Getting in tune with your body
Natural fertility methods encourage you to get in touch with the signs that your body gives you at different stages of the cycle.
Some of the main signs are the changes in cervical mucus; your basal body temperature; physical symptoms like headaches, cramps, or tiredness; and even your emotional state, such as your level of emotional sensitivity, irritability, and sexual arousal.
When you are in tune with your body’s usual cycle, you are more likely to identify your most fertile time and plan intercourse accordingly.
Healthy activity levels
However, it’s important to get the balance right. Lowered fertility has been associated with both with very high levels of physical activity such as several hours of high intensity training each day, and with very low levels of exercise, such as long periods of inactivity.
If you can afford to choose only organically grown foods and chemical-free meats, you’re probably going to give your natural fertility a boost, as these foods tend to be higher in nutritional value and lower in toxins.
In general, most healthy eating guidelines also apply to those wanting to enhance their natural fertility.
Your diet should include:
- Two to three serves of protein a day, both meat and vegetable proteins combined.
- Ideally, organically-fed poultry and lean meats, and eggs from organically-fed free range chickens. This will help to avoid artificial hormones and antibiotics used in some farms.
- Several small servings of a variety of nuts, grains or seeds and legumes.
- Several servings each day of cold-pressed oils, such as extra virgin olive oil or flaxseed oil.
- Try spreads of fresh hummus, tahini, avocado, and banana rather than margarine or butter.
- Low glycemic carbohydrates, such as most non-starchy vegetables, lentils, chickpeas, wholegrains. Use wholegrain bread where possible.
- Three servings of fish weekly, particularly less-polluted deep sea or ocean fish or wild fish rather than farmed. Avoid raw fish if possible and avoid fish which may be high in mercury.
- Plenty of vegetables, dark leafy greens—organic, if possible, well-washed if not, both raw and cooked. Ideally vegetables should make up half of your daily food intake.
- Two to three pieces of fresh, well-washed fruit each day.
- Foods known as phytoestrogens, such as fermented soy, parsley, cucumber, wholegrains and seeds, alfalfa, fennel, particularly if you have endometriosis.
- of water. Drink purified if the water quality in your area isn’t good.
- Highly processed or sugary foods, or high glycemic index foods which can disrupt hormones.
- Hazelnut chocolate and peanut butter spreads.
- Cow’s milk and most dairy foods, particularly if you have endometriosis.
- Soy milk and soy products, unless certified organically grown and GMO-free.
- Dried fruits, which are high in sugar, sometimes containing preservatives or mold.
- Coffee. More than two espressos per day can impact natural fertility.
- Alcohol is shown to significantly lower conception rates in both males and females.
- Smoking, which is linked to low fertility.
- Cooking or storing food in plastic containers.
- Fast food or junk food.
- Saturated and ‘trans’ fats. These have been shown to alter the balance of hormones and prostaglandins.
- Margarines, which contain saturated fats.
- Fried foods such as donuts and pastries, which are often high in trans fats.
- Unpasteurized goat’s milk products.
- Soft cheeses and those kept unsealed in water, which may contain bacteria.
- Delicatessen meats, which are often high in fats and hormone-disrupting preservatives.
- Prepared salads if you’re not sure of their freshness, because they can contain mold.
Natural fertility and common chemicals
It’s not surprising to find that any substance which affects our hormones can have a negative impact on natural fertility.
Studies from around the world are now identifying that many commonly used chemicals can have a disruptive effect on hormones.
Some of the most common ‘problem’ chemicals which reduce natural fertility include:
- Bisphenol A (BPA): used in polycarbonate plastics including food containers and cooking utensils. It acts like estrogen and is thought to disrupt estrogen receptors in the body.
- Chlorinated Dibenzo-p-dioxins: used in common chlorine or bleach cleaning agents; linked with miscarriage in animals.
- Polychlorinated Biphenyls: now discontinued in most products, but present in some car cleaning products and old electrical items. It’s linked to immune and reproductive system problems.
- Phthalates: a component of PVC, used in nail polish and as solvents in pesticides and some cleaning products, with strong links to hormone disruption and lowered male fertility.
- Parabens: used in thousands of personal care products like shampoos, moisturizers, toothpaste and in cleaning products. They can have estrogen-mimicking properties linked to hormonal disruption.
How to avoid problem chemicals
And with many of these toxins commonly used in the home, it is possible to lower your exposure to these chemicals by changing the way you clean, the personal care products you buy, and the way you cook and store food.
With increasing evidence linking toxins in common cleaning products, food storage, and cookware items, natural fertility specialists often recommend that you switch to chemical-free cleaning products and completely natural personal care items to raise your natural fertility levels.
Food should be stored in glass rather than plastic containers, and cooked in copper, stainless steel or cast-iron cookware rather than using aluminum or plastic cooking containers or utensils.
The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.