Fertility and Conception Care

I feel passionately about preconception and fertility awareness as it immediately affects not only us but the future generation. As a health professional for over 25 years I have noticed the definite decline in my patients’ overall health, wellbeing and fertility. Our modern capitalistic society pushes us and conditions us in ways that I see undermine and ultimately decrease our happiness, our sense of self, and thus our health and fertility.
The more out of balance with ourselves we are the less fertile we become. The push/conditioning for  women to be slim and model-like seeps into many aspects of how we live. By living on low-fat foods we, over time, deplete our bodies of essential lubrication for our joints, our digestive system, and especially we deplete the healthy medium that our nervous system needs to function well. New research (Nature June 2006) shows that fertility is declining generally. 

It also shows that a combination of stress, a calorie restricted diet, and over-exercise actually magnifies the decline. So especially if you, or your partner (both male and female fertility declines — not just the woman’s), are over 30 and trying to conceive then you need to address your lifestyle as well as your foods. And this is even more the case if you are over 40.
Regular exercise to re-oxygenate, strengthen and reinvigorate the body and mind is important, but over-straining and over-pushing is actually depleting. In a similar way avoiding junk foods like sugar-filled, salt filled, de-nourished, over-processed, and/or deep fried fatty foods is obviously a good idea. Having friendly oils (vitamin E especially, but also Omega 3 and 6 rich foods), and whole foods as unprocessed as possible is important for optimal fertility.
The ideal is to eat a balanced diet full of vegetables and fruit, and regular easy-to-digest proteins.
A favourite protein for enhancing fertility is quinoa (pronounced kee wah), which is an easily absorbed, alkaline  grain that is high in protein and also high in vitamins and minerals. Also for nourishing your tissues to the deepest level, Ayurvedic medicine recommends unhomogenised (this is important as its less allergy causing) organic milk. This is best taken warm with a few spices like cardamom and cinnamon to aid digestion. Try it before bed.
Alcohol, cigarettes, and caffeine, reduce your fertility (again for both partners) so eliminate or at least limit these as much as possible. Stress is a major cause of reduced fertility too, so reassessing your lifestyle becomes a priority. Take some time out to nourish yourself more (see the Health & Wellbeing article, Kindred issue 20, December 06 on stress reduction).

There are many aphrodisiacs on the market these days, as well as products pushed as ‘all you need in one pill for health’ sort of products. My advice is to see a good naturopath and/or Ayurvedic practitioner and work out together what your deficiencies are and where your lifestyle could be more balanced. Then use the inspiration of a healthy baby to inspire you to take the needed steps.

Common deficiencies which play a role in reduced fertility are as follows;

  • Vitamin E
  • Essential Fatty Acids
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Protein

For many couples their fertility enhancement needs to begin by cleansing out old toxins first. A program could therefore begin with cleansing and eliminating junk and then move on to more nourishing herbs.

Some wonderful herbs I have used with great success over the years are:

  • Triphala — this gently cleanses and heals digestion and absorption.

And for nourishment:

  • Shatavari
  • Withania
  • Chaste tree
  • False Unicorn root
  • Red clover
  • Nettle
  • Raspberry leaf

These herbs are wonderful sources of vitamins and minerals and they also re-balance hormone functioning. Often an organic herb is easier to absorb than a synthetic vitamin pill.
Ayurveda/natural health care teaches us that our state during conception and pregnancy will influence both the mind and body of our child. Traditionally a woman was cared for and nourished in mind and in spirit, emotionally and physically. Emphasis was given to her emotional happiness and spiritual contentment as this was considered the greatest influence on the developing baby.

These days we may not be able to live the ideal but we can make conscious choices and take steps, on all levels, to live a more balanced and harmonious life. Educating yourselves and taking steps towards balance before conceiving will obviously benefit you, your partner, and your family. It will also encourage others to live more balanced lives and will therefore ultimately benefit us all. 

Published in Kindred, Issue 22, June 07

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