Are you interested in getting pregnant? Are you trying to conceive naturally and it’s taking longer than you anticipated? Have you been told you have ‘unexplained infertility’?
Don’t lose hope. There’s lots you can do to help increase your fertility and improve your chances of getting pregnant …
- Reduce your stress levels…
- Get more exercise…
- Reduce your exposure to harmful radiation…
- Eat a healthy diet…
- Remove perfumes and toxic chemicals from your life…
- Get plenty of sleep…
- Quit smoking and drinking…
- Have lots of sex – especially at the right time!
Reducing your stress can help getting pregnant
To reduce the negative effects of stress on your body, it’s important to understand what happens when you get stressed. Stress is how you feel when pressure is put on you. Stress itself is not an illness. It’s a normal physiological response to external pressures. Stress can be helpful, it increases our awareness and helps provide energy. Stress only becomes a problem if the pressures on us exceed our ability to cope with them.
If you have a stressful job, take a 20 minute walk away from the office at lunchtime. Walking or any exercise helps dissipate the tensions which build up in your body when you are stressed. Expressing yourself can also help you to de-stress – that’s why we feel like shouting when we are stressed! Singing, dancing, writing, painting – find positive ways to express yourself.
Our mind and body are not separate – they are inextricably linked together. Techniques to relax the body will calm the mind and vice versa. If you control your breathing when you feel stressed – you will find that it calms your mind too.
Work together with your partner to find ways to help reduce your stress levels. Take short breaks away from the daily stresses of life. Family and friends can be a good source of emotional support and help getting pregnant.
Did you know hugging has been scientifically proven to reduce stress levels! There are many relaxation techniques available – such as meditation and mindfulness. Tai Chi and Qi Gong are wonderful for reducing stress levels. Therapies like massage and reflexology can help you to relax.
Acupuncture can be very helpful in reducing stress and anxiety.
“The effects from acupuncture for treating anxiety have been shown to be significant as compared to conventional treatments. Acupuncture has also been shown to increase the body’s own ‘feel-good’ chemicals, which play an important role in the regulation of physical and emotional stress responses.”
Source: World Health Organization (2018), Acupuncture for the Treatment of Anxiety. Evidence based acupuncture. Junghans, K.
Help enhance your fertility with exercise
Get lots of exercise. Cardio exercise is great for increasing your heart rate and burning calories. Walking is really good for relieving stress and connecting with the world outside. Yoga is wonderful for stretching out the body and calming the mind. But try and mix it up a bit. If you do classes, try some different ones.
If you are overworked in a stressful job, extreme exercise may not be the best exercise for you. If you have a very sedentary, low paced job, then active exercise could be just the thing for you.
Gentlemen, please note, cycling is not good for your fertility.
Electrical Devices, Mobile phones, Wireless – Limit your exposure
Your mobile phone is essentially a radio which sends radio frequency signals to a distant base station. But it also sends signals into your body, penetrating your brain and other organs, causing inflammation and disruption to normal cellular function. Wi-Fi devices also radiate microwave signals.
To help protect your fertility, keep your mobile, tablets, modems etc away from the bedroom and seating areas. Never use your phone as an alarm clock. Make your bedroom a wireless free zone. In this way you can reduce your exposure by around one third. When you have a choice, text or use hands-free calling, rather than holding the phone to your ear.
Gentlemen, it is really important not to carry your phone in your back pocket to avoid radiating your sperm.
Help increase your chances of getting pregnant with a wide variety of healthy, fresh foods
Fruit & Veg
According to the NHS, “Five-a-Day of fruit and vegetables is good, but 10 is better”.
You should aim to eat 800g of fruit and veg a day. We tend to talk about eating “fruit and veg” but actually the emphasis should be on eating vegetables, supplemented with some fruit. Fruit do contain valuable nutrients, but tend to contain more sugar than vegetables.
In Japan, recognised to be one of the healthiest countries in the world, the government now recommends eating 13 portions of veg plus 4 portions of fruit per day. This may seem like a lot, but sadly, most of today’s foods are not as nutritious as they were. Intensive farming over decades has stripped the earth of its goodness. So today’s fruit and vegetables generally contain lower levels of vitamins and minerals than they did in the past.
It is also important to eat a wide variety of vegetables and fruit – as different varieties contain different nutrients. The Japanese recommend eating 30 different foods daily. A simple approach is to eat as many different colours of vegetables as possible.
Reduce your intake of white carbs – bread, pasta, potatoes. If you find yourself in a situation where only carbs are on offer….make sure you eat a small amount of protein with the carbs. The protein takes longer to digest, you will feel fuller for longer and less likely to crave carbs later. So, if you need a snack, eat fruit and a handful of nuts not crisps.
Include good quality fats in your diet. It is a myth that all fats are bad for you. Fried food and processed fats are bad for you, but ‘good’ fats such as avocados, seeds and nuts are very healthy.
Planning and preparation are key to healthy eating
If you haven’t got easy access to healthy food options at mealtimes, you are more likely to make poor food choices.
Make shopping lists and make sure they include lots of fresh vegetables. When you are in the supermarket look for lots of different coloured varieties. Try some new veg. Make sure that you buy sufficient supplies of vegetables with a Use By date to last you to the end of the week. You can’t eat them if they have spoiled!
At the weekends, make up big batches of healthy veg based soups and stews. Oven roast batches of different coloured peppers and keep them in the fridge to use later in the week. At supper time, cook several kinds of vegetables and more than you need so you can chop up leftovers to put on salads or add to an omelette. Eat leftovers of your healthy stews for breakfast the next day instead of high carb toast or cereal.
Most experts agree that it is good to eat some fish. However, it is important to avoid fish that are most likely to be contaminated with mercury from the sea, such as tuna, swordfish, shark and mackerel. Farmed fish, such as farmed salmon, may also contain toxic pollutants.
Most people trying to conceive – men and women- would benefit from taking a good quality vitamin and mineral Fertility supplement, and an omega 3 essential fatty acid supplement. Fish are a great source of omega 3. Fish oils from the flesh of deep-sea fish are generally considered healthier than fish liver oils, as fish liver oil can be contaminated by heavy metals in the sea.
When trying to conceive it is recommended that you take 400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) of Folic Acid a day. Once you are pregnant you will need to take more.
If you have any particular dietary health issues or concerns, go and see a nutritionist who can give you dietary advice and help getting pregnant. If you have ever been anaemic, it may be worth going to see your GP to get a blood test.
Stop using perfume, perfumed toiletries and chemical cleaning products
Most people are aware that chemical household cleaners contain toxic chemicals, but it is less well known that many of the toiletries we use also contain some very harmful ingredients.
If you contact the manufacturers they will likely tell you that the amount of ingredient ‘x’ in their product is within the legal limits. Research indicates that most women apply about 10 products to their bodies as part of their morning regimen: Face and body wash, shampoo, conditioner, hair treatment, skin cleanser, toner, moisturiser, anti-perspirant/deodorant, foundation, eye make up, perfume etc. When you add the harmful chemicals in each of these products together, you are starting to create a significant toxic load. If you then add the chemical exposure from cleaning and laundry products, air-fresheners and other products used around the home, processed foods, food and drink packaging, non-stick pans, paint, DIY products etc the toxicity levels increase further.
Sadly the world is becoming more polluted and the toxic pollutants are damaging to our health. In our daily lives its difficult to avoid air pollution for example, but we can do a huge amount to reduce our toxic load by taking care over the products we buy and use on ourselves and in our homes.
This is a huge topic and it takes quite a lot of time and effort to detox your life, but if you make some of the following changes you can make a good start:
Switch to non-toxic, biodegradable cleaning products.
Advertisers have encouraged us to believe that unless something smells of bleach or ammonia fumes it is not clean. Actually, the reverse is true, if your house smells of bleach or fumes it is not clean, it is toxic. Even once the smell has gone, those surfaces are toxic to anyone who touches them. We absorb chemicals through our skin. Our sense of smell has evolved to help protect us from danger. If the smell of anything causes you to wrinkle your nose or step away eg when opening the laundry detergent box, then it is toxic.
The majority of ingredients in perfumes and fragrances are synthetic chemicals made from petroleum. Others are derived from benzene, one of the most carcinogenic substances on the planet. Chemicals from perfumes and other toiletries are absorbed through your skin into your blood stream.
Don’t use Anti-perspirants
Anti-perspirants are different from deodorants. Anti-perspirants stop you sweating by blocking and disabling your sweat glands using aluminium compounds. Aluminium is highly toxic. It damages cell structures. It is implicated in a range of health problems including dementia, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and breast cancer.
Cut down on the number of toiletries you use and/or use ‘skin friendly’ alternatives
If you stop using two of the ten toiletry products you use every day, you will reduce your toxic burden by 20%, everyday for the rest of your life. That’s huge!
If you feel you must wear antiperspirant or makeup, wash it off when you get home in the evening. In this way you can reduce your toxic exposure by around 50%.
Small changes can make a BIG difference to your health and fertility.
Read more about protecting your health and home read some of my other blogs:
Quit Alcohol and Smoking
If you are trying to conceive, it’s essential to stop smoking and drinking. Clients say they are surprised at how much better they feel when they quit…. And you will save a lot of money.
Have lots of Sex!
To conceive it’s important to have sex around the time of ovulation. Typically, this is occurs 14 days before your period starts. So, if you have a regular 28-day cycle, then ovulation would be around day 14.
There are several methods you can use to help you pinpoint when you are ovulating. Many of my clients use Fertility Apps with ovulation and period trackers. Your body temperature rises after ovulation and stays slightly higher than usual until your next period. You can monitor and chart these small temperature changes using a very accurate Basal Body Temperature (BBT) thermometer and chart. Also, your vaginal secretions change at the time of ovulation.
It can put you both under a lot of pressure if you only have sex at the time of ovulation. So, its best to have sex every 2 -3 days throughout the month. Add plenty of romance and find ways to make it fun!
How can Acupuncture help fertility and help getting pregnant?
Research indicates that acupuncture can help fertility by:
- Balancing hormones
- Regulating the menstrual cycle
- Increasing blood flow to the pelvic organs and improving function of the ovaries and uterus
- Increasing blood circulation to help optimise endometrial (womb lining) thickness in preparation to receive the fertilised egg
- Helping to stimulate ovulation in women with no or irregular ovulation
- Promoting embryo implantation
- Enhancing egg quality and sperm parameters (sperm count, motility and structure)
- Helping women with polycystic ovarian syndrome PCOS , endometriosis, painful periods – dysmenorrhea, pre-menstrual tension PMT, pelvic inflammation
- Reducing anxiety and stress and improving overall health and energy levels
The World Health Organisation (2003) lists female infertility, male sexual dysfunction and polycystic ovary syndrome among conditions for which the therapeutic effect of acupuncture has been shown.
IVF Acupuncture can help prepare couples for IVF, help with the side-effects of IVF medication and prepare the body for embryo transfer. Acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer has been shown to increase pregnancy rates (Paulus et al., 2002).
Acupuncture for Fertility – Client Stories
“I decided to have acupuncture after 6 months of trying for a baby to give myself the best chance at falling pregnant. Judy was very knowledgeable on the phone and after my first consultation I knew I had made the right choice. She discussed all areas of my life including nutrition, work and home life to be able to tailor her treatment to my needs, and was even able to suggest changes to my diet that I believe had a very positive effect in the long run. I fell pregnant 4 months after my treatment began and believe the positive steps I took in that time including my acupuncture treatment and change in nutrition helped. I continued to have acupuncture throughout my pregnancy as I felt it had a beneficial effect on me and kept some of my early anxieties at bay. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Judy and would go back if I ever needed treatment again.”
Helen, Marketing Executive, Wadhurst
“I contacted Judy for fertility acupuncture. I had 4 sessions and was pregnant after 3! Judy is very kind, reassuring and professional. I felt very comfortable in her care and looked forward to our sessions. She was very thorough in her approach and I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending Judy for fertility acupuncture.”
Emma, Midwife, Tonbridge
Read more about Acupuncture for Male and Female Fertility & IVF
Judy Bowen-Jones MBAcC AFN
Experienced fertility acupuncturist. Registered Member of the British Acupuncture Council and the Acupuncture Fertility Network. Judy holds regular clinics in Tunbridge Wells and Crowborough treating clients for fertility issues, PCOS, unexplained infertility and IVF support. Click here to contact Judy
Useful reading on Fertility & Health
- Acupuncture for the Treatment of Anxiety. Evidence based acupuncture. Junghans, K. World Health Organization (2018)
- Getting Pregnant Faster: Boost Your Fertility in Just 3 Months – Naturally by Marilyn Glenville (2012)
- The Baby-Making Bible: Simple steps to enhance your fertility and improve your chances of getting pregnant. For natural and assisted conception. By Emma Cannon (2012) MacMillan
- The Healthy Home. Myron Wentz & Dave Wentz (2011)