Fertility is a very real struggle for many couples these days. Whether that’s the struggle to get pregnant in the first place, or the struggle to keep the baby, it’s a struggle many families and couples face. The CDC puts it this way:
In the United States, among heterosexual women aged 15 to 49 years with no prior births, about 1 in 5 (19%) are unable to get pregnant after one year of trying (infertility). Also, about 1 in 4 (26%) women in this group have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term (impaired fecundity).
Infertility and impaired fecundity are less common among women with one or more prior births. In this group, about 6% of married women aged 15 to 49 years are unable to get pregnant after one year of trying and 14% have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term.
Infertility is a heartbreaking struggle for many, especially when those around you seem to have no problem with it. It can leave many people feeling like something within them is broken, that they’re not living up to what they’re supposed to be able to do.
You are not Broken
At The Wellness Way, we look at the body like a Swiss Watch. Every process and organ in your body impacts every other. The body is finely tuned for all the processes and organs to function properly and work with each other. When there’s one thing out of alignment, things don’t function properly, and the place that shows itself isn’t always obviously connected to the source of the problem. If you stub your toe really hard, or break your arm, your blood pressure goes up as your body tries to fix it. These processes are connected, even if they don’t seem like it at first glance.
If one is hard, two is harder
When you’re trying to get pregnant, you’re trying to make two Swiss watches work together. If getting one Swiss watch to work in harmony with itself takes a lot of effort and focus, getting two to work together can be even more frustrating. Especially when you haven’t been taught how to really take care of yourself.
If you’re going to grow a plant, conditions have to be right to support life. The soil has to be full of nutrients, there has to be plenty of sunlight, the plant has to have access to enough water, and there has to be sufficient room for the plant to grow. These are just a few of the things necessary. How much more complex than growing a plant is growing a human being? For this, too, you have to prepare the environment.
Your Lifestyle Matters
If your body is a Swiss watch, and every part impacts another, how you live your life will impact every part of your body and life. Mayo Clinic gives some advice when it comes to lifestyle and female fertility, including the following.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or significantly underweight can inhibit normal ovulation.
- Prevent sexually transmitted infections. Infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhea are a leading cause of infertility for women.
- Avoid the night shift, if possible. Regularly working the night shift might put you at higher risk of infertility, possibly by affecting hormone production. If you do work the night shift, try to get enough sleep when you’re not working.
- Don’t smoke. Tobacco use is associated with lower fertility. Smoking ages your ovaries and depletes your eggs prematurely. If you smoke, ask your health care provider to help you quit.
- Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Heavy drinking is associated with an increased risk of ovulation disorders. If you’d like to get pregnant, consider avoiding alcohol completely. Abstinence at conception and during pregnancy is generally recommended because a safe level of fetal alcohol consumption hasn’t been established.
- Curb caffeine. Female fertility doesn’t seem to be affected by caffeine intake below 200 milligrams a day. Consider limiting your caffeine intake to one or two 6- to 8-ounce cups of coffee a day.
- Be wary of overexercise. Too much vigorous physical activity can inhibit ovulation and reduce production of the hormone progesterone. If you have a healthy weight and you’re thinking of becoming pregnant soon, consider limiting vigorous physical activity to less than five hours a week.
- Avoid exposure to toxins. Environmental pollutants and toxins — such as pesticides, dry-cleaning solvents and lead — can adversely affect fertility.
A few other things to watch out for when it comes to lifestyle are:
- Detox and recover from birth control. Despite what many think, birth control doesn’t stop impacting your hormones immediately after you stop taking it. Many women have to work to get their hormones back to homeostasis after they stop taking birth control.
- Be mindful of when you exercise. Ladies, did you know you should be adjusting what sort of exercises you do depending on where you are in your cycle?
- Cut the sugar. This one is very important for the men to listen to. Just like stress is the main influencer of a woman’s hormones, sugar is the main influencer for a man’s. Sugar will convert testosterone to estrogens. Not only will this limit his sperm count, but it’ll increase his risk for breast cancer.
How to get your Body Ready for Baby
Nobody will argue that hormones aren’t important for fertility, as well as several other processes in the body. Hormones are the body’s messengers; they indicate to the different systems what must be done to promote function and maintain life. It’s important to work with your hormones. What happens when you’re constantly fighting them? Even if they don’t win, and you force them to work the way you want, you sure won’t win. When hormones aren’t working the way they should be, it leads to a whole other slew of problems. Cut the birth control and sugar.
Ladies, a regular, non-agonic cycle is a good sign your hormones are working the way they should be. If you’re irregular or your period is painful, get your hormones tested to find where the imbalance is. Then, figure out how to address it. Hormone tests aren’t bad for men to take, either. Everyone has hormones, and it’s best when they’re balanced as they should be.
Allergens and Toxins
Cutting out foods you’re allergic to, and toxins found in our everyday life is another great way to help keep your body balanced and functioning properly. A lot of the time, when you’re addressing allergens and toxins, you’ll have to dig deeper than you think you’ll have to. When reading the ingredients on food to see if it fits your allergies, be aware of hidden allergens, too. If you’re allergic to corn, for example, you also have to avoid erythritol–it’s an ingredient derived from corn.
Dig deep when it comes to everyday toxins, too. Are your hair products secretly harboring toxins? What about your air, water, or cleaning supplies? Ladies, upgrade your nail polish and beauty products to something healthier, as those will often hide substances that are doing you more harm than good. Trade out your plastic food storage for glass jars and bowls, and plastic spatulas and ladles for stainless steel or wood. And keep an eye out for these other hidden sources of plastic in everyday life.
Sleep is Important
Getting enough sleep is probably the best thing you can do for your body. It’s not easy in this hustle and bustle world, these days, though. Between so much we need to fit into a day, and how easy it is to bring our phones with us, many of us are getting far less sleep than we need. Especially women, who need more sleep than men. Lack of sleep impacts so many areas, we have eight tips to help you get better sleep.
Keep stresses to a minimum
Sugar has a massive influence over a man’s hormones, but stress will impact a woman’s hormones more than anything else. Because fertility is controlled by your hormones and how your body is functioning, then, it’ll be far easier to get pregnant if you don’t bring more stresses into your life than are absolutely necessary. In fact, if there are too many stresses going on, fertility in both men and women will shut down. This is why, when young women are struggling with eating disorders, their cycles will sometimes stop altogether.
Don’t take the night shift, don’t take on more work than you need to at work, eat well, keep drinking water, and get good sleep. Keep the stresses on your body to a minimum.
When a gear in your watch is out of rhythm, or is wedged into place improperly, the watch sometimes stops working altogether. Other times, the watch will keep working, but the gears will be grinding against each other to do so. The best thing to do for the watch at that point is find someone who knows how each gear is supposed to sit to nudge the mechanisms back into place. The human body is no different. When something is shifted out of place, it puts stress on the rest of the body as it continues trying to work. Getting adjusted by a Wellness Way practitioner who knows how the body is supposed to work will nudge things back into their proper place and take that extra pressure off.
Trying to get two Swiss watches to work in tandem to produce a baby may be hard if you don’t know what challenges you may be facing. Figuring out all the little facets to fertility is complex, and something a lot of people struggle with, these days. But just because something is common doesn’t mean it’s normal, and just because something has been hard until now doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. To learn more, check out what our own Nicole Saleske has to say about the journey to fertility. To get your hormones tested, or to get adjusted, contact a Wellness Way clinic today. You are not broken.