If you’re struggling with infertility or worried about your ability to get pregnant, you already know how important it is to be healthy in order to conceive. Although eating right and exercise are a good start, experts agree that there are other natural ways that can help you conceive.Before you head to the IVF clinic, try these ideas.
1. Keep your uterus warm.
In Chinese medicine, a “cold” uterus, or poor blood flow and circulation to the uterus, is a diagnosis and could be the reason you can’t get pregnant.
“We see the uterus as a palatial space to grow a baby and if it’s cold, it’s not very hospitable or comfortable,” said Aimee Raupp, a licensed acupuncturist, women's health and fertility expert in New York City and Nyack, N.Y. and author of “Yes, You Can Get Pregnant: Natural Ways to Improve Your Fertility Now and Into Your 40s.”
If you notice your menstrual blood is dark purple, or even black, you have a lot of clots and your whole body tends to be cold, you could have a cold uterus.
To warm up your uterus during your period, Raupp recommends warm baths, wearing socks or slippers, placing a hot water bottle on your abdomen and drinking ginger or cinnamon tea. Also, avoid cold, raw foods, swimming or anything that gives you a chill.
2. Time sex right.
If you have a 28-day cycle, you’ll probably ovulate on day 14. For the best possible chance of conceiving, have sex on days 12, 14 and 16. Since sperm lasts up to three days on average, you’ll still improve your chances even if you don’t have sex every day while you’re ovulating, said Dr. Brian Levine, a board-certified OB-GYN and fertility specialist, and the New York practice director for the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine in New York City.
3. Have hot, steamy sex— and lots of it.
Although when you have sex is key, how much sex you have could be equally important. In fact, women who have frequent sex even outside their fertile windows are more fertile, according to research in the journals Fertility and Sterility and Physiology and Behaviors.
Researchers believe the reason some women may have trouble conceiving is due to an autoimmune response that causes their bodies to reject sperm or the embryo because they’re not having sex enough.
Not only can more sex improve your chances of getting pregnant, but spicing up your sex life can help you intimately reconnect with your partner and help you remember you’re creating a life out of love.
“It lets your partner know that you want him outside of his sperm,” Raupp said.
4. Drink bone broth.
“Nutrition is a really important way to fight the aging process in Chinese medicine and prolong and improve our fertility,” Raupp said.
Soups made from bones or that have bone marrow are nutrient dense and contain every type of amino acid. Drink four ounces of bone broth, four to five times a week.
5. Use the right lube.
“The secret to getting pregnant ultimately is good cervical mucus,” Levine said.
Yet some personal lubricants that make sex more comfortable and pleasurable can affect your chances of getting pregnant. When semen is exposed to oil- or petroleum-based lubricants, it can disrupt the cervical mucus and prevent sperm from making their way to the uterus.
Some lubricants also contain spermicide, which kill sperm. Instead, use a water-based lubricant or those specifically marketed for pregnancy.
6. Add wheat grass to your diet.
Wheat grass is a powerful antioxidant and anti-aging medicinal that balances estrogen and improves fertility. Wheat grass is available as a supplement and can be taken every day.
There are 80,000 chemicals in use in the U.S., many of which have been linked to infertility and some even show up in dust inside our homes, according to a recent study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Although it’s impossible to avoid exposure to every last one, avoid GMOs and pesticides in food and chemicals in cleaning products, housewares and personal care products.
“If you can’t eat it, you shouldn’t put it on your skin,” Raupp said.
8. Deal with emotions.
If you’re struggling with infertility, you might doubt your body, your health and your relationship. As a result, what you say to yourself may not be kind or compassionate. What’s more, negative energy, toxic relationships and stress can all prevent energy from flowing to the uterus and allowing for pregnancy, Raupp said.
Pay attention to your inner dialogue, try to have more kindness for yourself, your partner and other people in your life and make changes where possible. One of the best ways to cope with negative emotions is through meditation and journaling.
9. Eat caviar.
“If you want to improve your egg quality, eat eggs,” Raupp said.
Although chicken eggs are one of the healthiest foods you can eat, caviar in particular is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and healthy fats, which can improve your chances of getting pregnant. Aim for 1 ounce, one to two times a week.
10. Shut down the iPad.
If you have a nighttime ritual of binge watching reality TV or reading on your iPad, the artificial light could affect your circadian rhythm and your fertility, a study in the journal Fertility and Sterility found.
Shut off the screens one to two hours before going to bed and find something relaxing to do like reading, yoga or sex, which will help you sleep more soundly.
“Quality of sleep is just as important as quantity of sleep,” Levine said.
11. Use apps wisely.
A fertility app can help you determine your fertile window, but many of the apps are accurate only if you have a regular cycle. In fact, a study in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology found that only 3 of 33 fertility apps accurately predict a woman’s fertile window.
“If the app doesn’t allow for someone who has variable cycles, be aware that the fertile window could be advanced or delayed by two to three days on either end,” he said.
12. Eat fish in moderation.
Although fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to improve fertility, mercury exposure can also hamper your ability to get pregnant.
The good news is that you don’t have to eliminate fish altogether. Instead, go for fish with the lowest levels of mercury like salmon, shrimp and scallops and eat them in moderation.
Also, choose wild-caught over farm-raised if possible, since there isn’t enough evidence that farm-raised fish are safe.
“If we don’t know what we’re putting into our mouths as adults, why do you want to put this into your child’s mouth?” Levine said.
Julie Revelant is a health journalist and a consultant who provides content marketing and copywriting services for the healthcare industry. She's also a mom of two. Learn more about Julie at revelantwriting.com.