Most of us spend much of our lives trying our hardest not to get pregnant, then only to find that when we do want to conceive, it doesn’t just happen at thee drop of a hat, so to speak. Although easy for some, conception can be quite a struggle for others and can often be a very frustrating and emotional process. It may seem to happen in an instant, but the reality is that for conception and impregnation to occur, the conditions need to be pretty ideal. In order for conception to occur, we need the right timing, a healthy egg, healthy sperm, and a healthy uterus for the fertilised egg to land in. Let’s have a look at each of these elements in detail and make sure we know how to achieve optimal conception health in each area.
- Timing – a woman needs to be at the correct phase of her menstrual cycle in order to have a mature egg for conception. Maturation of the egg takes around 10 days (from the beginning of menstruation) and the egg is then released from the follicle – the process of ovulation – around day 12-16 of the cycle (based on an average 18 day cycle). There is a slight drop, followed by a significant rise in basal body temperature around the time of ovulation and this can be a helpful method of determining your ideal fertile time (see chart below). Cervical mucous also changes at this time, making the delivery of sperm into the uterus a more likely event.
- Healthy eggs – 90 days of ideal nutrition can have a significant positive effect on the health of your eggs. Ensuring ideal egg cell membrane health with a good dose of clean fish oil is imperative and supplementing with CoenzymeQ10 has also been shown to improve egg health and ultimately fertility. Other essential nutrients include folate, vitamin B12, iron,iodine, vitamin D, and vitamin E. In addition, improving circulation via exercise and abdominal massage can be very helpful as well as balancing hormones for optimal ovulation. Exercise should be regular but not too strenuous, and you may need the help of your natural health care practitioner if your hormones require balancing. Steer clear of the elements known to damage egg health such as stress, alcohol, nicotine, processed foods or a high sugar diet.
- Healthy sperm – declining sperm count and quality is now a major cause of infertility in couples. Sperm is affected by diet and lifestyle just as eggs are and ideal health and nutrition are paramount to producing good, healthy, sperm that know which direction to swim in. As with females, males need to stay away from toxic elements that could damage sperm such as cigarettes, alcohol, nicotine, pesticides, and plastics (plastics are known to mimic oestrogen in the body and can negatively affect both male and female reproduction). Nutrients essential for optimal sperm health include essential fatty acids such as fish or flaxseed oil, zinc, selenium, vitamin E, folate and vitamin B12. CoenzymeQ10 and the herb Tribulus terrestris have also been found to improve sperm count and quality.
- Healthy womb – the monthly menstrual cycle is the uterus’s way of ensuring that once conception has occurred, the fertilized egg has a warm, soft, nutritious womb to land in and begin its development into a healthy baby. The body sheds the lining of the uterus monthly to make sure that when the egg arrives, the tissue is fresh and healthy. Good blood flow to the uterus is very important and can be achieve through regular exercise. Adequate iron is also of great importance to ensure ideal oxygenation of the uterine tissues. Herbs such as Dong quai and nutrients such as arginine have also been shown to improve uterine blood flow.
So now you have a bit of an understanding about the basics of natural fertility, but there is so much more! Some couples find that doing a whole body detox improves their overall health and removes toxins from the body that may impede impregnation or the production of a healthy baby. Many find themselves in the catch 22 situation where the stress of not being able to get pregnant further reduces their chances of getting pregnant. Relaxation and positive visualisation CDs such as the Francesca Naish Preparation for Conception CDs have been extremely helpful for so many of our natural fertility patients. Come and chat to one of our naturopaths today and find out more about how we can help you and your partner make your little bundle of joy a reality.