The Importance Of Digestion For Fertility

Most often than not when trying to get pregnant and not succeeding our attention goes straight to our womb and our ovaries, why aren’t they working? what’s wrong with me? why can’t I get pregnant?

If you are taking all the right supplements and you have been given the unexplained infertility diagnosis which is usually given if you have been trying for over a year without success then we need to look a bit deeper than the obvious places.

That’s when the digestion process comes into the picture, did you know that this is one of the most important functions in the body when trying to conceive, not only to ensure you are absorbing all your nutrients from the food you eat and the pre-natal-vitamins but also to make sure you are able to detox too. If you have a sluggish digestive system the chances are your body will be holding on to a lot of toxins in the liver which puts your digestive system under stress and lets your body know that it’s not ready for baby-making as its too busy dealing with toxic-overload.

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What can I do to nurture my digestive system?

  • Eat more foods containing fibre to enable your body to detox and release toxins and excess hormones, which we are exposed to every day such as xenoestrogens from plastics and pollution which actually mimic natural estrogen and can cause hormone imbalances, not something you want when trying to conceive.

 

  • Take a probiotic and a prebiotic which can help to build a healthy gut flora, and prevent leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut, also known as increased intestinal permeability, is a digestive condition in which bacteria and toxins are able to “leak” through the intestinal wall and this can prevent you from absorbing vital nutrients, which you will need for your baby to develop in the womb.

 

  • Drink lots of fresh filtered water to keep your cells hydrated and to help shift those toxins through your system so they don’t stick around too long in your digestive tract, you could also try adding a squeeze of lemon juice to your water which will help your liver detox.

 

  • Eat fresh vegetables, salads, and fruit, preferably organic to keep that digestive system healthy, remove processed foods and refined sugars from your diet and cut down on carbs such as white rice, white pasta, and potatoes and replace with a wholegrain variety which is better to keep your blood sugar levels balanced,

 

  • Check to see if you have a lactose or gluten intolerance as this can also affect gut permeability and could be causing inflammation in your body if you have an intolerance which can also raise your natural killer cells, so if you have been able to get pregnant but have had miscarriages, try giving up gluten and dairy for 3 months.

 

  • Get a blood test to make sure you are not low in any vitamins or minerals, vitamin D is very important for fertility and often gets over-looked, most of us in the northern hemisphere have some kind of vitamin d deficiency especially during the winter months. Check your thyroid function too as this is often a cause of imbalanced hormones and unexplained infertility and it could be solved very easily just by taking an iodine supplement. Check first to see if you need to.

 

  • Try adding lots of fresh herbs to your salads or smoothies, coriander is one of the best herbs to help your liver detox and actually you will be surprised by how good it tastes in a smoothie alongside apples, celery and ginger which are also great detox buddies.

 

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So don’t rush to the IVF clinic just yet, if you have been diagnosed with unexplained infertility, the chances are it could be down to your digestion.

Stress can also affect digestion so try not to get anxious about not being able to conceive as soon as you would like, try nurturing your whole self and especially be kind to your stomach, eat things that are natural and full of goodness and if you have previously had a diet full of processed foods, refined sugars and carbs maybe try doing a detox for a few months, check yourself for candida and clean up your system, and the chances are you will most likely be in with a good chance of conceiving naturally.

If after 3 months of clean living and changing your diet, it still hasn’t worked for you and you want to go down the IVF route then at least you will know that you have made the best possible conditions for your eggs to nourish and grow and the chance for a better outcome and successful pregnancy.  Good luck. x

 

Is This The Endo Me?

I was 30 when I first heard that word, Endometriosis. I was having a routine smear test and the nurse said to me, “if you want children, you should start trying soon as it looks like you have a touch of endometriosis.” OK, I said.

I went home and thought nothing of it, this was just before the internet generation, so I didn’t really know how to research it other than to go to the library, it wasn’t as easy as it is now. I was also in a band and too busy having a good time, children were not on my agenda. How I wish it was easier back then to google the condition, to see what it was all about as my doctor had no useful advice for heavy painful periods and endometriosis symptoms, he said it was normal for some women to get painful periods and offered me the contraceptive pill when I was 16. I had been taking it for 14 years, but what happens when you want to stop taking it?

This common, painful inflammatory condition affects 1 in 10 women which means 178 million women all over the world suffer with it.

The endometriosis word came back into my life at 34, I stopped taking the contraceptive pill as I wanted to try for a child with my partner, soon after stopping the pill, I developed severe pains in my tummy, a scan on my pelvic area revealed two big ovarian cysts measuring 8cm each, called ‘chocolate cysts’ as they were filled with old blood, yuk. This was when I realised the severity of the condition and how much it was going to affect my life in more ways than one.

I’d always suffered from painful and heavy periods but just thought they were normal and that every woman goes through the same torture each month. However, when I came off the pill I was older and wiser, the symptoms and consequences of my symptoms which caused low B12, anemia and infertility meant that I needed to try to find ways to heal myself through diet and lifestyle choices and I knew there would be no short cuts.

As I have knowingly lived with this condition for 10 years now, I have grown to understand what makes it worse and what eases the symptoms. I have learned that I also need to make peace with my uterus, so instead of calling my period “a b*tch of a period” which I did every month for the past 20 years, I now send it loving thoughts, which isn’t easy to do when you are in excruciating pain.

Here are just some of the alternative methods, and products that I find have really helped my endo condition so far that you might not have discovered already;

  • Castor Oil Packs – This was a big game changer for me. Castor oil helps to bring circulation to your uterus and help bring in new fresh oxygenated blood which is what you want for a healthy uterus. Check out this video I found on how to do a Castor Oil Pack, I find the Pukka Castor Oil brand a really nice organic brand which is cheap and easy to find in most health shops or on Amazon. I found it really helped me to relax too as you cannot do anything for 45 mins to 1 hour so just lie down and listen to meditative music or whatever you find relaxes you.
  • Magnesium Spray – Apparently many women with Endometriosis lack magnesium so it’s a good one to have in your armour, it helps to relax your muscles which helps ease cramps. I found this really helpful to spray at night as it also promotes restful sleep. My favourite is by Kiki Health.
  • Clary Sage – Clary Sage oil contains natural phytoestrogens from plants and I was a little dubious at first as estrogen is usually a no-no with this condition, but apparently, good estrogen is ok just the bad ones like xenoestrogens from toxins and plastics are the bad guys. I found the oil really helped my pains if I put the oil on my tummy and then had a hot water bottle on top.
  • Supplements – If you haven’t tried ‘Endo Complex‘ yet, Its a food grown natural supplement from Wild Nutrition which provides all the right nutrients to help ease the complex endometriosis condition. I find it works really well with their ‘Methyl Connect’ supplements too which help your body to absorb folate and B12. Methylation is a biochemical process involved in almost all of your body’s functions. It controls everything from your stress response and how your body makes energy from food to your brain chemistry and detoxification.
  • Another supplement I also find useful which I formulated is ‘Woman’ by We+People, its an organic natural superfood supplement which contains maca root to help balance hormones, ginger to help fight inflammation and also a prebiotic which promotes a healthy gut and immune system. All required in abundance to tackle this often debilitating condition.
  • Ashwagandha – One of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic healing, has been used since ancient times for a wide variety of conditions including stress and anxiety. This one is a new one for me as I have been researching the connection between stress and endometriosis recently as I personally suffer a lot with anxiety. So it turns out stress really affects our adrenal function and it’s our adrenals which play a huge role in keeping our hormones balanced, so it’s really important to keep them calm. I find Ashwagandha has totally stopped me from waking up with anxiety caused by high cortisol levels that peak in the morning. My favourite is the Organic India brand.
  • Fibre – I know this sounds totally crazy but after 10 years of having this disease, I have only just worked out how important fibre is. I mean, it took a herbalist to tell me that I should buy a fibre powder. I added a spoonful to my smoothies and started to go to the toilet twice a day instead of once and almost immediately it solved my constipation issues which I didn’t realise were related to my endo. It helped me to expel the excess estrogen and toxins which were clogging up my system. Be careful with it though as it does make you dehydrated if you don’t drink enough water. It’s better to get your fibre from food but I did use Lepricol which I found good to get me started and it also includes digestive enzymes and probiotics.
  • Tulsi Tea (Holy Basil) – This is a tea that I find really good for keeping my adrenals calm and there are other great teas too which are supposed to help reduce endometriosis and fibroids such as green tea which is full of antioxidants. I use the Pukka Tea variety.

Since I’ve gained a little more knowledge and insight into this condition and through research and trial and error, I am now mostly pain-free. I do have an endometrial polyp which has shrunk in size so this has made me more determined than ever to get my reproductive health back. When I stick to my well-balanced whole foods diet, get plenty of exercise and take supporting supplements, I manage pretty well. Now all I need is to get my fertility back. But at 44 I know that I am wishful thinking. If you think you have endometriosis don’t leave it until its too late to take control and get to know this condition so you can manage the symptoms and get on with enjoying your life.

There are lots of support groups and awareness of this condition out there nowadays so don’t suffer alone. Try ‘This Endo Life’ for a great blog and website dedicated to living and thriving with this condition. Also, check out UK charity group https://www.endometriosis-uk.org which organises several meetups and events throughout the year.