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Infertility is, unfortunately, rampant in our society today.  The birth rate is currently the lowest it’s been in the last century.  There are a number of reasons for both, which are similar: older first-time mothers, fewer children per family, increasing rates of female dysfunction ( PCOS, thyroid conditions, etc.), lowered sperm counts, financial concerns, and more.

The average age of a first-time mother was only 21.4 in 1970, while it is around 25 today and still rising.  The rate of mothers having their first child over age 35 has risen, too.  Experts say that fertility peaks somewhere between age 22 and 27 and begins to decline after that, so older mothers are already at a disadvantage.  Older mothers also experience a greater rate of miscarriage (up to 50% over 42) and genetic disorders, due to chromosomal abnormalities in their eggs.

In younger women, increasing rates of reproductive or endocrine disorders, like hypo- or hyper-thyroidism, PCOS, endometriosis, adrenal fatigue, diabetes, obesity, and others are causing infertility as well, because they are caused by or have as symptoms hormonal disruptions.  These diseases are largely either caused or worsened by diet and lifestyle choices; many can be improved or even reversed by changing diet or lifestyle or both.

Our modern diet wrecks havoc on our health, as we’ve discussed in many previous posts.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.  If you’ve been following Amanda’s Story, then you already know that her PCOS has significantly improved by changing her diet.  A combination of careful diet and fertility-supporting supplements can make it possible to conceive naturally.

Before we discuss what some of those supplements are, though, let’s talk about some of the risks involved in traditional infertility treatments, as well as risks associated with hormonal birth control (which can play a role in infertility too).

Risks of birth control:

  • Heart attack
  • Blood clots/stroke
  • Weight gain
  • Mood swings and depression
  • Nausea and vomitting
  • Irregular periods
  • Acne
  • Bone density loss
  • Breast tenderness
  • Lowered libido
  • Headaches, dizziness, fatigue

Indeed the side effects are such that some women find they cannot function on hormonal birth control.  Even those that “seem” okay are doing damage to their bodies by trying to control their hormones in a way that is not natural.  Doing so can cause difficulty in getting pregnant once off the birth control.  Some women find they need 6 – 12 months to return to “normal” before they can attempt to conceive, so birth control can be a cause of infertility.  It is best to avoid hormonal birth control entirely and instead rely on barrier methods, or better yet, natural family planning.

Unfortunately many choose to compound their problems by turning to hormonal fertility methods.  If your hormones are out of balance, the solution is to heal yourself and get back into balance, not to try to “trick” your body into getting pregnant.  Hormonal fertility methods (Clomid being the most popular) have their own set of risks, including:

  • Hot flashes
  • Uterine cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Reduced cervical mucus (making conception more difficult)
  • Thinner uterine lining (making implantation more difficult)
  • Abdominal discomfort

I also found this from www.drugs.com (emphasis mine):

Unless directed to do so by your doctor, do not use Clomid if you have an uncontrolled thyroid or adrenal gland disorder, an abnormality of the brain such as a pituitary gland tumor, a liver disease or a history of liver problems, abnormal uterine bleeding of undetermined origin, ovarian cysts, or enlargement of the ovaries not caused by
polycystic ovarian syndrome (a hormonal disorder causing lack of ovulation)
It is highly likely that women who are suffering from “unexplained” infertility do have thyroid of adrenal issues, and Clomid is actually contraindicated in these cases!
Instead of trying fertility drugs, there are natural ways to help pregnancy along.  First, begin a truly healthy diet:
  • No refined sugars or white flour
  • No vegetable oils, especially if heated
  • No breakfast cereals or other extruded grains
  • Plenty of healthy pastured saturated fats
  • Plenty of eggs, especially the yolks (pastured)
  • Plenty of fresh, whole milk (preferably raw)
  • Moderate sprouted, soaked, or sourdough grains (no ‘regular’ whole grains!)
  • Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Plenty of fermented foods ( yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, etc.)
Remember that healthy fats are absolutely necessary for a healthy body, especially in pregnancy!  For more, you can look back at my Pregnancy Diet post, which is really a good idea for anyone hoping to conceive too.
It also important to note that vitamin D deficiency and infertility are linked, too, so be sure to include cod liver oil or get out in the sun if possible!
In addition to this excellent diet (which, of course, is a pretty good idea even for those who are not hoping to conceive!), there are specific herbs which can increase fertility.  They include:
  • Vitex (helps hormones to normalize)
  • Red raspberry leaf* (tones the uterus)
  • Alfalfa* (increases cervical mucus, increases alkalinity to promote conception)
  • Nettle* (balances hormones, heals adrenals)
  • Licorice (increases cervical fluid, balances hormones)
  • Cranberry* (helps production of cervical mucus)
  • Red clover (balances hormones, increases alkalinity to promote conception)
  • Oatstraw* (mild aphrodisiac, balances endocrine system)
*Can be used during pregnancy as well
It’s important to get plenty of vitamins E, B (complex), D, and really every other vitamin Vitamins E and B have the most to do with fertility.  Eating foods high in these vitamins, and considering a supplement if necessary is a good idea.
A combination of a very healthy diet (including adequate nutrients like B and E), plenty of rest, and herbs to support reproduction will improve your overall health and help you to conceive naturally!  You can find even more information at Naturally Knocked Up, too! 
Have you ever suffered from infertility?  What treatments did you try?  Tell us your story!

This is the writings of:

Kate is wife to Ben and mommy to Bekah (6.5), Daniel (5), Jacob (3), and Nathan (1.5). She is passionate about God, health, and food. She has written 7 cookbooks and a popular book entitled A Practical Guide to Children's Health. She also recently released Healing With God's Earthly Gifts: Natural and Herbal Remedies, which teaches people to use natural remedies to keep their families healthy. When she's not blogging, she's in the kitchen, sewing, or homeschooling her children.

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7 Comments

  1. Oh dear, I eat pretty much all the stuff you say not to (white flour, sugar, coffee, breakfast cereals, vegetable oils used in cooking) and never eat fermented foods, coconut oil or sprouted/soaked grains. I do eat some of the stuff on your "good" list (organic meats, organic raw milk, lots of organic fruits and veggies, not very much processed foods) Any advice (books/websites/links) on where to start on a diet overhaul? What is the most important thing? This is kind of overwhelming. :-(

    Reply

  2. Robin,

    I have a "Baby Steps" series I did back in March I think. You can find them all under the "Getting Started" tab. Since you already do a lot of good stuff (yay!), pick the "bad" thing you do most and change that. So, if you eat a lot of cereal, decide you are going to change your breakfast options first. I have a "Meal Plans" section that has some ideas. It's easy to swap out the fats you cook with, too. Use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil, for example. I'd start with the fats and the breakfast cereals, then try out some soaked/sprouted grains (I have several recipes for sprouted grains here). Once you're baking with sprouted grains using different sugars will come easily. Coffee can be the last thing, but you can switch to organic in the meantime. Once you've made ALL your swaps, THEN worry about fermented foods and such. :)

    I hope that helps, at least a little!

    Reply

  3. Hi MAM!
    Great series. Over at Healthy by Choices, there is also a series on pre natal exercise (exercising while you are pregnant) that will help prepare both the mamma and the baby for labor and delivery (and a quick recovery)! http://healthybychoices.blogspot.com/p/healthy-pregnancy.html

    Reply

  4. Hello, I have been reading your post for sometime….really thankful to have found it. I have been gradually adding many of the above principles/Nourishing Traditions/weston a price,etc into my diet/lifestlye for the last few years…..I pretty much eat the way you suggested above…the only thing I am working on is getting rid of my one cup of organic coffee a day…I am getting closer to getting that out of my diet.

    My question comes from the role of the male partner in trying to concieve and how to improve their abilities? My husband had a vasectomy at 25 and had it reversed ten years later….We have now been trying to concieve for almost a year. I appear to be ovulating most months and have a very regular cycle. I am almost 37. My husband is not as gungho in terms of diet/lifestyle…eats more of a SAD although I have helped him make some good changes they are small. He also enjoys his alcohol…He is trying to watch how much, but still drinks a glass of wine or two a day. I have certainly told him of my desire to improve/limit some of his choices, but I think he feels overwhelmed at how to…and not confident in the role of his dietary choices effecting his abilitiy to concieve….do you have any insights on small things to improve our chances as it has become very stressful not knowing how to help him as I believe that may have something to do with where we are at….
    We both feel very strongly that God has it and in his timing it will happen…..thanks again for your wonderful blog and any insights.
    Blessings

    Reply

  5. I've heard that grapefruit juice is great for increasing the amount of fertile cervical mucus. Also, after ovulation some women drink pineapple juice as it is supposed to help with implantation.

    Reply

  6. Hopeful mamma- My husband and I are also trying. My hubby struggles with infertility, he had to have a surgery, that was a year ago. He is taking a really good supplement called Male Reproductive Factors for Men and the brand is Michael’s Nature. I would also suggest that your hubby go take a sperm test, just so you can know if there ARE any areas that are lacking (like motility, for example). The supplement I recommended helps every area of possible sperm problems/infertility for men. Also remember, if his sperm are unhealthy (or slow or whatever), it takes 3 months for sperm to mature before it ‘leaves.’ So it takes a little while, any improvements that need to be made will take a while to show. And for health/eating improvements, just focus on what you feel are the most important things that should change (or be added to the diet- like cod liver oil). I learned that if its too much at once, he’s gonna resist. And it also helps to explain why something is bad, or good (the science behind it all/ the facts). But take courage! -My Dad had a reversal after 10 or so years, and after trying for 2 years, my parents got pregnant and now I have a 7 year old brother. :)

    Reply

  7. Good website! I truly love how it is simple on my eyes and the data are well written. I am wondering how I could be notified when a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your feed which must do the trick! Have a great day!

    Reply

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