There are many natural products in the market place that can assist you in improving your fertility and preconception health. Some are available through chemists, health food shops, supermarkets or through specialised practitioners.
If you have a long standing history of irregularity or other infertility problems then the quickest route to optimum preconception health is probably through a natural health practitioner who can individually assess your situation and prescribe especially for you.
If you only have a minor irregularity or have recently given up smoking or have come off the birth control Pill then using some off the shelf products can be just what you need to speed up the process.
Maca, Lepidium Meyenii, is a root vegetable cultivated high in the Andean Mountains. Its use as a food and a medicine dates back 10,000 years.
This plant has been used traditionally:
Maca Root contains significant amounts of amino acids, complex carbohydrates, Vitamins B1, B2, C, E and minerals including calcium, phosphorous, zinc, magnesium and iron.
Maca is a whole food. It is adaptogenic meaning that it will work on the body according to needs, age and gender of the person taking it – allowing males and females of all ages to benefit from taking it regularly.
What makes Maca so effective, especially in the areas of fertility imbalance is that rather than introducing hormones from outside (whether chemical or natural) Maca encourages the glands in the body to produce the hormones it needs itself according to the individuals unique requirements.
There are many different vitamin / mineral supplements available on the market specially formulated for menstrual irregularity / regularity and pre-conception care for both male and females. Some brands include Pro -Ma, BioCare, Solgar, Foresight and Fertility Plus. Most nutrients work in tandem with others, so taking a balanced group is often better than lots of one particular nutrient. Ideally a healthy diet provides most nutrients, however realistically with modern lifestyle – supplements of superfoods are the way to go.
The nutrients required for optimum pre-conception health include:
Vitamin B – needs to be replenished all the time, as it a water soluble and is passed out of the body with urination. Vit B6 and B12 are particularly important for fertility and hormonal function.
Folic Acid – a member of the Vitamin B family, Folic Acid is essential for the production of genetic material in conjunction with Vit B12. The body cannot store Folic Acid so it must be replenished regularly. In addition, Folic acid can be deficient in people with coaliac disease and Crohns disease, and alcohol, the contraceptive pill and other drugs can cause Folic Acid to be excreted out of the body. It is found naturally in dark green leafy vegetables, apricots, avocados, carrots, egg yolks, liver, melons, whole grains, and yeast’s.
Zinc – is an essential component of genetic material and plays an important role in the fertility of men (affecting sperm count) and women. Zinc is vital to healthy cell division, so healthy zinc levels are essential at conception. Zinc occurs naturally in oats, rye, almonds, pumpkin seeds and peas.
Selenium – is an antioxidant protecting the body from free radicals. For men it is especially important for healthy sperm production.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) work on every system of the body and are essential for healthy hormone production. EFA’s can prevent blood from clotting inappropriately which can be helpful to women who have suffered from recurrent miscarriages (if clotting was an issue). In pregnancy EFA’s are crucial for the development of the babies brain, eyes and central nervous system. EFA’s can be taken in the form of Fish Oils, Evening Primrose etc.
Vitamin E – is an antioxidant. Low Vitamin E levels can be a cause for subfertility in men and women. Ensure you take natural Vit E (look for d-alpha-tocopherol on the label) and not synthetic (dl-alpha-tocopherol) as natural Vit E is absorbed better into the body. Found in wheat germ cereal, sunflower seeds, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, brown rice, eggs, milk, organ meats, Soya beans and sweet potatoes.
Vitamin C – is an antioxidant, helpful to sperm production and may play a role in healthy ovulation. Vitamin C is essential to the normal healthy functioning of many systems in the human body. Excellent sources include blackcurrants, raw red peppers, guavas and citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits. Other good sources include strawberries, kiwifruit, broccoli and Brussel sprouts.
Manganese – an essential trace element needed for healthy skin, bones, cartilage, helps regulate blood sugar levels.
Iron – aids in the production of red blood cells and carries oxygen around our bodies. The body can lose iron through periods, childbirth or blood loss (including blood donation). Get your iron levels checked, and only take an iron supplement if you are deficient. Low iron levels can be a factor in subfertility.
Vitamin A – an antioxidant essential at conception for the developing embryo. There has been some confusion over the amounts of Vitamin A needed and the form it should take so do your research on this well, high doses of Vit A (over 10,000iu a day) may be harmful to developing babies but it is not necessary to take such high doses. 5000iu per day is sufficient. Natural sources include carrots, tomatoes, cabbage, spinach and broccoli and taking a non animal form of Vitamin A is much better for you (no links to birth defects).
L-arginine and L-carnitine – two amino acids essential to healthy sperm production.
There are many herbs that can help improve reproductive function and fertility. If you want to take herbs I think it is best to see a qualified herbalist and have them individually prescribed.