Nutrition for fertility
Nutrition plays a vital role in providing the body with building blocks for fertility, healthy pregnancy and optimal fetal development. In fact, the body will not allow conception to occur or a pregnancy to continue if it is undernourished or lacks fundamental nutrients.
A diet high in all essential nutrients provides the foundation of pre-conceptual health, ensuring optimal levels of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It is well known that there are specific nutrients that are required by a young foetus (even before a pregnancy can be detected) which can lead to serious birth defects if the mother is deficient in them. Hence, careful selection of foods and/or dietary supplements is essential during the pre-conception period.
In addition, a number of problems related to hormonal imbalances, stress, inflammation and poor glucose control may contribute to difficulties in conception. Choosing the right foods and supplements to address these factors can re-balance the body’s nutrient status and improve the chances of a natural pregnancy. Oily fish, for example, supplies important essential fatty acids (omega-3) that can aid in the production of hormones and reduce inflammation in the body. This food group is often lacking in women’s diets, but omega-3 fatty acids are only one of several nutritional factors whose insufficiency can also undermine men’s health and fertility.
It should be noted that if a healthy diet has not been followed in the past, at least three months are required to re-balance nutrient deficits and prepare the body for conception and a successful pregnancy. In this time, most people note considerable improvement in their general health and wellbeing. Understanding the importance of nutrition through personally experiencing its benefits can provide the motivation needed to embrace any dietary changes that maybe required for a successful journey towards parenthood.
Herbal medicine (also known as Phytotherapy) is a holistic healthcare system that aims to assist the body’s natural healing process and restore balance through the use of plants. It has been used for centuries and most of the world’s population still relies on it today. Although many modern drugs have their origin in plant medicines, the main difference is that herbal preparations make use of whole plant extracts instead of single compounds found in drugs. It is this mixture of constituents, taken at low level, that makes herbs less likely to cause unpleasant side effects compared to conventional medications. Nevertheless, it should be borne in mind that certain herbs can be harmful if prescribed dosages are exceeded. Furthermore, there is always a possible risk of drug-herb interactions, which herbal practitioners are trained to avoid.
During your first consultation a detailed medical history is taken including the presenting complaint, dietary habits and lifestyle information. Adequate time is allowed to discuss physical and emotional issues before a mutually agreed treatment plan is made. Usually a mixture of herbal extracts in tincture form is formulated to suit individual requirements and this needs to be taken daily at the recommended dose to be effective. Herbal medicines may also be prescribed as teas or tablets. In addition, appropriate dietary advice on foods and supplements is given to cover any possible nutritional deficit.
Herbal Medicine for fertility
Infertility in women can result from a number of factors such as hormone imbalance, polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis and many others. The use of herbal medicine aims to address possible underlying health issues such as inflammation, which are common to many ailments. Special attention is given to the health of the digestive tract, the liver and kidneys, as they are the prime organs of elimination of toxic end products of metabolism.
An example of a popular herbal remedy is Vitex agnus-castus (Chasteberry), whose traditional use for a range of female reproductive conditions has been supported by research showing that it can alleviate problems of the menstrual cycle. Obviously, there is an equal chance that male factors such as low sperm count, reduced sperm mobility and quality, may be contributing to infertility problems. In men, poor health can lead to poor reproductive health. Ensuring adequate intake of all nutrients is a key step. Herbs may also be helpful for men, for example to reduce signs of ill health such as depression.