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Fertility The Natural Way

Fertility problems for men and women have dramatically increased not only in the US but in many countries as well. If you look it up you may be shocked to learn that many scientists are calling this decline a "crises"! Some scientists believe that at the current rate of decline in fertility the human race is headed toward extinction! More and more couples planning to have a baby will have trouble conceiving, many are turning to natural fertility treatments to help them have a family.

Natural fertility treatment plans can be extensive and really should to be adjusted to suit your individual needs. The natural approach to fertility has been enormously successful, largely because natural treatments encompass the many, many elements that can be at the root of your fertility problems. A study conducted by the University of Surrey showed that couples with a previous history of infertility who made changes in their lifestyle and diet and took nutritional supplements had an 80 percent success rate. Given that the success rate for assisted conception (invitro-fertilization) is around 20 percent, it's worth considering these options.

Pre-conception a four month plan

Why a four month plan? Because it takes about four months for immature eggs (oocytes) to mature enough to be released during ovulation. It also takes at least three months for sperm cells to develop, ready to be ejaculated. This means that when you are trying to improve your fertility, you and your partner need to have a four-month period to get ready. This is called 'pre-conception care' and it's very important to take as much care during this period as it is during a pregnancy itself.

Although it goes without saying that a healthy diet is crucial to a successful pregnancy and a healthy baby, many people are unaware of the fact that diet can help to correct hormone imbalances that may affect your ability to conceive.

The most common cause of infertility is 'unexplained', which means that doctors can find no specific or identifiable medical explanation. But if a couple fails to become pregnant, there is obviously something causing the problem. It's no good labeling infertility 'unexplained'. The answer is to look deeper, at lifestyle factors, nutritional deficiencies and even environmental elements.

Xenoestrogens

Xenoestrogens are essentially environmental oestrogens, coming from pesticides and the plastic industry. They are known to cause miscarriages. When you are trying to conceive, one of the most important things you need to do is to balance your hormones. It is extremely important to avoid anything that might cause an imbalance, and one of the main culprits is the xenoestrogens. One of the best ways to eliminate an excess intake of xenoestrogens is to buy organic produce and don't eat or drink anything in plastic plates and cups for the pre-conceptual period.

Alcohol

Alcohol will affect both you and your partner. In fact, drinking any alcohol at all can reduce your fertility by half and the more you drink, the less likely you are to conceive. One study showed that women who drank less than 5 units of alcohol a week (equal to five glasses of wine) were twice as likely to get pregnant within six-months compared with those who drank more.

Research has also shown that drinking alcohol causes a decrease in sperm count, an increase in abnormal sperm and a lower proportion of motile sperm. Alcohol also inhibits the body's absorption of nutrients such as zinc, which is one of the most important minerals for male fertility.

As difficult as it may seem, you should eliminate alcohol from your diets for at least four months in order to give yourself the best possible chance of conceiving.

Caffeine

There is plenty of evidence to show that caffeine, particularly in the form of coffee, decreases fertility in women. Drinking as little as one cup of coffee a day can halve your chances of conceiving. However one study showed that coffee may increase sperm motility in men if drank before making love, so make yours decaf and his espresso.

Smoking

Smoking has definitely been linked with infertility in women. It can even bring on an early menopause, which is a particularly important consideration for older women who may be trying to beat the clock. Smoking can decrease sperm count in men, making the sperm more sluggish, and it can increase the number of abnormal sperm.

Supplements

There is now a great deal of scientific knowledge about the use of nutritional supplements and their beneficial effects on both male and female fertility. These supplements can be very effective in re-balancing your hormones, as well as improving you and your partner's overall health, which are so vital for successful conception.

Supplements are necessary because even the best diet in the world will not contain all the nutrients you need to give you the best chance of conceiving.

Folic Acid

It is now known that folic acid can prevent spina bifida in your baby, and it is essential that you get plenty both before and during pregnancy. And that's not all: folic acid is undoubtedly important, but it is just part of the very important B-complex family of vitamins that are necessary to produce the genetic materials DNA and RNA. Together with vitamin B12, folic acid works to ensure that your baby's genetic codes are intact. Remember: it's not enough to take folic acid alone when you are trying to become pregnant. All of the B vitamins are essential during the pre-conceptual period. Research has shown that giving B6 to women who have trouble conceiving increases fertility and vitamin B12 has been found to improve low sperm counts.

Zinc

Zinc is the most widely studied nutrient in terms of fertility for both men and women. It is an essential component of genetic material and a zinc deficiency can cause chromosome changes in either you or our partner, leading to reduced fertility and an increased risk of miscarriage. Zinc is necessary for your body to 'attract and hold' (utilize efficiently) the reproductive hormones, estrogen and progesterone.

Zinc is found in high concentrations in the sperm. Zinc is needed to make the outer layer and tail of the sperm and is, therefore, essential for the health of sperm and, subsequently, your baby. Interestingly, several studies have also shown that reducing zinc in a man's diet will also reduce his sperm count.

Selenium

Selenium is an antioxidant that helps to protect your body from highly reactive chemical fragments called free radicals. For this reason, selenium can prevent chromosome breakage, which is known to be a cause of birth defects and miscarriages. Good levels of selenium are also essential to maximize sperm formation. Blood selenium levels have been found to be lower in men with low sperm counts.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)

These essential fats have a profound effect on every system of the body, including the reproductive system and they are crucial for healthy hormone functioning. In women EFAs are necessary for higher egg production. For men essential fatty acid supplementation is crucial because the semen is rich in prostaglandins which are produced from these fats. Men with poor sperm quality, abnormal sperm, poor motility or low count, have inadequate levels of these beneficial prostaglandins.

Vitamin A

This vitamin needs to be mentioned because there is a lot of confusion about its use before and after pregnancy. Many health practitioners now advise that no vitamin A is taken during pregnancy. This advice is incorrect, and it can be dangerous to assume that any vitamin or other nutrient should be avoided during the gestational period. Vitamin A has important antioxidant properties, and the consequences of Vitamin A deficiency during pregnancy can be devastating. For one thing, vitamin A is essential for healthy eyes. Animals studies show that vitamin A deficiency during pregnancy has produced new-born animals with no eyes and eye defects.

It is only when the vitamin A is in the form of retinol (in other words, the animal form of vitamin A) that there is a problem. It has been found that retinol can cause birth defects if taken in excess of 10,000iu a day. Beta-carotene, which is one of the vegetable forms of vitamin A, does not carry any risks.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, and studies show that vitamin C enhances sperm quality, protecting sperm and the DNA within it from damage. Some research has indicated that certain types of DNA damage in the sperm can make it difficult to conceive in the first place, or it can cause an increased risk of miscarriage if conception does take place. If DNA is damaged, there may be a chromosomal problem in the baby, should the pregnancy proceed. Whether or not DNA damage does have these effects has not been conclusively proven, but it's worth taking vitamin C and the other antioxidants as a precautionary measure. Vitamin C also appears to keep the sperm from clumping together, making them more motile.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is another powerful antioxidant and has been shown to increase fertility when given to both men and women. Men going for IVF treatment with their partners have been given vitamin E, and fertilization rates have, as a result, increased from 19 to 29 percent. It has been suggested that the antioxidant activity of vitamin E might make the sperm more fertile.

L-Arginine

This is an amino acid found in many foods and the head of the sperm contains an exceptional amount of this nutrient, which is essential for sperm production. Supplementing with L-arginine can help to increase both the sperm count and quality.

Note: People who have herpes attacks (either cold sores or genital herpes) should not supplement with arginine because it stimulates the virus.

L-Carnitine

This amino acid is essential for normal functioning of sperm cells. According to research, it appears that the higher the levels of L-Carnitine in the sperm cells, the better the sperm count and motility.

A well balanced multivitamin/mineral supplement will contain these (read your labels) and other nutrients for optimum health. Women should consider taking prenatal vitamins during this pre-conception period.

Herbs

Herbal treatment is aimed at restoring hormone imbalances, and encouraging ovulation if it is not occurring. It will also give you the best possible chance of maintaining a pregnancy, should you conceive.

Agnus Castus (Vitex or Chaste tree berry) This is the herb of choice for helping to restore hormone imbalance and increasing fertility. In one study 48 women diagnosed with infertility took Chaste tree berry daily for three months, 7 of them became pregnant during that time and 25 of them regained normal progesterone levels.

Agnus castus works to restore hormonal balance and can be used where there are hormone deficits as well as excesses it:

  • Regulates periods
  • Restarts periods which have stopped
  • Helps with heavy bleeding
  • Increases the ratio of progesterone to estrogen by balancing excess estrogen.

 

Nettle leaves have high mineral and chlorophyll content, making it excellent for the hormonal system.

Red Raspberry Leaves are an effective uterine tonic and have great amounts of calcium. It is most effective when combined with Red Clover.

Dong Quai Root is helpful in normalizing menstrual cycles. It is also known as a fertility enhancer. Best results occur during the days between ovulation and menstruation and discontinuing from the beginning of menstrual flow to ovulation.

False Unicorn Root is also a strong uterine tonic. It is known as "the" herb for infertility. Take 5-15 drops of the tincture per day during this pre-conception period to strengthen the uterine muscle.

Caution: You should not take any of the above herbs if you are taking, The Pill, Fertility drugs, HRT or any other hormonal treatment or other medication unless they are recommended by a registered, experienced practitioner.

More tips

Sometimes the answer is as simple as changing the pH or acid environment of the vagina. A woman's vagina has a naturally high acid content. This is to prevent infection which is good but this acid environment can also kill sperm and in cases where the sperm count is low can lessen the chances of fertilization. Douching before intercourse with distilled water lowers the pH level and can increase your chances of becoming pregnant.

Ovarian cysts can prevent a pregnancy in women . And you may not even know you have them. About 40% of women between 20 to 50 years of age have experienced cysts/fibroids/endo symptoms in their lifetime. The sure diagnosis is to check with a doctor, and the only sure cure for cysts/fibroids/endo problem may be a hysterectomy surgery. Medications are also used to relieve symptoms or to shrink these benign tumors, some with side effects not acceptable to many women. However, when no symptoms are present, one could live with cysts/fibroids for life without serious problems, because most likely, these tumors are benign and cause no real danger. Many women have used U O Clear with great success.

It takes two is obvious but what some couples don't understand is that certain events must take place before a woman's body is ready for the sperm to enter the cervical opening. Many women do not secret enough vaginal fluid (mucus) to lubricate. During female orgasm this natural fluid is released and the cervical opening is widened, all making for a safe passage as the sperm makes it way to the egg. Natural lubrication is best and using a topical stimulant can increase the mucus content of the vagina. If this fails to work, using an egg white at room temperature has been successful. Separate the egg, (discarding the yolk) let the egg white warm to room temperature, (sit about an hour) and insert into the vagina, just before intercourse, using a small bulb syringe.

Relaxation

Relaxing after intercourse is very important. Try not to move too much, or get up for awhile. Lay back put your feet up and read or listen to some calming music for 20 or 30 minutes. Give the magic time to work!



In the Book Store

Wise Women Herbal for the Childbearing Years: This is a complete herbal pharmacopoeia for dealing with every problem that might arise before, during and after pregnancy and childbirth.

Vitamin Bible for the 21st Century: America's #1 reference book for all aspects of vitamin and mineral supplements. Includes more information on nutriceuticals, supplements, herbs and homeopathic medicines.


Encyclopedia of Natural Healing: This unique and reliable health reference takes off where other sources end by offering a comprehensive listing of some of today's most common diseases and their simple, natural, inexpensive cures.

Also see our section on pregnancy and prenatal care.

Copyright 2002 Herbal Remdies USA LLC & Deb Jackson

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