Fertility Promoting Lifestyle, Habits and Supplements
Remember that the eggs and sperm you have now are based on lifestyle and environmental factors from 3 months ago. It is a good idea to work on detoxification through diet and lifestyle changes for 3 months prior to aiming for conception through natural or artificial reproductive measures.
Diet: In general following the Mediterranean diet that is abundant in vegetables and fruits and fishes and cold pressed oils, has been shown to promote fertility and egg and sperm quality in both men and women. Many people have undiagnosed sensitivities to wheat that may impair the immune system and effect fertility so avoiding wheat products may be an important step to take as well. Aim for as many organic and ocean fresh rather than farmed seafood and free range/grass fed poultry and dairy and meat sources. Full fat dairy (organic preferably) has also been shown to enhance fertility.
Drink: Aim for 1/3 to ½ of you weight in ounces of filtered water a day. Limit or discontinue coffee and other high caffeine and or sugar beverage consumption. Aim to drink most beverages at room temperature or warmer, especially in the cooler months. It is best to drink the bulk of your water 15 minutes before meals or 45 minutes to an hour after meals.
Exercise: Exercise is a key to balanced health and vitality, however too much can impair fertility. Aim to exercise 3 to 5 times a week with a goal of maintain a heart rate of between 120 and 140. Exercising in nature is powerful medicine beyond the benefits of exercise. Also consider gardening and yoga as rejuvenating forms of exercise.
Reduce Exposure to Environmental Toxins: If you or your partner work in an environment that may expose you to toxins (construction, chemical labs , lawncare, farming, computers…etc.) be sure that all protective measures are taken to limit exposure at work and be sure to remove and isolate work soiled clothes and shower immediately. A shoe free household can help limit household exposure to environmental toxins.
Drink filtered water, avoid pesticide treated lawns and eat organic as much as possible and at least avoid the dirty dozen, heat and store food in glass or nonreactive metal, do not drink or heat food in plastic containers or covered with plastic wrap, follow safe seafood consumption guidelines and use green cosmetics and cleaning products. The Environmental Working Group is a great resource to help you become a safety savvy food and product consumers.
Do not wear cell phones close to reproductive organs. Do not use a laptop directly on the lap. This is especially important for men.
Menstrual products should be organic and unbleached. Menstrual cups are a good affordable option.
Stress management: Too much stress shuts down reproductive pathways in men and women. Regular acupuncture, adequate/appropriate food and water intake, regular moderate exercise helps reduce stress. Aim for at least 15 minutes of joyful activity every day. Be in harmony with your partner. Seek out counseling if you need to. Meditation, mindful based practices and time in nature are stress relieving. Saying no to excessive commitments and saying yes to yourself and family are essential to allow a family to grow.
Medications: Some medications including calcium channel blockers, sulfasalzine or mercatopurine, Cimetidine, Cyclosporin, Spironolactone, Keoconazale, steroids or antidepressents may affect fertility and vitality of pregnancy and offspring. Talk with your provider about alternatives if you are on any of the above medications.
Substance use and abuse: Cigarettes, excessive alcohol consumption and recreational drug use are not compatible with maximizing fertility. If either partner has a substance use/abuse issue, it should be treated and discontinued to optimize fertility and maximize parenting potential.
Male behaviors and habits: Sperm are very sensitive to overheating. It is essential to avoid hot tubs and tight briefs to allow for proper temperature regulation of the testicles. Cyclists should invest in a special seat to limit restriction and pressure on the genitalia and if sperm count is an issue may want to discontinue cycling while trying to conceive.
Sexual Habits: Timing of sexual intercourse and ejaculation is important to maximize the likelihood of pregnancy. Tracking cycles with a Basal Body Temperature chart, and ovulation predictor kit(OPK) and observing cervical mucus can be a powerful tool in identifying fertile times as well as helping highlight possible areas of imbalance in the cycle.
At the very least sex should occur three to four days before ovulation and definitely on the day of the LH surge (which can be identified through an OPK).
Another way to consider optimal times of sexual activity ending in male and ideally female orgasm, is to pay attention to cervical discharge. A few days after the menstrual flow has stopped completely cervical mucus should begin to appear. Once the mucus appears have intercourse ending in orgasm every other day. Keep each other revved sexually on the off days through foreplay and romance that does not end in male ejaculation. Look for the egg white slippery cervical discharge and be sure to have sex that day.
If there is no noticeable cervical mucus: Through acupuncture, diet, herbs/supplements, cervical mucus can be improved. It is the medium that makes it possible for the sperm to meet the egg. A lack of healthy cervical mucus can be the barrier to conception. If you do not seem to have noticeable cervical mucus, it is important to use a lubricant called Pre-seed during 4 days before ovulation.
Once male ejaculation has taken place, it is important for a woman to rest for half an hour or more on her back, possibly with her legs up the wall to promote better blood flow to the pelvis and allow the sperm to travel into the uterus to prepare to meet and penetrate the egg. This resting time is a great time to visualize and caress and whisper sweet nothings to each other.
Supplements: Supplementation helps ensure that there are ample building blocks present to promote healthy sperm, egg and fetal development.
Basic supplementation includes a well balanced, bioavailable prenatal/multivitamin and fish oils. Thorne, La Sante and Standard Process daily pack are some of the quality multivitamins available.
I recommend roughly 2,000 mg of a cold pressed screened for toxins fish oil a day, for men and women.
Zinc is also essential for reproductive health and can be supplemented with and handful of raw pumpkin seeds a day.
A yummy health shake to incorporate pumpkin seeds includes a handful of soaked (overnight) pumpkin seeds or almonds, a few dates, half a banana and water blended cinnamon and vanilla can be added to taste.
Co Q 10: Helps improve energy production at a cellular level. It has been shown to increase vitality of egg and sperm. It is especially helpful in increasing sperm motility. (60-400mg per day is recommended. I usually recommend 200mg two times a day.)
Additional herbs and supplements may be indicated based on specific challenges a couple may be facing.
For a printable copy of this information click this link: Fertility Promoting Lifestyle