnant, even a small amount of weight loss can be extremely beneficial. According to an Australian study investigating the effects of weight loss in overweight women with anovular infertility (did not ovulate), 60 of the 67 women began to ovulate spontaneously after losing an average of 20 pounds.
2. Stop Smoking
Research clearly shows that smoking has a negative impact on conception in both men and women. In fact, studies reveal that women who smoke increase both the time to conception and the risk of spontaneous abortion. If you do smoke, make every attempt to quit by trying acupuncture, hypnosis, or just going “cold turkey.”
3. Go Organic
There are over 7,000 different herbicide and pesticide products currently available in Canada. Many of these were approved prior to 1960 when their long-term effects were unknown. Studies have suggested a connection between the use of insecticides and pesticides and male fertility problems. In order to reduce toxic exposure, I highly recommend switching to certified organic fruits, vegetables, and meat.
4. Increase Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables
A poor diet and a deficiency in vital minerals and vitamins may complicate the chances of achieving a successful pregnancy. This is evident by the fact that women who suffer from celiac disease, an intolerance to gluten, which is often accompanied by diarrhea and malnutrition, are also frequently found to have fertility problems.
To ensure proper nutrient intake, eliminate all processed and packaged food items from your diet and substitute fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and essential fats such as nuts and seeds. I also recommend using a daily high-quality multivitamin and green powder as a nutritional safety net.
5. Eat in Hormonal Balance
Many infertility issues can be attributed to abnormal hormonal fluctuations. Eating a balanced diet is one of the most effective methods to balance hormonal secretion of insulin and regulate proper glucose control. Along with improving your nutrient intake, this includes removing all processed flours and sugars such as white bread, pasta, pop, candy, and sugary juice from the diet. Eating in a hormonally balanced way also means eating a low glycemic index carbohydrate, lean protein, and essential fat at each and every meal or snack .
In addition to these steps, managing stress is also important when trying to conceive. Whether you prefer yoga, exercise, journaling, or meditation, I highly recommend taking some time off to take care of you.
Maintain Hormonal Balance
Eating foods from each of these food groups will help maintain your hormonal balance.
Low Glycemic Index Carbohydrate
- whole grain bread or pasta
- omega-3 eggs
- sesame seeds
- extra-virgin olive oil
- laxseed oil
- low-fat cheese
- protein powder
- egg whites