Before I start I just want to point out the obvious – I am no doctor or fertility expert these are just based on our current experiences, my own personal research, reading and listening to podcasts and what we have been trying to help us fall pregnant with baby number 2 naturally.
For us we have been focusing on decreasing our stress, my anxiety and improving our gut health to help our liver function to increase our fertility.
Stress is one of the most overlooked things when it comes to our health in modern society. When we are stressed our cortisol levels rise and can reduce our ability to learn and decrease our memory, lower immunity, lead to poor gut health , lower bone density, cause weight gain, increase your blood pressure and cholesterol, increase your risk of heart disease and affect our fertility and ability to reproduce.
From what I have gathered through reading and research basically when we are stressed our cortisol levels rise and our body goes in to a “flight or fight” mode for survival so our body protects itself by deciding that it is safest and best to not allow pregnancy. Pretty much while you’re stressed your body is protecting itself and your future children from being created while you’re in this survival state.
Your body does this by affecting the hypothalamus which is a gland in the brain that controls your appetite (why a lot of stressed people loose weight and their appetite), emotions (why stressed people are usually emotionally unbalanced) and the hormones that tell your ovaries to release eggs/ make you ovulate during your cycle (is it all making sense now?).
So, if you’re stressed your body can change when you’re ovulating – it may happen later (so you have longer cycles) or not at all and you start missing your period all together which is not good for someone trying to fall pregnant.
Anyway I hope that helps you to understand a little why stress and lowering it can be so important during your fertility journey.
5 WAYS TO NATURALLY INCREASE YOUR FERTILITY AND ABILITY TO FALL PREGNANT:
After chatting to my acupuncturist I am of the understanding that acupuncture helps to increase blood flow to the reproductive organs making your eggs more viable , reduces stress which lowers your cortisol levels and it also balances endocrine system.
There’s so many studies to support that it does actually help with fertility and a lot of IVF clinics also work with acupuncturist to help get success.
I have been absolutely loving the treatments and have found them absolutely amazing for my anxiety and stress – I am able to switch off and relax for the time I am there and leave with a clearer, less foggy mind and slower heart beat.
I would suggest looking for a clinic in your area that specialises in acupuncture for fertility.
2. ESSENTIAL OILS:
They are absolutely everywhere you look these days and are becoming more and more popular all the time as we seek new and alternate ways to manage our stress and illness. I have been using oils to reduce my stress, help me sleep and boost fertility.
My gorgeous friend Dani ( @daniloxton ) has blended a specific fertility boosting oil and I asked her how it works:
“Fertility support is blended with 4 different therapeutic grade essential oils all handpicked to support your mind, body and spirit to positively affect your fertility through balancing hormones, reducing inflammation, improving endocrine function and reducing stress ( which I am sure you have or will delve right into how important managing stress is on our fertility?!) the blend contains:
Clary sage – aids by influencing your oestrogen levels, helping regulate your hormones naturally. Clary sage is known as the oil of clarity and vision. It opens the soul to new possibilities and experiences.
Geranium is another fantastic oil for balancing hormones and regulating your cycle. its also has incredible soothing effect of calming emotions. Emotionally – at its root, Geranium heals the heart, instils unconditional love, and fosters trust.
Sweet fennel is again another oil that is effective for helping to regulate the menstrual cycle and reduce hormone fluctuations.
Bergamot is a fantastic oil with both calming and uplifting abilities, it can dissipate anxious feelings. According to ’emotions and essential oils’; Bergamot relives feelings of despair, self-judgement and low self-esteem. Bergamots powerful cleansing properties generate movement in the energy system, which in turn brings hope.”
Some of my other favourite blends to help me relax, reduce stress, keep me positive throughout this journey and calm my tummy are:
Calm by @thecalmcompound – to aid in stress and anxiety relief.
Tummy by @thecalmcompound – a specific blend to aid your digestive system.
PastTense by @courtneydow – this is my secret weapon on my desk to keep those tension/stress headaches at bay. This is my favourite alternative to taking Panadol.
3. GUT HEALTH
Looking after the gut is super important for myself when trying to reduce stress and also boost your fertility or chances of falling pregnant. When your gut is unhappy your body and mind is too. By improving your gut health you will improve you liver function which helps with fertility.
A few things I do to look after my gut:
– Take a quality probitotic daily. The brand I use – PONO Probiotic (use code “BRITTANY10” for discount.
– Drink kombucha daily – you can buy this everywhere now even in the supermarket but just make sure you buy it from the cold fridge section and check that it isn’t high in sugar.
– Add in some fermented foods such as sauerkraut to my diet – I buy mine at our local organic supermarket.
– Drink bone broth (1 cup per day) and add it to meals such as stir-fry or pasta sauces. My favourite brand is the “Nutra Organics” brand and the even do a veggie broth for all the vegan/vegetarians.
– For my body type and gut I try to eat nourishing warm foods (when you cook your veggies they are a lot easier to digest) that include lots of sautéed greens, steamed veg and baked veggies with lots of olive oil and lemon juice.
– I have a small shot of AVC (apple cider vinegar) before each meal to aid with digestion.
– Cut out processed sugars, dairy and gluten all of which can cause stress to the gut and because I am also allergic to dairy and intolerant to gluten.
4. CUT DOWN ON THE STRESSFUL OR OVER EXERCISING
I know can you believe I am telling you to cut down on your exercise? Well I am definitely not saying to stop exercising all together but to be more mindful of the type and intensity of training and how much exercise you are doing especially during your fertile window.
High intensity exercise and heavy weight training can cause extra stress to your body and as I mentioned earlier your body doesn’t know the difference between a real danger or the stress you have placed on it purposely. Instead of smashing your body day in day out opt for a couple of days of weight training/classes, some Pilates, yoga, walking, bike riding and more gentle styles of training to treat your body with respect and prepare it for pregnancy.
On the other hand if you don’t exercise at all and are struggling to fall pregnant you should start exercising to get your body healthy and help to boost your fertility. It’s all about balance and finding the happy medium.
Everybody’s body responds differently to different stressors and every body has different levels of stress in their day to day life which can be compounded by extra stress through exercise or poor eating choices so it’sabout finding out what suits your body type and your life.
5. TRACK YOUR CYCLE
Before we started trying for a baby I really had no idea what my cycle looked like. So it was suggested to me by my doctor to start to track my cycle when we started trying for a baby. I have used two different apps as I wanted to compare what they said.
After a few months I worked out that my cycle is long and can be irregular ranging from 32-42 days long! This can make knowing when your fertile window is hard as most the apps predict it to be about 2 weeks from the start of your last period.
After speaking to a few people, doctors and my acupuncturist I was informed that a better way of tracking it is actually to find an average cycle length and then find the fertile window by backtracking 14 days from when your period starts. So for my average 36 day cycle it would be around day 22-26 of my cycle. Of course having an irregular cycle makes it hard so we just make sure we try most days or every second day anyway!
The apps I use:
Ovia Fertility and Period Tracker (my preferred one)
FLO Period Tracker
But there are so many available on the apps store so find one that works for you.
I hope this blog has been useful or insightful to you. Like I said at the start I am definitely no expert on this subject just wanted to share my own thoughts and what we have been trying to help me to reduce the stress on my body to help us fall pregnant.
Let me know any other ways you have been helping your fertility and stress.
Sending baby dust your way.
Mar 21, 2018