Below is a list of 60 ways to boost your fertility naturally and increase chances of getting pregnant; including advice from leading fertility experts including Emma Cannon, Russell Davis, Dr Marilyn Glenville and Zita West – to name but a few.
For many couples trying to conceive, the fertility journey can seem never ending – at the very least. If you can relate to this struggle, there are numerous factors that could be affecting your fertility, all of which need to be taken into consideration when trying to get pregnant.emm
Covering everything from a list of fertility foods, fertility boosting complementary therapies to nutrition and important lifestyle changes, we hope you find this fertility guide useful and informative if you are trying to conceive.
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MIND – Complementary Therapies
1. Do your research
Maybe we are a little biased, but we strongly suggest you read Fertility Road Magazine for the latest information..
2. Try acupuncture for fertility
Fertility expert Emma Cannon says acupuncture has a regulating effect on the body, gently improving pelvic blood flow and endometrial quality as well as moving stagnation in the pelvic region. For that reason alone, acupuncture for fertility it is the number one choice of complementary treatment for fertility. Research has shown it to be effective in improving IVF outcome, stimulating ovulation in women who are not ovulating and alleviating menstrual pain. Acupuncture is also deeply relaxing and releases ‘feel-good’ endorphins. It is recommended for women and men who want to optimise their fertility, for couples going through IVF and for management of gynaecological conditions.
3. Chill out and relax
Fertility counsellor Jacqui Hurst says: “Try regular relaxation and stress busting activities for you both as a couple such as Thai yoga massage, can help get good blood flow to uterus and testicles.”
4. Deep breathing (or Qi-Gong)
Most of us shallow breathe, using only the top section of our lungs. Breathing more deeply releases endorphins which make us feel better, brings more oxygen into our bodies which helps all of our vital organs, and gets rid of stress. A great way to relax while boosting your fertility.
5. How stressed are you?
Stress, be it physical or emotional, has wide ranging effects on the body. It’s well known to affect erectile function and may well affect fertility, so anything you can do to reduce your stress levels will help. Of course, worrying about conceiving can contribute to your stress levels. Over 80% of couples conceive after one year and over 90% of couples conceive after two years of unprotected sex, so set aside time for you and your partner to relax. Enjoy yourselves.
6. Balance your hormones
Acupuncture can also help regulate fertility hormones – stress and other factors can disrupt the function of the hypothalamic pituitary-ovarian axis (HPOA), causing hormonal imbalances that can have a negative impact on fertility.
7. Fertility acupuncture for relaxation
Emily from Twin Mummy And Daddy says: “During my fertility treatment (ICSI) I decided to try fertility acupuncture. I’d highly recommend it. It helped me to relax, focus on my body and what was going on, plus it gave me something positive to think about.”
8. Avoid a stressful life
Dr Shahin Ghadir says “It’s very difficult for studies to assess the effects of stress on fertility, but as a physician who has been practicing fertility for many years, I have observed the impact stress can have on many different occasions. Make sure you are aware of when your stress levels begin to affect your health and normal functioning as a human being.
9. Join a fertility support group or forum
Fertility support groups and online forums can be a great way to find other people who are struggling to conceive or going through fertility treatment. They can be welcoming and supportive – however, don’t believe everything you read online and always consult your doctor/specialist on medical matters.
10. Get sleepy
Sleep is essential for hormone regulation, which is a cornerstone of a healthy reproductive cycle.
11. Read a book
Make sure you are in the know about your body, sex, fertility treatments, and conception. Sex education never ends. Taking Charge Of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement and Reproductive Health: The Definitive Guide to … Pregnancy Achievement and Reproductive Wealth is a great book from Fertility Road author Toni Weschler.
12. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s actually a first step in moving forward with many problems in your life which could be holding you back from having a baby.
13. Listening to people say “be positive and relax” is futile
Psychotherapist Helen Davies says: “It’s annoying, but embracing everything you are doing as positive steps towards what you ultimately want is a far healthier approach to what is a stressful situation. Instead of groaning about a healthy diet, exercise, giving up smoking or caffeine or sticking needles in yourself each night as an annoyance, see each action as one step closer to your dream. It’s an empowering approach and one that I really think keeps you sane and feeling in control, both of which can only be good for you and your fertility journey.”
14. Its not what you do – it’s why you do it
Cognitive hypnotherapist Russell Davis advises prospective parents to be aware of the motivation behind all the things you are doing to get pregnant. Is it inspired action of motivated by fear? Does taking your daily temperature feel like a bind? Then stop doing it. Action fuelled by fear feeds the fear. Fear leads to suffering and anxiety which impacts success.
15. Project you vs. project baby
Focus on your own wellbeing, happiness and fulfilment even without a baby at this time. When you focus on Project You, Project Baby tends to take more care of itself. Do those things you have been putting off doing; whether it starting your own business or a personal project you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t because of Project Baby. When life goes on hold your system stagnates psychologically and physically.
16. Come back to the here and now
Russell Davis says: “Fear of not getting pregnant is all future thinking. Nothing can predict the future, not even your thinking. Come back to the here and now, it’s the only moment that exists. Focus on your breathing, your body, it’s in the here and now. Connect to it. You cannot be fearful in the present moment unless there is a physical danger in your environment.”
17. Never give up on your dream
Fertility Road columnist Jessica Hepburn says: “My top tip for boosting your fertility is to never stop following all the other dreams you have for your life in order to focus on boosting your fertility! I strongly believe that a happy mind is a fertile body and living life to the full is the best possible way to get happy and get fertile.”
18. Focus your mind
Fertility coach A’ndrea Blake advises couples to focus on what they want, versus what they don’t. “Be aware of where your energy is. It’s hard not to go to thoughts like ‘I should be pregnant by now’ or ‘It’s not fair’ etc. And it can be hard to think positively. So write an ‘It’s going to be awesome WHEN’ list. For example: ‘It’s going to be awesome when I see the positive sign on the pregnancy test.’ Then close your eyes and feel what that’s going to feel like when that happens; goosebumps, smiling, laughing, chills etc. You can’t trick the Universe by saying you’re being positive, you have to feel it – that’s when things change on a cellular level.”
19. Use your imagination
Russell Davis says your imagination is a gateway to your unconscious mind. Your unconscious mind controls all your bodily processes – including fertility – and sometimes it can do with a helping hand. Imagine your body doing what you want it to do, in whatever way you visualise or sense it in your own mind. Let your unconscious mind know exactly what you want it to do.
20. Get a care provider that you LOVE
Unfortunately, too many of us stay with care providers who are exacerbating the problem says A’ndrea Blake. While they don’t purposely phrase things in an insensitive, fear-mongering way, that’s often how it comes out; “You’re getting too old”, “Let’s go right to IVF”. Unbeknownst to us, we plug into those thoughts and they become part of our belief system; they seem true, but they’re not even our beliefs. And our trust for our own bodies goes right out the window. So build your intuition and connection to your body, trust your judgement and find a care provider who is on ‘team YOU’, not ‘team worst case scenario’.
21. Don’t worry, be happy
Naomi from Embrace Fertility Support says: “Focus on getting happy rather than getting pregnant because your body is most fertile when you are relaxed and your body flooded with endorphins, rather than adrenaline and cortisol (your stress hormones). A gratitude journal is a fantastic way to boost your mood: be specific and list all the tiny things that went well today and how they made you feel. I also recommend three minutes of mindfulness every day. To learn more about how your feelings impact your fertility visit www.embracefertility.co.uk.
22. Don’t just google it!
Set up separate Google alerts for “fitness”, “nutrition” and “IVF news” and select “only the best results”. This will save you time having the news emailed to you.
BODY – Diet and Nutrition
23. Have more sex
Jacqui Hurst says: “Regular sex throughout the month, not just around the fertile time helps keep any relationship healthy. Then, of course, ensure there is lots of making love around ovulation.”
24. Make food a priority
Kym Campbell from Smart Fertility Choices says: “Focus on eating nutrient-dense wholefoods and plenty of protein and cutting out processed foods and sugars. This will both help improve your fertility and prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy.”
25. Eat avocados
Avocados are nutritional powerhouses packed with minerals, vitamins, essential fats, protein, carbohydrate and fibre. They are a fantastic source of vitamin E which studies have shown can be beneficial in improving endometrial lining (the lining of your uterus) and can also help with embryo implantation, which is how a fertilised egg becomes a pregnancy.
26. Lymphatic massage
Book that massage! Specifically lymphatic massage helps to detox your body, boost your immune system and get the lymphatic system (the body’s drainage system) flowing well.
27. Butternut squash
Butternut squash is one of the most nutritious and healthy vegetables you can eat, with a rich array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as well as significant amounts of digestible fibre.
28. Behave like you’re already pregnant
Kathy Payne Natural Health and Fertility Coach suggests eating for nutrition, stopping drinking, smoking and taking recreational drugs, take gentle exercise and avoid as many everyday toxins as you can at home, in the garden and at work. Nurture yourself naturally.
29. Homeopathy and herbal remedies
Taking complementary remedies can help to balance hormones, especially the herb Agnus Castus. But don’t buy anything over the counter – always talk to a practitioner and your fertility consultant before taking anything.
30. Max the beet
Beetroot is a fantastic source of the antioxidant resveratrol, thought to help combat against age related infertility. Beets are also rich in nitrates well known to improve blood flow – integral to healthy fertility – and are often eaten by athletes for this purpose.
Eggs are among the most nutritious foods you can consume – after all, they contain the nutrients to turn a single cell into a baby chicken! They are rich in choline, which studies have shown can have significant positive effects on foetal development that may have a long lasting influence into adult life, according to a study at Cornel University.
32. Drink more water
Fertility expert Zita West says: “If you don’t drink enough water, the reproductive system will lose out, as the body ensures that the more vital organs receive what they need first.” Water creates plump egg follicles and a strong blood supply to the womb lining. Plus, if you’re dehydrated, your cervical fluid – the stuff that helps the sperm find the egg – will be sluggish.
33. Get to the root cause
Kim Sjoblad from Fertility Glow says: “Everything begins in the gut. Healing your gut will balance your hormones and increase your fertility. We are all designed to make babies, we just need to eliminate the obstacles and for many people it starts with the digestive system. The digestive system is one of the largest sites of hormone production in the body.”
34. Watch what you eat
Fertility Coach Sarah Clark says: “It is empowering to discover that diet and lifestyle changes can dramatically impact the chances of conception and improve the success rate of IVF. We’ve been told that we can get pregnant while consuming the standard Western diet and living our high stress lifestyles. I’m here to bust this myth apart! When we combine diet, lifestyle changes and nutritional therapies we allow our body to reach optimum health and ultimately this can lead to a healthy mum, pregnancy and baby.”
35. Eating plenty of protein
Jacqui Hurst reminds everyone to ensure they are eating enough protein to help increase egg quality. Vegetarians should consider including Spirulina in their diet – it is 65% protein.
36. Stop drinking sugary drinks
Sugary fizzy drinks contain high fructose corn syrup, preservatives and other synthetic chemicals that produce a toxic burden for you organs to process – this takes away vital energy your body needs to continue its normal functioning. Too many soft, sugary drinks provide nutrient-empty calories, fill you up and prohibits you from eating proper nutritious foods that enhance your fertility potential.
37. Check your optimum healthy weight
Check your weight/height ratio against a Body Mass Index calculator and ensure your weight falls into the healthy range for your age and gender. Being underweight or overweight can lower your chances of conceiving. One cause of infertility is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which is worsened by being overweight or obese. Start making those positive changes to your diet, exercise and lifestyle choices.
38. Don’t fake that orgasm
Emma Cannon says: “Research says that orgasm is not essential, but when you orgasm you release oxytocin which creates contractions that helps the sperm travel through the cervix and reach the egg. So perhaps with orgasm it is propelled towards its goal more efficiently. Oxytocin is not called ‘the Love hormone’ for nothing; it makes you feel good and relaxed which may aid conception. Spend time enjoying making love with your partner – explore one another rather than racing towards the climax. I think that baby-making sex can become stagnant if you only focus on the outcome (i.e a baby!). It can become a chore and chores are boring, so try to keep things interesting for each other.”
39. Make a list and check it twice
A’ndrea Blake says: “A lot of our energy is being occupied by things we think ‘should’ have happened by now. But the fact is, if they should have happened, they would have done. So make a list of why it hasn’t been the right time until now- did you move house, change jobs, have health issues etc? Then make a list of why now IS the right time; your job is secure, relationship going well, you’ve finished studying etc. It can help your brain release that energy that’s spinning in ‘should be’ and allows it to move forward to what you want.
40. Maintain a healthy weight
Kate Brian says: “This will help, because being very overweight can affect your fertility. If your body mass index (BMI) is 30 or above, it is likely to take you longer to conceive. Joining a group programme offering dietary advice and exercise can make a real difference. It isn’t just being very overweight that impacts on your fertility, but also being very underweight. Having a very low body weight can affect ovulation. If you have a BMI of less than 19 and have irregular periods, then your chances of getting pregnant are likely to improve if you increase your body weight.”
41. Understand your gynaecology
Emma Cannon advises women to understand their body and cycles. “Our menstrual cycle is the only outward sign we have of our fertility; it is like a wise friend being there and telling us when things are out of kilter and when things are running well. By engaging and understanding our cycle we can tell a lot about our general health and fertility. Know your family history, particularly your mother’s gynaecology and age of menopause. If your mum had menopause at 45 there is a chance your fertility might be similar. Or if she has fibroids or miscarriages it gives you another layer of information.”
42. Check your medication
Ask your GP about the effects on fertility and sexual function of any medicines. Fertility can be affected by various medications, for example those prescribed for high blood pressure or depression.
43. Come off birth control
It seems obvious, but sometimes people do forget to eliminate all forms of contraception! It’s also very important to consider how long certain methods of contraception, in particular the Pill, take to leave your system entirely.
44. Smoking is a no-no
Zita West reminds us that smoking is hugely detrimental to fertility, to eggs and to sperm – not to mention the future health of the unborn child. In particular, smoking hugely depletes your body of vitamin C, which is essential to all your body’s processes, and especially during pregnancy.
45. Protect yourself from STDs
Emma Cannon says: “It is estimated that a quarter of all fertility problems are caused by the effects of STDs. For example, chlamydia can go completely undetected with no symptoms and end up blocking fallopian tubes if not diagnosed and treated early on. It is important to use barrier methods such as condoms, which is the best way to protect from STDs. Getting tested regularly will also mean that if you have contracted anything then you can get early treatment, which might stop a condition developing into something more serious and harder to treat.
46. Consider your job
Certain jobs can affect fertility; for example the pesticides used by agricultural workers or even the vibrations felt by engine drivers can have an impact on your fertility health. If you are concerned that your job may be affecting your fertility, consult your GP and either take the appropriate precautions or consider changing your employment.
47. Monitor your zinc intake
When low levels of zinc are found in the male reproductive tract, a variety of disorders may present themselves, which can affect fertility. Take note of the level of zinc in your diet and change it accordingly. Zinc is necessary in the creation of the outer membrane and tail of a sperm. Without it, the sperm can not mature to a stage that gives them the mobility and strength to make the long fertility journey through the vagina, cervix and into the uterus for fertilization to take place.
48. Chromosomal changes
Low levels of zinc may also be the cause of chromosomal defects in the sperm which could cause a miscarriage, even if fertilization and implantation do take place.
49. Avoid recreational drugs
Studies have shown that cannabis can affect sperm quality and quantity. For addiction problems or simply help to stop taking recreational drugs, consult your GP and look for a local support network.
50. Don’t cramp your style
Sitting for long periods of time and regular hot baths can raise the temperature in the testicles, reducing sperm production. However, contrary to popular belief, wearing tight underwear does not affect sperm production. A study comparing men wearing tight briefs with men wearing loose boxers showed no difference in sperm counts.
51. Think about becoming a father
Researchers in Portugal have discovered that men who were trying to become a father could increase their chances of success just by thinking about it. They found that men who wanted to become fathers were better at coordinating sex with their partners during peak testosterone levels than men who did not want to conceive. High testosterone levels help boost sperm production and improves the health of the sperm, increasing the chances of conceiving.
52. Eat Walnuts
Walnuts are rich in omega 3 fatty acids and according to a study by the Society for the Study of Reproduction, eating 2.5 oz/75g of walnuts (about a handful) daily is linked with increased sperm vitality, motility and morphology. They are a great way to add flavour and crunch to salads or as a nutritious mid afternoon snack to help manage blood sugar levels.
53. L-arginine and male reproductive health
Several studies have suggested that regularly taking l-arginine supplements will improve sperm development. Initial research in the early 1970’s showed that l-arginine supplementation increases ejaculate volume, boosts sperm count, and enhances motility. The l-arginine dosage given to subjects in these studies ranged from 4g to 8g daily; ask your doctor/specialist about taking this supplement.
54. Avoid radiation to protect your fertility
Exposure to radiation and chemicals such as glycol ester, found in some paints, can damage fertility. This is believed to be caused by exposure to xenoestrogens (PCBs, DDT, dioxin, other pesticides, plastics and industrial pollutants) that mimic the effects of oestrogen.
Vitamins and Supplements
55. Boost Your Co-enzyme Q10
Dr Marilyn Glenville says: “Make sure your fertility multivitamin and mineral contains co-enzyme Q10. Because of its role in energy production it is a significant nutrient for men if sperm motility is poor. Co-enzyme Q10 is concentrated in the mitochondrial mid-piece of the sperm and provides energy for movement. It is also important for women as it has been suggested that lower mitochondrial energy production may be at the root of ‘ageing’ eggs and co-enzyme Q10 is the fuel for the mitochondria, the powerhouses in your cells. One study showed that giving ‘old’ mice co-enzyme Q10 before ovarian stimulation improved not only egg quality but the number of eggs produced.
56. Maca helps male and female fertility
Scientific studies have found that using Black Maca boosts sperm count in men and even increases sperm activity. Similar studies show that females given Maca respond with increased regularity in cycles and easier ovulation. Another result of taking Maca is a marked increase in libido for both men and women – potentially helpful if ‘baby making’ has become something of a tiresome chore!
57. Take zinc to improve Woman’s fertility
A zinc deficiency alone will not make you infertile, but it is a key factor in making many parts of the reproductive system work properly. Zinc is just one component, but it works with more than 300 different enzymes in the body to keep things working well. Without it, your cells can not divide properly; your estrogen and progesterone levels can get out of balance and your reproductive system may not be fully functioning.
58. How Zinc Affects a Woman’s Fertility
Egg production: a woman’s body needs a certain amount of zinc to produce mature eggs that are ripe for fertilization. Maintaining proper follicular fluid levels: without enough fluid in the follicles, an egg can not travel the course through the fallopian tubes and into the uterus for implantation. Hormone regulation: zinc is just one of the minerals that the body uses to keep hormone levels (like oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone) levels stable throughout the entire menstrual cycle. It is especially important during stage 2 and 4 of a woman’s cycle.
59. Are you iron deficient?
Take iron prior to conception and throughout pregnancy, ideally alongside vitamin C. Tannins inhibit the absorption of iron, so don’t take supplements with drinks that contain tannin e.g. green tea. An iron deficiency can reduce fertility by 50%
60. Take steps to alleviate PCOS
Whilst as yet there is no cure for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, a fertility-reducing, long term condition it is possible to aid the symptoms and therefore increase your potential of conceiving. Women with PCOS should follow a low GI diet, maintain a healthy weight with regular exercise, reduce their stress levels and consider taking beneficial supplements. Speak to a fertility specialist about the actions you can take and the treatments available to you.
We may have come full circle, but for all the latest scientific news, fertility treatment updates and advice for optimal fertility health, pick up a copy of the most recent Fertility Road Magazine. Click here to subscribe to Fertility Road Magazine
For many couples trying to conceive, the fertility journey can seem never ending – at the very least. If you can relate to this struggle, there are numerous factors that could be affecting your fertility, all of which need to be taken into consideration when trying to get pregnant.
We hope you’ve found how to boost your fertility naturally and how to increase chances of getting pregnant.
Covering everything from fertility boosting complementary therapies to nutrition and important lifestyle changes, we hope you find this fertility guide useful and informative if you are trying to conceive.
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Fertility And Sex: Why Her Orgasm Matters
For many couples, trying to conceive can make sex feel less fun and more pressured. Instead of being an intimate and enjoyable experience, baby-making sex can start to seem like a finely choreographed routine. Often, the female orgasm is one of the first things to go, but the maleorgasm is not the only orgasm that matters when it comes to fertility.
Before I dive into discussing the potential benefits of the female orgasm for fertility, it’s important to note that reaching climax is not technically essential for conception. If you never, or rarely, achieve orgasm, don’t worry, you can still get pregnant! Around 1 in 10 women don’t experience orgasm, ever. What’s more, the exact nature of the female orgasm remains somewhat elusive. Some experience orgasm through clitoral stimulation, some through vaginal intercourse, some through both, and others through something else entirely, or not at all.
Even without reaching orgasm, sexual arousal is itself beneficial to fertility. Like an orgasm, arousal is, first and foremost, a good indication that sex is enjoyable. Sexual arousal and climax causes significant changes in your levels of neurotransmitters including noradrenaline, oxytocin, prolactin, dopamine, and serotonin. These ‘reward’ neurohormones help you bond to a sexual partner and make it more likely that you’ll have sex more often, thereby increasing your chances of conception.
Second, orgasm and arousal have a range of physiological effects that might aid conception, which I’ll discuss in a moment. And, third, sexual arousal and orgasms for everyone can help sperm-producing partners avoid feeling like they’re being used just for their sperm. In fact, some studies show that male partners who engage in cunnilingus prior to vaginal intercourse have greater sexual arousal and produce more semen!
HOW ORGASMS ENHANCE FERTILITY
The female orgasm can help relieve stress, and promote healthy circulation and balance in the body. Stress is a key cause of diminished libido and may also reduce the chances of conception by raising levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Conversely, good sex can help raise levels of oxytocin and the other neurohormones mentioned above. These help you to relax and bond to your partner.
Published in 1967, the author even went as far as suggesting that the increase in these hormones after orgasm help support conception by temporarily incapacitating you. Put simply, this ‘poleax’ effect means you’ll feel so relaxed that you’ll stay lying down, which may increase your chance of conceiving. Whether staying supine does make conception more likely is still under debate, but I’m all for promoting relaxation, so if this theory provides added motivation, go for it!
There is some suggestion that orgasm affects the shape and function of the cervix. These effects, which may include cervical ‘tenting could enhance the likelihood of conception by promoting the movement of sperm into the uterus and beyond. If you are curious as to what your cervix looks like during different stages of your cycle, check out these photos.
THE ‘UP-SUCK’ THEORY
One of the main ways in which female orgasm has been linked to fertility is something called the ‘upsuck’ theory (or, sometimes, the ‘insuck’ theory). This theory proposes that the female orgasm causes uterine and vaginal contractions that actively draw semen up into the uterus and towards the fallopian tubes, thereby increasing the chances of an egg being fertilized.
Scientific evidence to support this theory is rather inconsistent, but there’s certainly no harm in trying! One proposed underlying mechanism of this theory is oxytocin-mediated uterine peristalsis, i.e. the same mechanism that causes uterine contractions during labour could be partially responsible for increasing the likelihood of conception. Indeed, some research has found higher pregnancy rates in women shown to experience this ‘insuck’ phenomenon.
SPERM RETENTION AND FERTILITY
More recently, one small study found that orgasm may increase sperm retention. This study involved women using a syringe to insert a sperm simulant (lube) prior to external stimulation to orgasm. As such, the study’s findings may be especially applicable to anyone undergoing artificial insemination (IUI).
The take-away: Chances are that if you orgasm 1 minute before or up to 45 minutes after insemination (whether artificial or otherwise), you will probably retain more sperm, which may increase your chance of conceiving.
To sum up, the female orgasm might enhance fertility in a variety of ways, but it isn’t essential to conception.
The take home message is that orgasm and sexual arousal itself have many benefits to fertility, partner relationships and stress relief. Don’t worry though, if you have a low libido, conception can still happen even in the absence of arousal and orgasm!
What Is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS is a hormonal imbalance that affects 5 to 10 percent of women of reproductive age across the world, and results in irregular or absent periods, acne, excess body hair and weight gain. It is also a major cause of infertility and yet is frequently misdiagnosed and often missed completely.
PCOS gets its name because under an ultrasound scan, the ovaries can look like a bunch of grapes, each one covered in what look like multiple cysts. In fact, these aren’t cysts at all, but are small, undeveloped follicles.
Not every woman with PCOS will get the same symptoms, but common signs to look out for include:
- Few or no periods
- Excess hair on the face or breasts or inside of the legs or around the nipples
- Oily skin
- Scalp hair thinning or loss (male pattern baldness)
- Skin tags (known as acrochordons)
- Skin discolouration (known as acanthosis nigricans) where the skin looks ‘dirty’ on the arms, around the neck and under the breasts
- Mood swings
- Lack of sex drive
- Weight gain especially around the middle of the body
- Difficulty in losing weight
- Cravings and binges
- Irregular or no ovulation
- Difficulty in becoming pregnant
- Recurrent miscarriages
PCOS creates a vicious cycle of hormone imbalances, which has huge knock-on effects throughout the rest of your body. With PCOS, the problem often starts with the ovaries, which are unable to produce the hormones they should, and in the correct proportions. But linked to this is the very common problem of insulin resistance. Women with PCOS very often have difficulties with blood sugar levels which can cause weight gain and the excess insulin can stimulate your ovaries to produce yet more testosterone. Half of all women with PCOS do not have any problems with their weight, yet they can still have higher insulin levels than normal.
How is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome diagnosed?
The most widely accepted criteria for the diagnosis of PCOS says that you should have two out of these three problems:
- Infrequent or no ovulation
- Signs (either physical appearance – hirsutism or acne – or blood tests) of high levels of male hormones
- Polycystic ovaries as seen on an ultrasound scan
The Seven Nutritional Steps to beat Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Good nutrition is the foundation of your health and you should never underestimate how powerful it can be. It is the fuel that provides you with the energy to live your life and it gives your body the nutrients it needs to produce your hormones in the correct balance. The better the supply of those nutrients, the more healthily your body will function.
The fundamental aim of my nutritional approach to PCOS is to target a number of areas simultaneously so that you get the maximum effect in the minimum amount of time.
- Switch to unrefined carbohydrates (eaten with protein) and never go more than 3 hours without food to keep your blood sugar levels balanced
- Eat oily fish and foods rich in Omega 3s to help your body to become more sensitive to insulin so it can overcome insulin resistance
- Cut out all dairy products for 3 months to bring levels of male hormones under control
- Eat more vegetables and pulses to which helps control male hormones
- Cut right back on or cut out alcohol for 12 weeks to allow your liver function to improve
- Cut down on caffeine to give your adrenal glands a rest
- Cut down on saturated fats and eliminate trans fats to help control the potentially damaging inflammatory processes PCOS causes in the body
Best Supplements for PCOS
The use of certain vitamins and minerals can be extremely useful in helping to correct Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, along with a good diet.
Chromium helps to encourage the formation of glucose tolerance factor (GTF), which is required to make insulin more efficient. A deficiency of chromium can lead to insulin resistance. It also helps to control cravings and reduces hunger. Can help to reduce insulin resistance associated with PCOS
The B vitamins are very important in helping to control the symptoms of PCOS. Vitamin B2 helps to burn fat, sugar and protein into energy. B3 is a component of GTF which is released every time blood sugar rises, and vitamin B3 helps to keep the levels in balance. Vitamin B5 has been shown to help with weight loss and B6 is also important for maintaining hormone balance and, together with B2 and B3, is necessary for normal thyroid function.
Zinc helps with PCOS as it plays a crucial role in the production of your reproductive hormones and also regulates your blood sugar.
Magnesium is an important mineral for dealing with PCOS because there is a strong link between magnesium levels and insulin resistance – the higher your magnesium levels the more sensitive you are likely to be to insulin.
Co-Q10 is a substance that your body produces in nearly every cell. It helps to balance your blood sugar and lowering both glucose and insulin.
Alpha lipoic acid
This powerful antioxidant helps to regulate your blood sugar levels because it releases energy by burning glucose and it also helps to make you more insulin sensitive. It also has an effect on weight loss because if the glucose is being used for energy, your body releases less insulin and you then store less fat.
Omega 3 fatty acids
Omega 3 fatty acids taken in supplement form have been found to reduce testosterone levels in women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
Certain amino acids can be very helpful for PCOS as they can improve your insulin sensitivity and also can have an effect on weight loss.
In women with PCOS this amino acid helps reduce insulin levels and makes your body more sensitive to insulin. Study using NAC in women who were clomiphene resistant and had ovarian drilling. After ovarian drilling, the women given NAC compared to a placebo showed a significantly higher increase in both ovulation and pregnancy rates and lower incidence of miscarriage.
Arginine can be helpful in reversing insulin resistance. In one study, a combination of both arginine and N-acetyl cysteine were given to women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. The two amino acids help to improve blood sugar and insulin control and also increased the number of menstrual cycles and ovulation with one women becoming pregnant on the second month.
Carnitine helps your body break down fat to release energy and can help improve insulin sensitivity.
Tyrosine is helpful for women with PCOS who are overweight as it helps to suppress the appetite and burn off fat.
This amino acid is useful for helping with sugar cravings as it can be converted to sugar for energy and so takes away the need to eat something sweet. It also helps to build and maintain muscle which is important for fat burning.
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
BCAAs include three amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine. They are important in PCOS because they help to balance blood sugar and having good levels of these BCAAs can have a beneficial effect on your body weight
A study used inositol (2,000mg) in combination with NAC (600mg), a significant increase in ovulation rates.
Having a good diet, regular exercise, controlling stress and taking key nutrients will help in getting your hormones back in balance and reducing the negative symptoms associated with PCOS.
More information can be found on www.naturalhealthpractice.com
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