Fertility doesn’t become important to you until, well, you’re trying to get pregnant. And for many of us, it’s extremely frustrating. You spend your entire life trying to avoid getting pregnant and then when you’re ready to start a family, it doesn’t come so easy. More and more women are having problems with fertility caused by advanced age, reproductive issues, or other health issues. But according to Dr Julie Von, a Manhattan-based holistic doctor specializing in fertility, a few crucial steps can help you take control of your fertility. Here’s how to increase fertility, naturally.
What Does Your Cycle Say About Your Overall Health?
According to Dr. Von, tracking your menstrual cycle is important even before you’re trying to conceive because it can tell you a lot about your overall health.
“Blood is essential for life and women tend to use more blood than men,” she says. “The blood around menstruation tells you what’s leftover and hasn’t been used up in the course of the month.”
Dr. Von says that women who have extremely short menstrual cycles tend to have too little blood, whether as a result of restrictive diets like vegan or vegetarian diets, or really intense exercise regimens. These women may need to build their blood back up. On the other hand, women who have extremely heavy flows, or a back up of flow, may need more movement in the body. This can be an indication of inflammation in the body or problems with digestion.
A healthy flow usually ranges from four to seven days. It starts fresh and full and then tappers off. It’s usually bright in color and doesn’t contain clots. Additionally, it doesn’t start and stop, it’s continuous until the end.
When Can You and When Can You Not Get Pregnant?
If you want to get pregnant, you have to understand when you can and cannot get pregnant. Of course, you could just have sex the whole time, but in the event you can’t have sex everyday, knowing your ovulation schedule is crucial. Most women ovulate on day 14 of their menstrual cycle. But everyone is different, and being able to track your ovulation schedule is key to fertility. Additionally, by tracking your ovulation, you’ll know whether or not you’re ovulating at all. If you’ve been on birth control for 20 years, it may take a while to come back. In which case you should talk with your doctor. Here’s how to track your ovulation schedule:
1. There’s an app for that.
Many gynecologists will tell you to get an ovulation tracker app for your phone. By simply typing in the days of your period, it will tell you ideally when you’re ovulating. But here’s the deal: though it is a good idea to use an app, it just tells you when most people ovulate and some people have either longer or shorter cycles. In addition to using an app, you should also take a few other steps to track your schedule.
2. Use an ovulation kit.
Simple ovulation kits that you buy at the drug store can help track ovulation by testing for the presence of a particular hormone in your body.
3. Track your basal body temperature.
According to Dr. Von, this is the most effective way to track your ovulation. It takes a little time, but it’s really effective at tracking your particular ovulation schedule and how it can change from month to month. Each morning when you wake up, take your body temperature and write it down. Notice when your body temperature drops (be it ever so slightly). When it goes back up again, that’s the start of ovulation. This way you’ll notice whether a month of insomnia, excessive alcohol, or even extensive travel impacted your schedule.
4. Notice discharge.
In conjunction with a temperature spike, it’s good to notice discharge. When you start to ovulate, a thick discharge forms. At the time of ovulation, it looks like egg whites, wet and slippery. It can last from two to four days depending on the person. This is another extremely effective means of tracking your ovulation.
5 Tips For Increasing Your Fertility
If you’re having trouble conceiving, there are a number of steps you can take to increase fertility. These include:
1. Improve your diet.
Your diet really does make a huge difference. First and foremost, says Dr. Von, you should learn to cook at home. Eating processed foods or takeout is the worst thing you can do. Processed foods are bad for digestion, which is linked to poor fertility. In the beginning of your cycle during your follicular phase, you should be eating foods like sweet potatoes, yams, millet, whole tofu, black beans, and flax seed oil. During the luteal phase of your cycle, you should be eating foods like sesame seeds, ginger, sunflower seeds, quinoa, and leeks.
2. Avoid excessive alcohol.
While it depends on your how your body responds it, excessive alcohol is usually not good for fertility. Dr. Von says that when a client complains about excessive cramping during her cycle, she’ll often recommend laying off the alcohol. Because hormones are processed in your liver and if your liver is working overtime, it can create problems.
3. Get enough sleep.
Sleep is super important to fertility because your body needs to power down and detox to effectively produce reproductive hormones. Make sure you go to bed early and get seven to eight hours of sleep each night. In the winter time, you may need to hibernate for even longer.
4. Have sex.
Self explanatory I know, but there’s actually even more to it. A healthy sex life helps stimulate the production of the hormones that are important for fertility. It’s also good for relaxation and making you generally feel good.
5. Get a hormonal panel.
It’s really good to understand the baselines for your body’s hormones to know where you normally stand and what may need to be done.
Are you struggling with fertility? What has worked and what hasn’t? We want to know! Drop us a line via Twitter @EcoSalon.