The ART of Timing Conception

Often, women will swap their body’s wisdom for a gadget or a test kit to identify their most fertile times and timing conception.

These are expensive and and  can make you feel like you’d never be able to figure this out yourself.  Mother Nature thinks of everything, and guess what, she let’s you know when you are most likely to get pregnant.

While we are usually very familiar with PMS symptoms, (pimples, sore boobs, cravings, mood swings, etc.) and very few are able to accurately recognize the symptoms of their peak fertility.

What are they?

  •  Mucus fluctuations
  • Heightened sex drive
  • Pheromones make you more attractive to the opposite sex for the  duration of your peak fertility
  • Energy boost

Did you know, out of these, the most reliable key to recognizing your most fertile time and timing conception is YOUR CERVICAL MUCUS!  I know examining cervical mucus may sound gross, truly it is the easiest and simplest way to telling when you should have sex to get pregnant (and avoiding sex if you don’t want to get pregnant), so JUST DO IT!

Each of your cycles are unique as each of you are.  No gadget will be able to tell you as precisely as your own body when you are fertile.  You may even learn a thing or two about your cycle.  So, let’s rejoice that we have access  to such an amazing built in mechanism!

Mucus fluctuates with your hormones

  • Estrogen levels are low at the beginning of your cycle.  Mucus mirrors its levels and will be scanty, sticky and tacky and opaque in color.  This mucus is infertile and hostile to sperm because it’s acidic and thick not allowing sperm to swim forward.  It will form a plug across the cervix preventing sperm from entering.
  • As estrogen gradually starts increasing with approaching ovulation, the mucus will change in quantity and texture.  It’s not yet fertile but it’s becoming more fluid and the PH is increasing and becoming more sperm friendly.
  • As ovulation approaches, your mucus will become wetter, clearer and thinner.  There also will be lots more of it!  This is fertile mucus and will enable sperm to swim and survive.
  • Estrogen peaks right before ovulation.  The mucus will become raw egg white like. It’ll stretch – this is the mos fertile mucus.  It dislodges the mucus plug, leaving the cervix open.
  • After ovulation, as estrogen starts to drop, the mucus will gradually return to what it looked like after your period and before ovulation – infertile.

What are you looking for when checking mucus?

  • How does it feel when you’re walking around
  • How does it look
  • How much of it is there
  • What color is it
  • How does it smell

When should you check your mucus?

When using the bathroom – check to see if there is any mucus on the mouth of the vagina.  If so, examine it and use the above criteria to tell if it is fertile or not.

It takes time and practice before you can confidently recognize your peak fertility.  Practice makes perfect and the sooner you start the faster you’ll master the art of peak fertility times and timing conception!

 

 

Secondary Infertility?

When Trying for Another Child is a Struggle –

If you have had one or more healthy full-term pregnancies, you are very fertile and will go on to have more healthy pregnancies – RIGHT?  WRONG – Infertility can happen to anyone, at any time.  Couples who have had one or more biological children, without the assistance of reproductive technology or fertility medications and are unable to conceive or carry to term another pregnancy have Secondary Fertility.  Having a different partner this time does not matter.  It is also defined as secondary fertility if you are unable to conceive with this partner and have already had a full term pregnancy.

Secondary fertility accounts for nearly half of all infertility diagnosis.  Around 12% of the women in the United States are diagnosed with secondary infertility. (tweet this)

You should consider other options (fertility coach, etc.)  if:

  • You are experiencing irregular or very painful menstruation
  • Have had more than two miscarriages
  • Have a history of STD’s
  • Have a history of fertility related issues such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, etc.
  • Have a history of other health related problems such as diabetes, obesity, thyroid issues, alcoholism, drug addition, autoimmune disease

What contributes to Secondary Infertility?

Age – As we age our body systems are not as vital as they once were, especially if we have poor eating habits, lifestyle choices and high stress.  We can’t reverse the aging process but we can support out health in many ways including good diet choices, healthy lifestyle practices and stress reduction.

Cesarean Section – If you had a cesarean section birth there may be a chance that there is scar tissue damage to the uterus or fallopian tubes making it difficult to conceive.  Uterine scar tissue damage can interfere with implantation.  Scar tissue in the fallopian tubes can cause them to become blocked.

Hyperthyroidism – Postpartum thyroiditis has been found to occur in 7% of women within the first year after childbirth.  Overactive tissue in the thyroid gland leads to overproduction of thyroid hormones.  This is most likely caused by inflammation of they thyroid.

Obesity– If there has been a lot of weight gain since the birth of your last child, it is important to know that obesity increases the risk of infertility.

Fertility Boosting Tips

Exposure to environmental toxins both in utero and neonatally can damage your fertility. These five compounds can alter hormone function and result in adverse reproductive health effects:

Occasional exposure is not of concern.  The  concern comes with the accumulation of these chemicals in your body over a long period.

Here are seven ideas for a cleanse for helping to minimize your exposure to chemicals that rob your fertility:

  1. Eat organic food and products
  2. Never eat skin or fat on chicken and other meat as that’s where the hormones and industrial pollutants accumulate
  3. Don’t eat organ mean (liver, kidney) as that is where a lot of the toxins also accumulate
  4. Eat in season – the longer the product needs to travel the more handling and packaging it had to go through
  5. Use certified organic cosmetic products
  6. Stop nuking your food in the microwave
  7. Don’t use lead glazed glass or pottery

 

An optimal diet is about what to avoid and what to include.  Your diet should be as fresh as possible and organic wherever possible.  Key elements are:  quality protein sources and good fats!

  1. Organic meat in small quantities game, small deep sea fish like sardines, organic legumes – home cooked – not canned
  2. Whole grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit in season – again organic if possible
  3. Increase your consumption of good fats and avoid dangerous fats.  Good fats include monounsaturated fats in olive oil, polyunsaturated fats in oily fish and nuts and mid-chain fatty acids found in coconut oil

 

Dairy products account for 60-70 percent of estrogens consumed (tweet this).  Here is a list of hormones that have been found in cows’ milk:

  • Prolactin
  • Somatostatin
  • Melatonin
  • Oxytocin
  • Growth hormone
  • Lutenizing releasing hormone
  • Thyroid stimulating hormone
  • Estrogens
  • Progesterone
  • Insulin
  • Corticosteroids

 

Coffee has been shown to decrease fertility (tweet this).  So, if you are looking to increase your fertility, you may want to avoid coffee.  One study found as little as one cup per day can increase the risk of not conceiving by 55 percent.  And if you have 2-3 cups per day that risk rises to 100 percent and continues to increase with each cup.

Another study showed that women who drank coffee before and during pregnancy had twice the risk of miscarriage.  So avoiding coffee during the preconception and pregnancy may be wise.

 

Healthy Steps for Teen Reproductive Health

More and more female teens are inquiring about information regarding their reproductive health.  Some want to know about herbs, what to take, what the dosage is, in regards to fertility issues they have concerns with.  Fertility issues often start in the teen years.  Many have irregular cycles, fibroids, std’s, and ovarian cysts.  Today one in ten women have PCOS which originated in their teen years.

Important Steps for Healthy Fertility in Your Teen Years

Know, trust and love your body!  Learn how your reproductive system works.  This will help you understand daily and monthly what is going on in your body.  Knowledge is power!  Listen to your body.  If you feel something is not right or if you are in pain, talk to someone.  Love your body the way it is and for all it does for you!

Communicate clearly.  If you have questions or concerns, talk to a parent or someone you trust.  Find someone to help support you.

Have the courage to ask for help.  Be open, have confidence and ask questions.

Find a healthcare practitioner that you are comfortable with and fits your needs.  Have an adult help you.  If you are interested in natural, holistic methods, you will need to search for a naturopathic doctor, acupuncturist trained in Chinese Medicine or local herbalist.

Diet, exercise and sleep changes make a difference.  Teens often have poor dietary and sleep habits.

  • Eat a whole food nutrient dense diet.  Void soda, candy, chips, processed fast foods, etc.  Avoid foods that mimic estrogen in the body:  processed soy foods, non-organic foods.
  • Talk to your parents about helping you find a high quality whole food multivitamin to support your developing body.
  • Be sure you are active – 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week.
  • Teens need more sleep than adults.  Be sure you are getting at least 8 hours of restful sleep a night.  Lack of sleep is stressful for the body, which may contribute to menstrual cycle irregularities.

 

Educate yourself on pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.  Know how they can impact your fertility and health.

 

Learn about menstrual care products.  Learning to use natural menstrual care products will help protect your fertility.  They are designed with protecting your health, including supporting fertility long-term.  They are also eco-friendly compared to mainstream feminine care products.  Mainstream commercial feminine care products are often laden with toxic chemicals which may harm our fertility and pollute the earth.

 

My hope for generations to come is that they can find the confidence in their bodies to know when something is wrong or off and be able to ask for help.  Open, honest communication is important to having a healthy connection to your fertility and all of life!

 

Fertility Awareness

According to traditional Chinese medicine, a fertility awareness chart can provide important information for you and your practitioner.  You can use it to develop an awareness of your body’s menstrual cycle an aid in understanding your fertility.  You can design your own chart using excel or any other program that you desire.  After 3 cycles you will start to see an obvious pattern and be more aware of your fertility.

The basal body temperature is your  body’s temperature when it is at its lowest.  It is important to take your temperature each morning before you raise your metabolic rate with activity.  You need to have had at least three hours sleep to have an accurate recording.  Record it as a disruption if you have not had three hours or sleep or more.  Your temperature readings confirm whether you have ovulated.

Taking your temperature can be done with a mercury or electronic digital thermometer.  The preferred method is to take the temp orally.

Recording your temperature should start on the first day of your period. If the mercury stops between two marks record it as the one below.  Place a dot on the center of the square.  If for any reason you did not take your temperature on any day, leave that square blank.

Sample Chart:  Recording mucus changes– your mucus normally changes throughout your cycle.  Following your period it acts as a barrier to the entry of your cervix but as you approach ovulaion it changes to help the sperm on its journey.  Fertile mucus is wet, slippery, stretchy and appears clear (rather like raw egg white).  When you notice this change, record it on your chart as this marks the beginning of your fertile phase. Check your mucus before urination, only record your most fertile reading of the day.  Record whether it is dry and creamy, moist and creamy and increased in amount.  Between the thumb and forefinger collect the mucus from the vaginal opening.  The wetter the sensation, the more fertile you are.  The amount will increase as you get closer to ovulation.  It is best recorded in a bar graph form which is easily read.

Sample of what your cervix and mucus changes look like:

Using your temperature chart to record your fertile phase – fertile mucus is the beginning of your fertile phase.  Ovulation is noted by the distinct temperature rise, ovulation occurs on the day before your temperature actually rises.  Fertile mucus will usually appear 2-3 days prior to ovulation to help sperm released at this time to travel to the egg.  The egg needs to be fertilized within 12-24 hours so you are also fertile for approximately 24 hours following your temperature rise.

Using your temperature chart to predict the arrival of your period – in a 28 day cycle ovulation occurs 14 days after the first day of your preceding period.  Your next period will then occur approximately 14 days following ovulation.  In women with irregular cycles it is the first part of the cycle that is shorter or longer, with you period still arriving approximately 14 days after ovulation.  On your temperature chart this  can e confirmed by a temperature drop the day before your period arrives.

The Truth About Fatigue-How to Enhance Your Fertility

Looking at your energy levels is something to look at if you are experiencing difficulties getting pregnant.

Feeling stressed and tired has become the norm.  We think we should get more tired as we age.  We push the snooze button and still can’t get ourselves up.

Fatigue is the symptom and the end result of hormonal and immune imbalances in the body and not the sign of approaching hormonal issues  Imbalances are already in place once we start feeling fatigued on a regular basis.

Optimal fertility and a healthy pregnancy require hormonal balance, a healthy immune system and an abundance of energy.  Adrenal exhaustion, insulin resistance and imbalance estrogen and progesterone can concoct an internal body climate that’s not suitable to a new life and can even make living in your own skin unbearable.

How can you tell if you fatigue levels are impacting your fertility?

  • Feeling tired upon waking
  • Unexplainable aches and pains 
  • Skin and hair that is lackluster
  • Puffy and tired eyes in the morning
  • Lacking spring in your step – feeling heavy and slow
  • Sugar and caffeine cravings
  • Mental confusion and scattered thoughts
  • Lack of sense of purpose and direction in life
  • Feeling frazzled with your to-do list
  • No energy to exercise
  • Frequent colds and infections
  • Feeling irritable and tired most of the time
  • Low threshold for pain 
  • Flying off handle easily
  • Feeling emotionally vulnerable, teary and misunderstand
  • Insomnia and restless sleep
  • Signs of premature aging
  • Excess weight no diet seems to be able to remove
  • Sluggish digestion
  • Low libido and loss of interest in your partner
  • Feeling depressed 
  • Lack of motivation
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Infertility

Most cases of chronic fatigue can be addressed with simple yet effective lifestyle and dietary changes.

How can you increase your fertility by controlling your fatigue?

  1. Eliminated all caffeine from your diet for 6 weeks.  Then drinking organic green tea in moderation.
  2. Stop consuming refined food which contains white sugar, white flour and white rice.
  3. Avoid all artificial sweeteners.
  4. Avoid sugar.  Sugar lowers immunity.
  5. Avoid margarine.
  6. Avoid commercial cereal, bread and snacks made with flour and grains.
  7. Exercise daily.  A brisk walk for 40 minutes helps.
  8. Drink purified water with fresh peppermint, lemon and lime to help with sugar cravings.
  9. Eat nuts and seeds, seasoned organic fruit and vegetables.
  10. Go to bed before 10 pm and get up between 6 and 7 every morning.
  11. Take a good quality fish oil, multivitamin and probiotic daily.
Following these guidelines for six and watch your body, energy level and fertility transform.  Fatigue is the result of hormonal and immune imbalances in the body caused by intake of food which is loaded with empty calories, toxins, endocrine disruptors and anti-nutrient devoid of enzymes, vitality, vitamins and minerals.

 

Side Effects and Costs of Fertility Treatments-Optimize Natural Fertility First!

IVF should never be the first choice for fertility issues and should only be used once all has been done to address the underlying causes.  Optimizing reproductive health through natural means first is the most beneficial to mom and baby.

Technology, while it has its place, cannot prevent disease nor enhance one’s well-being and overall health.  Infertility treatments are no different.  There is a place for assisted reproductive technology and sometimes it is the only viable option.  You can actually do ART and natural methods to double your chances of success with ART.  Studies have shown that couples going through IVF are 47% more successful if they used pre-conceptual health care first.

Financial Costs of ART – In the US an average IVF cycle costs between $10,000 and $20,000.  Additional charges apply if you choose a donor, artificial insemination and freezing.  Health care usually does not cover the newer procedures.  For women over 40 IVF is up to 4 times less cost effective.

Health Risks of ART – IVF drugs have been shown to be dangerous for the health of mothers as well as babies and there is no clear evidence they increase a woman’s chances of conceiving.  There is a high risk of birth deformity and severe health problems associated with IVF births.  One study in 2005 showed 43 babies out of every thousand conceived using IVF techniques suffered from a variety of abnormalities including genetic deformities, brain disorders, developmental delays and genital malformations.

One study indicated significantly higher risks of long-term medical problems for children conceived via artificial means and advised that the children should be monitored well into adulthood – there is no long-term data available at this time about their health.

Studies show that there is:

  • 20% – 34% higher risk of miscarriage
  • 55% increased risk of pre-eclampsia
  • 155% increased risk of stillbirth
  • 170% – 200% increased risk of low birth rate

Another study conducted in 2007 showed children conceived through IVF visit hospitals more times than naturally conceived children.  It was stated that infections, respiratory ad inflammatory diseases and neurological disorders were more common among those born after IVF.

High unnatural does of artificial hormones play havoc with a woman’s body and mind which impacts their mental health.  They have a higher rate of depressive symptoms and major depression.  Couples become emotionally and physically broke after repeated IVF cycles.

After you’ve optimized your natural fertility which will make you healthier in the long run and increase your odds for conception, IVF may be a choice.  Using preconception health care with IVF minimizes all the risks to you and your baby’s health.

 

 

Trying to Conceive? Managing Stress Can Help

More and more studies suggest that stress and infertility have a connection.  This applies to both men and women.  Learning how to deal with stress may help your chances for conception.

It’s been proven that prolonged stress can cause many physical changes within the body.  This emotion triggers neural and biochemical reactions; which in turn can affect the everyday functioning of our bodies.

Chronic stress can produce an abundance of the adrenal hormones which keeps you in constant “fight or fight” response.

Stress and fertility are believed to have a relationship; especially when tests have shown no obvious explanation.  The rates of unexplained infertility have been rising over the years.  Considering our stressful lives, this is no surprise.

When stress is chronic, the brain’s signals to the hypothalamus gets confused.  This is turn can send mixed messages to the pituitary gland, which is responsible for secreting certain hormones essential for sexual organs to function.  The instructions that make certain biochemical reactions occur within the body are not working properly; resulting in hormonal disturbances.

Hormones travel via the bloodstream.  The blood flow to the reproductive organs can also be disrupted through stress.  A stressed body can temporarily shut down some of the non-essential bodily functions (including ovulation, sperm production, or conception).  This is so the body can put all of its energy into action upon the presumed immediate treat to survival (fight or flight response).

In women, stress ca affect hormone imbalances which can upset ovulation by affecting the maturation and release of the egg.  Stress can also cause spasms in the fallopian tubes and the uterus which can prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg.

Trying to conceive can be an extremely stressful event and a vicious cycle can occur.  What can you do?

  • Decrease stress levels
  • Exercise
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Practice meditation, visualization or guided imagery
  • Participate in energy/body work

 

Here are some affirmations for fertility

 

Are Your Sleep Habits Causing Fertility Issues?

Did you know there is a link between fertility and sleep deprivation?  Most of us know that getting enough sleep is important for overall health and well-being.  It turns out that sleep is very important when it comes to fertility.  So, if you are doing everything else right and still having an issue with conceiving, your sleep habits may be the missing piece of the puzzle!

How Much Sleep Should You Get?  Regularly getting an inadequate amount of sleep is known as sleep deprivation.  The average woman aged 30 to 60 should be getting seven to nine hours of sleep.  They are averaging six hours and forty minutes.

How does sleep affect fertility?  Sleep deprivation has a profound effect on hormones, memory, mood, digestion, alertness, concentration, immune function and cell repair.  Sleep deprivation affects fertility by its effect on hormones in the body, primarily through the hormone Leptin.  Leptin is the hormone responsible for ovulation in women and adequate sleep is needed for proper Leptin production.  If this is interrupted, the menstrual cycle can be disrupted.  Sleep also affects other fertility hormones including luteinizing hormone, follicle stimulating hormone, estrogen and progesterone.

Sleep deprivation also disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm.  This is the body’s internal clock that regulates the sleep and wake cycle.  Too little sleep leads to low leptin levels – the hormone responsible for appetite which can impact ovulation.

Stress can also affect our sleep cycles.

Exposure to artificial light can inhibit good sleep.  To reduce the negative heath effects of artificial lights, turn off the TV and computer several hours before bed.

Be consistent in your sleep routine.  Go to bed and wake up a the same time each day.  Don’t sleep in on the weekends.  Avoid caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes.  See if any of your medications interfere with your sleep.  Start a relaxing bedtime routine.  Take a warm bath and have a light snack an hour or two before bedtime.

Try changing some of your routines to see if your fertility issues are linked to sleep deprivation.