I specialise in fertility reflexology at my Leeds clinics and over the years I’ve done a lot of formal and informal training on the subject and gleaned a lot of information, some of which I’d like to share with you.
Firstly though I would advise that if you’ve been struggling to get pregnant for a year or more, visit your GP and ask for them to arrange for some tests. It often takes longer than 12 months to conceive, but this is the point at which most GPs will be prepared to start investigations. Being tested can bring peace of mind by ruling out any medical reasons that may be affecting your fertility, but it can also reveal issues that could be easily treated.
So here are my Top 6 tips for enhancing your fertility…
- Get enough quality sleep. As well as affecting sleep quality, light at night interferes with the balance of reproductive hormones and can make conception harder. Consider blackout blinds if your bedroom isn’t totally dark. Insomnia also causes disruption to the reproductive process. Figs are a natural soporific and a banana before bed can balance blood sugar levels.
- Balance your blood sugar levels. Regular eating is important for stabilising blood sugar levels as low blood sugar affects the levels of progesterone in the body.
- Support your liver. Avoid alcohol, smoking, caffeine (and even decaf), preserved meats, bacon and smoked products. One alcoholic drink per day reduces your chances of conceiving by as much as 50%.
- Keep it pure. Eat organic, unprocessed, unrefined foods and cook from scratch (especially avoid ready meals and foods containing additives). Eat wholegrains and try to avoid processed sugars. Unprocessed nuts are particularly good for helping the liver to process oestrogen. Reduced fat/sugar foods are generally more processed and should be avoided. If you’re trying to lose weight, reduce your carb intake but eat a healthy amount of good fats. Use natural (preferably organic) cosmetics, shampoos, shower gels, body lotions, deodorants, perfumes etc. because what you put onto your skin is absorbed into your body.
- Lower your GI. Eating a high protein/low carbohydrate diet helps to support your liver. Low GI combined with an increase in vegetable protein is often recommended. Lentils, peas, broccoli, tofu and brown rice are all good and quinoa is exceptionally helpful as it contains better quality protein than meat. Good additional sources of protein are poultry, fish, eggs, cottage cheese, yoghurt, nuts and seeds. A diet rich in B vitamins also helps to support the liver.
- Balance your weight and exercise regime. Weight is an important factor in ovulation. A woman needs around 18% body fat in order to ovulate. Being overweight can alter menstrual cycles by causing excessive production of oestrogen. This interferes with the normal feedback system of the hormone cycle. A 10% drop in body weight can be enough to improve hormone levels, make periods regular and stimulate ovulation. The right amount of exercise is important because it helps to prepare the body for conception by strengthening muscles and building endurance. Excessive exercising however can interfere with ovulation.
And finally of course, consider a course of reflexology. It may help to relax you during what is often a very stressful time and is designed to help restore balance and harmony in your body.
(NB. Always seek medical advice before making radical changes to your diet. If you have been advised by your doctor not to eat anything suggested above, please talk to them before following any of this advice.)