By: Abby Burgess
Although struggling to become pregnant can feel isolating, the Center for Disease Control state that it is a common problem in the United States affecting around 10 percent of people. Factors that may impact fertility include delayed childbearing, environmental toxins, and lifestyle risks such as stress, smoking and excessive alcohol use.
The good news is that medical technology has made great advances in diagnosing and treating infertility. Medical testing can diagnose any physical challenges, such as hormonal imbalance, low sperm count or blocked fallopian tubes. And we are far past the days when trouble conceiving was considered a women’s problem. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine states that infertility affects men and women at equal rates.
When difficulty conceiving is a concern, many patients look to natural health methods to enhance their chances of getting pregnant. Two practices for boosting fertility that pre-date modern medicine are acupuncture and Ayurveda.
Acupuncture for Infertility
Acupuncture is widely accepted in the medical community as a resource for patients who need help with fertility. Eau Claire acupuncturist Dr. Paul Lin says that he often treats patients who are also undergoing traditional allopathic procedures. “Studies show that a combination of treatments
Preparing for Conception with Ayurveda
Another alternative treatment that is unique to each patient is Ayurveda. Carleen Sterner retired from her position as a family physician at the Mayo Clinic Health System, seeking something more holistic. She is currently training to be a certified Ayurveda practitioner. The word Ayurveda comes from the Sanskrit words for life and knowledge. According to the Radiant Living Online School of Ayurveda, it has been practiced in India for over 6,000 years.
Sterner says Ayurveda, like acupuncture, can be used in conjunction with mainstream fertility treatments. “I can’t see there being any contraindications,” she says. “Anything you are doing to prepare your whole body [for conception] is beneficial.”
Sterner was attracted to Ayurveda for its holistic approach that brings balance to each individual in a unique way. In Ayurveda, she explains, conceiving a baby is considered a sacred and special event. “You prepare your mind, body and spirit to increase your chances of bringing a healthy and happy baby into the world. You want to be at your best before you make a human being!”
That preparatory process begins 35 days before attempting to conceive. Both partners go through a cleansing process overseen by a certified Ayurveda practitioner. While the treatment plan is uniquely tailored to each individual and their dosha (body type), there are some general Ayurvedic guidelines for increasing fertility.
Balancing the digestive function of both parents is the first priority, explains Sterner. “Part of doing that is eating a clean diet. That means fresh, seasonal, local foods including organic plants. Avoid processed foods, leftovers and microwaving. Prepare and eat your food with love and care.” Certain foods are recommended or discouraged when trying to conceive. Men should avoid excess salt and bitter flavors such as coffee. Both partners should eliminate soy and alcohol from their diet as well as citrus (except lime), vinegar, sour cream, pickled and fermented foods and aged cheese. Other detrimental foods are anything pungent, spicy or astringent. Nourishing foods for fertility include dairy, whole grains such as rice and quinoa, meat and fruit.
Getting enough sleep, managing stress, and engaging in a spiritual practice such as prayer or meditation are important for both partners.
This article explores only two of the many natural health practices available. Today’s couples are lucky to have so many resources available to help on the journey to creating families.
Choosing the Right Treatment for You
Difficulty getting pregnant can take an emotional toll. “It’s huge…it can be quite devastating,” Dr. Dan Czelatdko says. When it’s happening to you, the options for treatment can seem overwhelming. Dr. Dan is a doctor of chiropractic and board certified nutritionist at Tenold Chiropractic in Eau Claire. As one of his specialties is hormone balance, he sees many patients who are struggling with fertility issues. Here is his take on sifting through the avail-able therapies to find the best choice for you.
How non-invasive is the treatment?
The non-invasive nature of treatment methods such as chiropractic is something to consider. “The natural approach is less strenuous on the body, and leaves the body in better condition to support an embryo and fetus so there is a better chance of having a healthy baby.”
What are the benefits?
“We’re not only helping with the fertility,” Dr. Dan explains of holistic care. The treatments target the underlying cause, so the patient’s overall health can improve. “You end up getting side benefits —you can fix two or three other problems at the same time.”
What is best for you?
“Explore all possibilities. There are many out there.” Dr. Dan says. He encourages individuals to research all the options including the benefits andside effects. “Make the decision on what you think is going to be the best for you to go through.”