To many couples, pregnancy seems like a simple matter-so simple that not getting pregnant is their chief concern. But after years of protected sex, men and women who decide they want children may discover that conception is a far more complex process than they realized.
Here's an extremely simplified version of what must happen: First, a woman secretes several hormones-each at the correct time-that cause one of the eggs in her ovaries to mature and to be released into the fallopian tube. A man must then contribute enough sperm (tens of millions of them) that have the ability to travel up into the tube, where the egg is fertilized. The egg makes its way to the uterus and implants itself in the uterine wall. If anything goes wrong with any one of these events, the couple will not conceive. Because the process is so complicated, it often takes a number of months of trying before a woman can become pregnant. But if a couple has had regular, unprotected sex for at least a year and still cannot conceive, the partners are considered infertile.
For the last few decades, the rate of infertility in the United States has increased. No hard statistics are available, but experts estimate that between 16 and 25 percent of all couples have serious difficulty getting pregnant. As with most other conditions that have been on the rise, many of today's infertility cases can be attributed to lifestyle changes in the latter half of the twentieth century. Poor nutrition, stress, eating disorders, extremely intense exercise, and exposure to environmental toxins all take a grave toll on the body. When one or both members of a couple have weakened body systems, the chances increase that something will go awry in the conception process. People today also have more sex partners than they used to, and with increased sexual activity comes a greater risk of contracting diseases that damage the reproductive organs. Finally, many couples now choose to delay childbearing until their thirties or even forties, when a woman's fertility begins to decline.
If you're having trouble getting pregnant, it's wise for both of your to take a break and spend a few months restoring and nourishing your bodies. Good nutrition, herbal supplementation, hormone-balancing protocols, and effective stress management help a great many couples conceive; these strategies will also increase the chances that your baby will be health. (Not to mention that you'll need those stress-management techniques when you're a parent!)
Hormone balance is particularly important for both sexes. We find that women with infertility problems often have low ovulatory progesterone levels or low thyroid function. Both of these hormones can be a limiting factor in conception. With men, low thyroid, as well as low testosterone, can be problematic.
Many couples are confused about when, during the woman's menstrual cycle, conception can occur. It is important to understand that the best chance of conception is to have sexual relations one to two days before ovulation occurs, not on the day of ovulation. Over-the-counter LH (luteinizing hormone) test kits are readily available to help determine when ovulation is going to occur. This hormone rises approximately forty-eight hours before an egg is released (ovulation). Basal body temperature can also be used to determine ovulatory patterns. This method must be used over many months to determine when a woman ovulates. Many practitioners and books explain how to properly use this technique.
Although a lot of focus with fertility is on the female partner, keep in mind that studies show that approximately 40 percent of infertility cases are due to men's sperm abnormalities. These include low sperm count, decreased sperm motility, or abnormal sperm shape.
One or both of you may have an anatomical abnormality: for example, many women suffer from blocked fallopian tubes, often as a result of a Chlamydia infection, and men may have a varicose vein of the testicle, called a varicocele. In many cases, these conditions can be treated with surgeries and procedures. Couples that can't get pregnant in any other way may eventually consider in vitro fertilization, and an increasing number of women with ovary problems are turning to egg donors. Unfortunately, however, all the medical techniques in the world-complementary, conventional, and cutting-edge-can't guarantee that every couple that wants a baby will conceive. Before you begin a series of invasive and expensive procedures, be sure to speak frankly with your doctor about the risks involved and the chances of success. And take heart: many people, exhausted from years of diagnostics and surgeries, give up trying-only to discover that they've finally become relaxed enough to conceive.
** All of these prescriptions below have been proven effective; level of effectiveness depends on the individual. Please consult your doctor when taking any and all supplements.
Prescription for Natural Cures by: James F. Balch, M.D. & Mark Stengler,
Prescription #1 Vitex - Chasteberry - LifeSource Product Women should take
300 mg of a 0.6 percent aucubin extract each morning. Vitex stimulates the
ovaries to ovulate and normalizes progesterone levels.
Prescription #2 Progesterone
Creme - Natural - LifeSource Product Women should apply
1/4 teaspoon (20mg) to the skin once daily. Make sure to start using this
hormone after you ovulate. If you become pregnant, continue utilizing the
progesterone until the third trimester or as directed by your doctor. Note:
This treatment is best used under the guidance of a doctor who is
knowledgeable about natural hormones.
Prescription #3 Vitamin C - LifeSource Products - See All of our Vitamin C Products. Take 500 mg twice
daily. Vitamin C prevents sperm agglutination in men and has been shown to be
helpful with female infertility as well.
Prescription #4 Vitamin E - LifeSource Product Take 400 IU daily.
Animal and human studies have shown this vitamin to be important for
Prescription #5 L-Arginine - LifeSource Product Men should take
2,000 mg twice daily on an empty stomach. This amino acid has been shown to
increase sperm quality and count.
Prescription #6 Panax
Ginseng – Korean Ginseng - LifeSource Product Men should take 300
mg of a product standardized to between 4 to 7 percent ginsenosides daily.
This herb has been shown to increase sperm count and motility.
Prescription #7 Zinc Picolinate - LifeSource
Product Men should take 00
mg daily, along with 3 to 5 mg of copper. Studies show that this mineral
improves sperm quality, count, and motility.
Click here to see all products, articles and studies for
- Failure to conceive after twelve months of regular, unprotected intercourse that is timed with ovulatory patterns
Dozens of factors can cause infertility. Following are some of the most common.
- Poor nutrition and nutritional deficiencies
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Environmental toxins
- Congenital abnormalities
- Hormonal problems (especially low thyroid or low progesterone)
- Medical conditions such as endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, varicocele
- Eating disorders, especially anorexia
- Overly intense exercise
- Toxic metals
In general, you should eat wholesome meals made with organic vegetables, grains, and soy products. Eat fish several times a week, but be sure it's from a clean water source.
Vitamin E nourishes the endocrine system, so use cold-pressed nut and seed oils for cooking or as a base for salad dressings. Wheat germ is another good source of vitamin E; add it to smoothies, cereals, or salads.
Essential fatty acids promote gland health and are often lacking in people who follow radical low-fat diets. Incorporate cold-water fish, flax seeds, or flax seed oil into your meals daily.
Men should snack regularly on pumpkin seeds. They're an excellent source of zinc, a nutrient that's an important part of male reproductive fluids.
Eat vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, and other sources of fiber at every meal, and drink a glass of clean water every two waking hours. You'll promote your overall health and sweep away toxins that may be suppressing your reproductive system.
Foods to Avoid
Don't eat anything that depresses body systems or causes nutrient depletion. Cut out refined sugar and white flour, along with fried or processed food.
Animal meats are loaded with chemicals that mimic the effects of estrogen, a hormone that in excess can decrease sperm count and fertility. If you must eat meat, make sure it's organic.
Avoid alcohol, which reduces the number of normal sperm in men and generally weakens the health of both sexes.
Caffeine consumption has been linked to fertility problems, including miscarriage. Avoid coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, black and green teas, and pharmaceutical medications containing caffeine.
Drink purified water to avoid chlorine and other chemicals that may affect fertility.
- L-carnitine or acetyl-l carnitine improves sperm motility. Take 1,500 mg twice daily.
- Coenzyme Q10 improves sperm motility. Take 100 mg daily.
- Selenium improves sperm motility. Take a daily total of at least 100 mcg.
- A high-potency multivitamin provides a base of the nutrients that are important for fertility. Take as directed on the container.
- Iron is important for women, if testing shows iron-deficiency anemia. Take 15 mg twice daily or as directed by your doctor.
- PABA has been shown in studies to help women with chronic infertility. It is thought to improve the effects of estrogen. Take 100 mg four times daily, for up to seven months.
- Vitamin B12 has been shown to increase sperm count. Men should take 1,500 mcg of oral B12 or 400 mcg of the sublingual form daily.\
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