Less stress can increase your chance of conception the natural way.By Michael F. Roizen, MD
More than 6 million women in North America have trouble conceiving or maintaining a pregnancy. Courteney Cox, Khloe Kardashian, and Giuliana Rancic all used in vitro fertilization (IVF) to aid conception. Some were more successful than others. About 5 million U.S. men will also seek medical help for fertility issues sometime in their lives.
Fertility treatments are a blessing for many (4 million babies are born as a result of fertility-enhancing procedures a year), but they also have their drawbacks. A new study found that intracytoplasmic sperm injection for male infertility and stimulating ovulation may increase the risk of birth defects. IVF did not increase these risks, but there's concern that IVF's intense hormone injections may promote ovarian cancer.
Good news! Meditation, stress reduction, and a good laugh are natural fertility boosters that can increase the likelihood of conception by as much as 30%. The hormones in your adrenal system that regulate and respond to stress -- epinephrine, cortisol, and norepinephrine -- affect your central and peripheral nervous system, brain, guts, immune system, and reproductive organs. You can control them, though. Practice mindful meditation daily, do progressive muscle relaxation exercises, get a massage, or participate in group therapy to dispel stress reactions that alter body chemistry. For some women, the benefits are enough to make conception happen. It takes time to integrate destressing into your life, so get started -- and get your partner to participate, too.
Want to know another way to naturally boost fertility? Eat a diet rich in omega-3s (salmon and trout are good sources) and take 900 mg in supplements (I recommend the DHA variety) from algal oil.
Michael F. Roizen, MD, is the cofounder of RealAge.com and chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic.
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