Simple strategies in regards to lifestyle choices that will help with your pursuit of a successful pregnancy include the following: maintain a healthy body weight, exercise regularly, manage your stress levels and get sufficient sleep. All these factors can strongly influence the length of time you require to become pregnant. Before they plan to conceive, we advise our patients to take at least three months to prepare their bodies and create a nurturing, safe place in which to give their babies the best start in life.
Control Your Weight
Being overweight or underweight is a common and indisputable cause of irregular periods and reduced fertility. An overweight body produces abnormally high levels of androgenic hormones that inhibit ovulation. Often, women with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 27 or higher have a lower pregnancy rate. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a good example of how weight can affect fertility. Being overweight carries a higher risk of miscarriage and can cause serious pregnancy complications such as diabetes, hypertension and Caesarean section. In addition, overweight women will most likely respond poorly to IVF. If your BMI is below 20 (under weight), the hypothalamus becomes inactive. This causes the ovaries to receive no stimulation, which can result in infrequent menstrual cycles or no period at all. The good news is that gaining or losing as little as 5 to 10 percent of your present body weight is the most natural solution; it can significantly restore ovulation and boost your fertility.
Keep Your Exercise Moderate
Intensive exercise can influence women’s ovulation and also cause a decrease in progesterone levels, which in turn might prevent an embryo from implanting. Thirty minutes of daily moderate exercise is recommended due to the fact that it can relieve stress, encourage circulation, fight inflammation and maximize fertility. Examples of such beneficial exercise are: stretch routines, yoga and Tai Chi. Some of these exercises can be practiced throughout the menstrual cycle; others are best avoided after ovulation or embryo transfer while on an IVF cycle. (A tiny embryo needs calm and silence to implant and thrive.) Fortunately, in nearly all cases, any changes related to exercise are completely reversible, and there is no permanent effect on fertility.
Get Adequate and High-Quality Sleep
When the body and mind are at complete rest, you are restoring crucial reserves of essential energy. A good night’s sleep can restore vitality and cognitive brain functions, help maintain quality of life and optimal health, and promote fertility. During sleep, the body secretes a number of hormones controlled by the endocrine system. The endocrine system plays a critical role in a woman’s cycle and in regulating ovulation. When your endocrine system malfunctions, your ability to conceive can decrease drastically. Research has shown that working a night shift can cause irregular menstruation in some women. Irregular menstruation is often considered a risk factor for fertility problems. Recent studies found that lack of sleep can significantly elevate stress hormones, cortisol and adrenocorticotropic, both of which can suppress a healthy fertility cycle. My recommendation is that while you are trying to conceive, you should get seven to nine hours of sleep every night. You should also try to avoid working a night shift if possible. If you are having problems sleeping, acupuncture is a natural and effective solution to calm your body by stimulating the central nervous system and increasing the production of endorphins/ (See acupuncture for insomnia.)
Manage Your Stress Level
Both emotional and physical stress can have a profound effect on women’s fertility and pregnancy outcome. Infertility can also have an adverse effect on both mental and physical well-being, leaving us feeling even more helpless. Studies have found that anxiety and depression are more prevalent in infertile women than in those who are fertile. No separation exists between mind, body and spirit. Whatever treats the body helps the mind, and whatever heals the spirit helps restore balance to the physical being. Acupuncture – a holistic method – integrates the body and mind, and has been extremely effective at helping the body deal with stress as well as helping a person get through each day with greater calm and balance. (See Relaxed Conception.) Meditation and yoga are also powerful methods for improving quality of life because they create a deep peacefulness, which can help lower levels of tension and anxiety over infertility.
The new life you are trying to create needs your support – physically, mentally and emotionally. You must make your overall health a priority. By exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and maintaining a positive attitude, you are doing everything you can to allow conception to happen naturally.
” I believe that I would never have been able to continue have a normal life without the help of her acupuncture treatment and Chinese herbs” – Cathy W
“Acupuncture and few lifestyle changes helped us to get to where we are today… the proud parents of our precious little girl” – Robin & Clary