With all of the doctor appointments, instructions, medications, invasive procedures, and countless failures, it's no wonder so many women feel like they've lost all control over their bodies and their fertility when struggling to get pregnant.
Believe me when I say I know the feeling. In the past four years, I've had four miscarriages, seven IVF transfers, and lost twins during delivery. I know what it's like to feel like you have no control over your own body. What's so natural for most is an ongoing struggle for women like you and me.
It's time to take back control of our bodies and our fertility. While some of that control should remain with the professionals, there are a number of things both men and women can do right now to help improve their chances of having a successful pregnancy later on.
Here are six natural ways to help boost your fertility and why they can work:
1. Maintain a healthy weight.
Aimee McNew, a certified nutritionist and infertility survivor, explains in an interview that anything that impacts your overall health is going to impact your fertility -- including your weight.
The key here is to identify a healthy weight. Because no two women are the same, what's healthy for one woman might not be so healthy for another. It's important to find out what a healthy weight is for you and take the necessary steps to achieve that weight.
Why it works: Being underweight or overweight can cause irregular menstrual cycles and have a direct impact on ovulation, so maintaining a healthy weight is crucial. To determine whether you're at a healthy weight to conceive, try calculating your body mass index (BMI).
In general, a BMI between 19 and 24 is considered normal; less than 19 is considered underweight, a BMI between 25 and 29 is considered overweight, and a anything greater than 30 teeters on obese. There is, of course, room for error here. To be sure you're at the healthiest weight possible to conceive, check with your doctor.
2. Get out and get active.
Maintaining a healthy weight usually requires a bit of lifestyle change. That means getting out of the house and getting active. Work with your doctor to create an exercise routine that will help you stay fit without impeding conception.
For many women, low-impact exercises, such as walking, cycling, or yoga are great ways to keep your body moving and your energy levels up -- and we can all use the extra energy!
Why it works: As McNew said, anything that has a positive impact on your overall health will have an equally positive impact on your fertility. Not only does regular exercise help you maintain a healthy weight, but also it helps you keep your energy levels up and your stress levels down when trying to conceive.
3. Try a mind-body technique.
To say that dealing with infertility is stressful is an understatement. For those of us struggling to overcome our infertility, that stress never really goes away. Fortunately, there are ways to manage and deal with stress so it doesn't negatively impact your ability to conceive.
One such technique is visualization. As the name implies, visualization requires you to use your mind's eye to visualize what's happening in your body during conception.
Why it works: This mind-body technique uses imagery to help you understand what's happening (or what should be happening) in your body during conception, get in the right frame of mind to conceive, and simply relieve stress associated with infertility.
To learn more about visualization as it relates to fertility, I highly recommend listening to my interview with Joanne Verkuilen, founder of Circle+Bloom.
4. Watch what you eat.
Foods that are good for your health are generally good for your fertility. While there's no magic fertility diet that guarantees success (wouldn't that be nice?), there are a few things worth incorporating into your daily diet. McNew recommends the following whole foods:
- Dark leafy greens, like romaine lettuce, spinach, and kale are chock full of calcium, magnesium, folate, and fiber.
- Cruciferous vegetables, such as asparagus and broccoli, are rich in folate, vitamin K, and fiber.
- Low-sugar fruits, like berries, are great for fertility because they contain high levels of antioxidants.
- Avocados are another amazing fertility food as they contain plenty of fiber, folate, and vitamin K.
- Eggs are also great for fertility because the yolks are rich in folate, B12, and protein.
Why it works: Foods that are fresh, organic, and unprocessed are generally going to be good for boosting fertility because they contain the necessary vitamins and nutrients for fertility success. But, as with all things, moderation is key.
5. ... and drink.
You wouldn't drink alcohol while pregnant, so why drink it when trying to conceive? It's always better to be safe than sorry, especially when you're already struggling to successfully conceive. On that note, it can also be helpful to curb your caffeine intake.
While studies have yet to confirm if caffeine lowers fertility, studies have shown that less than 200mg of caffeine should be OK. So, no need to give up your morning cup o' joe just yet, but limiting how much coffee you drink can't hurt.
Why it works: Excessive alcohol intake can lead to an increased risk of ovulation disorders, so avoiding alcohol altogether when trying to get pregnant is a safe bet.
As for caffeine, while it doesn't necessarily impede conception, too much of it can cause less-than-pleasant side effects that definitely don't aid you in your fertility efforts.
6. Take natural supplements.
Despite the popular belief that folic acid is wonderful for fertility, folic acid is the synthetic form of the natural supplement folate. When you're trying to conceive, it's best to avoid any synthetic vitamins or supplements and stick with their natural counterparts.
Why it works: Synthetic vitamins and minerals don't come from their natural sources but are actually manufactured with chemicals to mimic the way natural vitamins act in our bodies. Natural vitamins are derived directly from the plant containing the vitamin, which ensures you're not putting any unwanted chemicals into your body.
What do you think? What are some other natural ways to take control of your body and boost your fertility?