For some couples, getting pregnant is as easy as deciding what to have for dinner. But others need a little boost. While you should consult with your doctor if you’re having fertility concerns, these are five natural fertility boosters you can try while you’re trying to conceive.
1. Tend To Your Teeth:Women with periodontal disease (characterized by inflamed gums that bleed easily) took two months longer to get pregnant than women without it, according to a recent study from the University of Western Australia. The good news? It’s a problem that’s easy to prevent and treat, says green dentist and KIWI contributing editor Fred Pockrass, D.D.S. Brush, floss, and rinse with a natural antibacterial mouthwash daily. See your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings and more frequently if you have signs of periodontal disease and are trying to get pregnant, he says.
2. Strike A Pose: It’s no secret that practicing yoga can help reduce overall stress, and that can be good for fertility. But did you know that certain yoga poses may help boost fertility another way? “Yoga can calm and release tension in the pelvic region, which brings increased blood flow to reproductive organs,” says Jasmine Kaloudis, a certified yoga instructor in Philadelphia. This can play a part in balancing hormonal levels, beneficial for fertility. Kaloudis recommends doing a few poses for 15 minutes every day:
Legs up a wall: Lie on the floor with your arms beside you, legs stretched up on a wall, butt pressed against the wall. Hold for at least 5 minutes. To end, roll onto your side, curl into the fetal position, and sit up slowly.
Reclining goddess pose: Using pillows or blankets make a nest on the floor so that when you lie down on your back you create a gentle sloping ramp-your head should be highest, then your heart, with your pelvis on the ground. Lift both knees up, bringing your feet toward your pelvis. let your knees fall open, and press the bottoms of your feet together. Breathe deeply.
Butterfly pose: Sit comfortably, and draw your heels together in front of you pubic bone, allowing your knees to open outward. Hold your feet with your hands over your toes. Stay here for a few breaths. Then inhale, look up, and draw your shoulders back and chest up. Exhale , drop your chin towards your chest, lower your head toward your feet, and arch your upper spine. Take several more breaths.
3. Add Acupuncture:This ancient Chinese practice is based on the idea that bodily functions are regulated by the flow of vital energy ( called chi), functions that can become imbalanced by everyday life. “In fertility treatment, it’s thought that inserting needles at specific points on the body may increase blood flow to the uterus, relax the cervix, and inhabit stress hormones that can make it more difficult for an embryo to implant,” says Eric Manheimer of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Manheimer led a study that found that pregnancy rates among women undergoing IVF were boosted by 65 percent when combined with acupuncture. And the benefits of acupuncture don’t just extend to those undergoing medical treatments for infertility. “I have seen firsthand how other women can become pregnant with the assistance of acupuncture,” says Elizabeth Trattner, a doctor of Chinese medicine and an integrative health care practitioner in Miami Beach, Florida. “It can be as simple as her periods becoming more regular.” Because Chinese medicine is based on the individual, there’s not a one-size-fits-all treatment, but in general, women seeking to increase fertility should receive acupuncture treatments at least twice a month, says Trattner. Find a certified acupuncturist at nccaom.org and ask if she has experience treating fertility issues (and if she accepts insurance–some companies will cover it).
4. Opt For Herbs:Before jumping into the world of Chinese herbs, a note of caution: Don’t go it alone. Just like acupuncture is tailored to a person’s individual needs, so is the practice of herbal medicine, says Juliette Aiyana, a licensed acupuncturist and trained herbalist look at infertility as patterns of energetic disharmony in the body, so treatment is based on an individual’s own pattern of energy disharmony, says Aiyana. Your herbalist may prescribe goji berries to increase blood flow to reproductive organs, chasteberry to regulate menstrual cycles, or shanyao, a wild yam, to thicken uterine lining. Most acupuncturists are also certified in Chinese herbs, so you can look for one at nccaom.org.
5. Indulge in Antioxidants: Eating for your baby before there’s a baby may be a key to optimal fertility, according to research. Seventy-nine percent of infertile couples had a lower-than-average intake of foods high in antioxidants, found researchers from Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “This could be the body’s own wisdom,” says Aiyana. “Antioxidants help us clean out the environmental toxins we breathe in and eat; when a body’s ripe with toxins, it’s not a friendly environment for pregnancy.” Eat whole, organic foods as much as possible, says Aiyana, particularly one’s rich in iron, folic acid, calcium, and vitamin D. Many doctors also recommend that women trying to conceive start taking prenatal vitamins as an additional way to get these nutrients. Find your fellow readers’ favorite brands in the KIWI Awards for Supplements on page 26.