Struggling with infertility can bring up a wide range of challenges and emotions. It seems as though everyone wants to give advice and “helpful” solutions like “just relax and it will happen.” Reaching out to medical doctors can leave you feeling like you have no option but expensive and invasive fertility treatments. You leave feeling confused, isolated, and terrified. Sound familiar? I am right there with you. This is why I started digging deeper. I just knew there had to be more. I was so tired of feeling helpless. This is where I started to discover holistic support for fertility and what a relief and a world of difference it has been.
As a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, I take a bio-individual approach to my clients. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to fertility because our journeys are all different. My approach involves looking from all angles and looking at supporting a fertile environment, like preparing the soil before planting the seeds.
This can include addressing nutrient deficiencies, supporting digestion, addressing toxins and detoxification, and supporting healthy stress levels, just to name a few. Let’s take a deeper look into each of these areas.
Getting started with holistic support for fertility: Get those nutrients in!
It really opened my eyes to understand how the food we eat really becomes every part of our body. The phrase “you are what you eat” well…it’s true! Well almost. I would like to edit that to read “you are what you can absorb,” which we will touch on shortly.
There are so many nutrients that are important to our well being, but I am going to focus on a few specific ones that many of us are deficient in and which can directly affect your hormones and your fertility.
The first one we’ll discuss is protein. Protein is the building block for nearly every tissue in our body. Making a new human is no exception! Now I should also address the fact that there is a lot of misinformation out there about how plant protein is better than animal protein and that is simply not true. Animal protein is much more bioavailable than animal protein and contains some vital nutrients that plant protein does not. Once again, you are what you can absorb. If your body can’t break down and absorb the protein, it will not help you in any way.
A good number to aim for is 1 gram of protein per kg of body weight per day. For example, a woman who weighs 150 pounds would want to aim for at least 70 grams of protein each day.
Don’t forget the fat!
Fat is another crucial nutrient. Unfortunately, so many of us are taught to avoid fat. The truth is that healthy dietary fats do not cause weight gain. Omega-3 fatty acids should be a main focus here on the daily. Great sources of Omega-3’s include fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and herring as well as pasture-raised eggs, flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, and soybeans. These will help to reduce inflammation in your body to help create a more fertile environment.
Why fat? Well, a couple of reasons. For starters, certain sources of fat quite literally become our hormones. Our estrogen and progesterone, which are necessary for pregnancy, are derived straight from cholesterol. Yep, cholesterol. That thing we are taught to avoid in food because it will raise our cholesterol levels. Another myth. Dietary cholesterol actually has very little to do with cholesterol levels in your body.
Great sources of cholesterol? Check out egg yolks, shrimp, beef, pork, poultry, butter, and cheese.
The fats you want to avoid? That would be industrial seed oils like canola, corn, soybean, and vegetable oils as well as anything that is hydrogenated. This type of fats are highly processed and highly inflammatory, which will not support a welcoming fertile environment!
Holistic support for fertility through…your gut?
These two things may seem entirely unrelated to fertility and hormones, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Remember earlier how we talked about creating a fertile environment, like preparing the soil before planting the seeds? This is one of those things.
Now we also get to revisit the idea that “you are what you can absorb.” Let’s think about this here. We receive the nutrients we need in our body from our food and water. Digestion is the process responsible for breaking down those nutrients, absorbing them, and sending them off to be transported to the rest of the body through the bloodstream. If this goes awry, this can leave you nutrient deficient even if you are eating the world’s healthiest diet.
Look to the stomach
Digestion is a very complex topic and one I could spend hours and hours talking about, but for today I will just use an example. We talked about the importance of protein in your diet. The breakdown of protein begins in the stomach with an enzyme called pepsin. At the same time, the acid in your stomach and the physical churning of your stomach work to break foods down as well.
What if this isn’t functioning properly? Which, I might add, is an extremely common issue! Did you know that around 9 out of 10 Americans have low stomach acid. Yes, you heard that right! NOT too much stomach acid as we are constantly told in TV commercials for prescription and over the counter medications. But I digress. If these digestive juices are not firing properly, the protein will not be broken down and therefore not absorbed into your body and therefore unable to be used where it is needed, like for building hormones and tissues.
This is why I address digestion with every single client. Without proper absorption, everything else we do is moot!
Working with an experienced practitioner is your best bet for complex or chronic issues, but a good place to start is to eat your meals in a calm state and chew thoroughly. Try taking 5 deep breaths before you start eating, eating without distractions, and chewing each bite 25-30 times or until it reaches the consistency of a smoothie.
Hold the toxins, please!
Toxins can have a huge affect on our hormones. It should definitely come into play when looking at holistic support for fertility. I started writing an article on detoxification and ended up having to make it a two-part piece because there was so much I wanted to add in. And that was only a fraction of the puzzle!
The short of it is that many toxins we come into contact with on a daily basis are endocrine disruptors. Endocrine disruptors are a class of toxins that directly disrupt your hormones. No good when you are nourishing a fertile environment! This includes things like plastics, fragranced products, laundry chemicals, household cleaning products, cosmetics, and more.
Since those articles are so in depth, I am going to go ahead and link to them if you would like to read more. Click to read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
Now, avoiding toxins entirely is a nearly impossible task in the age we live in. Supporting your body’s natural detoxification pathways will be a huge help as well! This includes sweating, pooping daily (oh look, digestion again!), movement, and adequate hydration.
Turning down the stress faucet
Let’s be real, ladies, stress is a tough topic to address in this day and age. How many of us are busy working professionals and just feel like there are never enough hours in the day? I am right there with you! But, again, we must till the soil to prepare for a healthy pregnancy. In this case, that means getting ourselves out of chronic flight or fight mode.
When our nervous system is in that flight or fight mode, it will prioritize what it needs to do that and everything else will go by the wayside, reproduction included!
You may not be able to completely shut off the faucet of stress in your life, but are there ways you can reduce it? Tasks you can delegate or eliminate altogether?
What we can all do though is learn to better manage our stress. Daily movement is a big part of that. Yoga, meditation, deep breathing, journaling, and time in nature can all be good strategies. Since you are wanting to have a family with your partner, make connection a priority as well. Holding hands, hugging, kissing, and of course intimacy all increase oxytocin levels. Stress management doesn’t need to be complicated!
A deeper look at holistic support for fertility
Everything you have read above are actionable tips you can take with you to help you begin to prepare the soil in order to plant the seeds. For some, this may be enough! For others, you may require additional support and that is totally okay!
It is hard for us as women to ask for help and to invest in ourselves, but it is 100% worth it in the end. I absolutely love working with women inside of my 1:1 coaching program and seeing all of their amazing results! Hearing the news that another client has a miracle baby on the way is the best news I could hear.
If you feel like you are in a place where you could really benefit from additional support, I would love to hear from you. Schedule a free consultation with me today and we can have a chat about your goals and how we can help you get there.
Much love and happy healing!
Soliman, Ghada A. (2018). Dietary Cholesterol and the Lack of Evidence in Cardiovascular Disease. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6024687/#sec2-nutrients-10-00780title
Nutritional Therapy Association (2021). Digestion Module Materials [Video and PDF Documents].
Nutritional Therapy Association (2021). Endocrine Module Materials [Video and PDF Documents].
Nutritional Therapy Association (2021). Sleep, Stress, and Movement Module Materials [Video and PDF Documents].
Nutritional Therapy Association (2021). Detoxification Module Materials [Video and PDF Documents].