In our external-oriented culture, we often seem to search for a magic pill, procedure, or treatment that will help solve our problems. Sometimes we forget that the answer can be much more simple and that it is found right inside ourselves. Our lifestyles exert a tremendous effect on myriad elements of our wellbeing, including our fertility. While we don’t always have control over all the factors that affect our fertility, we can make lifestyle choices that support our ability to conceive new life. Here are ten lifestyle-oriented ways to support fertility. The only potential side effects are reduced stress, improved relationships, and greater joy.
1. Talk it out
It's important to keep the channels of emotional expression open so that blockages in this area of your life do not lead to fertility “blocks”. Talk about how you are feeling with someone you trust—express your fears, your frustrations, your disappointments, your hopes, your desires, and your dreams. Keep connected to your emotions and your needs at this time. Don’t be afraid to ask for support. You don’t have to go through this experience alone.
2. Sleep optimally
Sleep is paramount to fertility. A diminished amount or quality of sleep has been shown to decrease fertility, so it’s important to make sure that you are well rested. Sleeping in a completely dark room gets our circadian rhythms working optimally, setting ourselves up for the regenerative and restorative phases that support our hormones and ovulation. Sleeping in silence and comfort are also key. Lastly, it is important to get enough sleep. Sleep needs vary by individual: some people need only 7-8 hours and others need 9 or 10. Your body will tell you what you need if you really listen.
3. Practice yoga
Practicing yoga can encourage conception by:
• Reducing stress • Increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs • Opening the pelvic and hip region • Aligning the spine • Releasing toxins • Releasing emotional tension • Regulating the endocrine system • Elevating mood • Relieving insomnia
4. Get creative
Practicing what creativity looks like to you—perhaps gardening, cooking, dancing, drawing, painting, writing, singing, crafts, knitting, etc.—is a way to get creative energy flowing. Those same creative forces are what support fertility. Connecting to your creative side actually supports the creative act of conception. It also can relieve stress and anxiety and increase enjoyment.
5. Eat optimally
A Harvard Medical Study found that the following dietary habits support fertility:
- eating a mostly plant-based diet
- consuming high-fat dairy instead of low-fat dairy
- taking a prenatal vitamin
- avoiding trans fats
- choosing healthy monounsaturated fats
- choosing low-glycemic foods
6. Enjoy sexual expression
When fertility comes to the forefront in a relationship, it can cause challenges in a couple’s sexual relationship. A couple may become distanced from the recreational and relational aspects of sexual expression, favoring the procreative aspects. It can be helpful to intentionally rebalance this and allow yourself the ability to enjoy sexual expression, not “just get a job done.” This can relieve pressure and stress and increase calmness and joy, which can actually support your fertility.
7. Be Still. Relax. Take deep breaths.
The link between stress and infertility is well recognized. The trouble is stress and cause infertility and then the stress of coping with fertility challenges can compound the problem by adding more stress. Studies have shown that the diagnosis of infertility can create a “stress response” similar to that experienced by patients with terminal illnesses. Physiologically, stress hormones, such as cortisol, ACTH, norepinephrine and epinephrine, are released into the bloodstream and force the body into “survival mode”. In this state, vital functions are prioritized over reproductive function. A constant surge of stress hormones over time interferes with hormonal balance and ovulation patterns.
Taking time daily to consciously counteract stress can change this physiological pattern. This is a great time to develop a mediation practice, a yoga practice, or just start simple with a few deep calming breaths throughout the day. Try to imagine your breath going all the way down into your lower abdomen as you inhale, and breathe out all the stress of the day on an exhale.
Other steps that can reduce stress are found in #s 8-10.
8. Be kind to yourself
You and your body are doing the best you can.
9. Set boundaries so you don’t overextend yourself
10. Do things that make you happy
Health Foundations offers preconception planning services that can greatly support/increase your fertility. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.