When Getting Pregnant Doesn’t Go as Planned

In my fertility practice I see everything from young women or couples planning ahead to couples in the thick of the infertility rollercoaster. Chinese medicine has been addressing women’s health and fertility issues for generations.

Patients that I see enjoy the benefits of acupuncture, herb and supplement therapies, as well as diet and lifestyle plans. Although each man, woman and couple are unique, there are some common sets of advice given to those aiming to expand their family.

Stress

There are many ways that stress affects the body and its fertility for both men and women. Stress affects your body’s ability to properly process nutrients and move body fluids as well as the balance of hormone levels. A stress response takes resources away from digestion and re-routes those resources to your muscles and brain so that fight-or-flight can occur. Fertility is not a priority in a body under stress. This is a catch-22 for couples going through fertility issues where frustration and stress are commonplace.

What can you do?

Re-prioritize — Take a step back from your responsibilities and commitments. Look at them objectively as if you are analyzing them for a stranger. Be the scientist observing data. Where are the imbalances? Are there areas that can be lightened? If it is too hard to be objective, seek out a licensed therapist to help with the process.

Re-evaluate — Just say "no." Start practicing the use of this empowering word that will give you your life balance back. Some things in our lives we need to say yes to, but many responsibilities and commitments are voluntary or can be held off. Evaluate each request and say no when you can.

Re-energize — Acupuncture has been shown to reduce stress hormones, which, in turn, affects fertility hormones. Exercise can not only reduce stress hormones but helps keep blood and lymph flowing well.

Diet

Our reproductive systems rely on proper movement of blood and other body fluids. Any foods that thicken the blood or body fluids should be avoided. Foods that promote inflammation will impede proper movement of blood and fluids as well as the egg and sperm as they travel to their destination. Exercise and diet are crucial to maintain a balanced body weight. Being overweight dramatically affects fertility.

Key foods and drinks to avoid

• Soda — artificially sweetened or not. Connected to low sperm count.

• Sugar and simple carbohydrates (bread, crackers, etc) — connected to low sperm count and impeded ovulation.

• Coffee and alcohol — impedes ovulation.

What should you eat?

• More leafy greens.

• Plant based proteins like legumes, beans and nuts — improves ovulation.

• Healthy fats — fish or krill oil (flax if vegetarian), olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, avocado to name a few.

Tracy Zollinger is a licensed acupuncturist who practices in Alameda. She also provides advice on herbs and nutrition. Find out more by calling 299-0057 or visit tracyzollinger.com.