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Natural fertility and Conception

June 20, 2019

Why do we spend over a year planning our wedding day, but spend very little time preparing our body for a baby? This is such an important question I often ask my clients when they seem reluctant to put the time into preparing their body's. Your wedding day lasts just one day, making a baby will affect you every day for the rest of your life. 

 

It takes two to tango

I also frequently get asked if male partners really have to make changes to their lifestyle, and the answer is hell yes. Sperm contains half the DNA that creates a baby, so that is half the responsibility. Unfortunately men's sperm health is declining far more rapidly than women's egg health. This is mainly due to all the oestrogen mimicking toxins found in our food, environment and the air. Knowing about men's sperm health is very different to womens, in that if a woman has a hormonal issue it'll show up monthly in her period as pain, inflammation, missed period, scanty bleeding, migraines, and ect. Women are generally aware of their reproductive health unless they are on hormonal contraception. The only way for a man to know if he is producing good quality sperm is for him to get it tested, and yes there are tests that are available and that I highly recommend getting, especially if you and your partner have been trying to conceive for some time now. 

 

Why twelve weeks?

In the ovaries it takes approximately 12 weeks for an egg to reach maturation before it reaches ovulation. During these 12 weeks it is absorbing all the nutrients and chemicals from your body. The cycle you have this month is impacted by everything you were doing in the last three months. The same rule applies to sperm cell production. When preparing for conception, you want to leave three months to prepare for both you and your partner. I know many men will be opposed to doing this because it is common knowledge that female has the greatest impact on foetal health. However there is a lot of evidence showing the importance of sperm quality, quantity and motility in creating a sustained healthy pregnancy. After all the male is producing half the DNA, in my mind that equals half the responsibility.

 

* Note coming off the pill can take 3 to 24 months to recover. It is always helpful to see a Naturopath, Kinesiologist, Acupuncturist or Chinese medicine herbalist during this time to support your body’s needs. Give yourself around six months to detox from the pill or other forms of hormonal contraception while following the guidelines below. 

 

Miscarriage 

There is never any point in blaming yourself or anyone else for loss but it’s important for women to know the statistics because we do end up blaming ourselves. 1 in 4 couples experience miscarriage. On top of this sperm DNA fragmentation doubles the likelihood of miscarriage. Sperm DNA fragmentation is affected by lifestyle factors such as stress, smoking, alcohol, recreational drugs, chemical exposure and obesity or excess belly fat. Partners can make simple lifestyle changes to improve the quality of their sperm DNA. They can reduce their sperm oxidative stress levels by making healthier choices such as eating a better diet (the one I’ve

outlined above and in workshop 1), increasing exercise, reducing excess weight, quitting smoking, completely eliminating alcohol intake (in the three months prior to conception), keeping their testes cool and out of EMF exposure (no mobiles in pockets, lap tops off of laps).

 

For women coffee, smoking and alcohol intake also increase your risk of miscarriage, along with the possibility of thyroid issues and infection like the flu. The MTHFR gene can also increase your risk of miscarriage. Taking activated B vitamins and folate will ensure that your body is able to process your multi vitamin. You can get your MTHFR gene tested at the doctor is you have had multiple miscarriages. I think it's worth all women taking activated folate, also known as folinic acid, to prevent miscarriage. 

 

That is why preparing your body and your partners body is the first step to a healthy full term pregnancy. If you have been experiencing repeated miscarriages, I recommend seeing a naturopath who specialises in fertility. Get blood tests to check your hormone and nutrient levels. Ask your partner to do a sperm test that looks at sperm DNA, motility and count. It is also helpful to look at the emotions that might contribute to miscarriage or might have surfaced after. 

 

 

Toxins

There are many different toxins that impact the endocrine system. These toxins all affect it in different ways. Today we are surrounded and constantly exposed to hundreds of environmental toxins in the air, our drinking water, on our food and in the products we put on our skin. The liver and many other organs in the body have to process these toxins. When our system is over loaded it prevents them from functioning optimally. An example is, oestrogen is processed in the liver; it is either recycles or excreted. If the liver is overtaxed with environmental toxins however, it’ll only recycle oestrogen leaving you with oestrogen dominance.

 

 

Simple rules to follow when avoiding toxins

  1.  Avoid any products containing any of the following in the label. PEG, perfume, sodium lauryl or laureth sulphate, ammonium lauryl or laureth sulphate, cocamide DEA/MEA, papabens, Acephate, Acrifluorfen, Alph- cypermethrin, Amitraz, Bifenthrin, Bioallethrin, Bromoxynil, Carbendazim, Chlorfenapyr, Chlortahl, Cyanazine, Cypermethrin, Dichiorvos, Dimethipin, Fluometuron, Lindane, Malathion, Mercuric Chloride, Mollinate. Yes that is a long list so lets simplify it.

  2. Switch to products that have a certified organic label. This is not the word organic in the title or on the label but the certified organic logo. Many products use words like “natural, organic, from nature” to make you think it’s good for you but unless it is properly certified it probably has some nasty chemicals in it.

  3. Switch body lotions and creams for natural oils such as organic coconut oil, hemp oil, jojoba oil and almond oil. These can be sourced organically and they have absolutely nothing added to them so you’ll know what you are really putting on your skin.

  4. Stop wearing perfume, cologne, sprays and conventional deodorants This can be tough for some people to give up because we love the idea of smelling like a flower all day. Perfumes are endocrine disruptors, which create huge hormonal issues. Most deodorants also contain aluminium, which is a neurotoxin. The best way to avoid is to stop using perfumes all together and switch to a natural certified organic deodorant. If you wish to smell nice, find an organic essential oil and use that as a spray or roller. Anything labelled Perfume on a bottle contains harmful chemicals.

  5. This is especially important because personal care items come into very close contact with your reproductive organs and our vagina has no protective barrier against harmful chemicals. Using organic tampons and pads is the safest way to go. An even better option for your body and the environment is a moon cup along with period underwear. There are so many amazing brads out there all making periods more convenient and toxin free.

  6. Another important thing to look at is the type of condoms and lube you are using. Lost of brands contain harmful spermicide. - Tom Organic pads and tampons. 

  7. Many people are unaware or the chemicals and toxins found in most con-ventional skin and makeup products. There is no current standard for testing and regulation for beauty products. It is difficult to distinguish the good from the bad when reading labels and while there are apps such as “think dirty” that can assist in making better choices, they are still a limited recourse. See my blog post on Organic make up: https://www.peppermintandsage.com/single-post/2019/03/05/Organic-Natural-Beauty 

  8. BPA, phthalates and other plastic chemicals are endocrine disrupting; these sub-stances have adverse side effects on our health because they alter our endocrine system or hormone systems. This affects our cycles as well as other systems in the body such as you thyroid. Other common names for these plastics include DHEP or DiBP, DINP, DnOP, DIDP DBP, BBP, and DEHP. To play it safe its better to avoid plastic all together and use alternatives such as stainless steel and glass.

  •  Thinx underwear

  • Juju moon cup

  • Juju organic cotton pads

  • Sustain natural condoms

  • Yes OB organic lubricants 

  • Glyde natural condoms and lube

  • Hero condoms

  • L. Condoms

  • Good old fashioned organic coconut oil (not safe with condoms)

  • We have sources a number of these products for you to easily purchase on our online store, head to www.peppermintandsage.com 

 

Diet guidelines

  1. Protein is vital for you and growing a healthy baby. You want to aim for a protein portion around the size of your palm at every meal. These can be animal products, nuts, seeds or legumes.

  2. Fats need to be organic when from animal products, such as butter, because toxins from animals are stored in their fat cells. You also want to limit saturated fats and fried foods. Choosing cold pressed olive and coconut oil are the best options.

  3. Choose organic food wherever possible. Conventional produce is sprayed with huge amounts of pesticides and toxins. Those toxins impact your health and the health of your baby. As I discussed before, organic meat and animal products are best, as conventional meat contains hormones, antibiotics and chemically grown feed.

  4. Carbohydrates should come from whole foods, vegetable and fruit sources. Such as sweet potatoes, pumpkin, beetroot and legumes. Avoiding processed carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta and refined sugars is best because they usually have a higher Glycemic Index (GI) .

  5. Fish is a great source of protein and high in essential fatty acids. You want to avoid large fish such as tuna, shark, stingray, barramundi, gemfish and king mackerel because they contain large amounts of mercury. Choose local fish over imported and wild caught over farmed.

  6. Eliminate dairy and replace it with coconut, almond, rice and pasteurised goats milk/ yoghurt/ cheese alternatives. Soy doesn’t agree with many people, so avoid that as an alternative.

  7. Alcohol is to be completely avoided for both males and females three months prior to conception. Alcohol greatly impacts sperm quality and contributes to miscarriage. It is vital that males remove alcohol prior to conception as it affects sperm the most. For females it is never safe prior to conception because the exact time of conception is usually unknown so for weeks before a pregnancy test is viable. Alcohol could be impacting your baby before you even realise you are pregnant.

  8. Coffee is best avoided, especially for women. It decreases egg health and quality and can cause miscarriage. Opt for dandelion root, turmeric lattes or other health lattes instead.

  9. Organic vegetables are unlimited, eating a wide variety and a large amount daily will ensure you are sustained and nourished. If organic options are limited for you then please follow the dirty dozen principle below.

 

It is of course your choice to follow these guidelines as much or as little as you choose. In my opinion, the choices you make prior to conception can affect you and your child for the rest of your life. In the end it pays off to do the best you possibly can. This gives your child the best start to its life. I will happily trade three short months of health and care for a healthy happy baby.

 

Clean fifteen: contains the least pesticide residue

- Avocados

- Sweet Corn

- Pineapples

- Cabbages

- Onions

- Sweet Peas

- Papayas

- Asparagus

- Mangoes

- Eggplants

- Honeydews

- Kiwis

- Cantaloupes

- Cauliflower

- Broccoli

 

Dirty dozen: produce with the most pesticide residue

- Strawberries

- Spinach

- Nectarines

- Apples

- Grapes

- Peaches

- Cherries

- Pears

- Tomatoes

- Celery

- Potatoes

- Sweet Bell Peppers/ capsicums

 

Supplements

I recommend that you see you a naturopath when supplementing. It is a good idea to get blood tests to see where your levels sit before adding supplements to your routine. These are some of the vitamins and minerals to test for and add to your routine:

 

Women

Magnesium

Zinc

Activated B vitamins

Probiotics

Iodine (only professionally prescribed as too much can cause thyroid problems)

Essential fatty acids such as good quality fish oils

Folinic acid (an activated form of folate that prevents miscarriage caused by the non activated form) 

Iron 

 

Men

Zinc

Magnesium

Vitamin C 

Essential fatty acids such as good quality fish oils

Mens Multi 

 

 

Kinesiology and how it can help you and your partner

I am here to support you through every phase of your journey. From the initial decision to start working towards pregnancy, to breast feeding assistance post natal. This is a big and important journey you are about to undertake, so having the support of someone throughout the journey will help ease any concerns or fears you have. Kinesiology is here for you to use as you see fit. If you have any emotional worries and fears surrounding pregnancy or birth, I am here to help you. I am here for both you and your partner as this is a team effort that both mums and dads need support in.

 

Through preconception I work to get your hormones and health to an optimal level and reduce your stress. Once you have conceived, having regular balances will help you cope with all the changes you’ll be experiencing. This journey can be a mental, physical and emotional roller coaster and that is why I’m here to support you through it all. If you have been struggling to conceive for a while, I am going to help you take the stress away from it and assist you in reaching optimal health for natural conception.

 

Some things to work on in kinesiology sessions:

- Balanced reproductive hormones

- Regulating periods

- Improving sperm quality and quantity

- Fears surrounding change, pregnancy, birth and breast feeding

- Relationship strengthening

- Post natal depression

- Achieving a healthy full term pregnancy

- Dissolving any trauma, abuse or loss held in the womb

- Healing after miscarriage

Plus anything else that surfaces during this time of change.

 

Also check out my Conscious Conception online ebook to help mentally and emotionally prepare you and your partner for pregnancy. https://www.peppermintandsage.com/copy-of-workshop-2-sacral-chakra-1

 

Naturopathy

If after following the diet and working on the three main factors that affect the cycle you are still struggling then it is recommended that you look a little deeper at the problem. A naturopath can help you do testing to check nutrient levels and look into what might be causing your problem.

 

Cycle Tracking Apps

- Period Apps: Clue, Kindara, Flow. I love Kindara the most! 

- Fertility awareness contraceptives: Natural Cycles and Daysy

- Recommended book: The Period Repair Manual by Lara Briden

- Tools: 2 decimal place thermometer, either a basal body temperature chart from

the internet or a tracking app. This is the thermometer I have used for a while now, it's cheap and easy to use. 

 

Steps to accurately tracking your cycle:

  1.  Keep your thermometer next to your bed

  2. Upon waking in the morning, take your temperature first thing before getting out of bed (under your tongue is the most accurate). It is preferable to take it at the same time each morning, or with in a 2 hour window.

  3. Leading up to ovulation your temperature will decline and be at its lowest.

  4. At the same time your cervical mucus will become an egg white consistency.

  5. Ovulation is confirmed by a 0.3°C rise in temperate that is sustained for at least 7 days but normally for the remainder of your cycle.

  6. 6. You will also see a change in mucus back to a thicker and whiter appearance, indicating ovulation has occurred.

  7. On the day before or on the onset of your period, your temperature will notice-ably drop.

  8. Certain factors can alter your normal temperature rhythm such so being sick, excess alcohol consumption and travel so note these factors down on your charts if they occur.

When timing sexual intercourse to try and conceive you want to be looking at your cervical mucous as an indication of when you are fertile. When your mucous is watery, clear and raw egg white consistency this is when you are most fertile and you want to be having sex as much as you can (possibly once a day). When you notice your temperature spike, this is when ovulation has occurred and you have 24 hours left of your fertile window. Generally you will be fertile for 4-5 days prior to ovulation, so you want to make the most of this time. Post ovulation is only a short window, this doesn't give you the best chance of conceiving. *Note you won't know that you have ovulated until after the fact, that's why it is important to look at your fertile mucous for clues. In the image below, the left side is non-fertile mucous and the right side is fertile mucous. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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