As an herbalist, the issue with which my clients come to me most often, aside from anxiety and weight loss, is infertility. Infertility seems to be a rising problem, although many argue whether infertility is really rising or whether we’re just more aware of it. Nevertheless, it can be a taxing and stressful situation under which to live, not to mention frustrating and invasive in its traditional medical treatment.
Before I go on, I do want to say that though infertility is still often seen as a woman’s problem, infertility in men is rising as well due to inadequate sperm count or unhealthy sperm, a problem often blamed on environmental chemicals such as pesticides. My advice, for both halves of the baby-producing couple, is to follow the recommendations below because, unless you’ve seen a doctor, you don’t know which individual, if not both, is in need of a fertility boost. Either way, this advice is healthy and safe for any individual—infertility or no.
1. Eat Fat and Carbs (Yes! Fat and Carbs!).
To make it simple: diets low in carbohydrates inhibit thyroid health. Both sexes need a healthy thyroid in order to be fertile. Now, I’m not saying go out and binge on bread, popcorn and potato chips; we’ve still got to be healthy about this. Choose whole grains, nuts, starchy vegetables, and 1-2 servings of fruit per day. If you’ve been low carb, increase slowly. Your body will need time to re-adapt. Supplement with enzymes if you have trouble with digestion.
Fats or, more specifically, essential fatty acids are, well, essential for fertility. Eggs and butter are really the best choices because they contain arachidonic acid which is crucial for fertility. If animal products don’t appeal to you, try upping your intake of avocadoes and supplement with oils such as flax, coconut or evening primrose. A note: healthy fats will not make you fat. Increase slowly, stop eating when you’re full and you’ll be just fine.
2. Try Herbs
A) Maca: Maca is an herb which grows in Peru and has been found to raise body temperature (low body temperature, especially in women, can lead to low fertility; low body temperature is also associated with low thyroid function). Maca helps stabilize and regulate all hormones, vital for optimizing fertility.
B) Red Clover: Red clover is really, really high in vitamins and minerals. It helps process metabolic waste in the body, making the body more alkaline (and, therefore, more sperm-friendly). It relaxes the reproductive system, strengthens the blood and bones, and generally tones the entire system. Try red clover blossoms in capsule form. Or, if you’re more of a DIY’er, order dried red clover blossoms and steep one ounce (by weight) in a one quart jar in room temperature water from four hours to overnight. Drink 1-4 cups daily.
C) Bee Pollen: Okay, this isn’t technically an herb, but lots of herbs (in the form of flowers) are involved in making these healthful little granules. Bee pollen helps increase sperm count in men and helps women by cleansing the body of toxins and infusing it with easily accessible vitamins and minerals.
3. Try Yoga and Meditation
How many times have you heard someone say that they suddenly conceived as soon as they stopped trying? Well, there’s much to be said for the connection between stress levels and infertility. When you’re tense and stressed, nothing is going to flow well—not breath, not blood, not hormones. Sometimes all that’s needed to break the infertility cycle is a period of rest and rejuvenation.
Yoga is an obvious choice and one more and more women are turning to for fertility help. Yoga not only relaxes us, strengthens us and helps us to breathe more deeply, it also forges an essential and unbreakable connection between the mind and body. With this connection intact, suddenly our hormonal cycles return to normal. Through yoga, we give intelligence back to the body.
Meditation helps, too. Try yoga nidra, a form of guided meditation which allows you to relax deeply into your subconscious. This meditation can feel more rejuvenating than a full night’s sleep. Try out a few meditation recordings; find one that resonates with you.
If you’re struggling with infertility, I would advise approaching this list lightly and with an open heart and mind. Make a game out of it; try one or two of these suggestions for a few weeks, then take some time off. Even the most potent, all-natural fertility boost will do nothing for you if you’re stressing about whether or not it’s working. Try a cup of red clover tea, then take a walk. Sit in the sun. Participate in a yoga class. The most important thing you can do for yourself and for your fertility is to let go a little bit; set yourself adrift from stress and abundance of all kinds will follow.
image via meaganjean