Eating poorly can easily lead to hormonal chaos, reducing your chance of conception or increasing your risk of pregnancy complications. Yet better food choices, regular exercise, adequate rest, and stress-reducing activities can improve your health enormously and enhance your ability to conceive. We are also exposed to a growing number of chemicals each year through our food, air, water, cleaning products, gardening chemicals, and personal care products. Some people are also exposed to more chemicals at work.
Fertility and hormone specialists have become increasingly concerned about these chemicals because many have the ability to disrupt your own hormone functions, which in turn can affect your fertility.
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These chemicals also may contribute to miscarriage or compromise the health of your baby. But in many cases you can restore hormone harmony through simple changes in your lifestyle, and, in so doing, you will improve your fertility, your health, and your well-being. Each organ and each system has its own agenda, sending out hormonal signals to alert the others and elicit their cooperation.
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For instance, your digestive system calls upon your circulatory system for more blood flow after a meal to help distribute fuel and nutrients throughout your body. The hormone-brain connection is the key to understanding why achieving hormonal balance is necessary to improve your chances of conception and having a healthy baby.
It is equally important for couples who have had a baby but are having difficulty conceiving again, a condition called secondary infertility. Many of these couples have developed a hormone imbalance since the delivery of their last child. The imbalance is what is keeping them from becoming pregnant again. Before jumping into treatment, these couples need to consider the importance of their hormones and how their diet, weight, lifestyle, or health may have changed in the intervening years.
Because there are so many hormones, and many that have similar jobs, I like to group them together based on their functions.
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Each of the four groups I have identified needs to be in a state of equilibrium. I like to think of these groups as the elements of a mobile, with the brain at the pinnacle monitoring your dynamic state of hormone balance. When subtle imbalances occur within a group, they might not disrupt the other groups.
For example, your hypothalamus might make minor adjustments to your levels of estrogen and progesterone, keeping them in relative balance and not adversely affecting your fertility. Since conception and reproduction are not essential for your survival, I place these hormones in the most vulnerable position of the mobile to reflect their reliance on everything else being near perfect. Below are the four categories of hormones and what they do, how they interact, and how they affect your fertility. Please note that I will provide descriptions and details on all of these hormones later in the book.
Rest-and-digest hormones key hormones include insulin, leptin, growth hormone, ghrelin, and melatonin. This group controls growth, digestion, and weight, as well as repair and rejuvenation. Because of their role in weight gain and loss, imbalances can lead to obesity, diabetes, and a host of related diseases.
I will focus a great deal on this group in the program since your weight and the balance of these hormones have an enormous impact on your fertility, and because you have some control over them. There are clear and effective steps you can take to restore their balance, including making better food choices.
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Tend-and-befriend hormones key hormones include thyroid hormone, prolactin, and diuretic hormones like aldosterone. Some of these hormones, like prolactin, also impact your emotional bonding with others. Imbalances, though, can make you more susceptible to infections, less able to turn off your stress response, less adaptable to temperature and altitude changes, and can put you at a higher risk of disorders like chronic fatigue and anemia.
Fight-and-flight hormones key hormones are adrenaline, cortisol, endorphins, and corticotropin releasing hormone. They help redirect necessary resources toward survival against an imminent threat or a perceived hazard that may not even exist. When stress hormones are chronically elevated, you may experience depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, or chronic pain, and you may have difficulty getting pregnant. Relate-and-mate hormones key hormones are estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, follicle-stimulating hormone FSH , and luteinizing hormone LH.
These sex and pregnancy hormones are the most important hormones for fertility and reproduction. They guide the production and release of fertile eggs and healthy sperm. They also play a role in cementing the bonds of your intimate relationships with your sexual partner as well as with your children— these are more potent bonding agents than the tend-and-befriend hormones. Imbalances in this group are the most obvious ones to consider when diagnosing infertility.
They can interfere with the growth and release of a mature egg each month or cause a low sperm count in your partner, or even affect how successfully the fertilized egg implants in your uterus. Imbalances can also cause sexual dysfunction, such as low libido and erectile dysfunction or pain associated with sex. This idea of considering your symptoms when looking at fertility issues is just now beginning to catch on in the medical community. It is well supported by brain imaging research showing how hormone imbalances detected by your brain trigger symptoms throughout your body.
We can correlate brain activity in precise areas of the brain to specific symptoms. For instance, chronic fatigue is associated with reduced hormone activity in the base of your brain, whereas anxiety is associated with an increase in activity in the area behind your forehead. Symptoms will arise when your brain unsuccessfully attempts to correct hormone imbalances. Hormone-related symptoms are not always as obvious or easy to interpret as symptoms of the flu or an injury.
They can be subtle, like an inability to stay asleep, or slow but steady unexplained weight gain. Yes, there are symptoms that appear to have a clear connection to fertility, such as abnormal menstrual cycles or recurrent miscarriages. Recall the hormone mobile and how imbalances in any one group can affect your fertility. Overweight women who lose as little as 5 percent of their body weight can dramatically improve their fertility. When overweight men lose this much weight, it can boost their sperm count as well as their libido.
But other symptoms are telling as well. If you suffer from insomnia, acne, depression, or even sexual dysfunction, these may be clues to hormone imbalances. Focusing on how you and your partner have been feeling can help you gauge how close the both of you are to hormonal balance. Imbalances are by far the most common obstacles to pregnancy and among the most common reasons for miscarriage.
Cholesterol is needed for formation of healthy cell membranes and remember from earlier in this guide that it is a precursor to all steroid hormones progesterone, estrogen, FSH, etc. We cannot have proper hormonal balance without adequate amounts of saturated fats. We also need balanced amounts of unsaturated fats. Essential fatty acids are three types of unsaturated good fats. There are three different types of unsaturated fatty acids; Omega-3, Omega-6 and Omega Good sources of healthy fats: Wild Atlantic Salmon, cage-free eggs, coconut oil, flax oil, cod liver oil , borage oil, evening primrose oil, olive oil unheated.
Royal Jelly is rich in amino acids 29 to be exact , lipids, sugars, some vitamins, fatty acids and most importantly, proteins. It contains ample levels of iron and calcium. Royal Jelly also contains acetylcholine, which is needed to transmit nerve messages from cell to cell. It is beneficial to those individuals that suffer from a hormonal imbalance, as it helps to provide support to the endocrine system.
It may also help with problems that are related to hormonal imbalance. Adaptogen is one of the many definitions for the therapeutic action a plant has.
The Ultimate Guide to Getting Pregnant
Adaptogen herbs are nourishing to the entire endocrine system. Adaptogens increase resistance to mind-body stress and can enhance overall vitality and health. The goal in using adaptogens to promote hormonal balance is to support the endocrine system overall, the system in which hormones are made from and communicate with.
Ashwagandha root Withania somnifera : Supports overall endocrine system function. Supports proper immune response, aids in possible autoimmune fertility issues. Aids in supporting the body with proper stress response. Eleuthero root and stem bark Eleutherococcus senticosus : Supports overall endocrine function, which supports hormonal balance. Strengthens the immune system. Great for people under severe stress. This herb helps people to feel better, perform better and recover from immune suppression more quickly.
Traditionally used for men who have low libido, low sperm count, erectile dysfunction, and poor sperm motility. Supports fertility longevity. Supports both thyroid and adrenal function, both are extremely important and sensitive to stress. Goji berry , dried fruit Lycium barbarum, L. Goji does this through its high antioxidant content. This fruit supports hormonal balance by improving liver function and is also an extremely nutritious superfood.
Licorice root Glycyrrhiza glabra : Supports the endocrine system for overall hormonal support. Licorice Rt. It is protective of liver health and supports a proper inflammatory response. Maca root Lepidium meyenii : Helps to balance the hormones, but does not contain any hormones itself. It is able to do this by nourishing and balancing the endocrine system.
Maca is a nourishing food for the endocrine system, aiding the pituitary, adrenal, and thyroid glands all involved in hormonal balance. Works to protect the body from stress damage. Shown to support and increase egg health. Shown to increase libido in both men and women. Reishi mushroom Ganoderma lucidum : Reishi is balancing for the immune system; it not only strengthens the immune system, in can help to down-regulate excessive immune response common in autoimmune disease while also enhancing monocyte, macrophage, and T lymphocyte activity.
Reishi is also anti-inflammatory and helpful for improving stress response.
Rhodiola root Rhodiola rosea : Rhodiola is a potent antioxidant, working to protect the body from environmental toxins which may contribute to hormonal imbalance. Its adaptogenic actions aid the body in times of stress and change.
Rhodiola is also useful in helping the body to balance blood sugar levels. In addition, this plant is known to be helpful for those who tend to experience depression during times of hormonal changes. Schisandra fruit and seed Schisandra chinensis : Supportive and protective of liver health.