Fertility for men and woman can be affected by a range of factors – age, lifestyle, and genetics. However, natural fertility enhancement is easily attainable with diet, nutrition, stress management, and specific nutraceutical supplements. Addressing fertility concerns can be daunting, but with a few simple changes many couples are able to conceive healthy babies without additional medical interventions.
Stress management. Stress levels affect both male and female fertility. Chronic stress is a major reason for decline in fertility due to low sperm health and lack of uterine embryo implantation enabling a fertilized egg to continue into a pregnancy. While it seems simple to say ‘lower stress levels,’ it can be quite difficult to achieve. To reduce stress, try gentle, stress-reducing exercise such as light hiking and yoga, get eight hours of sleep nightly, and consider time off work or a vacation. Many couples conceive during a vacation because of their lowered stress levels. It is even more helpful to plan a vacation during ovulation.
Nutrition. Optimize nutrition to enhance fertility and to conceive a healthier baby. Sperm levels and quality have dropped dramatically in the past few decades due partially to a change in men’s daily nutrition. Women have hormonal irregularities that affect fertility, part of which can be tracked back to poor food quality and foods with excess hormone disrupting pesticides. Eliminate all fast foods, trans fatty acids; eat a Whole 30 or plant-based diet with organic, grass-fed animal proteins; cook fresh food; eliminate sugar; limit caffeine to 1 cup per day; limit alcohol to 3 drinks per week; drink water; and eat plenty of healthy fats such as avocado, olives, wild salmon, and coconut oil. Sperm takes 3 months to make, so within 3 months of optimizing nutrition, healthier sperm is made.
Exercise. The benefits of exercise cannot be emphasized enough in regards to enhancing fertility. Exercise enhances detox of harmful chemicals through sweat, improves blood flow to the pelvic region, regulates cortisol levels produced by chronic stress that cause inflammation and hormonal imbalances, and improves overall energy. However, excess exercise can negatively affect fertility. There is a balance between exercising moderately for 30 minutes or gently for 60 minutes 5x per week versus more extreme exercise such as vigorous weight lifting or marathon training.
Nutritional supplementation. Basic nutritional supplementation such as omega-3 fatty acids, a multivitamin-mineral, and vitamin D can rectify any nutritional deficiencies that lower fertility. It is essential for men to take vitamin D, selenium, zinc, methyl folate, and omega-3 fatty acids. It is essential for women to take omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, methyl folate, and a high quality multivitamin-mineral supplement. Herbal enhancements can improve fertility in women with enhanced pelvic circulation and hormone balance; however, treatments should be personalized.
There are many other factors that can limit fertility and lab tests to establish thyroid health, hormone levels, anemia, and nutritional deficiencies can determine simple causes. I encourage couples to explore options that cause infertility prior to pharmaceutical intervention but with a caution that over a certain age, these options can only be explored for a few months before pharmaceutical intervention should be considered.
Dr. Shannon Sinsheimer is state licensed naturopathic doctor with a focus on fertility, family wellness, and pre-conception health. She can be reached at Optimal Health Center (760) 568.2598.