“Hypofertility” is the medical term used for women who struggle to fall pregnant despite having no particular medical problems. If you are amongst these women, then it’s not all bad news! Your fertility can be easily ‘revived’ and improved through a variety of natural means, all covered in this article.
Article written by Ariane Monnami, nutritionist and micro-nutritionist.
Not too plump..
One of the main causes of infertility affecting women today is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Mostly occurring in women who are overweight or obese, this syndrome is named after the ‘lumpy’ appearance of the ovaries when tested by ultrasound. This lumpy appearance is due to the cysts on the ovaries which are often painful. Other symptoms include hormonal imbalance which may lead to a more ‘masculine’ appearance: for example hair loss, excess facial and body hair, acne and greasy hair.
However, what most people don’t know, is that polycystic ovarian syndrome results directly from the effects of insulin on the ovary wall. Insulin causes the ovary wall to thicken which prevents ovulation from occurring as it should.
The egg cell remains ‘stuck’ inside the ovary, giving it a cyst-like appearance. It is therefore unable to join a sperm cell and falling pregnant remains impossible.
Luckily, this problem is reversible! An easy step to take towards this is simply reducing as much as possible your intake of fast releasing sugars, which cause sharp rises in blood sugar level. By doing this, insulin production will start to fall and normal ovulation should start again. What’s more, you’ll even lose some weight!
..nor too slim
Excess weight can be have negative effects on fertility, but being overly thin can also have its consequences.
We all need to maintain minimum energy reserves to carry a pregnancy to full term and of course, Mother Nature has taken some safety precautions!
As a result, when mental disorders such as anorexia develop to such an extent that they result in severe weight loss, periods often become irregular or disappear entirely. This may also be the case for athletes with very little body fat.
Watch out for oestrogen overdose!
Most of us know that contraceptive pills work by delivering hormones to your body which trick your brain into thinking that you’re pregnant, and therefore stop ovulation.
However, even without taking contraceptives, we are becoming increasingly exposed to hormones in all types of food and drink. For example, xeno-estrogens (see article on male fertility) are chemical products which ‘imitate’ oestrogen and can be found in pesticides, fertiliser and plastics. Hormones are also often present in animal feed and high levels of oestrogen can be found in some dairy products and non-organic farmed meat. Even tap water might not be completely free of oestrogen! Waste water treatment plants can get rid of bacteria and toxic substances but not of oestrogen released in the urine of pregnant women or those using the pill.
So, my advice is to stick to bottled water and if you can, follow regular detox treatments to keep your liver healthy and functioning properly.
Make sure to get enough iodine..
Iodine is essential for good baby growth, especially brain growth. But above all, iodine is needed for the implantation of the fertilised egg into the uterus. An iodine deficit can cause very early miscarriages, even before the next period is expected. These miscarriages won’t lead to delayed periods and the woman will not even know about the miscarriage, simply putting her inability to fall pregnant down to fertility problems.
To avoid any iodine deficit, make sure to get enough seafood such as prawns, mussels, crab and even seaweed!
Zinc is essential for oestrogen formation and a zinc deficit can cause both reduced fertility and premature miscarriages.
Oysters are a great source of zinc - they are in fact one of the foods with the highest zinc content and are also known for their ‘aphrodisiac’ effect..
Zinc can also be found in pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, red meat, egg yolk and cocoa.
And lastly.. no stress!
Stress causes normal hormone behaviour to change, allowing us to ‘fight’ or ‘flee’. So it’s not surprising that stress hormones can also prevent ovulation: when all of your energy is used to ‘fight’, your body is definitely not ready for a baby!
Avoiding stress as much as possible is therefore essential, and don’t let trying to fall pregnant cause even more stress! Forget ovulation tests and ‘planned’ sex with your partner.. instead plan more romantic ‘together time’, such as spa days and massage sessions - or even better, just massage one another!
If you can’t help but feel stressed, then remember that the best natural stress relief is magnesium.
- American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Russell J, et al "Daily protein content correlates with increased fertility and pregnancy outcome" ACOG 2013
- Chebotnikova T et coll.: Polycystic ovary syndrome, obesity and anovulatory infertility: weight loss effect. 15th World congress on human reproduction, Venise 13 au 16 mars 2013.