Updated: Jun 2
For my first post I thought it would be nice to give you a sample of the approach I take when looking at fertility. This you can use to help give yourself a little fertility MOT and make sure your moving in the right direction.
Ok so where to start? In Chinese Medicine we always start by looking at the menses, so…
Menstrual Cycle is your cycle regular? Do your periods flow well, with minimal clots and little to no pain? If you have answered no to either of these it is worth looking at you cycle in more detail. If your cycles are irregular you may find it hard to predict when you are ovulating and it may warrant a day 21 progesterone test from your GP. If your period flow is excessive, very scant or has large amounts of clots there may be other factors involved that may be worth addressing. To produce a nice healthy endometrial lining you need your old lining to come away properly.
Ovulation Do you know when you are ovulating? Your body has a number of natural changes that should signal to you when you are about to ovulate, learning to recognise these in your self is important, cheaper and less stressful then using ovulation sticks. The most common signs are: egg white cervical mucus, ovulation pain, bloating and a peak in libido. As a rough guide ovulation occurs around 14 days before your period. If however your cycles are erratic in length, outside the normal range of 26-34 days or have any unusual symptoms around that time you may want to investigate further.
Energy how do you feel? Are you bursting with energy full of life ready to share some of that with your future child? If you are fatigued, over worked, burnt out or stressed out have you got enough energy left over to start the amazing process of turning a few cells into a complete being? So before you start focusing all your energy on conception start looking after yourself.
Sleep Make sure your getting plenty of good quality sleep. Everyone has heard the saying 1hr before midnight is worth 2 after, well it’s true. It’s also the time when your body gets a chance to run its maintenance checks like filtering your blood, as well as recharging your batteries ready for the next day. It is also the first thing all new parents miss and if you’re lucky enough to produce sleep haters like me it may be a number of years (yes sorry I did say years!) before you get a full night again.
Nutrition To function well your body needs good nutrition. This is one of the easiest factors you can control. When I meet a patient for the first time they often describe feeling stressed and anxious about trying to conceive. The pressure of the ticking clock. The frustration of not being in control and the struggle with conception being their sole focus in life. My advice is to channel all that energy in to focusing on their diet and lifestyle as this is something you can control and is so important. The simplest approach to nutrition in general is as often as possible eat foods in their natural state, cook from scratch and avoiding processed food. Don’t forget folic acid is important in foetal development. The NHS reccomend taking 400mcg daily and where possible starting at least 3 months before trying to conceive. This can be taken alone or as part of conception multivitamin.
Relaxation I almost feel in today’s society relaxation is a forgotten art. I get immense satisfaction from the response of patients after a treatment where they have truly relaxed. Many say things like “I can’t remember the last time I felt that relaxed” or “I Don’t think I have ever been that relaxed before”. So when was the last time you really relaxed? And I don’t mean watched TV, read a book, surfed the Internet, went for a run or any other stimulating activity that is now considered relaxation. My top tip for relaxation is finding somewhere away from it all, somewhere you can’t think about the ironing or any other item on your endless to do list. Find this place, close your eyes, lie back and relax.
Hydration Are you getting enough fluid? Many patients are relying too much on caffeine to get them through the day. Get your sleep in order, stop relying on caffeine and your energy will improve greatly. Then focus on getting plenty fluids into your body. Imagine your kidneys are like a Brita filter and help make their life easier by drinking plenty of water. I know a lot of people dislike the taste of water but this is more due to the high sugar in our diets. Persevere and you will discover your taste for water will return. Also if you find you start urinating a lot as you increase your water intake or just never feel thirsty, this may just be down to your body not being used to having so much fluid. Many people find their body has stopped signalling they are thirsty but once they drinking more water the body starts asking for more.
Love Try and bring back the love. It you have been trying for a while sex may start to feel like a means to an end. Remember you want to feel relaxed and receptive to conception. Make it a date night, cuddle, hell have a little glass of prosecco if it will help relax and bring the romance back a bit. One issue many couples have is getting in the mood when they are so fatigued from work, looking after a home and so on. One mistake often made is waiting till bed time to make love. Try working up an appetite when you get home from work instead of eating first and you will find your body is more responsive when it isn’t trying to digest your evening meal.
Sex It may be basic but if you don’t have sex and ensure the sperm are on board waiting for that precious egg it’s never going to happen. Most sperm can last for around 72hrs so the recommendation is to have sex every other day. However most couples who have been trying for a while find this hard to sustain. My best advice is to get an idea of when you are ovulating so you can target the fertile days of your cycle, but also learn your natural signs and if you see that amazing egg white cervical mucus you don’t want to miss out.
Men Don’t forget it takes two to tango, Make sure your partner is looking after themselves. Are they stressed out? Sleeping well? Eating well? Do they show any signs of poor health? Are they keeping the family jewels cool?
I hope this gives you some help with ways to relax, look after yourself and seek further assistance. There are many natural treatments available to support you to conception. If this has sparked an interest for you in acupuncture I recommend visiting the AFN website as all practitioners have completed post graduate training in fertility support. For help in Newcastle you can visit my Jesmond Clinic or alternatively my clinic in Whitburn.