Trying to conceive and looking for natural ways to optimize your egg quality? Here are five key things to keep in mind about egg health:
Did you know that beta carotene is one of the key nutrients necessary for a healthy ovarian cycle? Amy's training as a Holistic Reproductive Health Practitioner draws on research from the approaches of Orthomolecular, Functional, Anti-Aging and Integrative Medicine, all of which underscore the importance of nutrition to physical and mental health. The body simply can’t be expected to run smoothly if we are putting crap in it (pardon our French!). Furthermore, constant ingestion of allergic or sensitive foods (e.g., gluten, dairy) can weaken our immune system. This is why all of our fertility programs include a nutritional element and the more advanced ones include food allergy testing. If you're looking for something to do on your own, we'd suggest cutting out gluten. Most people find that gluten negatively impacts their digestive health and nutrient absorption, and it has been implicated as a causative factor in a subsection of women experiencing unexplained infertility.
Key Takeaway: If you want to improve egg quality, feed your eggs quality nutrients.
The next thing we suggest taking into consideration is stress - emotional, physical, financial, work-related, etc. Stress hormones have a powerful effect on our reproductive system. As Amy's mentor Geraldine Matus (founder of Justisse Healthworks for Women) is always reminding us, if your body thinks it is in survival mode, it doesn’t see you as a very good reproductive candidate. And you know what your body does when it doesn't think you can handle a pregnancy? It sends hormones to your ovaries telling them to shut down. Now that can't be good for egg quality! Furthermore, stress uses up vital nutrients in our body, which reduces the impact of the nutritional changes we are making (point 1 above). In caveman days, stresses were pretty short-lived. Unfortunately in today’s modern society stresses are pretty perpetual and we rarely experience relief - so we need to build relaxation into our daily regime. There are oodles of approaches to addressing stress, but we find exercise and meditation to be the most powerful (and the most economical).
Key Takeaway: Create a daily relaxation regime - the hormonal and nutritional benefits will ensure your body has the extra energy and nutrients to spare for your eggs.
Eating healthily is all well and good, but if we don’t have a healthy digestive system or we fail to get proper blood supply to our organs, it can be difficult for those nutrients to be absorbed and reach their target destinations - like your ovaries! That’s why we recommend regular movement throughout your day as well as body work that will increase energy and blood supply to the uterus and ovaries (for more info on this check out our podcast with fertility movement specialist Marie Wittman). Movement doesn't have to be complicated. Simply walking more and taking five minute stretch breaks throughout the day will help. Acupuncture also works well, as does the Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy, a body work technique Amy was trained in that focuses on massaging the abdomen and uterus. One of our favourite things about this practice is that there is a self-care component that you can do at home on your own for five minutes a day, allowing you to take an active part in this wellness practice.
Key Takeaway: Make sure your eggs are getting proper nutrient and blood supply by building in as much movement and body work as possible.
Connecting to the Body’s Inner Wisdom
Lastly, those of you who know Amy will be aware that in addition to her scientific and health training, she is also a deeply spiritual person who has trained in shamanic practices, and she originally embarked on her own fertility journey because of a surprising conversation she ended up having with her uterus. You can read more about that story (and the surprising and immediate healings that came from it) on the Conceive with Grace page. So if we were to encourage one more thing aside from diet and exercise, it would be to spend five minutes a day with your hands over your lower abdomen sending loving, appreciative thoughts to your ovaries and womb, and also being willing to “listen” to any advice they may have for you. A great book for introducing the concept of connecting with the energy of the pelvis and reproductive organs is “Wild Feminine.”
Key Takeaway: Your body has a wealth of information to offer you with regards to your fertility journey. Take time to stop and listen.
A Note On Time
We realize that the last thing any woman feels she has when she is trying to conceive is time. However, please remember that it takes up to three months for an egg to mature, so changes in our diet, nutritional routine and stress-management practices can take three or more months to produce noticeable signs of improvement.
Key Takeaway: If you are planning on paying for expensive fertility treatments like IVF or even IUI, you may want to give yourself a few months to attend to your health and egg quality before making your investment.
Looking for more fertility-boosting tips? Check out our three page fertility guide on how to dramatically improve your odds of getting pregnant by avoiding the top 5 mistakes couples make when trying to conceive.
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Kim & Amy Sedgwick love to discuss sex, periods, and all the other things we’re not supposed to talk about. The co-founders of Red Tent Sisters and ecosex.ca, they’ve been featured in every major Canadian news outlet and have become a trusted resource for women seeking natural (effective!) birth control, a more joyful sex life, and an empowered journey to motherhood.