Are you currently trying to make a baby? Having no luck in getting the right line of the pregnancy test to show its face? There are ways to improve your situation. We scan the research to help you to get a bun in the oven.
So you are in your 30s or 40s and forcing your spouse to endure a gruelling sex marathon. Are you having no result except multiple orgasms and a very sleepy spouse? Before you consider stealing someone else’s cute little bundle of joy (and poo), or attempt to fly off to Africa to see what Madonna’s people can do for you, consider the following tips and advice. We have scanned the research and this is what we have come up with.
Stress and fertility are two sworn enemies who are destined to fight until the death. Not even Dr Phil’s mediation skills will bring them around to a compromise. They are deeply allergic to each other. If you want a screaming, power-pooing bundle of bliss in 9 months’ time, then you are going to have to wind down your stress levels.
Here’s the big problem with stress. Stressed-out people produce more of a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal cortex; it increases blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and suppresses the immune system. This is the hormone that triggers the “flight or fight” response. So if we were still monkeys picking up nuts on the plains, and a big old hairy lion taps us on the shoulder, cortisol would flood through our blood stream and give us the chutzpah to climb the nearest tree and avoid being Leo’s lunch. So a bit of cortisol is a good thing and a natural process. But with today’s full-on all-in life, to be stressed all the time makes for people constantly in the “fight or flight” mode. This, unfortunately, has some ikky side-effects.
Humans are not built to have babies if they need to be constantly fleeing for their miserable lives. This is why high cortisol is thought to be so closely connected with infertility, especially female infertility. A big old pregnant monkey can’t quickly escape from Leo’s stinky mouth. We simply aren’t genetically engineered to be up the duff whilst living in stressful conditions. Applied to modern-day life, what we have to do is work out where the lions are in our lives and slay them for good. Or at least live where they can’t smell us.
Unfortunately stress doesn’t just affect natural conception. Stress also affects women undergoing fertility treatments. According to medical doctor and naturopath Dr Joseph Mercola (mercola.com), the most stressed-out women undergoing fertility treatment were 93% less likely to have a baby by the end of the 5-year study compared with their more relaxed peers. “Women who reported the highest stress levels at the outset had fewer eggs retrieved and fertilised. It is more powerful evidence of the pervasive influence that stress can have on our overall health and ability to reproduce.”
Think about how you can de-stress. Choose something that ACTUALLY works. Don’t do yoga if you get stressed about looking like an overblown beast in a leotard and spew mental hate at all the other lithe 22-year-olds in the room. Think about what REALLY de-stresses you and do it.
While being stressed elevates cortisol levels in our bodies, there are other things that ramp up cortisol levels as well.
- According to several studies done in the USA, prolonged low-calorie diets can jack up cortisol levels. So put down that lettuce leaf and bury your head in an avocado instead.
- Excessive strength training and workouts (over 45 to 60 minutes) can rack up cortisol levels. Looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger is incompatible to producing children for Ireland. Deflate your abs, lady.
- Sleep deprivation is a biggie in terms of cortisol production. Most pregnancy websites advise that women need 8.5 hours sleep a night if they want to get in the family way. So get in your jimmy-jams an hour earlier than usual.
- And here’s the disappointing one. Large doses of booze elevate cortisol. What a bummer, you’ll have to live through a sober social life. And it’s no secret that most people drink to make others more interesting, so steel yourself for some arduous conversations. Also dehydration yanks up cortisol levels. So drink lots of water, and nix the wine.
Organic food is more expensive, harder to find in convenience stores, and harder to get consistently. However if you are trying to get a bun in that oven, this is something you need to prioritise, for both men and women. Many different pesticides are known to disrupt hormones in both men and women. I would list them here but you’d be reading until next Wednesday. It’s pretty creepy stuff. After researching the subject I’m so grossed out myself that all I can say to you is to get involved in a delivered box scheme, and now. There are several organic fruit and vege box delivery schemes across Ireland that can deliver to your door or to your office. They contain a week’s worth of veges so you don’t even have to go shopping! If they don’t deliver in your area, they may know of someone who can help. You can check the directory at sustainable.ie for other suppliers.
As for dead flesh, there are lots of great suppliers across Ireland. But our old friend the supermarket is getting better at having organic meat readily available. Pay the extra; it will seem insignificant in comparison to the shock of crèche fees.
Monitor Your Cakehole
Eating properly plays a humongous part in fertility. Hormones rely on certain vitamins and minerals to function properly. Here are the biggies:
- Upload some vitamin C. It boosts the performance of both sperm and aids eggs and reproductive organs of the female. So grab some berries and oranges. Scoffing the food of monkeys can’t be wrong.
- Get with some zinc, especially if you are a dude. Low zinc is linked to reduced testosterone and semen levels. And guess what is full of zinc? That old aphrodisiac, oysters. In Greece they give newly-married couples sea urchin eggs, which as well as being a seriously disturbing delicacy, are also bursting in zinc.
- Other important vits include calcium, magnesium, iron, folic acid, and vitamin D, among others. But the good news is that these days all health food shops sell “fertility blend” supplements, for both men and women. So if you are too busy to even think about it, just check out your health food store. It is amazing what you’ll find these days amongst all the hippes in there.
- There are many herbs which can aid the fertility process. Dong Quai, for example, aids oestrogen levels and is said to improve the chances of implantation. Ask a naturopath or herbalist for guidance, as there are around 8 or 9 significant herbs that can really up your chances of being a mamma.
- And here’s the really traumatic bit. Caffeine is an enemy of the fertility process, in both dudes and chicks. According to some studies, even just one cup a day of the delicious brown goo can halve your chances of conception. There are also some natural coffee substitutes which really aren’t half bad. Try them. If you don’t die after drinking them, they’ll be a good life saver for the time being.
Cosmetics and Plastics
In this highly artificial world, there are some seriously yukky ugly-buglies going into our bodies. There are some substances that are said to seriously disrupt the hormonal processes of men and women. These foul substances live mainly in the cosmetics and plastics industry. Of course, such industries hotly deny this, however it is okay in my book to be suspicious of any “research” conducted by companies who have a vested interest in hawking these yukky things.
Here’s the short version of what you need to avoid if you are trying to get pregnant – xenoestrogens, phthalates, and parabens. Sound confusing and gross? You can research these substances yourself on the internet further, but here it is broken down for you in simple terms.
- Grooming products are awash with these nasties. Shampoos and soaps are all full of them. But seeing as shampoo and soap is washed off your body, it is not seen as bad as topical creams which stay on your skin for long periods of time. Parabens (types of preservatives) for example, are in just about every moisturising product on the market. They are seen as THE worst endocrine-disrupting substance, and are blamed for mutating English male river fish into a bunch of fish chicks. So avoid this stuff at all costs. Check every label before you buy a product. You’ll be shocked to find that they are everywhere and are in everything…much like God…they are omnipotent. A good solution is to use simple almond oil (available in health food shops) for a moisturiser all over your body. And, there are plenty of products online or in health food stores that offer products free of parabens.
- Most conventional perfumes contain big nasties, and worse, the ingredients are rarely listed. But if you are worried about being a bit whiffy, then there are some lovely alternatives. For example, you can use perfume oils made from lotus flowers and smell pretty darn good. You can buy perfume oils online from all over the world and have them delivered to your door. Just make sure you can see an ingredient list before handing over your hot little wad of cash.
- Hormone-disrupting ugly buglies are also in plastics. While the everyday use of plastics is still quite suspect, it is when these plastics enter the microwave that they become controversial. Some research has shown that once heated in the microwave, the ugly buglies are liberated from the plastic containers and go into the food. If you bring your lunch to work with you in a plastic tub, place it in a glass dish when re-heating to avoid this risk.
- Use natural products to clean your house, and avoid fertilising your gardens and lawns. All these things can harbour hormone menaces and deeply offend greenie hippies.
If you have done all of the above and still can’t get a baby baking in your oven, then give acupuncture a try. It is one of the most fascinating weapons used to combat infertility. Many researchers in Europe and the USA are currently investigating why acupuncture has been successful in a number of cases to get couples up the duff. And the good news is that it has no side effects so you aren’t dabbling with the devil by using this method.
In 2003, physician-scientists at the New York Weill Cornell Medical Center announced they were big fans of acupuncture. The big-brain docs said that acupuncture has the following potential fertility-boosting benefits:
- Increased blood flow to the uterus and therefore uterine wall thickness, an important marker for fertility.
- Lowers stress hormones responsible for infertility
- Normalisation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, a key process in fertility.
In other words, there is some good clinical evidence that acupuncture can assist with fertility problems. So get spiking.
If you are trying for a bub, de-stress, eat right, stay away from chemical ugly-buglies, and stick yourself with some needles. It will all be worth it in the end, especially when your bub looks you lovingly in the eyes and then pukes all down your new outfit.
Obviously it is best to partner with your fertility specialist if you are trying to conceive, but don’t rule out the natural, herbal, alternative route as well.