Guest blog by Dr. Marc Sklar, The Fertility Expert.
After a few months of trying for a baby without seeing results, many couples will start to worry that something’s wrong with them. This will lead to doctor’s appointments, fertility clinics and some initial testing.
During this time, a lot of couples will be told that “everything looks normal” and to “just keep trying”. They leave their appointment, try again for a few more months, but there’s still no positive pregnancy.
They start to wonder: if everything is ‘normal’, why am I not getting pregnant? They know that something isn’t right – but they’re not getting any answers that could tell them what exactly it is that’s causing their fertility issues.
If this same couple is of a certain age, they may then be given drugs, recommended IUI or IVF. But when they try these things, they don’t work and they’re not given a clear explanation as to why.
The Importance of Understanding Your Own Health and Fertility
Understanding your own health and fertility is crucial to a successful fertility journey. It takes many things to be balanced and healthy in order for your reproductive system to function well enough for you to conceive a pregnancy and grow your healthy, beautiful baby.
If there are any underlying health issues or imbalances that aren’t being addressed, then your reproductive system is usually the first thing your body will take off the ‘priority list’.
As far as your body is concerned: you don’t need to conceive and raise babies to survive, but what you do need is a healthy gut, a working liver, a supported immune system, and many other things to be supported, in balance and functioning efficiently.
The 12 Key Areas That Impact How Fertile You Are
There are 12 crucial areas that can give you a good idea of how fertile you are right now. Once you support each of these areas and address any issues you may be having within each of them, you’ll be able to get pregnant much faster.
|Structural Issues||Emotional Health / Stress||Sleep|
|Autoimmune||Environment||Digestion / Gut health|
Let’s talk about Hormones, Autoimmune factors, Inflammation and Structural Issues…
Around 92% of people reading this article, who are actively investigating their fertility right now (likely including you), will NOT have done enough testing yet. But don’t worry! It’s not your fault.
So many women and couples in the doctor’s office aren’t recommended for many of the foundational tests that will help them understand their health and fertility and pinpoint which areas they need more support… at least not until they’ve already been trying for a long time (too long).
Testing is crucial when you’re trying to conceive and it’s taking longer than usual. It can help you to identify any hormonal imbalances, autoimmune issues, inflammation and structural issues that can all make it take longer to get pregnant.
Foundational tests at the start of your fertility journey should include hormone testing, testing for deficiencies, thyroid testing, a semen analysis, and more!
Until you have these labs and someone who’s able to explain what your numbers mean for your fertility journey, you can’t take steps to heal them and improve your chances for getting pregnant.
Are you eating the right foods and taking the right supplements to improve fertility?
Fueling your body with the right foods is super important. When your body is nourished, your reproductive organs are also nourished — which means good things for egg quality, uterine lining, ovarian health and makes it that much easier for implantation to happen.
There are so many mixed messages out there about what exactly a ‘fertility diet’ should be. That’s why even though this part of improving fertility is the easiest one to control alone, it’s sometimes the hardest to implement into your fertility plan.
One minute you’re reading that you should eat an abundance of this food, the next you’re reading that it sends your hormones crazy and it’s the worst thing for pregnancy. It’s important not to become overwhelmed when improving your nutrition to empower your fertility.
Simply put, you need to be consuming 30% protein, 30% carbs and 40% fats.
Here’s a mini fertility approved shopping list to put that into perspective:
- Clean, organic veggies
- Grass-fed, organic meat
- Wild fish (salmon, tuna)
- Good fats (like avocados, olive oil, ghee)
- Pasture raised eggs
- Seeds (like pumpkin, flaxseed, sesame)
- Legumes (like pinto, kidney, lentils)
And what about supplements?
A good place to start is with things like CoQ10 and Omega 3. But one of the important things to be aware of when adding supplements into your fertility is: NOT all supplements are made the same.
Getting a customized supplement that’s tailored to what you need to improve your fertility (this is where testing becomes extra important as it helps you to do that) then choosing high-quality and chemical-free brands is where you’ll really see the benefits of using supplements to improve your health and fertility.
Could your emotional health and stress be impacting your fertility?
Advice like: “just relax and it’ll happen” or “try not to think about it so much” is commonly experienced by people on difficult fertility journeys. Does it ever help? No. Does it cause further frustration? Most of the time, yes.
Fertility journeys are tough. Your fertility journey can take up all of your mental space — it becomes all you think about (while the rest of your life is put on hold).
It’s important to seek better guidance (more than being told to “just relax”). When your body is under a lot of stress, it can mess up your hormones and make you physically unwell. It’s going to be hard to get pregnant when you’re functioning from this space. Stress management techniques that help you take back control of your life and have fun with your partner again are crucial.
Are you sleeping and exercising enough?
Prioritising good sleep hygiene and getting your body moving daily (ideally outdoors in nature) is important not just if you’re trying to get pregnant — it also improves your overall health and wellbeing.
This means getting away from screens by a certain hour of the day, falling asleep around the same time every night and getting a minimum of 7-8 hours of good quality, restful sleep.
The best kind of exercise you can do when trying to conceive is walking and hiking, preferably outdoors in nature. It’s good for the body and the soul.
If all of these things sound impossible to you, then you can bet sleep and exercise are areas you need support in your fertility journey. What can you do that creates the space for you to sleep better and prioritise your own health more?
Have you addressed any environmental toxins?
Finally, let’s talk about environmental toxins. Are your environment, home, habits and household products not letting you get pregnant? These things are often overlooked or people are still unaware of the damage being done by some of the everyday exposures and choices they’re making.
The chemicals found in your household / beauty products can mimic hormones and disrupt your endocrine system. You know how important hormonal balance is to your fertility — so why let it go haywire everytime you clean the kitchen or get ready for work?
It’s time to switch to clean, natural products and form healthier habits to eliminate the impact of toxins on your fertility.
Want to learn more about the 12 key areas of fertility and what you can do to improve them?
Here is a free webinar that goes deeper into the 12 key areas of fertility that involves an exercise where you can calculate your fertility score: find out how healthy and fertile you are and pinpoint the areas that could be holding you back. Also more information on how to create your own fertility plan.
For more than 18 years, The Fertility Expert, Dr. Marc Sklar, has been helping couples struggling to conceive, and women and men regulating their hormones and reproductive health with his online program Hope Fertility Coaching and the Positive Pregnancy Method online course.
In addition to his Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, Dr. Sklar trained at the Harvard Medical School, Mind/Body Medical Institute. He is the creator of Fertility TV, MarcSklar.com and ReproductiveWellness.com, and the co-author of Secret to Conception.
The Fertility Expert lives in San Diego, with his wife and two sons, where he has his 2 clinics. But he also works with couples all over the world through his fertility online coaching.