Simple things you can do to improve your fertility

FIVE MINUTE JOURNAL

Change your life with just 5 minutes each day! It is important to reflect on each day so that you can live the next to its potential

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It’s a wonderful feeling. 

I can’t believe how much this simple daily practice (which takes so little time and effort) is changing my perspective in every waking hour…. starting each morning and taking a few moments to think about myself and what is important is like a gift in my hectic schedule – I’m showing myself that my thoughts are valuable and it’s a very powerful tool to shift my perspective to the positive! I’m modeling the importance of self reflection and being thankful to my children and that feels good to me. It’s well worth the five minutes! No matter how the day goes, I’ve set the tone for myself and that positivity spills over to my family and everyone that I interact with. It’s a wonderful feeling.

The journal’s structure and guidance makes it easy to briefly articulate the gratitude that I feel and then get on with my busy life – the simplicity has helped me to stay consistent with the journaling more than I have in the past with self-driven practices like meditation or yoga…and the weekly challenges are interesting and fun! I just started my day with a one minute spontaneous dance! Everyone in my home was entertained, there was much laughter and my healthy heart was beating with gratitude for the ability to dance! Enough said.

– Tara

BLOOD CIRCULATION

One of the major causes of infertility and IVF failure is a thin uterine lining, inadequate blood flow to the uterus, i.e. poor uterine artery pulsatility index. Treatment to increase blood flow is essential to improving fertility and reducing chances of miscarriage. It should be noted that stress, lack of exercise, not enough rest, lack of joy, and certain foods all can inhibit blood flow to the uterus and ovaries. The following are recommended to do at home to help increase blood flow to reproductive organs and optimize your fertility;

Castor Oil & Heat Treatment

Administer for 10 days in the follicular phase of your menstrual cycle (i.e. day 3 to 12). A castor oil & hot water bottle is placed on the skin to increase circulation and to promote elimination and healing of the tissues and organs underneath the skin (i.e. ovaries and uterus). Recommended to do in the evening at the same time as hot water foot soak (below). Further reading; PCOS & castor oil.

NOTE: *If using for liver detoxification, simply shift location from lower abdomen to over the liver (area the size of your hand directly under the right breast). This can be done at any time during the menstrual cycle if not trying to conceive. 

METHOD:

  1. Rub castor oil on the skin immediately above the pubic hairline (or liver area as noted above).
  2. Place a hot water bottle over the oil for 30-60 minutes each night.
  3. Be sure and rest while the pack is in place.
  4. After removing the pack, wipe the area clean.

Important: Castor oil should not be taken internally. It should not be applied to broken skin, or used during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Hot Water Foot Soak

Research shows that hot water foot baths (49 degrees celsius) is potentially very beneficial to a woman’s fertility. So every night before bed, especially during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle, women should give the feet some warm love! Run your hot water tap for 1 minute, most water furnaces are set to 49 degrees celsius (if it feels WAY too hot, check the temp on your hot water heater), and fill a container large enough to fit both feet, then kick back and relax for 15-20 minutes. This is a great time to do your castor/moxa packs as well (above).

Femoral massage

Perform from end of menses to ovulation or retrieval date if undergoing IVF. Do 2-3 times each leg (separately), 1-2 times per day. This massage increases the blood flow to the pelvic organs, providing more nourishment to the uterus and ovaries, testes and penis. Compress the femoral artery with your fingers, fairly heavy pressure will be required. When you feel the flow has ceased, hold for 30 seconds. The femoral artery can be located level with your pubic bone, just beneath the crease in your groin between your thigh and lower abdomen. The blood will then back up and increase the pressure gradient in the iliac arteries which forces more blood into the pelvic arteries. This floods the pelvic organs and genitals with more blood. When the hold is released, you should feel a sensation of warmth rushing down your legs as the blood supply returns to the lower extremities. Do not perform this exercise if you: are pregnant, are post-transfer during an IVF cycle, have high blood pressure, have heart disease or circulatory problems (aneurisms, varicose veins, phlebitis, thrombosis), have a history of strokes, or detached retinas.

STRESS MANAGEMENT

  • Meditation
    • A 10-20 minute practice daily can do a lot for your stress levels, performance, nervous system, and blood circulation. You can learn to cultivate a practice of your own, or utilize one of the resources below to aid you in moving forward. 
  • Fertility Relaxation Visualization Meditation
    • MP3 Audio Downloads. Incorporate this incredible form of self-care int your daly routine. Browse both CIRCLE+BLOOM and ANJI ONLINE to find the tracks that are best suited to your journey. This is something you can start today.
  • Get in on paper
    • Create a detailed list of stressors in your life. Include everything both significant and minute. Then qualify this list into 2 categories; 1. things you actually have control over, 2. things you do not have any control over (except for your reaction). Then decide today that you will reprogram yourself to not worry about the stressors in the ‘have no control over’ category. This will take time but with practice you can change your reaction, and stress levels will reduce. Next, chose one thing at a time from your ‘have control over’ list, and decide today what you can do to minimize its effects on you (i.e. every time this happens I will take a deep breath, I will take an extra few seconds to enjoy washing my hands, I commit to smiling more when someone upsets me as I know this will positively affect my biology, etc).
  • Click here to learn about pressure points that can help reduce stress.
  • Breathing
    • Daily breathing exercises are so vital to all biological health and peak performance in anything we do. We recommend that you practice; Dr Andrew Weil 4-7-8 breathing. This is simple and easy to incorporate into daily life.

DIET AND NUTRITION

Get FREE instant access to the Yinstill Fertility Diet & Workbook NOW

This is an important area to focus on.

  • A primarily whole food high fiber, paleolithic, low glycemic, diet (http://www.glycemicindex.com) focusing on reducing portions if necessary is of utmost importance when optimizing fertility and restoring hormone balance.
  • Ask your practitioner whether how much raw food is right for your body type.
  • Include cruciferous vegetables of the Brassica genus. Some of these vegetables include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, rapeseed, and root vegetables such as turnips and rutabagas. These foods help the liver detoxify and restore hormonal balance.
  • Eliminate foods that may be causing inflammation and candida. Start by eliminating gluten, dairy and sugar (especially white refined, glucose-fructose, or high fructose corn syrup). Consider doing an anti-inflammatory dietary cleanse such as Mediclear Plus by Thorne Research. This is an ‘elimination-reintroduction’ style of cleanse which can help determine foods you may be sensitive or allergic to, i.e. the foods that are causing problems.
  • Emphasize: dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, collards), complex carbohydrates high in fiber such as non-starchy veggies, small servings of whole grains (with cold pressed extra virgin olive oil sprinkled on top), lean meats/poultry or seafood (crab, mussels, clams), and organ meats, fresh fruits, bananas, and foods fortified with B12.
  • Reduce or eliminate coffee and alcohol intake. These have both been associated with increased risk of miscarriage and elevated homocysteine levels.
  • Eat good fats – Good fats are in foods such as fish (salmon, sardines), avocado, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. Bad fats are in foods such as dairy products, meat, cookies, pastries, processed foods, some margarines. Good fats contain omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, these are essential and must be obtained from the diet. It is easy to get omega 6 fats, but less easy to get omega 3 as they are mostly in fish. Omega 3 fats have anti-inflammatory effects. You can also get some omega 3 from flaxseed oil or from a mixture of nuts and seeds.
  • Local organic foods should always be a focus.
  • Drink Spearmint tea to help lower androgen levels.
  • Learn to use buckwheat, it is gluten free and high in D-Chiro inositol
  • Add apple cider vinegar to your daily intake as it helps rid the blood of excess sugars.
  • Use extra virgin cold pressed olive oil on your grains or starches to lower the glycemic index.
  • High fiber intake aids the body in eliminating excess hormones and helps manage blood sugar levels.
  • Add Cinnamon to anything you desire to aid in regulation of blood sugar levels.
  • ELIMINATE high fructose corn syrup and all its derivatives (also called glucose-fructose in Canada). This man-made sweetener acts differently than regular sugar; 1. it by-passes the body’s normal function of knowing when it has enough food in the gut, 2. it is stored in the liver as triglyerides and fat, 3. it is chemically similar to alcohol so it can damage liver function.
  • Ensure the following ‘Dirty Bakers Dozen’ foods are always organic; celery, nectarines, apples, grapes, strawberries, peaches, bell peppers, spinach, cherries, pears, lettuce, potatoes, and ALL animal products.
  • Chew food sufficiently.
  • Relax when eating.
  • Drink enough water.
  • Avoid processed foods (shop on the perimeter of your grocery store).

IMPORTANT: it is recommended that women not participate in a ketogenic diet as the impact on hormones can negatively affect reproductive health. Despite this, if you do decide to utilize the ketogenic diet to help lose weight or for other health benefits, it recommended that you do genetic testing [above] and determine through the comprehensive health report whether you are suited for a higher fat diet. Many people possess gene variants that could result in a worsening effect on blood sugar, insulin resistance, and weight gain [diabetes] if a higher saturated fat diet is consumed.

If you have PCOS you must focus on diet.  There are 6 fundamentals to tend to when utilizing diet to help lose weight, restore hormonal balance and insulin sensitivity to regulate ovulation and improve chances of getting pregnant and carrying to term;

    1. Time restricted feeding / fasting
    2. Chinese food cure
    3. Anti-inflammatory diet
    4. Carbohydrate reduction
    5. Fasting Mimicking Diet
    6. Ancestral basics

It may also be beneficial to closely monitor your blood sugar. Begin using a glucometer (available at most drug stores) or the Freestyle Libre [https://myfreestyle.ca/en/products/libre] for the next 3-6 months to help establish a better understanding of blood sugar levels in order to adjust diet accordingly, increase insulin sensitivity, lose weight, restore ovulation, and reduce the incidence of future metabolic conditions such as diabetes.

Further reading: What should I eat during my IVF cycle?

THINGS TO AVOID

Toxins in your environment that are known to disrupt hormonal balance which are major contributors to conditions such as infertility. Basically; avoid or completely eliminate the use of;

  • Non-organic animal products (meats, eggs, dairy)
  • Excessive consumption of (especially non-organic): flaxseed, soy, whole grains, sunflower seeds, fruits, legumes, alfalfa sprouts, pomegranate, fennel, hops (beer), coffee.
  • Water that has been stored in a plastic container
  • Cleaning agents that contain scent (laundry, body, hair, dish, household)
  • Dryer sheets and fabric softeners
  • Cosmetic lines that are not completely transparent about their ingredients
  • Microwaving food, especially in plastic containers
  • domestic and agricultural pesticides
  • Phthalates (used to soften plastic).

SPIRIT

What are the things that you love to do that you have stopped doing because you are ‘too busy’? Things that you know fulfill you. It is time to bring these things back into your life and make them a priority. It is important not to lose yourself, particularly in these difficult times. Now is the time to dedicate to bringing more joy into your life, and commit to including time to do things that nourish your spiritual side – this needs to be emphasized. What is it that you need to do? Dedicate time in nature, her healing effects are unmatched, bring more joy into your life, and commit to including time to do things that nourish your spiritual side, this cannot be understated. Consider volunteering, journalling, more time with your friends.

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

  • 4x ½ hour brisk walks per week.
  • Yoga 2x/wk.
  • Moderate weight lifting 2x/week.
  • Deep relaxation & breathing exercises (i.e. Qigong, meditation).

Further reading: Yoga During an IVF cycle

POSTURE

Get help understanding how to correct issues with your posture. Eventually it will become instinct and your body will be reprogrammed resulting in better overall and reproductive health.

DISCONNECT AND RE-CONNECT

Leave all mobile tech devices at home, leave the home or office, and go out into nature, or into your world and focus more on connecting with those around you.

SLEEP

Get enough quality sleep, this may be the most important single thing you can do to increase your fertility potential. Your aim should be at least 7.5 hours of uninterrupted sleep, ideally 9 (research). From a general and genetic health perspective, not honoring circadian rhythms, poor sleep, and exposure to blue light before/during sleep can raise many peoples chances of serious health conditions such as weight gain, hormonal imbalance, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease (just to name a few). We also now know that reductions in REM sleep (predominant in the second half of the night) makes us more emotional and foggy minded

Click here to listen to a podcast on the importance of sleep with Dr Matthew Walker, head of the neuroscience and sleep research dept USC Berkley. It might be the most important information about your health that you will ever receive.

CYCLE MONITORING

BBT charting, Ovulation strips, observation of cervical mucous is highly recommended (click here for temperature charts and ovulation strip use instructions).

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