If you are like me, when you received your infertility diagnosis you immediately went into action. You grabbed the infertility pamphlet from your OB/GYN and sprinted to the nearest fertility clinic. Yes – I was that person. Obsessed and on a mission to conceive. Did I take anytime to figure out why my body had stopped ovulating? No way, I ignored all the signs. Like the chronic vaginal infections, the chronic sinus infections, the weird rash on the chest, the eczema that left my eyelids dry and itchy.
I was diagnosed with premature ovarian failure at 28 and had both my children through donor eggs. Looking back on that time in my life, I realize now how I was so disconnected from my body. The warning signs were right in front of me, but I was on a mission and I was bound and determined to fix the problem. I wish someone had told me these tips:
Wait a minute! You may think that food intolerances are when you instantly break out in hives and have difficulty breathing. That’s a food allergy. A food intolerance is a delayed reactions usually 3-4 days after you consume the food. Top food allergens include corn, dairy, gluten, soy, peanuts and eggs. Gluten seems to be the most widely known, but if you are experiencing infertility my suggestion is to eliminate all top allergens for 10 days. Here’s how gluten affects fertility.
- Gluten is a top allergen and affects ovulation and sperm
- Celiac Disease may be the cause of up to 8% of unexplained infertility (it can create irregular menstrual cycles amenorrhea (no menstruation) in 39% of women with undiagnosed celiac
- Gluten could be the underlying issue with – infertility, digestive upset, brain fog, diarrhea, constipation, joint pain, rashes, depression, anxiety, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism, acne and asthma.
- Eliminate gluten for at least ten days and then re-challenge it. Note any symptoms such as gas, bloating, eczema and digestive issues.
- If you experience any symptoms eliminate gluten from your diet for at least three (3) months, then you can re-challenge
- Nutritional therapies such as L-Glutamine, can begin to heal the gut and probiotics and fermented foods are good additions too!
As a Type A personality slowing down is not in my vocabulary! Like I said, I rushed like a woman on a mission to the fertility clinic. I didn’t even know I was stressed out. I thought it was normal to have a permanent tension in my shoulders and headaches!
- Show yourself some self-compassion. Learn to say “no” and set your boundaries. It may be difficult to put yourself first, but this is essential
- When your schedule and life is so packed with stuff to do, your body is constantly in the fight or flight mode, your cortisol levels increase and this impacts ovulation
- Try deep breathing techniques, meditation or visualization. Circle and Bloom has some great free meditations, that are designed specifically for fertility.
I have to admit that acupuncture was not something that was even on my radar. When I was going through infertility treatment acupuncture was not a widely known technique to improve fertility. Now many fertility clinics endorse the use of acupuncture to improve success rate of in vitro fertilization
- Studies have proven that receiving acupuncture on the day before and day after embryo transfer significantly improves the success rate of in vitro fertilization. http://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(06)00212-3/abstract
During my infertility journey I leaned heavily on my partner. Luckily he was very supportive, but I’m sure he was sick of hearing me complain or cry! Men and women handle infertility differently. There is no right way to go through it; it’s only what works for you! Infertility brought up all sorts of emotions for me, (anger, sadness, jealousy and loneliness). I bottled these emotions up inside and didn’t even think I was stressed! Looking back I know I would have benefited from a coach or therapist.
- Mind body fertility programs can help deal with the emotions and pain associated with infertility. One study has shown that women who were going through in vitro fertilization and participated in a mind body program had a 52% success rate of pregnancy compared to the control group that had a 20% success rate http://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(11)00476-6/abstract
- One study found that women going through in vitro fertilization continued to drink alcohol, caffeine and take herbs even though their reproductive endocrinologist advised against it. Support is crucial during infertility reach out to a coach or a therapist.
I am so thankful that I was able to have both my two children with donor eggs. I believe in an integrated approach to healing and when we include natural solutions with conventional medicine we can optimize the chances of having a healthy pregnancy and baby. Some of the topics I mentioned are mainstream today (I went through infertility in 2001), but the connection between diet and infertility is still not widely known. I think it will take a grassroots movement by infertility patients to demand programs that support diet and lifestyle changes to improve overall health and fertility. What is your take?
Sarah Clarke is a Fertility Coach and the author of Fabulously Fertile