In this blog post I’m going to highlight some of the very worst practices for fertility that I commonly see in private practice. I encourage you to take time to read through these practices and reflect on how they might be showing up in your personal fertility journey. If they are – and it’s likely that at least a few of them are – don’t despair. In the next blog post entitled The Five Best Practices for Fertility, I offer you a picture of the very best practices that can replace these bad-for-babymaking practices, and make all the difference in your fertility journey.
1: The absolute worst thing that you can do on your fertility journey is not baby dancing. I realize that this might sound ridiculous, but I can assure you that it’s a real thing! I can't tell you how many people come to me for help conceiving who can’t seem to find the time to baby dance with their partner, despite how badly they want to get pregnant. For many couples, work and personal demands are so great that it can seem like they are two ships passing in the night. Often times, both partners are constantly working, and even away traveling for work, which means that fertile times are frequently missed. Even when it works out that the perfect timing is set aside and scheduled, we are often too exhausted to engage in plenty of babymaking fun, or we allow the needs of others to interfere with this sacred time. Another sad, but real, truth is that our fertility journey can be trying and create distance, even for the closest, most loving couples. It’s even more so the case when we have underlying relationship issues – both related and unrelated to fertility - that are left untouched or unresolved. Unfortunately, whatever the reason, if we’re not prioritizing intimate time with our partner, and making plenty of time to baby dance, it can be extremely difficult to get pregnant naturally.
2. The next worst practice for fertility is not managing stress. With so many demands coming at us from every direction, chronic stress is an epidemic in our modern lives. By now, the science is abundantly clear that our ability to manage stress is a leading factor in our overall health. This is absolutely true when it comes to reproductive health as well. Chronic stress is damaging to our nervous system and to our delicate hormones and the glands that secrete them. It disrupts the intricate body rhythms and systems that support healthy internal balance that impacts all aspects of reproduction and fertility. I'm certain no one needs me to point out all of the ways in which we tend to feel stressed on a daily basis, but it’s important for us to understand that stressed living has become a habitual way of being that is bad for our health - and our ability to make babies. It’s also important to understand that the more we take on during our fertility journey, the less energy we have for babymaking. It's that simple. It’s also helpful to recognize that over-exercising and restricting nourishment are two major ways that we create massive stress in the body by sending the message that our survival is being threatened. The good news is that these are stressors that we actually have control over, and can take steps to correct.
3. Which leads right in to my next point: not getting adequate nutrition. Restricting calories and nourishment is very, very bad for fertility. Our bodies are extremely wise and will do anything to ensure our survival. When we restrict nourishment and calories, we are sending our body the message that we are starving. If the body thinks we are starving, it will not be safe to reproduce, as the body’s first priority is to ensure our survival. It’s that simple. And there's another part to this. Foods that are filling, but provide no nutritional value convey this same message of starvation. Therefore, it's not enough to fill up on empty calories. This is why many of us are overweight yet still starving. If we are not filling up on nutritious foods, we’re not only being deprived of important vitamins and minerals, we’re also increasing exposure to toxins through our food. The result of both scenarios is that the body is pushed into survival mode rather than a thriving, growing state that allows for making babies. Some of the most basic things that we want to avoid in order to maximize fertility are things like food coloring and other additives and preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, and hydrogenated oils all of which are found in processed foods. These are essentially non-foods that are added to our foods, and our bodies do not prefer them at all. Similarly, chemicals and pesticides found in non-organic foods are extremely harmful to our bodies and impact our fertility in a negative way.
4. Next on the list: not tracking your cycle. It’s essential for our fertility that we understand our unique menstrual cycle, and the only way to do this is to track our cycle. When we talk about the menstrual cycle, we're talking about the entire cycle from the first day of one period until the first day of the next, not just the actual days of flow, although that's also part of it. Our unique cycle tells us a lot about the health of our hormones, as well as our ability to reproduce, all of this being information that remains unknown if we are not tracking our cycle. And most importantly, without tracking, there is no way for us to know for certain when we are ovulating which means that it is quite possible that we are not getting pregnant simply because we are missing our fertile window each month. Unfortunately, in this scenario, babymaking just can't happen.
5. The final point on our list of worst fertility practices is not getting evaluated. One of the most heartbreaking things that I see over and over again in private practice is that patients go through months and years of misery and suffering in silence before making a decision to get evaluated. At this point, they've spent so much time wondering what's wrong with them and why they're not getting pregnant that they are running out of time and hope. They feel that this is there last chance, however at this point, we don't even know if their reproductive anatomy is clear and properly functioning. A fertility struggle could be the result of something very straightforward and easy to correct, such as a small, benign growth in the uterus preventing implantation. Because the patient wasn’t evaluated, there was no way to uncover this information, and instead they faced months or years of unnecessary suffering.
In the next blog post entitled The Five Best Practices for Fertility, I’ll share with you the five best practices for fertility that can make all the difference in your babymaking journey. Enjoy!