Obviously, an important component of producing a healthy baby is the ability to conceive. The incidence of infertility is increasing in both men and women. Current research is strongly backing acupuncture to regulate menstrual cycles, promote nourishment and circulation of blood particularly to the womb, reduce stress and address other health concerns, improving overall fertility. The British Medical Journal reported that acupuncture with IVF increases the chance of pregnancy by 65 percent. Today, many IVF clinics refer their patients for acupuncture. At HealthWise, we work closely with several fertility clinics.
Herbal medicine has also had a long history with improving fertility. The herb vitex agnus castus (chaste tree) in the well-researched Premular tablets corrects hormonal imbalances and regulates the menstrual cycle. Other common fertility herbs include withania (calms and nourishes the nervous system), ginger (a warming circulatory stimulant) and dong quai (a blood tonic). Through acupuncture and herbal medicine we aim to treat each person individually and holistically to assist in producing a healthy baby.
Environmental stressors, such as radiation from using notebook computers on the lap and regular airflights are cause for concern in reduced male fertility.
Tight underpants increase testicular temperature so changing from briefs to boxer shorts can significantly increase sperm count and motility, and thus fertility.
Smoking decreases sperm count and quality, as does exposure to environmental chemicals, pollutants and stimulants such as coffee.
The quality of sperm is affected by the frequency of ejaculation. Sperm motility increases and the incidence of sperm abnormalities tend to decrease with an increased frequency of ejaculation. Excessive ejaculation however, can cause a zinc deficiency. Zinc is very important in reproductive function.
Foods that are rich in zinc include eggs, walnuts and seeds (especially pumpkin seeds).
- For optimum fertility a woman should have a body fat level of approximately 22%. When the body fat is significantly below 22% fertility declines and many women will experience irregular or even a total lack of menstruation.
- Zinc is also essential for female fertility and is often deficient in Australian women.
- Avoid or limit exposure to organic solvents, household cleansers and medical substances such as nitrous oxide and chemotherapeutics which may increase the incidence of reproductive disorders.
Smoking has been linked to infertility, early menopause, irregular periods and abnormal vaginal bleeding. Smoking mothers have a higher incidence of spontaneous miscarriages, pre term births, low birth weight babies and SIDS.
Reducing caffeine consumption improves fertility rates. Studies show that women who drank between two to three cups of coffee daily had only one quarter the chance of becoming pregnant compared to those who consumed one cup per week.
- Vitamin supplementation prior to conception reduces the risk of spina bifida and neural tube defects. A lack of B group vitamin folic acid is most commonly discussed, although it is just one of a group of vitamins that are associated with this risk.
Emotional health is just as important as physical health when it comes to fertility. Stress reduces efficiency in all of the body processes, including the ability to reproduce. This is really a genetic protective mechanism, if the body is under acute stress it is probably not a good time to conceive and raise a healthy baby. Unfortunately, stress is often a chronic condition. Remove sources of stress where possible, and use yoga, meditation, massage, acupuncture, exercise or counselling to unwind. Without this ‘time out’, the ‘busyness’ involved in having a successful career, renovating a house, balancing finances, looking after children and numerous other demands drain the energy and vitality needed to conceive. Other strong emotions such as fear, worry and frustration may also place a similar burden on your body. Slowing down the pace of life and nurturing your body, may just be the fertility boost you need.
It is important for both the mother and father to prepare for an upcoming pregnancy by improving their nutritional status, reducing their exposure to radiation, chemicals, caffeine and smoking, and managing stress. It would be wise to consider a preconception assessment to optimise the health of both parents. Ensuring the vitality of the ovum and the sperm will give the baby the best possible genetic start to its life.
- IVF & Natural medicine; Why does recurrent implantation failure occur?
- IVF & Natural medicine; Improving the success rates of IVF
- IVF & TCM; Diagnosing your Infertility
- A Natural Approach to Preconception and Assisted Fertility
- Boosting your Fertility
- Acupuncture in the treatment of pain
- Breastfeeding support at HealthWise
- Learn acupressure for pain relief in labour
- Longevity and the Art of Ageing Well
- Simple solutions to Sinusitis
- Balancing the Doshas
- Top 3 Health Essentials
- Pantry Basics
- The health benefits of nuts
- Herbal medicine for Children
- Detoxification - what does it mean?
- Healing your Headaches
- The 5 Elements Theory
- The Restorative benefits of Nature & the theory of soft focus
- How to have healthy, radiant skin
- When to use Echinacea?
- David's India visit
- David's India trip Part 2: A visit to the barefoot acupuncturists of Mumbai
- David explores yoga and naturopathy in India
- What makes our practitioners tick?
- Zam's yoga retreat in India: A journey of yoga