Your TTC Strategy 7: Learn about Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Some last thoughts before you try to get pregnant
Herbal therapies have been shown to both decrease and increase fertility, depending on the dose and the herbs used. For this reason, you should only work with a practitioner familiar with all aspects of herbal therapy.
Herbs that have commonly been used for fertility enhancement include vitex (chasteberry), dong quai, false unicorn root, and wild yam. Recently, two herbal and nutritional blends have become available that have been demonstrated in studies to improve fertility for both men and women: FertilityBlend® and FertilAid®.
There are some herbs that should be avoided. One study raised the question about St. John’s wort, echinacea, and ginkgo being harmful to sperm. Various sources have recommended avoiding barberry, bloodroot, calamus, cascara sagrada, fennel, flaxseed, goldenseal, juniper, lavender, licorice root, mayapple, mistletoe, passion flower, pennyroyal (a strong uterine stimulant!), periwinkle, poke root, rhubarb, sage, St. John’s wort, tansy, thyme, wild cherry, wormwood, and yarrow during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle or during pregnancy.
In a very large observational study, in which more than 18,000 women were evaluated for the role of diet on fertility, several key differences were found. These differences are now known as “The Fertility Diet“. The diet plan described with The Fertility Diet doesn’t guarantee a pregnancy any more than traditional fertility treatments but it’s available to everyone, and has no side effects. It helps you start eating right for a healthy pregnancy, and forms the foundation of a healthy lifestyle.
There is no doubt that infertility causes stress, but can stress cause infertility? In research published in the journal Human Reproduction, doctors compared pregnancy rates in couples who reported their stress levels as high or low. What they found: Pregnancy was much more likely to occur during months when couples reported feeling “good”—happy and relaxed. It was less likely to occur during the months they reported feeling tense or anxious.
It is possible to control stress through deep abdominal breathing, meditation, yoga, visualization, exercise, and cognitive behavioral therapy. A study published in Fertility and Sterility in 2000 found that about half of the women in either a support group or a cognitive-behavioral group became pregnant, compared with only 20 percent in a control group. What we know is that when stress-reduction techniques are employed, something happens in some women that allows them to get pregnant when they couldn’t get pregnant before.
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