Self-Care & Stress Reduction
Trying to conceive can be a physically and emotionally difficult experience. Along with acupuncture there are number of self-care strategies that can help you maximize your chances of success and ease your stress and anxiety during the process.
Good nutrition, exercise and adequate rest will create a greater sense of well-being, balance and vitality. Although it can sometimes feel hard to slow down in a society that is so fast paced, incorporating some of the suggestions below into your daily and weekly routine will be a worthwhile investment with great rewards.
Gathering your attention to rest in the present moment can be deeply supportive while trying to conceive. So much of the fertility journey is future based and when we’re lost in thought or operating unknowingly in auto-pilot, we miss out on living fully into our lives now, which is the only moment we’re actually alive in. The present is also the only place we have the opportunity to experience healing, growth, joy, connection…and love. Click here to read more about mindfulness and for information on classes and resources.
Less is more
Many of us are caught in a cycle of constant busyness, multi-tasking, over extending ourselves, and always pursuing more. The only thing that most of us need more of in our lives is down time! Try reducing your commitments and saying no to extra projects. Schedule a block in your day for an appointment with just yourself on a regular basis.
Be sure to recharge your body, mind, and spirit with adequate rest. If you are having trouble sleeping, spend the last hour or two of the day slowing down and unwind from your day with a book or a bath rather than the heightened stimulation of TV.
It feels good to get your body moving! Along with an endorphin response, exercise also stimulates an increase of blood flow throughout your body. A variety of exercises including cardio, strength training, tai chi and yoga are all beneficial.
Women with either low or high body fat may have difficulty in achieving a successful pregnancy; talk with your health care provider for more details if you feel you are in either one of these categories.
The heartache of struggling to conceive can be overwhelming and it is a very big emotional load to carry all on your own. Reach out to a good friend or family member for support; seek the guidance of a counselor or spiritual advisor; or connect with other people who are going through the same emotional turmoil as you are through an infertility support group (Fertility Matters). You are not alone.
Another effective way to release any anger, sadness or frustration you may be feeling is to write in a journal. Getting all the chatter and whirling of your thoughts out of your mind and onto paper has the amazing therapeutic effect of releasing some of the power of those thoughts; it can help facilitate clarity and healing.
Diet and Nutrition
Eat organic foods and hormone-free meats whenever possible.
Many of the pesticides, chemicals and hormones used to treat produce and animal products contain synthetic estrogen-like substances which can have a negative effect on the organ and endocrine systems of both men and women. Try to eat meals consisting of mostly of fresh, organic produce supplemented with small amounts of hormone-free meat and animal products.
Eat more veggies
Make sure that the bulk of your diet comes from plant sources and, as much as possible, eat organic produce. Aside from being nutrient rich and full of fiber, many fruits and vegetables contain bio-flavonoids which help in the formation of healthy blood vessels throughout the body, including the reproductive organs. Chinese medicine recommends lightly cooking your vegetables rather than eating them raw in order to make them more easily digestible.
The vitamins and minerals important for reproductive health and enhancing fertility are often lacking in the typical highly processed Western diet. Supplementing with vitamins A, C, E, B complex, zinc and selenium are of particular importance. For men, L-arginine and L-carnitine are especially useful for enhancing sperm production.
Good quality oils
Essential fatty acids are essential to every living cell in the body. For reproductive health, they play a key role in ovulation (specifically follicular rupture and collapse) and are found in large concentrations in healthy sperm. The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are also essential for promoting fetal brain and nervous system development. .
Drink at least two liters of filtered water daily. Keeping properly hydrated is important for the functioning of many systems in the body and will also help curb carbohydrate cravings.
Things to Avoid
Alcohol, nicotine and recreational drugs.
All of these have been well documented to have a negative effect on both egg and sperm production and should therefore be avoided during preconception and in pregnancy.
Caffeine robs the body of water and valuable minerals. It stimulates the body to produce cortisol, a stress hormone that can interfere with the proper balance of your reproductive hormones. Unfortunately, the way decaffeinated coffee is processed makes it just as bad as regular coffee. Tea, especially green tea, contains about 20% less caffeine and fewer volatile oils. Green tea has beneficial antioxidants and is a good substitute for “revving up” in the morning if needed.
Most processed and fast foods are highly refined with substantial fat and sugar contents. Many also contain trans-fatty acids which are found in shortening, margarine, lard, animal fat and hydrogenated vegetable oils. Spend a few moments at the grocery store to read ingredient lists before you place an item in your basket. A good rule of thumb to follow is: if you can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t eat it!
Unnecessary medications and over-the-counter preparations
Even non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) like ibuprofen can inhibit ovulation and impair sperm production. Women with scanty cervical mucous should avoid decongestants, antihistamines and excessive supplementation of vitamin C. Vaginal lubricants should also be avoided unless the label says that they are “fertility friendly.”
* A special note for men:
Elevated temperatures in the testes can lower testosterone levels and have a detrimental effect on sperm production. Wear loose-fitting underwear and avoid hot baths, saunas, and hot tubs.)