Developing a healthy, balanced approach to eating where you’re kind to yourself and eat good food that’s right for you will help you develop a good relationship with food and improve your overall digestive fire.
By responding to your body’s need for food at the right time and not pushing through or ignoring the signals as a way to ‘control’ your appetite can help you to cultivate good digestive health.
Your stomach is often referred to as your second brain and your feelings and thoughts around food can impact on the nourishment you receive from the food you eat.
The way you eat your food and why you eat is also important.
You can also look at nourishment in other areas of your life in the same way.
Having balance here is also helpful for your fertility and overall emotional wellbeing.
Developing a deeper awareness of your own needs and creating space for self nourishment in your life is an important factor in improving your fertility.
Your diet and your fertility are linked.
The food you eat affects your hormone health and your overall health and wellbeing.
As a woman, you are cyclical in nature and move through different energy shifts during the different stages of your menstrual cycle. So, it can be helpful to be mindful of the foods you need to support these different stages, working closely with nature both within and around you.
Eating ‘blood nourishing’ foods like beetroot, kelp and figs just after menstruation or ‘blood moving’ foods such as aubergines, onions and peaches during your bleed, and eating foods that are in season, helps provide the natural heating or cooling elements you need at different times of your cycle and the year.
For optimal fertility, you should also consider your body weight. A fertile body can be toned and strong but it also needs to be soft and receptive. Being underweight can make conception hard. Studies have shown that being underweight can cause problems with conception as you may not ovulate, have a menstrual cycle or have enough body fat for hormonal balance.
But on the other hand, if you’re overweight insulin resistance can disrupt menstruation and oestrogen produced by fat cells can affect your ovaries, preventing eggs from being released each month.
Putting on just 5lb or losing 5–10% of your bodyweight can sometimes be enough to kick start ovulation and menstruation. Steer clear of fad diets though – healthy, balanced eating and exercise is all it takes.
If you’re trying to lose weight, healthy slow weight loss is important as rapid weight loss can damage digestion and make it harder to keep the weight off long term. And crash dieting often sends the body into survival mode, so the body stores fat as it thinks it’s starving.
A slow, gentle and steady approach works best, being kind to you and your body.
I tend to advocate the balanced, ‘everything in moderation’ approach to avoid the swing between being ‘good’ or ‘bad’ which often happens when you’re depriving yourself or forcing a strict regime upon yourself.
The most important thing is to have a good relationship with food, caffeine and alcohol, so you’re not using them as stress relief or as a way to stay awake when you’re over tired, you’re simply enjoying the odd glass of wine or a coffee every now and again because you want to as part of a balanced life.
Binge drinking or drinking more than an occasional glass of wine can be detrimental to your fertility. It can prevent ovulation or cause irregular periods and changes in the lining of your womb, as well as altering your oestrogen and progesterone levels.
As soon as you start trying to conceive, cut your alcohol consumption right down. One study found that women who drank fewer then 5 units of alcohol a week were twice as likely to get pregnant in 6 months than those who drank more.
Coffee affects people in different ways, but it can often make you feel wired and tired after the initial rush … which is why you often want more. It’s best to limit coffee to just one or two cups each day, but if you’re very sensitive to caffeine or have any adrenal fatigue, it might be best to avoid it altogether.
Smoking can affect your ovaries and the quality of your eggs. Women who smoke often experience menopause earlier than women who don’t, and even passive smoking has an impact on the reproductive system. Smoking also causes an increased risk of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy, so it’s best avoided altogether when you’re trying to conceive.
In men, smoking can affect the sperm count and fluid as well as the quantity of seminal fluid.
Good nutrition is beneficial for your overall health and wellbeing. And the foods you eat can support and enhance your chances of conception and pregnancy.
Think about the quality of the food you eat. Go for fresh, natural foods wherever possible.
Seasonal organic foods or locally grown produce are best. Always choose organic dairy products, vegetables and meat, especially chicken as the growth promoters that are often added to chicken feed can seriously disrupt your hormones.
If you eat a mainly vegetarian diet, avoid using soy for protein as it contains xenoestrogens, which can also upset your hormonal balance.
Recommendations for a fertility friendly diet:
More information about fertility foods.
There’s not a one size fits all approach to exercise when you’re trying to conceive. However, there are a few things you should consider.
Your exercise regime should reflect where you are in your monthly cycle and be adapted to suit your energy needs at each stage, with more restorative practices during bleed time or pre-menstruation and more active practices in the pre-ovulation and ovulation phases of your cycle, working with rather than against your natural ebbs and flows of energy.
Your fertility journey may be very emotional and can present you with many challenges. Finding balance and calm during these difficult times is key.
Sometimes you’ll need support to help you. And that’s something I help many clients with, supporting women and their partners through IVF or with programmes of care to help optimise their fertility before trying to conceive. Whatever support you need, be it professional or friends and family, gather it around you.
The mind and body are not separate. Stress and anxiety can negatively affect your fertility by increasing the levels of cortisol in your blood, shutting down your reproductive system, putting your body into fight, flight or freeze mode and often affecting relationships including that with your partner, making intimacy less likely.
To help calm your nervous system and bring more balance into your life, regular walking in nature, Yoga and Meditation are all beneficial in reducing anxiety, stress and tension.
Developing a deeper awareness to the felt sense of your body and the sensations that arise when you feel stressed or anxious, as well as developing a personalised toolkit of practices for managing stress, can be helpful. From deeper awareness comes deeper self knowledge.
At allwoman, we offer a range of Yoga support options, including breathing techniques, Yoga practices, Yoga Nidra, Restorative Yoga and HypnoYoga Nidra, that are beneficial for your toolkit of support to help combat the symptoms of stress and anxiety. Whether group classes or one to one options are best for you, get in touch for your free 20 minute consultation to find out how we can help. We offer both face to face and Skype sessions, so we can support your wherever you are.
Natural therapies such as Mizan Abdominal Therapy and Well Woman Womb Yoga can help boost your fertility by making sure your womb is healthy and your digestive health optimal to help you get ready to conceive.
Eggs take three months to mature, so by having intensive Mizan Abdominal Therapy and Yoga treatment for this period of time ensures that you’ll be using the best quality eggs too.
If you sign up for one of our transformational fertility programmes, we’ll look at a number of different areas, taking an holistic approach to your fertile health, reviewing your diet and lifestyle, working through our tried and tested 5 step process to work through blockages, suggesting changes and using other appropriate treatments and therapies such as supportive herbs, vaginal steaming, castor oil packs, abdominal binding and recommending other support therapists too, as required, such as acupuncturists, reflexologists, homoeopaths.
Based in Leeds:
I use the incredible healing, calming, strengthening and restorative power of yoga to help you find the balance you need, no matter what stage of life you’re at. I couple this with Mizan massage, belly binding, birth preparation and doula services to support you as needed.