By Colette Assor, Registered Acupuncturist
Approximately 25% of couples are given a diagnosis of unexplained infertility if they’ve been trying to conceive for over one year and there’s no apparent medical cause for not becoming pregnant. For many couples, this can be a very frustrating diagnosis to receive and can lead to increased uncertainty, confusion, and anxiety. Many couples who have been diagnosed with unexplained fertility soon after find themselves on the treatment pathway towards IVF. However, there are other potential options to consider before turning to assisted fertility treatments.
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with explained fertility or have been struggling with your diagnosis for some time, one option you may want to consider is the holistic approach to natural conception. This is focused on a 360-degree mind and body approach, targeted at finding the root causes of the problem. While some people who can not conceive naturally go on to have a baby through IVF, it’s worthwhile to consider trying a more holistic approach, as it may also aid in successful assisted reproduction treatment.
Colette Assor, a British Acupuncture Council-accredited Registered Acupuncturist with over 21 years of clinical experience, shares some natural approaches to take towards unexplained infertility below.
Focus on Nutrition
Since diet is an essential part of fertility health, you may opt to eat a nutrient-packed, fertility-friendly diet. There is emerging evidence that shows the impact of poor diet on conception, egg, and sperm health. For many couples, factors such as egg and sperm health can often come to light after failed IVF attempts. You could try some of the following nutritional tips below in order to help optimise fertility:
- Boost healthy fats, including eggs, avocado, nuts, and oily fish;
- Ensure you’re getting adequate protein (have you tried grass-fed animal protein!?);
- Do your best to incorporate lots of antioxidants from colourful fruits and vegetables; and
- Try to drink plenty of water.
Since body weight is also an important factor to consider when trying to conceive, do your best to maintain a healthy weight. For further dietary assistance, you may wish to see a registered nutritional therapist who specializes in fertility.
Get Some Sleep
Sleep is vital for fertility, hormonal balance, and wellbeing. Research shows that women with sleep disorders may be more than three times as likely to experience infertility as their counterparts who don’t have trouble sleeping. Additionally, women with low melatonin and serotonin can have a shorter luteal phase and consequently lower chance of conception. Since a lack of sleep creates a hormonal imbalance and elevation of stress hormones, making it harder to conceive, try your best to carve out some much-needed time for rest!
Minimize Exposure to Chemicals
Studies show that a particular group of chemicals called endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can affect sperm and egg quality and, therefore, a person’s chance of having a baby. Some of the most common EDCs include BPA (Bisphenol A), phthalates and parabens. To play it safe, do your best to limit exposure to EDCs when you can.
Struggling to become pregnant certainly creates a mixture of difficult and challenging emotions, including anxiety, fear, and a poor mood -- the result of being on a long-term, emotional rollercoaster. Despite this, managing stress and anxiety is an important factor to consider when trying to conceive. Whilst it is not conclusive that stress directly impacts fertility, it is clear that high stress can impact hormonal balance, menstrual health, egg and sperm health, lifestyle and wellbeing. For these reasons, you may wish to try some of the following natural ways to reduce stress levels:
- Begin your day with meditation;
- Take a walk in nature;
- Try to cultivate gratitude by listing 10 things you are grateful for each day. Science shows that gratitude helps to improve mood and overall well being; and
- Share your feelings with a friend, support group, or at one-to-one counselling. Additionally, journaling can be very helpful.
Get Some Exercise!
We know that moderate, regular exercise improves fertility, health, and emotional wellbeing. All in all, exercise as part of a lifestyle program can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression and improve self-esteem. If you’re up for a workout, just remember to listen to your body and exercise mindfully.
A 2018 research study indicated that acupuncture may be a suitable treatment option to help reduce stress and anxiety for women experiencing infertility. In addition, research shows Acupuncture can help improve blood flow and hormonal balance. When seeking an acupuncturist, make sure to see a qualified professional who is registered with the British Acupuncture Council ( BAcC), the UK’s leading regulatory body of acupuncturists. All members of the BAcC are degree-level trained and listed on the register of the Professional Standards authority for health and social care.
Now that you’ve got some options to try before considering assisted fertilization, we wish you the best of luck in your journey to conceive!
Colette Assor is a natural health specialist and registered acupuncturist with over 21 years clinical experience. Colette is passionate about supporting couples to conceive. Colette is a member of the British acupuncture council and acupuncture fertility network.
If you would like to find out more about Colette visit @acupuncture_works_london or www.acupunctureworkslondon.co.uk