Guest Post: This post was written by Dr. Taz, MD. Dr. Taz Bhatia, MD, is a board-certified physician, specializing in integrative and emergency medicine, pediatrics, and prevention, with expertise in women’s health, weight-loss, and nutrition, who describes the ten natural ways to improve fertility.
For many women, it feels like a ticking time clock, and then a roller coaster. Finally, the decision to get pregnant feels right, but your biology or chemistry does not cooperate. The journey that then follows women can be full of highs and lows, joy, and frustration. I often wish I could tell women before they decide to start trying to conceive to think through their health, life, chemistry and biology. Here are ten natural ways to improve fertility.
10 Natural Ways to Improve Fertility:
No snoozing here – sleep is fundamental to hormone balance and fertility – a lesson I learned the hard way after years pulling fluctuating ER shifts. Yes, you do need the proverbial 7-8 hours, but in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, sleep quality, not just quantity, is key. So much so that sleeping from 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. was considered ideal and “catch-up sleep” or altered sleep cycles were not considered sufficient.
As you contemplate fertility make sure your life and your work allow for consistent sleep, especially during the key hormone hours, as this is one of the primary natural ways to improve fertility. If you are a shift worker, try to spread out the shifts that deviate from this core sleep routine, rather than batching them all together.
2. Lower Your Cortisol
After sleep, your stress response or cortisol balance is critical. Chronic, prolonged stress leads to a condition known as adrenal fatigue. This wears down the immune system and your hormone regulation. Lower your stress and balance your cortisol levels. Find at least 15-20 minutes through the day to practice mindful breathing, meditation, or yoga. Journal to release stress, or just get outside!
3. Clean Your Gut
The role of the gut in all things health continues to garner attention, but gut health is involved in fertility as well. Hormones are processed and metabolized in the gut and the micronutrients needed for hormone balance are assimilated here. Any type of gut dysfunction can alter hormone levels since the cycle of inflammation and a disrupted microbiome begins to affect every other part of the body.
Clean your gut- daily and monthly. Make sure your diet includes at least 40 grams of plant-based fiber daily and give yourself a daily 12 hour fast- maybe 7pm- 7 am. Drink plenty of water and include probiotic rich foods like kefir and kombucha to balance gut health.
4. Balance Your Body Fat
Did you know the optimum body fat percentage for fertility is between 21% and 31%? Many of my patients are shocked when they hear these statistics. Being under or overweight can impact your fertility, and maintaining a healthy body weight is one of the best natural ways to improve fertility. Have your BMI (basal metabolic index) checked routinely, along with your body fat to know where you stand.
5. Flush Your Liver
I always call the liver the laundromat of the body but it is ground zero for hormone metabolism. A clogged liver or fatty liver blocks hormone regulation and can lead to insulin resistance or stubborn blood sugars that block ovulation. Flush your liver daily by adding 1 green juice or green smoothie per day and include liver supporting herbs like dandelion greens, cilantro, and parsley.
6. Try Acupuncture
One of the best natural ways to improve fertility is acupuncture as it plays a role in balancing energy, stress hormones, and reproductive hormones, but this method takes time. Consider starting acupuncture as a part of a health maintenance strategy a few times per month. The benefits of learning about your health through the lens of a Chinese medical practitioner is always helpful.
7. The Castor Oil Solution
Painful periods or heavy periods can be signs of a buildup of your endometrial lining or ovarian cysts. Castor oil packs placed on the abdomen help menstrual pain but are also thought to improve blood flow through the reproductive system, aiding in shedding of the endometrial lining, improving fertility.
8. Maximize Your Micronutrients
Nutrient deficiencies play a role in hormone balance and hormone metabolism. Low B or D vitamins and low magnesium levels can be at the root of an imbalanced thyroid or altered estrogen and progesterone ratios. Improve your micronutrient status by adding in foods high in B vitamins and magnesium. Consider checking your nutrient levels yearly to follow any shifts that may be impacting the natural ways to improve fertility you are incorporating.
9. Watch Your Partner’s Health
You can only be as healthy as your partner, especially when it comes to fertility! Your partner’s health is important too and can determine sperm quality. Have your partner look at his or her nutritional status, gut health, hormone levels, and inflammation. These markers impact not just fertility but the health of your baby from as early as conception.
10. Build your Qi
Your “qi” or inherent energy was seen as a factor in fertility in eastern systems of medicine. Qi was dependent on nutrition, lifestyle, emotional health and passion. While the call of fertility and family beckons us all, make sure to build your qi, surrounding yourself with the right partners, community and work to support this next chapter as you incorporate these natural ways to improve fertility into your life.
This post is from a guest contributor.
Dr. Taz Bhatia, MD, is a board-certified physician, specializing in integrative and emergency medicine, pediatrics and prevention, with expertise in women’s health, weight-loss and nutrition. She is the author of “What Doctors Eat” and “The 21-Day Belly Fix.” Personal health challenges in her twenties combined with a broken health-care system motivated Dr. Taz to pursue an alternative definition of health and healthy living. Early in her medical practice, as a young resident, Dr. Taz began searching for answers to her own health issues. Studying various systems of medicine, she found a wealth of information not yet taught in conventional medical schools. It led her to opening her now nationally recognized practice, CentreSpringMD (formerly Atlanta Center for Holistic and Integrative Medicine). Dr. Taz and her team work to find a patient’s core health problems, their centre, in order to spring them forth in health, pulling from multiple systems of medicine, including integrative, functional and holistic medicine.