You finally feel like the time is right- you are ready to start a family. But for so many couples, the journey to pregnancy is much longer and rockier than they anticipated. According to the National Institute of Health, about 12-15% of couples struggle to conceive within the first year of trying, and about 10% are still struggling after two years. Many of those couples, understandably, begin to turn to fertility procedures like IVF (in-vitro fertilization).
What many people don’t realize is that there is so much within our control when it comes to our fertility. Pregnancy is a hormonally-driven process, and hormones are greatly impacted by our diet + lifestyle. Whether you are preparing your body for IVF, are trying to avoid fertility treatments but starting to stress about timeline, or are just starting your fertility journey, these 4 things can optimize your body to give you the best chance possible.
Please consult your doctor before starting any herbs or supplements. Information provided here is for educational purposes only.
Get curious about herbs
Herbs are a powerful way to support hormonal balance. I highly recommend working with an herbalist or naturopathic doctor to figure out dosages and combinations, as certain herbs should not be used with various medications and conditions. Four herbs commonly used for boosting fertility are vitex, maca, rhodiola, and green tea. Vitex, also called chaste tree berry, has been shown to promote healthy ovulation and rebalance estrogen + progesterone levels. Chasteberry tea is a delicious way to enjoy this herb. Maca (technically a root vegetable, but often considered an adaptogenic herb due to its properties) can also support pro-ovulation hormones, decrease excess estrogens, and support healthy progesterone. I love adding maca powder to smoothies, or sprinkling cinnamon maca seasoning on my yogurt. Rhodiola is an herb that supports thyroid function, and even green tea helps metabolize excess estrogen, which is very important for progesterone-estrogen balance.
Increase healthy fats
Healthy fats are the building blocks of healthy hormones. A diet high in healthy fats promotes balanced blood sugar, healthy cholesterol, and contains plenty of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D and vitamin A, which are important to supporting pregnancy. Try adding in a serving (or two!) of healthy fats to each meal and snack. Examples of healthy fats include:
- Coconut products
- Olives + olive oil
- Full-fat, organic dairy products
Reduce toxic exposure
Environmental toxins are compounds that have a negative impact on our body, and are big-time bad news for our hormones. Some toxins even mimic or block our hormones, causing lots of confusion and contributing to fertility issues. Going non-toxic is an important step towards healthy conception!
Not sure where to start? Check out this list of simple swaps:
- Go organic when possible (prioritize organic animal products first, then check out the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list of the produce to prioritize next)
- Switch to filtered water in your home (reverse osmosis filters are best, but even carbon filters are better than nothing!) Check out this water filter guide for more recommendations on choosing the best one for you!
- Choose low VOC paint for your home
- Purchases GreenGuard certified furniture
- Switch to cast iron, stainless-steel, or ceramic cookware
- Reduce plastic use (think water bottles, tupperware, and food containers)
- Switch to non-toxic skincare, makeup, and personal care products
- Reduce fragrances from your home. Opt for beeswax- based candles scented with pure essential oils or essential oil diffusers instead.
Love on your minerals
Minerals are especially important for fertility and healthy ovulation. You can particularly focus on increasing zinc, magnesium, and selenium. Other key foods to focus on are:
- Leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, bok choy, collard greens, etc)
- Pumpkin seeds
- Dark chocolate
- Red meat
- Brazil nuts
No matter where your fertility journey takes you, I hope you find peace knowing that nourishing your body in these ways is supporting your overall health, fertility, and ultimately is supporting your dreams.