Caffeine: What’s bad for the goose may be good for the gander
Women trying to conceive should stay away from or limit caffeine intake. Scientists have found that women who consumed large amounts of caffeine (more than 2 cups of coffee a day) have more trouble getting pregnant than women who don’t drink caffeine. The same may not be true for men though. In men, caffeine may actually give sperm a boost. Brazilian researchers found that sperm motility was higher in men who drank coffee regularly than men who didn’t. However, other studies have shown caffeine to be harmful to male fertility, similar to the effect it has on women.
Yoga, meditation, and relaxation therapy
The most common advice couple’s hear when trying to conceive is to “just relax.” Could it be that simple? The truth is we don’t know how much stress impacts fertility, but new research indicates that relaxation therapy and stress reduction may be beneficial when trying to get pregnant. A recent study published in the June 2011 publication of Fertility and Sterility, showed that women who participated in a mind/body therapy program while undergoing IVF faired significantly better than women who did not. Fifty-two percent of the women in the mind/body program conceived, compared to only twenty percent of the women who did not participate in the program.
A woman’s cervix produces fluid known as cervical mucus. This fluid is similar to any other mucus in your body. When you are not adequately hydrated what happens? Your mouth gets dry, your skin is less elastic and healthy, and your mucus becomes dry. Naturally, drinking plenty of water will improve the quality and quantity of cervical mucus you produce. Fertile cervical mucus, the kind that is slippery, stretchy, and lubricative, is necessary for conception to take place.
Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose oil (EPO) is a natural supplement derived from a North American wildflower. It is high in vitamin E and essential fatty acids. Some women use EPO to help ripen the cervix in preparation for labor. It can also be use to help soften the cervix when trying to conceive. EPO is converted by your body into a hormone-like substance similar to prostaglandins. Prostaglandins, also found in sperm, help to soften the cervix. This will make the opening of your cervix wider and easier for sperm to pass through. EPO also helps by improving your cervical mucus. EPO, when used as a fertility aid, should be taken from menstruation through ovulation (around 1500mg to 3000mg per day) and stopped once ovulation occurs. It is not recommended during early pregnancy.
Lemons are great for your fertility for a couple of reasons. First of all, lemons are loaded in Vitamin C and antioxidants. The antioxidants in lemons help to flush out your system and improve your overall health. Lemons are also an alkalinizing food, which may sound counter-intuitive because of their sour taste. The acid content in lemon is weak though. The properties found in lemons, once they are digested, actually make your body more alkaline. Your vaginal environment is naturally acidic and hostile to sperm. Your cervical mucus helps to protect sperm from this acidic environment, but lemons can help even more by making your vagina more alkaline. If you want to try adding lemon water to your diet, squeeze half of a lemon into a hot cup of water. Drink this in the morning about 15 -20 minutes before you eat anything. Then sip on hot lemon water throughout the day.
Ditch the lubricants
Researchers have studied the effects of lubrication on sperm motility and what they have found is that almost all lubricants hinder sperms movement through the vagina, in effect making them spermicidal, even natural lubricants like saliva and olive oil. It is best to ditch lubricants all together when trying to conceive. If you are feeling dry during intercourse, there are some things you can do to naturally improve your body’s lubrication. Make sure that you are drinking plenty of fluids and not taking medications like decongestants or antihistamines that can dry you out. Take plenty of time when love-making, focus on having a pleasurable experience, to allow your body time to produce its own natural arousal fluids.
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) technique that involves placing very thin needles into specific acupuncture points to alleviate stress and treat specific mental and physical conditions. According to TCM, the body has channels of energy (meridians) flowing through the body. If one of these channels becomes blocked or imbalanced it can cause a negative effect on your mental or physical health. By placing needles along specific acupressure points, an acupuncturist can stimulate the nervous system and improve the flow of energy through that meridian. Scientists do not fully understand how acupuncture works, but studies on acupuncture and fertility have shown that acupuncture can improve fertility in women with certain fertility issues. For example, it will not help with blocked fallopian tubes, but it may help reduce stress, improve blood flow to the uterus and ovaries, which in turn may strengthen or stimulate ovulation and help with implantation.
Red raspberry leaf
Red raspberry leaf has been used to help strengthen and build up the lining of the uterus, which may help with implantation. It may lengthen the luteal phase and improve blood circulation in the reproductive organs. Typically, it is brewed in a tea and used throughout the menstrual cycle. Women sometimes drink red raspberry leaf tea at the end of pregnancy to help tone their uterus in preparation for labor. Once you test positive for pregnancy, you should stop drinking this tea as it is usually only recommended during the third trimester of pregnancy because of its uterine toning effects.
Isoflavones are a type of phytoestrogen (an estrogen-like compound found in plants). Because isoflavones have properties similar to estrogen, some people believe they can be used to induce ovulation. Soy isoflavones bind to estrogen receptors in a similar way as the fertility drug Clomid, although much more weakly. Clomid works by binding to estrogen receptors in your brain, essentially blocking your own estrogen from binding with the receptors. When this happens, your body thinks it needs more estrogen and responds by producing more of a hormone called FSH (follicle stimulating hormone). This hormone is what stimulates your follicles to grow and mature eggs for ovulation. Soy isoflavones, if taken during the start of your menstrual cycle, may kick start ovulation. Like Clomid, they should be taken during specific days of your cycle and not through your entire cycle.
Green tea is a caffeinated tea, but unlike other caffeinated drinks, green tea may help you to conceive faster. Green tea is a rich source of a number of different types of antixodiants. These antioxidents may give your immune system a boost and help your body to ward off cancer, heart disease, and other diseases. Scientists aren’t sure why green tea helps with conceiving, but the protective properties in green tea may be why. There have only been a few small studies on the effects of green tea and fertility, but the research is promising. One study conducted by Kaiser Permanent Medical Care Program found that women who drank green tea regularly doubled their chances of conceiving. Green tea, however, may interfere with folic acid absorption which is necessary for healthy cell division during pregnancy. Additionally, green tea contains caffeine which has been linked to miscarriage and a decrease in fertility when consumed in large amounts.
Chasteberry is an herb that was used by ancient Greeks to reduce sexual desire; thus, the name "chaste” berry. Today women use chasteberry, also called Vitex, to help regulate the menstrual cycle, reduce PMS symptoms, and relieve menopausal symptoms. Scientists believe chasteberry affects the pituitary gland and hypothalamus, which are responsible for regulating the hormones involved in reproduction. When taken regularly, chasteberry can reduce your body’s prolactin levels. When prolactin levels are too high, menstruation can become irregular, making it difficult to get pregnant. Chasteberry has also been used to treat luteal phase defect. It may strengthen ovulation by causing an increase in LH production and improving the function of the corpus luteum. Because of the way this herb affects your hormone levels, it may not be a good choice for all women. Some women, who previously had regular cycles, have reported that chasteberry caused their cycles to become irregular.
Adding a simple walking routine to your life may improve your fertility and your overall health. Walking is an easy low-impact exercise and is safe while trying to conceive and during pregnancy. Walking for twenty to thirty minutes a day will help you to reduce stress, maintain a healthy weight, and improve blood flow in your uterus and ovaries. Regular exercise helps your reproductive system to function better. When it comes to exercise though, more exercise doesn’t equal more fertility. Researchers have found that when women exercise too much or too strenuously, this can have a negative effect on fertility.