Guest blog by Dr. Kelsey Duncan, ND, Co-founder and CEO of Hormone Health Associates, a virtual fertility clinic helping women balance their hormones and grow their families.
Regardless if you’re thinking about getting pregnant, or have already started to try, taking care of your body is crucial for success. There are lots of things you can focus on when it comes to boosting your fertility, such as:
- Making sure you’re eating a healthy diet, including multi-coloured vegetables, good quality protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates.
- Detoxing your personal care products to remove endocrine disrupting chemicals, such as BPA, phthalates, parabens, etc. These ingredients can be disruptive to your hormones and cause imbalances that may impact your fertility.
- Reducing your caffeine intake to no more than 200mg per day. This is the equivalent of 2 small cups of coffee. Caffeine has been linked to reduced fertility and increased miscarriage risk.
- Reduce your overall stress by finding some stress management techniques that work for you, like journaling, meditation, yoga, or exercise. Stress can impact your hormones and your fertility. Dealing with infertility can make you stressed! It’s a vicious cycle.
Preparing your body for pregnancy can improve your chances of getting pregnant naturally. It also helps set yourself up for a healthy pregnancy and delivery!
Unfortunately, getting pregnant isn’t always as easy as deciding the time is right. It can take a lot of planning, cycle tracking, lifestyle changes, and strategic supplementation to get your reproductive health to a place where it can get pregnant and maintain that pregnancy.
So besides starting the above tips, what else does it take?
I often run fertility blood work for my patients that includes hormone assessments, thyroid health, and ruling out nutrient deficiencies that may keeping them from getting pregnant. Knowledge is power, so if you’re having trouble getting pregnant it may be time to get a more thorough assessment done.
If you’d like to learn more about what lab tests might be necessary in your fertility journey, you can download my free fertility lab testing guide here.
In general, here are the top 5 supplements I recommend to most women who are thinking about starting their family to help boost their fertility.
1. Prenatal Vitamin
This seems like a no-brainer. It’s usually the only thing women know for sure is something you want to do before you get pregnant. However, there are some things you want to consider when you’re choosing a prenatal that goes beyond price point.
First, you want to make sure you’re taking a quality product with vitamins in their most bioavailable form. What this means is you’re actually able to use the nutrients included in the supplement, vs your body just creating a very expensive pee. Some quick things to rule out are to make sure you’re getting folate vs folic acid, the minerals aren’t in an ‘oxide’ form, and there aren’t more than 10,000IU of Vitamin A. You also want to make sure you’re getting 25-50mg of the B vitamins vs the standard multivitamin dosage of 10mg or less.
2. Vitamin D
Proper vitamin D levels are crucial for many reasons beyond fertility. In your case it’s vital to good egg quality and adequate levels can actually reduce your miscarriage risk. It’s important to get your levels tested before supplementing so you get the right dosage for you. Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to PCOS, premature ovarian failure, luteal phase defect, and multiple autoimmune conditions that can impact your fertility. High dose supplementation may be required to get you back to an optimal level, but make sure you contact your healthcare professional before starting to ensure the dosage is right for you.
Antioxidants are important for fertility to help support healthy eggs and sperm. We live in a world full of toxins and when we are exposed to our body forms something called Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). ROS can cause DNA, cell and tissue damage. Detoxing prior to getting pregnant may be important to set you up for success. Providing adequate antioxidant support during your fertility journey can improve egg quality, help with uterine function and encourage proper embryo development.
4. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Our body doesn’t make Omega 3 fatty acids, meaning we need to get these amazing anti-inflammatory supporters from diet or supplementation. Fatty fish is the number one source outside of supplements, as well as chia seeds or hemp hearts. Omega 3 fatty acids are important for egg quality and healthy uterine lining. Our traditional diets tend to be higher in Omega 6 and Omega 9 fatty acids, which are pro-inflammatory – meaning they actually cause inflammation in the body. We need higher levels of Omega 3’s to counteract this. It’s important to reduce your intake of trans fats from margarine, fried/greasy foods, and highly processed foods to reduce your Omega 6 and 9 burden. If you aren’t a big fish eater, supplementing with high dose fish oil may be the route you need to go to help support egg quality.
5. Chaste Tree
Chaste tree is a herb that works on the pituitary to help support hormone production. Not every woman needs chaste tree – this is important to note. If you have regularly timed periods, minimal breast tenderness, no spotting, and are seeing ovulation signs , such as raw egg white cervical mucus mid-cycle, you are likely not a candidate for chaste tree. If you do have any of these signs of imbalance, it’s possible you aren’t producing a healthy amount of progesterone to support pregnancy. You only produce progesterone in the second half of your cycle after ovulation. If you aren’t ovulating, you will not produce progesterone and likely will be having long, irregular cycles. If you get spotting before your period starts or breast tenderness, you may not be producing enough progesterone. Chaste tree can help restore regular cycles. promote healthy ovulation, and increase progesterone production in women.
Dr. Kelsey Duncan ND is a Naturopathic Doctor, co-founder of the virtual adjunctive fertility clinic Hormone Health Associates, and mama. Dr. Duncan has developed a step-by-step system to help women boost their fertility and get pregnant, whether it be naturally or using assisted reproductive technologies. When she’s not making babies, she loves to spend time with her little family, being near the water, and enjoying some guilty-pleasure television. If you want to know more, come connect with me on social media where I talk about all things fertility and hormone health. You can find me on Instagram @dr.kelseyduncan.nd or Facebook @Dr. Kelsey Duncan ND.