Natural Ways to Improve Fertility

I’m so thrilled to welcome guest blogger Phil Druce, founder of Ovulation Calculator to my blog!

OvulationCalculator.com provides education and the necessary tools to help families who are trying-to-conceive and struggling with fertility. It was a no-brainer when they asked me if I’d be interested in collaborating with them raising awareness of infertility.

Thank you Phil and Ovulation Calculator for doing what you do to raise awareness by providing women in pursuit of baby with resources they need.

– Jane

Natural Ways to Improve Fertility

It is surprising for some couples to learn that it isn’t so common to get pregnant on the first try. This misunderstanding can lead to a lot of disappointment and stress. But truthfully, it is very common for healthy, fertile couples to take six cycles to conceive.

And if you have an issue like low cervical mucus, it can take even longer.

No one likes to wait, so we are going to cover a few natural ways to improve cervical mucus and boost your chances of conceiving in any given cycle.

But first, let’s look at the reasons why your cervical mucus may be low in the first place.

Over or underweight – Experts recommend keeping a healthy BMI when trying to conceive. This equates to a range of 18.5 to 24.9. If your weight puts you at a higher or lower BMI, it is time to make some changes. If you are underweight, be careful about loading up on junk food at this time. If you are overweight, try to lose while still eating a balanced diet. Nutrition is also important at this time.

Hormonal imbalances – The body must maintain a delicate balance of hormones at all times. If they are off, it can spell trouble for your fertility. Talk to your doctor if you think you need your hormone levels tested.

Medications – Some medications, especially antihistamines, can interfere with fertility and cervical mucus production. Talk to your doctor about possible alternatives.

Nutritional deficiencies – The body needs a balance of the right nutrients in order to function at its best.

Infections – Some STDs don’t have symptoms, so if you’re having trouble with cervical mucus and cannot understand why, it wouldn’t hurt to get tested.

Douching – Most douches are terrible for fertility. Steer clear.

Natural Ways to Improve Cervical Mucus

Avoid Toxins – Unfortunately, toxins are virtually impossible to avoid completely. But when you are trying to conceive, make your best effort. These are healthy habits to maintain throughout pregnancy also. Pay special attention to the ones that touch your skin, like shampoos and soaps.

Stop Smoking – It’s a nasty habit, but it can also impact your fertility. Experts recommend quitting three months before trying to conceive. You want to get all of the nicotine out of your system, including nicotine from products such as patches.

Maintain a Healthy Weight – Being overweight or underweight can hurt your chances of conceiving. But don’t try to make major changes all at once. A difference of even just 10 pounds in the right direction can improve your chances of conceiving.

Skip the Lubricants – Most lubricants are terrible for fertility. Use one that is designed for conception (it should say so on the package), or use a natural alternative like coconut oil. Keep in mind that a lubricant isn’t safe just because it is natural. Even saliva can have a negative impact on fertility.

Mind Your Medicine – Many medicines can impact fertility and cervical mucus production. If you’re on any medication, talk to your doctor about whether it could impact your chances of conceiving. There may be safe alternatives.

Eat a Balanced Alkaline Diet – A diet high in vegetables, nuts and seeds seems to work well for promoting fertility. To keep your diet alkaline, avoid acidic foods like meats and most dairy products. There is mixed evidence on this natural remedy, but it certainly will not hurt to eat more vegetables.

Take Evening Primrose Oil – Many women who are trying to conceive will take evening primrose oil to improve the quantity and quality of their cervical mucus. If you’d like to give it a shot, begin taking evening primrose oil at the start of your cycle and stop just before you ovulate. You can begin again at the start of your next cycle, if conception did not take place.

Stay Hydrated – It is important to replenish lost water and to hydrate well enough to keep the body functioning. This means that you should drink the recommended eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day (or more). If you are dehydrated, you may not produce enough of that fertile, ‘raw egg white’ type cervical mucus you’ll need to conceive.

Take L-Arginine – L-Arginine is an essential amino acid that helps with many bodily functions. Many believe that it can improve the fluidity and production of cervical mucus.

Avoid High-Doses of Vitamin C – Vitamin C may be your go-to nutrient for whenever you’re starting to feel under the weather, but some evidence shows that it may actually dry up cervical mucus. When it comes to vitamin C during conception, be conservative. What you get from your food and prenatal vitamin is probably sufficient.

Now you know how to improve your cervical mucus it’s also important to learn how to monitor your cervix. You can read about how to monitor your cervix here.

Philip Druce - Founder Of Ovulation Calculator

Author Bio: Phil Druce is the Founder of Ovulation Calculator a site that predicts when you are ovulating and provides up-to-date information on how to get pregnant. Ovulation Calculator has recorded over 10,000 pregnancies and counting.

WELCOME TO THE BABY BUSINESS

July 8, 2015

After my appointment with my OBGYN from a couple weeks ago, I decided to make a consultation appointment with the dreaded place I call “the baby business”, aka “fertility clinic”, aka “fertility specialist”, aka Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE). Even though my doctor said to give it 6 months after surgery before seeing one, I decided to make this appointment sooner for three reasons: (1) simply because I’m type-A and not waiting freggin’ 6 months, (2) to get a second opinion whether or not surgery is the right next step and (3) to see if there are any other tests JM and I need to do before turning to fertility treatments and procedures.

The morning of my appointment I gathered copies of all of our fertility testing paperwork. I put them in chronological order because I’m OCD like that. JM and I took two separate cars so that we could go to work after our appointment. The RE’s office is literally only 5 minutes away which can’t get better than that. I have a sense of angst running through me, but also excitement knowing we are continuously moving forward in pursuit of baby. I start my car, turn on the old-school radio (who needs to turn on an iPod when it’s only a 5 minute drive?) and a Jordin Sparks song I haven’t heard in years comes on. Remember “One Step At A Time”? Perhaps the timing was some weird coincidence, but I made a note to myself this is going to be my theme song for a while.

“Hurry up and wait
So close, but so far away
Everything that you’ve always dreamed of
Close enough for you to taste
But you just can’t touch…..

When you can’t wait any longer
But there’s no end in sight
when you need to find the strength
It’s your faith that makes you stronger
The only way you get there
Is one step at a time.”

If any of you know someone currently going through infertility or fertility treatments, send them that song and I guarantee it will make them feel better even if it’s only for a moment. Remember, there are no words you can ever say to a “baby challenged” couple that will make them feel better. Sorry for the side note. Moving on.

JM and I walk into the double doors of the “baby business” and begin to fill out paperwork answering all kinds of questions that remind us of how hard this time in our life truly is. There are a his and hers separate stack of papers to fill out. “How long have you been trying?”, “Do family members have history of infertility?”, “Usual cycle length?”, “Do you have symptoms at time of ovulation?” “Is cramping none, minimal, moderate, or severe?”, “Is intercourse painful?”, “Have you ever fathered a pregnancy?”, “Is there difficulty maintaining an erection?”, “Any history of X, Y, Z?”

TALK ABOUT PERSONAL QUESTIONS!

We’re called into the RE’s office once we’re done with the paperwork and assume our positions in the typical dark brown leather chairs every doctors’ office seems to have. I swear one day I’m going to have a strong hatred for dark brown leather chairs as often as I’ve been sitting in them these days. Anyways, I present all of our medical records related to our fertility tests to the RE. He goes through them one-by-one:

hormone blood work = check
thyroid blood word = check
ovarian reserve blood work = check
HSG = check
semen analysis = check
Ultrasound results = pump the brakes!

At this point of the consultation we began discussing my recent endometriosis diagnosis. The RE asked if I was experiencing any pelvic pain. I literally laughed out loud when he asked this question. I turn and look at my husband and begin to describe my pain. I begin saying, “Well, lets just say I have to take Advil every 4 hours, carry around a heating pad everywhere I go and I vomit at least once a day along with waking up in the middle of the night bawling my eyes out in fetal position because it has been longer than 4 hours since my last pill.”

Honestly, folks, I’m putting JM through hell these last couple of weeks. I’m literally waking up in the middle of the night vomiting and crying because the pain is so unbearable. It has gotten to the point now where JM began setting an alarm to go off in the middle of the night so I can take pain meds before waking up on my own in pain. The pain is now everyday, all day and I’m using my heating pad like it’s another ligament to my body.

The RE begins to go over results explaining the meaning behind the size of my cysts. He said, “I can tell you right now by the size of your cysts. You have stage 4 endo.” I explain to him I have surgery at the end of the month and ask if I should go through with it. The RE said because of the sheer amount of pain I’m experiencing right now, I absolutely should move forward with the surgery. He says, “You are going to have surgery to help with your pain, not fertility. This surgery won’t do anything for you for fertility benefits, only pain.” I’m glad he told me this because here I was thinking that the surgery will remove some of the endo which will help with fertility. I was freggin’ wrong! We conclude the surgery conversation with the RE saying he is going to call my OBGYN and tell her to definitely not remove either of my ovaries. (Um… yea, like I said earlier, I need those things.)

Then we shift the conversation to fertility treatment options and possible plan for after surgery. Long story short, the RE immediately says to me that because I have stage 4, nothing will work for me except IVF. (See? Baby business!)

This is where I start taking control of our consultation. I explain that absolutely under no circumstances do I want to just jump right into IVF without trying less invasive options first. First of all, IVF is like at least $10k out of pocket. My insurance only gives me $5k maximum for the lifetime of the insurance. Plus, my insurance doesn’t cover the cost of fertility medications. However, my insurance will cover 80% of an intrauterine insemination (IUI). For the obvious financial reasons, JM and I want to at least give a couple IUIs a try before jumping into IVF.

The RE understands my logic and said we can certainly begin with IUIs, but is convinced IVF is my only option. The Dr. had the nerve to say afterwards, “miracles do happen.” Perhaps I was too shocked that he said that, but looking back at it now, I should have walked out of his office right then and there. If it weren’t for this RE’s reputation and success rates, I probably would have.

After the hour-long consultation, we concluded that we will agree to meet again after my surgery – specifically three days after my first period after surgery for hormone blood work. Then, we’d circle back and settle on a fertility treatment plan and move forward. Surgery, here I come!

LET’S TALK ABOUT SEX

June 24, 2015

At this point in our lives, JM and I are still very private about our baby making challenges. We really only told a couple of people that we were “trying” to include my mother, a couple of my cousins and maybe two of my girl friends. That’s it. I know one thing for sure is that we have not told JM’s parents.

Let me fill you in on something. I’m married to a pastor’s son. If someone told me back in college marring  “the son of a preacher man” was in God’s plan I would have never believed it in a million years. The last thing on earth I’m comfortable with is discussing anything about sex with my in-laws and I’m about 110% certain JM feels the same way. However, after all the recent tests and endometriosis diagnosis, I felt that it is now time to tell JM’s parents we are “trying.” At this point in our lives, we need a lot of prayers and comfort.

Tonight we have plans to see a live show with JM’s parents. My father-in-law (FIL) dropped my mother-in-law (MIL) and I off at the front door since I still have this stupid boot on. Something inside my head told me to just go ahead and tell my MIL what is going on – at least a cliff notes version. I didn’t ask my husband in advance if he wanted to tell his parents, and afterwards I realized I probably should have. But, I knew JM is supportive in my decisions and in the end I knew he’d be relieved we finally told his parents. After all, we did tell my side of the family so why can’t we tell his, too?

My MIL and I are sitting outside waiting for the guys to park the car, and I proceed to ask her if JM told her we are “trying.” There was no subtle way to bring this up and it’s not like we were talking about anything else related to this topic where I could just segue this in to conversation. My MIL immediate gasps, covers her mouth with her hands and I can clearly see the excitement run through her veins. I put my hand on her arm and begin to tell her we’re having trouble, been going through a ton of fertility tests and learned yesterday that I have endometriosis. She grabs my hand and says, “well, this is certainly something to pray about.” As she said that, I look up to find my husband and FIL only a couple feet away. My MIL jumps up and immediately blurts out to my FIL the news. (She didn’t hesitate for 5 seconds!) I whisper to JM that I told his mom what has been going on. I could tell JM was happy and a weight lifted off his shoulders. We were relieved to see his parents recognize we need some prayers and support.

My in-laws only have one grandchild from their eldest son. They want nothing more than to be grandparents of more. My FIL’s sister has something like 19 grandkids, so clearly my FIL is losing the grandchildren count competition. If there is one thing I can thank my in-laws for it is that they never, not once ever begged, or asked for us to give them grand-babies. We never got the sense of any pressure from them, yet we know this is something they want so badly. Both JM’s parents and my parents are going to be the best grandparents around, and hopefully we can give them that gift.

I knew this conversation would change my relationship with my in-laws, but for the better. The sex talk wasn’t too bad after all!