Did you know that according to the CDC, one in eight couples in America are struggling to create a family? Today, infertility affects thousands of couples, and it can be a process that is both lonely and heartbreaking.
Infertility is defined as those who are age 35 or younger who have tried to get pregnant on their own for a year or more without success, or those who are 35 to 40 who have tried for six months or more.
Why are infertility rates going up?
Part of the reason for the increase in infertility can be explained, of course, by how much later people are trying to have babies. But Katie Bogaard, a naturopathic practitioner at the Center for Holistic Medicine, says the rise in infertility is also caused by the increased amount of stress that people experience in their everyday lives.
“We live much more stressful lives today than we did 50 years ago, and prolonged exposure to that kind of stress can really affect our adrenal glands, which affects fertility,” Bogaard says.
And Bogaard says the environment plays a big factor, too. “There are a lot more toxins in our food and in the planet than there were in the past,” she says. “For example, sperm levels that were considered ‘infertile’ in 1940 are considered normal today. That’s all because of the toxins in our environment.”
So, if you’re struggling with infertility, or you’re looking to increase your chances of conceiving naturally, you don’t necessarily have to venture down the long, expensive path of fertility treatments. Here are a few of Bogaard’s suggestions for natural ways to beat infertility.
- Get Your Thyroid Tested
Your thyroid produces hormones that regulate your metabolism, and if your thyroid is not in balance, it can cause an increase in the risk of miscarriage and be an underlying factor in infertility. Although many fertility doctors test your TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) levels before they begin treatments, Bogaard recommends getting a full panel of all of your thyroid hormones tested to look for other irregularities that could be missed on a TSH test.
- Avoid Stress
Stress can have a major impact on fertility, causing your adrenal glands to kick into overdrive and produce more cortisol, signaling to your body that it’s in danger and it’s not a good time to conceive. Unfortunately, as if our daily lives aren’t stressful enough, the added pressure of trying to have a baby often makes stress even worse. That’s why Bogaard recommends doing anything you can do reduce your stress, including meditation, acupuncture and even going on vacation when you know you will be ovulating. “There’s even an app called Headspace that you can use that has guided meditations to help you prepare for pregnancy,” Bogaard says.
- Get Your Adrenals Tested
Speaking of stress, Bogaard also recommends having your adrenal glands tested to make sure they are functioning properly. If your cortisol levels are too high, Bogaard says she usually recommend taking supplements such as ashwagandha, magnesium, vitamin C, and panthothenic acid, which is a type of B vitamin, to help balance them out and get you in a better place to conceive.
- Improve Your Egg Quality
If you’re already going through an IVF procedure, you want to make sure that your eggs are the best quality they can be in order to ensure that they fertilize properly. To do that, Bogaard suggests getting lots of flavonoids and antioxidants, especially in green or red protein powders. You can also take supplements such as NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine), glutathione or CoQ10 to improve both sperm and egg health.
- Do Moderate Exercise
Although obesity can hurt your chances of getting pregnant, turns out that exercise that’s too intense can hurt your chances, too. That’s why most experts agree that engaging in low-impact, regular exercise is the best way to get your body ready for pregnancy. Natural-Fertility-Info.com says women who are trying to conceive should do 30 minutes of moderate exercise three times a week with two 30-minute strength training sessions. Bogaard says sticking to non-strenuous activity such as yoga or walking is your best bet.