Female fertility

The outlook for many experiencing fertility issues may feel bleak, especially if there are miscarriages or stillbirths present. It’s a time for reflection on lifestyles, relationships and experiences. Having an optimistic attitude and a healthy body are necessary to building a family. And, proper nutrition can enhance the chances of a successful natural pregnancy and can stimulate the reproductive when using reproductive technologies.

An ailing reproductive system may be lacking in certain vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids due to poor digestion or inadequate nutrient consumption. Essential nutrients aid the working of the endocrine glands responsible for fertility.

It Takes 12 Months to make a Baby

We think of a 9 month gestation as the “period” for baby production. But, both sperm and ova need to be healthy before any pregnancy can take place. Women are born with a supply of ova tightly packed into their ovaries; 400,000 at birth. The health of these eggs is dependant upon how healthy their own mother was during her pregnancy. If their mother smoked or drank excessively throughout the pregnancy, the development of the ova may have suffered and the fertility of the daughter may have been compromised.

Nurturing the Ovary

A diet of too many processed foods and not enough fruits and vegetables does not provide the necessary nutrients for fertility. In the UK 44% of people consume processed meals and never cook meals from fresh foods. Convenience foods are often low in vitamin B complex and essential minerals such as zinc, magnesium, selenium, and iodine. Fresh foods are always more nutritious. The endocrine glands, ovaries uterus, pituitary, thyroid and adrenals all require nutrients to function. The hypothalmic-pituitary-gonadal axis is very sensitive to V vitamin intake. This axis is a highway for all hormonal messages that pass from one gland to another. If the message is garbled, fertility may be shut down. Low intakes of B vitamins slow the maturing of the ova before ovulation.

Proteins and cold-pressed oils from nuts, seeds and oily fish are precursors to hormone and enzyme production. Eating a supply of proteins at each meal and good olive or walnut oil salad dressings may aid fertility. A low protein diet causes fewer ova to ripen or be released. The reproductive system requires all the B vitamins for the pituitary gland to work correctly, i.e. send normal messages. Other research suggest that vitamins C and E are essential, along with the minerals, iodine, selenium, zinc, magnesium and essential fatty acids. Most of these are available from a diet rich in lean meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, peas, beans, lentils and dairy foods.

Womb Needs

The womb produces many different prostaglandins and the rich endometrium lining nurtures the fertilized egg or ova after implantation. The placenta is built from this nutrient rich source. A healthy placenta will lead to a healthy baby as it gathers the maternal hormones and nutrients to feed the embryo via its blood stream. If the mother’s nutrition stores are inadequate then the baby will have poor nourishment and may not develop properly. Eating well for 3 months before conception will ensure that adequate nutrients are available to the developing baby.

Dietary Advice

In order to maximise the chances of conception and pregnancy a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, proteins, complex carbohydrates and natural fatty acids is essential. This is not difficult. It means eating the freshest, healthiest food you can afford for 3 months before conception and for the nine months of pregnancy. Fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, beans and lentils, lean meat, oily fish, some dairy products and eggs are suggested. It’s actually like eating as your grandparents - fresh foods untainted with chemicals.

Other Recommendations:

Nutritional Supplements

Nutritional supplements are tools to improve body biochemistry and to correct biochemical imbalances while dietary nutrients from food is being supported. A good multi/vitamin/mineral supplement along with vitamin C and essential fatty acid supplements will help restore the body’s nutritional balance. Other supplements that will be supportive while the diet is adjusted include, a digestive enzyme (non-glandular), magnesium malate, iodine, evening primrose, zinc citrate, gluconate or bio acidophilus. Diet, indeed, plays a major factor in fertility and overall health. Three regular meals each day beginning with a nutritious breakfast is a key factor. Remember what our grandmother told us, “eat right, exercise and reflect”.

However, these items are just general pieces of advice, your chances are improved if you get some personalised advice keyed to your specific needs and deficiencies that you can only get by consulting a nutritionist and preferably one specialising in fertility issues. You need to follow that advice not just to conceive but throughout the pregnancy.