My husband and I have been trying to conceive a child for over two years. I’m 38 years old and about to undergo fertility treatment. Is there any herbal remedy you could recommend to boost my chances of conceiving?
This can be a very difficult time — trying to conceive often contributes to an increase in stress levels which is the exact opposite environment that is ideal for conception.
It is important for both you and your husband to take time out for mental and physical relaxation, whether it be yoga, meditation, tai chi, Qi gong, or simply getting lost in a great novel in a comfortable chair.
Both males and females have equal responsibility in preparing the environment for a healthy embryo.
Preconception therapy greatly increases the likelihood of conception with IVF, particularly if both partners are taking part in the treatment plan.
Since it takes around three months for the female to mature an egg, and closer to four months for sperm, it is essential that you both begin making changes to your health profile for at least three to four months before you even start trying to conceive.
This allows enough time to address all genetic and epigenetic variables.
You should both make sure that you eat a wide range of fresh produce, opting for wholefoods rather than processed and refined foods.
Switching to organic foods can also make a significant difference.
Green tea should be off-limits as it reduces the amount of folic acid in your system, increasing the likelihood of neural tube defects.
It is important that both partners avoid green tea when planning for a baby.
There are a few key supplements that prepare the body for a healthy pregnancy — although it is important to confirm with your IVF specialist before taking any supplements or remedies.
Folic acid, 400-600mcg per day, is well documented; DHA, at least 400mg daily (from fish oil), is crucial to brain development and growth; and you should both consider a good multivitamin and mineral specifically designed for pregnancy and male health respectively.
Acupuncturist Dermot O’Connor (healing-code.com) believes that in many cases of unexplained infertility, stress is a significant underlying factor.
He uses acupuncture, nutrition, Qi gong, and herbal remedies to maximise chances of a successful pregnancy.
He works by taking the lifestyle and history of both partners into account, and creating a unique programme to help support IVF treatment or in some cases, as an alternative to IVF.
For more information on the role of nutrition in fertility, read Optimum Nutrition Before, During and After Pregnancy by Patrick Holford (founder of the Institute for Optimum Nutrition) and Susannah Lawson (practitioner at Foresight, the association for the promotion of preconception care).
My bowel movements have become irregular even though I eat a lot of vegetables. Could stress be the cause? It’s hectic at work and at home.
Once again, this is a condition where stress is definitely a contributing factor — and then you have the catch-22 situation where long-term constipation can contribute to physical and emotional stress.
Exercise and posture are also important for bowel health.
Good posture supports all of the internal organs and promotes proper circulation of blood to the organs so that they are able to function effectively.
Regular exercise stimulates the organs and tones the abdominal muscles so that the internal organs are well supported.
Hillwalking is a particularly beneficial exercise for intestinal health.
Psyllium husks are a simple solution to irregular bowel movements.
Take one tablespoon in a large glass of water first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
Psyllium is very easy to pass, so brings great relief to people with constipation, haemorrhoids, anal fissures, and bowel disorders.