After the snow a couple of weeks ago, it suddenly feels like Spring is in the air! With lambs being born and rabbits about to start reproducing like crazy it can be very hard for a couple who are trying to get pregnant. New life is all around and yet for some, it’s all just a sad and stark reminder of their failure to conceive.
The definition of infertility is ‘not having children after one year of regular sexual life without using contraception’. Infertility is one of the major health care problems in all societies worldwide and is on the rise. The average prevalence of infertility in developed countries is 3.5-16.7% and in developing countries is 6.9-9.3%. Many couples are now diagnosed with ‘unexplained infertility’ after all the tests have come back normal; this means that doctors cannot put it down to a specific, observable medical cause. I believe that infertility is a multi-factorial problem and therefore should be investigated as such. What does that mean? Dr Marilyn Glenville PhD believes that by looking at a variety of issues, such as nutrition and alcohol intake, smoking habits, environmental toxins and the effect of stress in the body we can ascertain whether key nutrients for conception are deficient.
Something as simple as a zinc test done in clinic can tell us whether a couple are low in zinc. Zinc is the most important mineral for both male and female fertility. It’s essential for preventing miscarriages and for good sperm quality and motility.
Symptoms of zinc deficiency can include:
- White spots on the nails
- A low sperm count
- A poor sense of taste and smell
Zinc is available in the following foods: pumpkin seeds, almonds, oats and venison!
It used to be said that we are what we eat, but actually it’s more correct to say that we are what we absorb. Any couple planning to start a family should be thinking of preparing themselves nutritionally about 6 months before conception. This could mean giving up alcohol, as research shows it decreases sperm count and prevents the absorption of zinc. In fact drinking any alcohol can apparently reduce your fertility by half!
In today’s modern world we are bombarded by xenoestrogens, oestrogen-like chemicals which mimic oestrogen in the body and disrupt your own hormones. These xenoestrogens are caused by pollution from pesticides and the manufacturing of plastics. Swap your cling film for beeswax wrappers and get a BPA, phthalate free water bottle to drink from. I would also caution the use of chemical air fresheners and rather use a diffuser with essential oils or essential oil scented candles. Xenoestrogens can also play havoc with your menstrual cycle or be a contributing factor in the hot flushes you’re experiencing during menopause!
How can you help yourself prepare?
- Get a regular intake of essential fatty acids (also known as healthy fats) as these are essential for hormone balancing and cell structure. Aim for 3 portions of oily fish a week, use a good quality extra virgin olive oil on salads and steamed vegetables, or have a few handfuls of raw nuts and seeds each week.
- Eat plenty of vegetables as the fibre in them helps to get rid of ‘old’ oestrogen. If it’s not removed it gets reabsorbed and can lead to oestrogen dominance. A good level of fibre in the diet also keeps the bowels moving and this is important for the removal of chemicals, pesticides, heavy metals and other toxins; all of which may affect fertility.
- Cut down or preferably remove all refined carbohydrates and sugar from your diet as these lead to inflammation in the body. Replace them with beans, pulses and certain vegetables.
- Consider cutting out caffeine whilst on this journey as research suggests that it may also decrease fertility and delay conception.
- Incorporate stress relieving techniques into your life such as deep breathing and mindfulness or meditation. Yoga stretches and walking in nature can also help reduce those stress hormones, particularly when another month goes by and there is no sign of conception.
- Avoid commercially produced meat which contains artificial hormones and buy grass fed organic meat, limiting your intake of red meat to 3 times per week.
With so many factors affecting fertility it is vital to work alongside a practitioner who can guide you on the journey from a holistic, nutritional point of view. If you would like a free 20 min chat with me on any health issue or for a fully referenced pdf version of this article, please email me at the address below.
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