How to Optimise & Support your Fertility
Preparing your body for a baby is key to giving yourself the best chance at conceiving. But you do need to prepare and have your nutrition levels at their best, especially Folic Acid which needs to be stored up for a good 2 to 3 months before conception.
Your diet should include a good variety of nutrients, a key to doing this is to have rainbow dinners and lunches. This is basically ensuring you have coloured veg from each group, orange peppers, green kale, red tomatoes. Coloured veg are packed with Vitamin C, Folic Acid, Zinc, Iron, Magnesium, Vitamin E etc. However, soil is now over farmed, depleted, or high in GMO/ pesticides. All of these factors result in lower levels of vitamins and minerals by the time it reaches your plate. To ensure you are getting all the nutrients needed for a fertile body, you need to take a good Multivitamin. I would highly recommend adding a raw juice or smoothie to your day if you can afford it, either from a local shop or from your Nutri-bullet at home.
Here is my list of nutrients and herbs to include and avoid for both partners.
What to Avoid
Alcohol will affect both you and your partner, it actually can reduce your fertility by half.
So that right there should be enough to cut it out while trying to conceive and at least 1 month before hand so your body is optimised.
Try decaf, as caffeine has been shown to decrease fertility, mainly in men, as recent studies showed the sperm count was reduced, as well as the sperms mobility. Just remember caffeine is also found in cola, chocolate, and teas, including green tea!
Hugely effects both male and female fertility, it is a habit that needs to go long before baby comes anyhow, so do try and start kicking the habit now.
These are are oestrogens found in plastics (cling film, lunch boxes) and pesticides. Women need to have balanced hormones in order to conceive, so these added oestrogens really are affecting women badly.
What to include
Probably the most important nutrient to include in your diet. It builds the baby’s spine, and essentially creates your baby’s DNA, and RNA, along with the other B vitamin tribe.
*Just remember never take folic acid alone, you need to ensure you are getting the other B vitamin group too. So take folic acid (400mcg) but ensure you take a multivitamin which includes all the B vitamins.
This element is essential for men in the formation of the sperm. It is also essential for women as it fights off free radicals within the body, free radicals for example that can damage chromosomal formation.
This mineral allows your body to hold onto reproductive hormones oestrogen and progesterone. It works on your chromosomal structures and genetic material. Men are hugely affected by Zinc deficiencies in terms of fertility, as it greatly affects their sperm count and sperm formation.
An antioxidant, containing tocopherols. Recent studies showed women receiving Vitamin E had a reduction is age related ovarian decline. Just like Selenium, when given to men it combats free radicals which can decrease sperm count.
Vitamins B6 & B12
B6 – a supplement already given to women to regulate their periods, as it balances the hormone levels. It also plays an important role in chromosomal formation, an essential part of conception in itself.
B12- a nutrient that has been shown to improve low sperm count in men.
A study as far back as 1970 showed that when women receiving fertility treatment were given vitamin C, it triggered ovulation. It has been shown that supplementing 1000mg increases both sperm quality and quantity.
Found in every human cell, so without this new cells would not be produced. Taken with Vitamin C has been shown to help women’s fertility.
All the above nutrients, vitamins and minerals should be taken in a Multivitamin. This ensures you don’t create an imbalance in other vitamins and is much more efficient! Just ensure it contains 400mcg of folic acid, if it does not, do get a folic acid supplement as below.
My favorite Multivitamins for Prenatal & Pregnancy
Biocare: AnteNatal Forte available here.
Wild Nutrition: Folic Acid available here.
Just to note, if you are taking fertility drugs, do not take any herbs, and if you are already pregnant read about my list of herbs to avoid in pregnancy here.
An ancient tonic used by females to help regulate their hormones.
Helps to balance the hormones by normalising the function of the pituitary gland, which in turn can stimulate ovulation. It has been effective for women who have problems with the luteal phase of the cycle (a shortened second half) with high levels of prolactin.
Used by men to increase sex drive, circulation and blood flow.
Other Factors to consider
Stress does not have to be an enormous event but can be a small unresolved stress that is always there in the background, such as being worried about money, or being anxious in general and not acknowledging it.Stress depletes the immune system, causing the body to store fat ( as it thinks you are going into a fight or flight mode). It also can lead to oxidative stress within the cells, affecting levels of zinc, and of course your B vitamins. Stress also can lead to Adrenal fatigue, and if left untreated develops into thyroid issues. Your thyroid regulates your hormones, something you need balanced in order to complete ovulation and fertilisation.
So ask yourself, why am I stressed, write it down. Now ask yourself “Am I changing the outcome of my stress, by being stressed about how it will resolve itself? Sometimes by realising that “what will be, will be” really does mean that being stressed about its outcome really was pointless.
Here is a meditative visualisation I was taught as a child by an amazing primary school teacher, called Cathal. I used to be such a worried child, worried if my mum was very late she was in a car crash, worried about my mum’s worries, worried about being late all the time etc. So Cathal taught me this:
Close your eyes, visualise yourself in a safe place, like a forest. Pick a tree with strong branches. On the tree is a bag, in your hand is a blank piece of paper. While looking at the piece of paper your worry is imprinted on it, now place it in the bag. Keep doing this until all your worries are in the bag. Close the bag and walk away, safe in the knowledge that the tree is carrying your worries now, not you.
I hope this helps your journey of fertility, and I know it can be a very emotional, frustrating time for some. Just remember, you got this.