Couples who are suffering from infertility undergo emotional stress and family problems. But there are natural ways to manage infertility to live a happy life.
The traditional definition of infertility is the failure to achieve pregnancy after 12 months without unprotected intercourse with the same partner. Based on this definition, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that between 48 million couples and 186 million individuals experience infertility globally.
The common factors that caused infertility for men are problems in the ejection of the semen, low levels of sperm, or the abnormal shape and movement of the sperm. For females, the common factors noted by WHO are abnormalities of the ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, and endocrine systems.
With years of in-depth research and studies, medical practitioners have found natural ways to manage infertility. These natural methods don't only make fertility possible, but they also make the journey to fertility less stressful and more meaningful.
Natural Ways to Manage Infertility
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight helps in managing infertility.
Being overweight and underweight, both in men and women affects fertility and lowers conception. For women who are overweight, it can result in hormonal imbalances, problems with ovulation, and menstrual disorders. Underweight women may also experience hormonal imbalance, affecting their ovulation.
Men who are overweight encounter problems with their fertility. Obesity is associated with low testosterone level, poor sperm quality, and lesser fertility than men with average weight. A study also suspected that obesity alters sperm count, sperm concentration, motile sperm count, sperm morphology, and DNA fragmentation.
Weight loss is the solution that optimizes fertility. Avoiding unhealthy food and choosing nutritious meals will help couples to lose some weight. You can start by removing processed grains from your diet, eating more nutrient-dense carbohydrates, choosing healthy fats, having enough protein, and drinking a lot of water.
Besides that, regular exercises will also help you achieve the average weight needed to make pregnancy possible. Walking is a low-impact exercise that will help your cardiovascular system. You can also do some dancing to improve your blood flow and burn your calorie. Swimming, pilates, and bicycling are some exercises that you can add to your daily activities.
One of the benefits of yoga is increasing blood flow in the uterus and ovaries.
Stress affects the fertility of couples due to its harmful effects physiologically. Whenever the body feels that its energy is draining because of stress, it shut down the less important functions such as reproduction.
The poses, breathing, and relaxation techniques practiced in yoga help open the muscles around the hips and the pelvis. The practice also eases struggles for women trying to conceive due to its philosophy of letting go of controlling the process. Some women were reported to conceive by adopting the yogic philosophy.
One of the poses that is beneficial for conception is Viparita Karani. It calms and brings energy to the pelvis. Instructors also recommend practicing Supta Baddha Konasana since it is a restorative hip opener. Paschimottanasa and Uttanasa are poses that offer relaxation.
Some of the notable benefits of yoga to the body are the increased blood flow in the uterus and ovaries, increased sex drive, improved endocrine function, protected organs from inflammation, and developed body awareness.
Acupuncture balances the hormones and strengthens the immune system.
According to the principle of traditional Chinese medicine, infertility occurs when there is a disruption in the vital balance and blockage in Qi energy and blood circulation flow. The blocked energy flow causes deficiency, stagnant, and heat syndromes.
The deficiency syndrome disrupts the reproductive functions of both men and women. The stagnant syndrome restricts the blood flow to the tissue and reproductive organs. Heat syndrome, on the other hand, affects semen quality and causes gynecological infections.
Acupuncture is the cure for these syndromes. By inserting needles to specific points in the body, the problems are addressed, making conception easier. Acupuncture is a treatment practiced for more than 5,000 years, and it is continuously used since it is highly effective.
The treatment helps in balancing the hormones, strengthening the immune system, regulating the energy and the blood flow, removing stasis and phlegm, and stimulating the nervous system. Combined with herbs, acupuncture is also effective in improving ovarian and follicular function and increasing the blood flow to the endometrium.
Various herbs help can improve the fertility of couples.
There are varieties of herbs that can help you manage infertility. Herbal medicines can also treat any infertility condition such as maternal age, luteal-phase defect, premature ovarian failure, male factor, and unexplained symptoms. However, you need to consult your doctor first on what herbs would best suit you.
For those under an in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment, herbs improve the effects of gonadotropins, the hormones responsible for stimulating the sex glands to perform their reproductive or endocrine functions. Using herbs also does not pose any risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.
Herbs are beneficial in regulating hormone balances, stimulating ovaries, relieving the feeling of menstrual cramps, producing fertile cervical fluid, and thickening the uterine lining leading to better implantation and fertility.
Some known herbs that improve fertility are chaste berry, black cohosh, false unicorn, evening primrose oil, and red clover. If you want to start taking herbal medicines, it is wise to speak to a naturopathic doctor for recommendations.
Coffee and fatty foods are included in the diets of the majority. But couples who are in fertility treatment must know the adverse effects of coffee and fats in conceiving.
Nowadays, men and women drink coffee a lot and eat fatty foods more often. New flavors and innovations are available in the market, making these food and beverage irresistible. Also, they are considered as comfort food. However, they may harm one’s fertility especially if taken in high amounts.
Caffeine, a stimulant found in tea, coffee and cacao plants, helps in staying alert and preventing tiredness by stimulating the brain and the central nervous system. It works by blocking the function of adenosine receptors, an organic compound that makes a person tired.
On the other hand, fat is a source of fatty acids that gives the body an energy. It is essential in everyday diet, however, you must take the right amount and the right kind. There are four types of fats: saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and fatty acids. Foods with saturated fat is not essential to the body.
Adverse effects of Coffee in Fertility
One of the effects of coffee is lowering the fertility nutrients in the body.
Drains fertility nutrients
When one is trying to conceive, fertility nutrients like vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, zinc and B vitamins are needed by the body. But because of the diuretic effect of the coffee, an action that makes someone urinate more, the fertility nutrients drain.
The lack of fertility nutrients declines the body weight and physical performance, lengthens conception, lowers the level of secretion of gonadotropin that alters the ovarian cycles, and increase the risk of infertility.
If you are having a difficult time to quit drinking coffee, you can do it gradually. The safe amount to take is below 200 mg. Keep on reducing the amount of coffee you drink every day until you become caffeine-free.
Stresses the body
Coffee may seem to be decreasing the stress in the body, but the truth is, it is exaggerating the body’s response to stress. By blocking the adenosine receptors, the nerve activity increases resulting to the release of adrenaline.
This leads to an increase in heart rate, increase blood pressure, and increase blood flow to the muscles. The blood flow to the skin and other organs like ovaries decreases. Glucose is also released to the liver. The stress that coffee brings to the body decreases the chance of pregnancy.
Increases the chance of infertility
Drinking a huge amount of coffee regularly increases the chance of fertility for both men and women. It increases the cortisol, known as a stress hormone, which leads to a disruption the ovulation of women.
Moreover, a study from the Massachusetts General Hospital revealed that men who are drinking more than 2 cups of coffee every day while having fertility treatments have a lesser chance of conception. Dr. Anatte Karmon, an obstetrician from the said hospital, advised men to keep their lifestyle as healthy as possible.
Tips to Withdraw from Drinking Coffee
If you are determined to quit drinking coffee, here are natural ways that you can follow to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms:
Adverse Effects of Fats in the Fertility
High-fat diet impairs the reproductive functions.
Affects the Quality of Women’s Eggs
A study in the University of Adelaide’s Research Centre for Reproductive Health discovered how a high-fat diet damages the eggs stored in women’s ovaries. When these eggs are fertilized, they do not undergo normal developments to embryos. Furthermore, high levels of saturated fat lead to lower numbers of mature cells.
Impairs reproductive function
One of the effects of a high-fat diet is the impairment of the reproductive function. It may result to menstrual dysfunction and risk of ovulatory and anoluva. Women who are obese while undergoing fertility treatment, such as in vitro fertilization, may be required to have a clomiphene citrate or gonadotropin ovulation induction.
Ways to Lose Fats Naturally
Jogging is an exercise that helps lose fats.
Cutting down fats will help you achieve a healthy weight which is good for your fertility. Here are some ways you can follow to lose the fats:
Preventing coffee and fats as early as now will increase your chance of getting pregnant. You don’t have to cut them instantly. Do it slowly until you are free from caffeine and fats. Taking these small steps will surely lead you to the reward of childbearing.
Egg freezing becomes popular for women who want to save their eggs for future use. But how safe and effective is the procedure?
Egg freezing, also known as mature oocyte self-preservation, is a method used to ensure a woman's ability to get pregnant in the future. Through modern medicine, a woman's unfertilized eggs are frozen and stored for later use.
Some women undergo egg freezing for various reasons. For example, women who have illnesses that affect their fertility, such as sickle cell anemia and lupus, consider the method. Same as to those who are undergoing treatments for cancer like radiation and chemotherapy. Young women, on the other hand, want to preserve their egg cells for the future.
A study conducted in the Netherlands showed that women had different viewpoints regarding egg freezing. The majority of the participants expressed that they must be cautious about egg freezing technology. Others expressed their sentiments that they have the freedom to do what they want with their bodies.
Egg Freezing Procedures
Egg freezing has three procedures: ovarian stimulation, egg retrieval, and freezing.
The doctor prescribes synthetic hormones to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs. Naturally, a woman develops a single egg monthly. But in egg freezing, multiple eggs are required to have a higher chance of pregnancy. The medications that are prescribed are for ovarian stimulation and the prevention of premature ovulation.
A blood test is conducted to measure the response of the body to the ovarian-stimulation medications. Also, a vaginal ultrasound is performed to check the development of the follicles. If the follicles are ready for egg retrieval, the doctor will inject a human chorionic gonadotropin or other medicines that will mature the eggs.
The patient is under sedation during the egg retrieval. An ultrasound probe will be inserted into the vagina to identify the follicles. Then a needle with a suction device will be guided to the follicles to remove the eggs.
After the procedure, the patient will experience cramping and a feeling of fullness or pressure. It will continue for weeks due to the enlargement of the ovaries caused by the procedure. After a week from the egg retrieval, everyday activities can continue.
After the eggs had been retrieved, they will be frozen to a subzero temperature. A process called vitrification will also be done to prevent ice crystals from forming chewing the freezing procedure.
If a patient wants to use the eggs for pregnancy, they will be thawed and fertilized with sperm in a lab. A fertilized egg will be implanted into the patient's uterus or a gestational carrier through in vitro fertilization.
Advantages of Egg Freezing
Protects the quality of the egg
The quality of the egg lowers as a woman gets older.
One of the promises claimed by egg freezing is its ability to protect the quality of the eggs. As a woman grows older, the quality of the eggs becomes lower. A poor egg may lead to miscarriage or chromosomal abnormalities.
Gives time to find the right partner
Women are given more time to look for a suitable partner through egg freezing.
By stopping their biological clock through egg freezing, women are given more time to look for an ideal partner. They also don't feel pressured when choosing someone they want to live with and to have a child with.
Delays childbearing to pursue an educational, professional, or personal goal
Women can pursue their career without worrying in their future pregnancy.
Although egg freezing is discouraged by doctors for educational, professional, and personal purposes, some women undergo this method to pursue their careers without worrying about their pregnancy in the future.
Disadvantages of Egg Freezing
It is not risk-free.
The procedure has potential risks such as the ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.
The use of injectable fertility drugs can lead to ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. It involves fatigue, nausea, headaches, abdominal pain, breast tenderness, and irritability. There is also a danger of experiencing severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, accompanied by blood clots, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, dehydration, and vomiting.
Though rare, the aspirating needle used to retrieve the eggs may also lead to bleeding, infection, or damage to the bowel, bladder, or blood vessel.
It is costly.
The procedure can be costly without the help of insurance.
The expenses on egg freezing, without the help of any insurance, may reach $7,500 to $12,500 for every egg-freezing cycle. The expenditures on medication may also amount between $2,800 to $5,000. The storage for eggs is paid for $800 per year.
No guarantee of success
The success rate of the procedure is also hard to determine.
The success rate of the procedure is also hard to determine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) have no mechanisms to track the procedure's success rate.
The older the patient is to freeze the egg, the slimmer chance that it will succeed. Some doctors also encourage egg freezing for those who need to delay childbirth because of cancer diagnosis or a family history of early menopause but not for those who want to postpone pregnancy for personal agenda.
Rebecca Flyckt, Director of the Fertility Preservation Program at Cleveland Clinic, also reminded that women must be careful in remembering that it is just a frozen tissue and not a guarantee of a baby.
Thorough research is advised before considering egg-freezing due to some of its risks and its success rate. Analyzing its advantages and disadvantages will lead to careful and prudent decisions.
One of the causes that make pregnancy difficult to achieve is high cholesterol. Know the factors associated with high cholesterol and what to do to lower it.
The Mayo Clinic defined cholesterol as a waxy substance found in the blood that builds healthy cells. However, too much cholesterol can result in a risk of heart disease and reduce pregnancy chances.
A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, the University at Buffalo, and Emory University in Atlanta, revealed that couples with high cholesterol might take a longer time to conceive. Before trying to get pregnant, some doctors recommend couples to have their cholesterol in the acceptable range.
High cholesterol affects the inner flow of the blood vessels resulting in an impairment in the normal blood flow. When this happens, cellular inflammation begins, which leads to an impairment in the metabolism, sex hormones, and overall circulation. It also affects the health of the egg and the sperm.
Factors linked to High Cholesterol
Several factors may lead to high cholesterol. Typically, there is no symptom associated with its elevation. This can only be detected through a blood test. It is crucial to monitor your cholesterol as early as now to make childbearing easier. Here are some factors that you need to know:
A poor diet can spike the bad cholesterol in the body.
Naturally, the body produces a needed amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as bad cholesterol. However, it might spike if a person consumes foods that are very rich in cholesterol.
Examples of high cholesterol foods are saturated fat found in animal products, trans fat found in commercially baked cookies, crackers, and microwave popcorn. Red meat and full-fat dairy products are also foods that must be prevented or eaten in moderation.
Obesity is a condition when there are abnormal or excessive fats accumulated that are already dangerous to the health. An overweight person has a body mass index (BMI) that is over 25, while an obese is a person whose BMI is over 30.
In processing cholesterol, the body normally adjusts LDL cholesterol production. However, obesity increases the amount of LDL cholesterol that the liver produces. The best way to reduce LDL is through weight loss.
A chemical in the cigarette called acrolein affects how the body metabolizes cholesterol. It interferes with the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol by attacking the protein. HDL, also known as good cholesterol, is responsible for collecting fatty deposits and returning them to the liver. Due to the interference, the bloodstream and the rest of the body accumulate more fats.
Not only does it interferes with HDL, but acrolein also affects LDL by hindering the protective enzyme that makes it intact. The molecular structure changes making it hard for the immune system to recognize the LDL. It causes inflammation and buildup that may result in heart attack and stroke.
If you want to get pregnant, it is advisable to quit smoking to prevent high cholesterol levels and avoid the dire consequences it may cause to your body. Some exercises and diets can help you to quit smoking.
High cholesterol is common in older people. The American Heart Association advises adults to have their cholesterol checked every 4 to 6 years. As a person ages, the cholesterol level usually increases.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), more than 12% of adults age 20 and older had total cholesterol higher than 240 mg/dL, and more than 18% had HD cholesterol levels less than 40 mg/dL during 2015 to 2016.
Diabetes can cause an imbalance between HDL and LDL cholesterol levels. Glucose, a type of sugar, attaches to the lipoprotein making the LDL stick to the arteries. The LDL that is attached to the arteries damages the blood vessels' wall. Aside from that, the sugar-coated LDL stays longer in the bloodstream. Also, people with type 2 diabetes have lower HDL levels.
High blood sugar also results in higher levels of dangerous cholesterol called very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL). This type of cholesterol may result in clogged arteries leading to a heart attack.
Ways to Prevent High Cholesterol
Low cholesterol diet
Banana is a good source of fiber.
There are certain foods you can include in your diet that will lower your cholesterol levels. Soluble fibers prevent the digestive tract from absorbing cholesterol. Some of the foods that have high soluble fibers are whole grain cereals like oatmeal and oat bran. Fruits like apples, bananas, oranges, pears, and prunes are also high in fiber.
Fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids do not lower the LDL level but help raise the HDL level in the body. Some of the fish that are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids are salmon, tuna, and mackerel.
Walking is an exercise that can lower the cholesterol.
Exercises combined with dietary changes help in lowering LDL. It can also raise the HDL on the body and reduce the triglyceride. Triglyceride is the most common type of fat that the body uses for energy. However, a high level of triglyceride increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Some of the activities that could help the body lower cholesterol are walking, running, cycling, and some resistance training such as stomach crunches and squats. But you must bear in mind that exercises must be done in moderation, especially if you want to get pregnant.
Quitting smoking helps in starting a healthy lifestyle.
It is time to quit unhealthy lifestyles such as smoking and drinking. Yoga and other stress management techniques help stop these vices by renewing the mind and the body. There are also herbal medicines that have soothing effects.
Stress can also result in high cholesterol levels. The release of adrenaline caused by anxiety triggers triglycerides. If you are suffering from stress, you can have one-on-one counseling and practice activities that alleviate stress.
Before taking assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatments, there are natural fertility options that you can consider. These treatments are more cost-effective and helpful to the body.
Many women nowadays struggle with infertility due to unhealthy lifestyles, stressful environments, and demanding workplaces. The inability to get pregnant causes misery to the couples resulting in family and emotional problems.
Due to the increasing studies, several assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatments are now available. However, they are more costly and exhausting. The patients need to go through many processes to get pregnant.
Before choosing ART treatments, there are natural fertility options that every woman can choose from. Not only are they more affordable, but they also improve the physical, emotional, and mental wellness of every being. The promise of natural fertility treatments is not only limited to childbearing but also to become a better person.
Yoga lowers stress hormone known as cortisol.
Yoga is a spiritual practice from India that comprises postures, breathing techniques, and meditation. There are fertility postures that help women to lower the release of a stress hormone known as cortisol. This hormone results in hormonal imbalance affecting ovulation, fertilization, and implantation.
Other benefits of yoga are losing weight, increasing the blood flow to the reproductive organs, teaching calmness and strength that leads to greater positivity, increasing sex drive, and decreasing the side effects of fertility drugs by lowering cortisol.
Some of the yoga poses that help in improving fertility are Uttana Shishosana (extended puppy pose), Viparita Karani (legs up the wall), Supta Baddha Konasana (reclining bound angle pose), and Sufi Rolls.
Stress Relaxation Techniques
Tai Chi is one of the stress relaxation techniques that boosts fertility.
Stress is one of the factors that result in infertility. When a person experiences stress often, more cortisol is released into the body, causing hormonal imbalance. Many stress relaxation techniques can help the body to lower the stress hormone.
The Mayo Clinic listed several relaxation techniques that can de-stress the body. Some of these are pathogenic relaxation, progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, deep breathing, massage, meditation, tai chi, biofeedback, music and art therapy, aromatherapy, and hydrotherapy.
Practicing stress relaxation techniques help in slowing the heart rate, lowering the blood pressure, and improving digestion. Moreover, they also maintain normal blood sugar levels, reduce stress hormones, and improve concentration and mood.
Acupuncture improves the egg production.
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine that promotes balance by unblocking energy and increasing blood flow. The one who performs acupuncture inserts hair-thin needles to specific points in the body. Most people reported that they experienced minimal pain.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, acupuncture relieves pain by helping the body to release endorphins- a chemical in the body that naturally alleviates pain. It also stimulates the part of the brain that produces serotonin, a brain chemical involved with mood.
Furthermore, the production of endorphins results in menstrual regulation. Acupuncture also improves egg production by stimulating the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. For men, it improves sperm quality and sperm count.
Swimming is one of the exercises recommended during ovulation.
A study revealed that women who are obese have more difficulty conceiving one year after they stopped the use of contraception than those of average weight. Leptin, a hormone that is produced in fatty tissue, is higher in women who are overweight. This results in hormonal imbalance, which reduces fertility.
Furthermore, excess weight also affects the quality of the eggs. It reduces the chance of pregnancy within 12 months. Obesity also causes problems to men's fertility, such as hormonal problems, sexual dysfunction, low testosterone levels, and erectile problems.
Some of the moderate exercises that can boost fertility are walking, dancing, bicycling, pilates, and swimming. Walking helps the cardiovascular system while dancing improves blood flow. Bicycling for 30 minutes is also a great workout. Pilates, on the other hand, is a relaxing exercise that enhances fertility.
However, over exercising may also harm your fertility. It must be done with moderation. When you are in ovulation, some of the recommended exercises are walking, swimming, yoga, and qui gong.
Diet and Nutrition
Soda lowers the fertility for both men and women
Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School found out that vitamins and nutrients like folic acid, vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, and healthy diets such as the Mediterranean diet positively affect women who are trying to conceive naturally.
Trans fat and diets rich in red and processed meats, potatoes, sweets, and sweetened beverages have adverse effects. Consuming sugar-sweetened beverages like sodas and energy drinks results to lower fertility for men and women. Also, women who consume high amounts of fast food take a longer time to get pregnant.
Protein from plant-based sources such as beans and lentils are excellent sources of folic acid. Berries such as raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries have anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. Eating an ample amount of avocados helps in assisting the body to process nutrients from other foods and also regulates blood pressure.
Other foods that you can add to your diet are quinoa, Greek yogurts and cheeses, salmon, asparagus, walnuts, and egg yolks.
Herbal medicines help in boosting fertility.
There are tons of herbal supplements available now to help boost fertility. However, it is advisable to consult an acupuncturist, naturopath, or medicine doctor to know the herbs that are ideal for you.
One of the popular herbs that boost fertility is the red raspberry leaf. It is rich in iron, calcium, and B vitamins. The leaf regulates menstrual cycles, makes ovulation easier to predict, and strengthens the uterine wall. Aside from this, alfalfa is a herb high in vitamin C, E, and K. It boosts minerals that lead to a healthier reproductive system.
Other herbal medicines that are helpful to the fertility are chaste tree berry, maca, cinnamon, and tribulus terrestris.
Ectopic pregnancy is a fatal event, both to the mother and the child. Early detection and monitoring are the crucial actions that prevent this in the future.
In a typical scenario, the sperm meets the egg in the fallopian tube. After the egg has been fertilized, now an embryo, it travels down to the uterus where it is implanted. But this is not the case with tubal pregnancy- a type of ectopic pregnancy. Instead of going down to the uterus, the embryo implants in the fallopian tube.
A study in 2012 revealed that tubal pregnancy is the number one cause of death of women who are in their first trimester of pregnancy. Moreover, 95% of ectopic pregnancies are tubal pregnancies. Rarely does an embryo implant itself in the cervix, ovary, and abdomen.
Unlike the uterus, the fallopian tube has no blood vessel lining. Aside from that, It cannot support the growth of the embryo since it is too narrow. As the cell divides, the tubes block, and the pregnant woman can experience excruciating pain.
Causes of Tubal Pregnancy
Excessive smoking may lead to an ectopic pregnancy.
Many factors can cause tubal pregnancy. It is essential to evaluate the lifestyle before deciding to become pregnant to prevent this from occurring in the future. Here are some factors that can increase the risk of tubal pregnancy:
Unprotected Sex with Multiple Partners
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a severe complication caused by sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. The Mayo Clinic defined PID as an infection of one or more of the upper reproductive organs such as the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. One of the complications of PID is ectopic pregnancy.
Before deciding to get pregnant, it is essential to consult your doctor and run some tests to know your situation. If you are already pregnant and have a history of STD, be sure to tell your doctor so you can have a prenatal check-up.
Women who are smoking have a higher risk of having an ectopic pregnancy. This activity can alter the structure and function of the fallopian tube. Nicotine also changes the gene expression of PROKR1, a gene that regulates smooth muscles and implantation within the uterus. The contractions in the tubes prevent the embryo from passing through the uterus.
If you are planning to get pregnant, you should start quitting smoking. It has more negative effects such as miscarriage and stillbirth, placental abruption, placenta previa, preterm birth, low birth weight, and congenital disabilities.
Previous Ectopic Pregnancy
After experiencing an ectopic pregnancy, the chances of having pregnancy in the uterus is 60-70 %. It means that one in ten women who had an ectopic pregnancy can experience another ectopic pregnancy.
Since the risk is still high, you must consult a doctor while trying to get pregnant. Transvaginal ultrasound also shows an intrauterine pregnancy or another ectopic pregnancy. You must not also ignore the early signs of ectopic pregnancy, such as pain and vaginal bleeding or spotting.
Fallopian Tube Blockages
A blocked fallopian tube prevents the embryo from traveling to the uterus, resulting in an ectopic pregnancy. It can affect one or both the tubes and may also result in infertility. The causes of blocked fallopian tubes are the following: pelvic inflammatory disease, previous surgery of fallopian tubes, operation of ectopic pregnancy, growth of fibroids, and endometriosis.
Natural treatments for blocked fallopian tubes are vitamin C, turmeric, ginger, garlic, lodhra, dong quai, and ginseng. You can also try having fertility massages to unblock the fallopian tubes. Yoga, exercises, and meditation also help to have good effects on the fallopian tubes.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
Natural pregnancies have only 1% of an ectopic pregnancy, but in vitro fertilization (IVF) can increase by 5%. During the IVF treatment, the embryos are inserted directly into the womb. However, some fertility specialists observed that the embryos are sometimes implanted too high in the womb cavity that it wanders and embeds themselves in the fallopian tube.
If you are in an IVF treatment, continuously monitor your pregnancy. If you experience any symptoms of ectopic pregnancy, it is advisable to seek medical help immediately. Consult your doctor for a check-up and diagnosis.
Symptoms of Ectopic Pregnancy
Neck pain is one of the symptoms of ectopic pregnancy.
Usually, an ectopic pregnancy terminates only after a few days of conception. However, it may continue for a longer time, resulting in a rupture in the fallopian tubes. Rupture may lead to life-threatening bleeding. Here are some of the symptoms of ectopic pregnancy:
An ectopic pregnancy does not only result in physical pain but also emotional turmoil. Instead of experiencing the life-threatening event, the causes of ectopic pregnancy must be avoided as early as now. If symptoms occur, the help of medical professionals and loved ones are needed.
Uterine Fibroides is one of the leading problems of women nowadays, and management is the solution.
As defined by the Mayo Clinic, uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths in the uterus that usually appear during childbearing years. Fibroids can be small like seedlings or can be so bulky that they can distort the uterus.
Although uterine fibroids do not increase cancer risk, they may result in discomfort or, worse, infertility. Pelvic exams and prenatal ultrasound can detect fibroids.
Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids
Back pain is one of the symptoms of uterine fibroids.
Not all cases of uterine fibroids show any symptoms, but for those women who do, it may be because of the size, location, and the number of fibroids. If you experience the following symptoms, it is advisable to consult your doctor immediately:
Causes of Uterine Fibroids
A study in China revealed that obesity may increase the risk of uterine fibroids.
The primary cause of uterine fibroids is still unknown, but studies linked some factors that might contribute to this condition. Hormones such as estrogen and progesterone control the growth of the fibroids.
One of the factors that can lead to uterine fibroids is genetic changes. Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) found out that fibroids often have genetic changes different from uterine cells. The identification of the genetic risk factors contributes to medical management.
Aside from genetic changes, an imbalance hormone also plays a significant role in the growth of uterine fibroids. Fibroids are sensitive to hormones, specifically estrogen and progesterone. When the estrogen is too high, the development of fibroids occurs. Progesterone cannot stop the growth if it is insufficient.
The insufficiency of vitamin D in the body also results in the growth of fibroids. In a 2009 study, the researchers saw a relationship between vitamin D and the development of fibroids. A higher concentration of vitamin D helps in shrinking the fibroids.
How to Manage Uterine Fibroids Naturally
White sugar is a white processed food that must be avoided.
Avoid eating processed white foods.
Processed white food is white foods that have been heavily processed and refined. These are high in carbs and few in nutrients. They also spike blood sugar and insulin, affecting estrogen metabolism. Because of this, the fibroid size also increases.
Examples of processed white foods are white bread, white pasta, white rice, white sugar, white potatoes, animal-based fats. The best way to prevent consuming these foods is by looking for alternatives such as brown rice, plant-based fats, colorful vegetables, fruits, whole-grain pasta, and whole-grain bread.
Consume naturally occurring phytoestrogens.
Experts revealed that consuming food with natural estrogen, known as phytoestrogens, helps shrink the fibroids. Phytoestrogen helps in balancing out the excessive estrogens produced by the ovaries.
Green tea also has a phytoestrogen that decreases the size of the fibroids. A study showed how consuming green tea reduced the volume of the fibroid by 32.6%. Vitex, also known as chaste berry, balances the hormone. Other herbal medicines that have positive effects are red raspberry leaf, dandelion root, and dong quia.
A study in China revealed that obesity and weight excess increase the chance of having uterine fibroids. Exercise also relieves the pain and discomfort caused by the medical condition.
Aerobic exercises such as walking, swimming, biking, and running balance the hormones and normalize the insulin. Pilates, a system that focuses on the core, strengthens the areas of the body, including the pelvic area. Building a lean muscle through weight training also makes the muscles that support the uterus.
Increasing stress disrupts the hormonal balance, which contributes to the increasing growth of the fibroids. It is essential to prevent anxiety by changing the daily lifestyle or engaging in some stress relief techniques.
Some of the stress relief techniques are meditation, deep breathing exercises, counseling and therapy, journaling, and exercise. By trying these activities, you are keeping stress at the minimum level.
Uterine fibroids is a dilemma for most women, especially for those who want to get pregnant. The best way to prevent this medical condition is to maintain good health by eating the right food and exercising regularly. There are also other natural ways to minimize and eliminate the symptoms.
Women who are in the mid-40s to 50s experience changes in their bodies caused by menopause. But what is menopause, and how can it affect a woman’s fertility?
Menopause is a natural biological process in women that indicates the end of menstrual cycles. Initially, a newborn female has 1 to 3 million eggs. But by the time she had her first menstruation, it decreases to 400,000. When she is in the menopausal stage, the number of eggs left is fewer than 10,000. Fertility starts to decline.
A hormone called follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is responsible for growing the eggs during the menstrual cycle. However, as the menopausal stage starts, the eggs become more resistant to FSH. At the same time, the ovaries reduce the production of estrogen- a hormone responsible for growing the endometrial lining and sustaining a pregnancy.
Stages of Menopause
Menopause, like menstrual cycle, has four stages.
Like the menstrual cycle, menopause also has four stages. These are premenopause, perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause. There are signs and symptoms that you can observe in every process.
The first stage is premenopause. It starts when a woman hits puberty and ends when she approaches the perimenopausal stage. During this period, there is regular menstruation, and women can reproduce. Experiencing premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms are very usual.
The perimenopausal stage starts 3 to 5 years before menopause. The estrogen begins to decline, which results in irregular menstruation. This stage typically occurs when a woman is in her late 40s. Some of the signs are hot flashes, insomnia, night sweats, mood swings, thinning hair, and weight gain. There is still a chance to get pregnant.
If a woman did not have her period for 12 consecutive months, she is in a menopausal stage. According to Mayo Clinic, the typical age for menopause in the United States is 51. Menopause accompanies hot flashes, chronic sleep deprivation, fatigue, brain fog, vaginal dryness, decreased libido, depression, and weight gain.
After a woman is in menopause, she would experience the postmenopausal stage. The Cleveland Clinic stated that postmenopausal women have a high risk of osteoporosis and heart disease because of the decline in estrogen. Common symptoms are vaginal dryness or irritation and painful intercourse.
Natural Ways to Get Pregnant While in Perimenopause
Natural pregnancy is possible during the perimenopausal stage.
Natural pregnancy is possible during the perimenopausal stage since ovulation continues. Once you reach the menopause stage and are no longer ovulating, it is impossible to get pregnant naturally.
But there are some risks of pregnancy during perimenopause and menopause, such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, placenta previa, placental abruption, stillbirth or miscarriage, premature or low birth weight, ectopic pregnancy, and increase chance of congenital disabilities.
The fertility diet improves conception because it balances the hormones, protects the DNA health of both sperm and eggs, decreases the chance of miscarriage, and increases vitality and energy. It includes high organic fruits and vegetables, raw dairy products, and high omega-3 fatty acids.
Aside from a nutritious diet, you can also attain hormonal balance by taking herbs and nutritional supplements. Black cohosh is a herbal plant found in North America. It does boost not only fertility but also heals uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, and endometriosis. Evening primrose oil soothes PMS symptoms and increases cervical mucus, alleviating the pain during intercourse.
One of the herbal supplements that can help conceive is Shatavari, a herbal plant in India that combats stress and regulates the menstrual cycle. Maca, an indigenous plant in Peru, supports hormonal imbalance and keeps thyroid health. Damiana, a shrub in America and Mexico, increases blood flow in reproductive organs.
Natural Ways to Alleviate the Symptoms of Menopause
Maintaining a healthy weight helps in alleviating the symptoms of menopause.
The symptoms incorporated with menopause can hinder some daily activities of women. But now, there are natural ways to alleviate these symptoms and live your everyday life without experiencing discomfort and difficulty. Here are some tips that can help you:
Ovulation and the menstrual cycle are part of every woman’s life. They also play a great role in fertility and pregnancy. Here are some important facts that you must know as a woman.
The pattern of ovulation and the menstrual cycle may vary for every female. Some are longer than the others and some bleed heavily more than the others. However, signs of irregularity must not be ignored since they may hinder one’s fertility.
When a woman hits puberty, typically at the age of 11 to 14, the ovaries start producing and releasing an egg. This process is called ovulation. Before ovulation occurs, the uterus lining thickens to prepare for the implantation of the fertilized egg.
If the egg is not fertilized, the uterus lining sheds. The discharge of the blood and tissue is called menstruation. The menstruation phase may occur for 3 to 7 days. A woman’s cycle may last for 28 to 32 days.
Stages of the Menstrual Cycle
Menstrual cycle has phases that every women should know.
A menstrual cycle undergoes four stages: the menstrual phase, the follicular phase, the ovulation phase, and the luteal phase. If you want to be pregnant, you must familiarize yourself with these phases since timing is significant in pregnancy.
The first stage is the menstrual phase. This is the time that your uterus lining sheds. You may experience cramps, bloating, mood swings, and headaches. This may last for 3 to 7 days, however, it may vary.
Take note that the follicular phase overlaps with the menstrual phase and ends when you ovulate. During this stage, a hormone signals the ovary to produce follicles that contain immature eggs. The healthiest egg is the only one that matures. The cycle can occur for 11 to 27 days.
The next stage is the ovulation phase. This is the time when you can get pregnant. The left or the right ovary releases a mature egg then it goes to the fallopian tube, down to the uterus, waiting to be fertilized by a sperm. It only lasts for 24 hours. If the egg is not fertilized, it will die or dissolve.
You can tell that you are already ovulating if there is a slight increase in your basal body temperature and there is a thicker discharge that looks like the egg white. If you have a 28-day cycle, your ovulation typically happens on the 14th day.
The last phase is the luteal phase. This happens when hormones such as progesterone and estrogen are released. The increase of these hormones in the body thickens the uterine lining as preparation for the implantation of the fertilized egg. You will also experience premenstrual syndrome. The phase may last for 11 to 17 days.
What is an Irregular Period?
Irregular period may be a symptom of an ovulation problem or any health condition.
An irregular period occurs when the days of menstruation vary from time to time and the phase is outside the 21 to 35 days range. This may not be a big deal but you must consult a doctor to be sure that an ovulation problem or any health condition is not the cause.
A study conducted in South Korea published by PloS One in March 2019 revealed that out of 4,709 women from ages 19 to 54, 14 percent are experiencing irregular menstruation. It was found out that many of the women experiencing this are manual overnight shifts, sales workers, and unemployed.
Factors that Cause Irregular Periods
Stress is non-medical issue that can result to irregularity.
Irregular periods can be caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, health conditions, or contraceptives. It is important to know the factors that may contribute to the irregularity of your menstruation since it may also affect your ovulation.
The result of various contraceptives may result in an irregularity in menstruation, not only for a short time but also for a long time. Taking a birth control pill daily has a 70 percent chance of suppressing your cycle. A hormone shot, on the other hand, can cause irregularity for 22 months.
Medical issues can also be the reason for an irregular cycle. Some of these are polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), thyroid or pituitary disorders, and pelvic inflammatory disease.
However, there are non-medical issues that can also cause irregularity. You can experience menstrual irregularities if you are in perimenopause- a transition to menopause. Irregularity can also be a result of stress and anxiety, extreme exercise, eating disorders, and age.
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding a newborn, or suffered from miscarriage, expect that you will have no menstruation at all. Before consulting a doctor, make sure that you are not in these situations.
Natural Ways to Regulate Menstrual Cycle
Practicing yoga reduces menstrual pain.
There are still methods that you can do to improve your ovulation and menstrual cycle. Here are some natural ways that could help you regulate your menstrual cycle:
You don't have to undergo strenuous and expensive methods to get pregnant. There are other ways to boost natural fertility.
The National Vital Statistics System recorded the highest total fertility rate for women during the post-World War II baby boom, where it reached 3.77 births per woman. However, by 2018 the real fertility rate dropped to 1.73- a rate that is too low to replace the generation itself.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in every four couples in developing countries are experiencing infertility. It stems from severe psychological and sociological problems like divorce, violence, social stigma, emotional stress, depression, and low self-esteem.
The good news is, every woman can boost her natural fertility. Many studies discovered natural methods to help women increase their pregnancy chances despite their ages. Instead of giving up the hope of childbearing, it is time to try to attain your goal.
Monitor your basal body temperature.
Monitoring your basal body temperature helps in tracking your ovulation.
Monitoring your basal body temperature (BBT) will help you predict the time of your ovulation. It may take a slight commitment since you have to check your temperature every single day. However, it is a straightforward process that will help you in the long run.
To check your BBT, you need to have a basal body thermometer. Always keep it near your bed so you can get your temperature as soon as you wake up. Record it right away, whether in a notebook or your phone. It would take you one to two cycles before you can get the correct pattern.
After having the pattern, identify the dates when you are most fertile. A sperm stays in the reproductive tract for five days, so you need to have sex two days before your ovulation. If your BBT is high for more than 18 days, then you should take a pregnancy test.
Always stay hydrated
Drinking a lot of water increases cervical mucus.
Water helps in increasing the cervical mucus, making it easier for the sperm to reach the egg. According to some studies, a sperm can have difficulty getting the egg if the cervical mucus is thick and low in water content.
The other benefits of water are the lubrication of tissues and organs, delivery of the hormones, and enhancement of the follicles. Make sure to drink 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Also, avoid drinks that cause dehydration like sodas and coffees.
Dehydration has adverse effects on fertility. Some of these are the prevention of ovulation and lack of cervical mucus that eventually harms the sperm. If you observe that you are not urinating for hours, it is a sign that your body needs water.
Dr. Yaron Seidman DAOM