If you’re a woman over 30, it’s highly likely you have more than one friend, relative, or acquaintance who has struggled with fertility issues.
That’s because infertility has become a big deal in this country.
According to womenshealth.gov1 at least 10% of American women (that’s over 6 million) struggle with some form of infertility—be it conception or maintaining a pregnancy.
Why the constant surge in infertility rates despite advances in fertility treatments?
Read on to find out what Western medicine is missing in the fertility puzzle, and how Acupuncture partnered with specific nutritional recommendations can set you up for success in conception, pregnancy, and beyond.
Why the Sudden Rise in Infertility?
This is the big question we must always ask when it comes to matters of health: why?
While Western medicine tells us infertility is due to women waiting longer to have babies and reduced ovarian and hormonal health, that really doesn’t satisfy the question of why, does it?
We believe there are more factors at play such as:
- Chronic stress—which puts your body in a constant state of hormone- disrupting fight-or-flight. In other words: your body senses danger and switches to survival-mode which blocks natural processes like conception (among other things).
- Epigenetics—the weakening of the fertility gene pool from generation to generation.
- Diet and food quality—though most doctors and fertility experts pay little attention to this point, high-quality nutrition is absolutely vital when it comes to creating and supporting new life.
- Environmental factors—including thousands of chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, plastics, etc. that are proven hormone-disruptors.
- Waiting to have children—yes, we agree that postponing pregnancy into your 30s and 40s can decrease fertility, BUT we also see plenty of younger men and women seeking fertility advice. So this may not be as big an issue as you may have been led to believe.
The problem with modern fertility treatments…
Now, don’t get me wrong. I know many couples who have realized their dreams of conception because of modern fertility treatments…but these treatments don’t come without a hefty health (and monetary) price tag.
Though there are many types of fertility treatments out there, most of them involve artificially increasing your fertility hormone levels to increase your chances of pregnancy and/or increase your production of health eggs for in vitro fertilization.
Though the common recommendation of such treatments may make them appear harmless, as anyone who has gone through with one will tell you, it’s no picnic.
Side effects of oral fertility treatments include, increased chance of multiple births, hot flashes, nausea, breast tenderness, depression, mood swings, ovarian cysts, pelvic discomfort, blurred vision, and headaches.2
If you require hormone injections, additional side effects may include hyper stimulation syndrome—which basically means you ovaries become enlarged causing intense abdominal pain, rapid weight-gain, shortness of breath, blood clots in legs, severe vomiting, and reduced urination.
Other side effects of injections can include dizziness, fainting, decreased blood pressure, vomiting, bone density loss, vaginal dryness, insomnia, reduce breast size, and nasal congestion.2
As you can see, fertility treatments don’t come without their share of health consequences…and you may have to go through several rounds to see results.
Plus, they cost a small fortune (think $10,000 and up) and are often not covered by insurance.
Thankfully, if you’re considering fertility treatments, or just want to increase you chances of conception, you have options. Let’s explore them now…
Why Acupuncture Works for Fertility
Acupuncture has been used for centuries of years to help couples maintain their health and fertility, naturally.
In fact, it has been estimated that acupuncture can increase your likelihood of pregnancy by 40-60%…that’s comparable with a lot of drug-based fertility treatments out there.
And the best part?
There are no unpleasant side effects, injections, long-term health consequences, multiple births, or surgeries to worry about.
Here’s how it works:
- Acupuncture improves blood flow to the uterus—this facilitates the transport of vital nutrients while strengthening your uterine Qi.
- Normalizes the endocrine system—producing a balancing effect on pro-pregnancy hormones and reducing stress.
- Positively affects the HPO (hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian) axis—which helps support healthy ovaries and an optimal balance of ovulation hormones.
- Reduces stress, anxiety, and the hormones they secrete in the body—which breaks the fight-or-flight cycle and returns your body to a balanced state of being.
Who Can Benefit From Acupuncture Fertility Treatments ?
Though we mostly see women, it takes two to tango! Therefore, we also recommend their partners come in for an evaluation.
We have seen acupuncture and nutrition (more on that coming up) work for a variety of people including young couples, women in their 30s, or 40s, women who could not conceive using traditional fertility treatments, men of all ages, and couples who were told they could never conceive.
How is this possible?
Again, fertility treatments only work on artificially changing the environment to produce the end-result. They do not address the underlying causal factors.
Acupuncture, on the other hand, seeks to uncover and treat the root-cause of fertility issues by taking a holistic approach.
Often, when we approach fertility issues in this way, they wind up resolving themselves…and the couples are happier and healthier for it.
Acupuncture is also deeply relaxing, side-effect-free and incredibly affordable when compared to Western fertility treatments.
While acupuncture can work wonders as a stand-alone fertility treatment, you will greatly increase your odds of both conceiving AND maintaining a healthy pregnancy and postpartum period, by addressing your pre-conception nutritional needs.
What to Eat to Increase Your Chances of Getting Pregnant
As of this writing there are several books on the topic of what to eat before you get pregnant…yet, the majority of doctors and fertility experts don’t even broach the subject.
So, what should you eat for fertility?
We recommend patients simply increase their intake of fertility-superfoods eaten by traditional cultures.
These foods are rich in Vitamins especially vitamins A, C, D, E, B12, K2, folate; zinc, antioxidants, fatty acids, choline, iron, trace minerals, and naturally-occurring pre-and probiotics including:
- Cultured foods—like saukraut, kombucha, yogurt, kefir, Kimchi, etc.
- Sustainably caught caviar and fish roe—as a natural source of DHA, omega-3s, and EPA.
- Wild-caught, low-mercury fish—for omega-3 fatty acids and iodine, such as wild salmon and sardines.
- Wild-caught, low-mercury shellfish—for trace minerals and zinc.
- Loads of colorful vegetables—aim for 7-10 servings a day.
- Ample amounts of good fats—such as coconut oil, pastured butter, and olive oil.
- Liver and organ meats—rich in Vitamin A, iron, and enzymes to build your blood and nourish your reproductive organs, preferably from pasture-raised animals.
- Eggs from pasture-raised hens—it’s especially important to consume the nutrient-rich yolk.
- Supportive whole foods supplements—this varies person-to-person and may include Chinese herbs, cod liver oil, and probiotics.
We recommend avoiding all processed foods ESPECIALLY sugar, which depletes your body of vital nutrients.
This CAN Work for You…But Timing is Important
Though starting any time is better than not at all, you can maximize your results by thinking ahead.
Ideally, you would start with a preconception diet (like the one we mentioned above) at least 3 months before becoming pregnant.
This provides your body with the building blocks it needs to grow a healthy, resilient baby while building up your own reserves for pregnancy, postpartum recovery, and nursing/caring for baby.
If you’re already in a hurry for results, we tell clients to keep in mind that folliculogensis (maturation of the ovarian follicle containing an egg) takes 90 days, and spermatogeneisis (maturation of sperm) takes 72 days, so be prepared to allow at least 3 months for results…and it can take longer depending upon the couple and health history.
If you’re struggling to conceive or considering pregnancy, the important thing is to explore your options and consider the most natural path possible.
And if you’re concerned about cost, many acupuncturists, including the practitioners at Merritt Wellness, accept some insurance plans.
If we’ve piqued your curiosity about natural fertility methods and you’d like to learn more…
Contact us to schedule a consultation OR join us on Wednesday, April 11 at Merritt Wellness for a FREE educational class: “Natural Fertility 101: Everything You Need to Know About Acupuncture and Nutrition for Conception and Beyond.”
Click the link above to register, and we hope to see you there!