Natural approaches to health and wellness are a popular choice for many people today, and it’s no different in the case of fertility care. In this case, when we say “natural treatment” we just mean anything you can do to improve your fertility without taking prescription drugs or undergoing a medical procedure.
Especially for people who are dealing with mild infertility problems, for people who have exhausted other options, or for people who just don’t want to put their bodies through rigorous medical treatment, natural fertility treatments can offer a welcome alternative. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but take a look at some of things you should be aware of, avoid, or try to maximize your chances for a healthy pregnancy.
Understanding Your Natural Fertility
Age and Fertility Health
To begin with, it’s important to know that part of a natural, holistic approach to fertility is understanding that a woman’s body has a built-in “biological clock” – that is, a natural increase and decrease in fertility related to age. As women age, their fertility follows a biological pattern which moves from the beginning of fertility at puberty, to the most fertile years in the early 20s, to a gradual decline in fertility in the 30s, to a sharp decline in the 40s, to the end of fertility at menopause, which happens (on average) around age 51. This pattern in fertility is due to the fact that women are born with all the eggs they’ll ever have, and both the quality and quantity of those eggs decrease over time.
Men, on the other hand, do not have a biological limit to the age at which they can conceive a child, since they produce new sperm throughout their lives. However, sperm quality tends to decrease with age and can begin to have genetic abnormalities (leading to potential diseases in the child they father, like Down Syndrome and schizophrenia) around the same time as a woman’s fertility naturally begins declining. In addition, men may experience problems with sexual functioning as they age.
Once you understand nature’s basic fertility plan, you may begin to wonder what you can do to naturally boost your fertility or address your infertility problems. As it turns out, a variety of natural options are beginning to show promise in scientific studies, although in many cases, more research is needed.
Factors that Negatively Impact Fertility
Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor that can impact your fertility and the health of your offspring, with infertility rates about twice as high for smokers compared to nonsmokers. Moreover, second hand smoke exposure resulted in adverse effects that were only slightly smaller than for smokers. When you smoke, over 7,000 chemicals enter the body and react in negative ways. Cigarette smoke can: damage egg and sperm DNA, hinder ovulation, decrease semen parameters, increase miscarriage, and increase ectopic pregnancy rates. Even if you are an occasional smoker, stopping smoking is highly recommended to improve your chances for conception.
Environmental toxicants such as pollution, pesticides, and Bisphenol A (BPA) have been shown to have damaging effects on reproductive health. In a study conducted in mice exposed to air pollution it was found that the mice developed sperm mutations, DNA strand breaks, and sperm DNA hypermethylation compared to mice breathing filtered air. Similarly, one study found that men working at motorway tollgates had a significant decrease in sperm motility and forward progression. Another toxic substance associated with impaired reproductive health is pesticides. In a recent study looking at the consumption of fruits and vegetables with pesticides, scientists found a direct inverse correlation to high levels of pesticide residues and lower total sperm count and morphology. Similarly, the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA), which acts as an endocrine disruptor, has been found to have a correlation with decreased semen quality and increased DNA damage.
Natural Fertility Treatments
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