At only 35 years old, I feel extremely blessed to have easily conceived both of my children when I see so many couples out there who struggle. I have a number of friends who have had to turn to fertility doctors to help them conceive. The more I thought about it, the more I began to wonder about the different factors effecting reproduction and why they seem to be so prominent now. To be clear, infertility refers to the inability of a woman to conceive a child within 12 months of trying.
The first thing I did was look at the data. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 6.7 million women in the US between the ages of 15 and 44 have impaired ability to have children– that’s 10.9% of women in that age range. ReproductiveFacts.org also provides some interesting statistics. There were a couple that I found especially interesting, “Twelve percent of all infertility cases are a result of the woman either weighing too little or too much,” and “Up to 13 percent of female infertility is caused by cigarette smoking.” I find those particular statistics interesting because they are factors that can be controlled.
In a matter of speaking, there is an ideal weight for becoming pregnant. That ideal weight corresponds to a woman’s height. A WebMD article regarding fertility refers to a study that evaluated the Body Mass Index (BMI) of pregnat women. Those who had a normal BMI (18.5-24.9) were least likely to have problems becoming pregnant. Women considered overweight took twice as long to become pregnant as those who were a healthy weight. Women who were underweight took four times as long to get pregnant.
As stated before, and as most people are aware smoking is bad for your health and for the health of those around you. Smoking can also make it more difficult to become pregnant. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), there is a higher rate of infertility among smokers compared to non-smokers. Additionally, cigarette smoking has been shown to harm the ovaries, and to “accelerate the loss of eggs and reproductive function and may advance the time of menopause by several years.” The site goes on to state that, “Components in cigarette smoke have been shown… to cause a woman’s eggs (oocytes) to be more prone to genetic abnormalities.”
Beyond these steps that can be taken, there are other things a woman can do to help boost her fertility. Acupuncture in conjunction with certain herbs has been used for centuries to treat infertility. According to the American Pregnancy Association, accupuncture can help in a couple of different ways. It can help by dealing with both hyperthyroid and hypothyroid problems which can affect a woman’s ability to become pregnant. In addition, “accupuncture can increase blood flow to the endometrium, helping to facilitate a thick, rich lining.”
There are herbs that a woman can use to help naturally boost her fertility. Some herbs, vitamins and supplements to consider adding are:
Vitex— Vitex may improve progesterone output in the second half of the menstrual cycle, and according to an article on LiveStrong.com, there was a double-blind placebo-controlled study that showed women who took Vitex had a much higher pregnancy rate than those taking placebo.
Red Clover— Red Clover can be used to help thicken the lining of the uterus, which can make an optimal environment for egg implantation
Evening Primrose— Evening Primrose is believed to help regulate the menstrual cycle and help reduce the symptoms associated with endometriosis. It is also thought to thin cervical mucus increasing the ability of sperm to enter the uterus. Evening Primrose is contraindicated in patients who are taking antypsychotic medications or blood thinners.
While these herbs will help boost fertility, there are also some that could hinder a woman’s ability to become pregnant. They include St. John’s Wort, Echinacea and Gingko Biloba, so their use should be discontinued when trying to conceive.
Finally, seeking chiropractic adjustments may increase a woman’s ability to become pregnant. Since spinal misalignment can adversely effect the nerves along a woman’s reproductive organs, proper adjustment of the spine can work by unblocking those areas, thereby allowing them to work properly. Most of the published studies regarding the use of chiropractic adjustments and fertility can be found in the Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research.
While fertility is an issue that seems to effect more and more couples, it seems there are a number of avenues worth exploring before looking into in vitro fertilization and other pharmaceutical type interventions. Of course, the need to bring new life into the world is one that can be overwhelming, and couples need to try the options that they feel work best for them. That said, it’s important to know all of the options available before choosing one.