9 Tips For
Supporting Hormones And Fertility Health
by Marisa Kahlich
In this article:
Supporting Fertility Health
We partnered with Marisa Kahlich, L.Ac MSAOM, Owner and Clinical Director of the Texas Center For Reproductive Acupuncture to provide her top tips for supporting hormones and fertility health.
Consult your physician
Start with the basics
Track your symptoms
Sleep, sleep, sleep
Maintain and support gut health
Manage stress and prioritize self-care
Show your endometrium some love
Consult Your Physician
First, and most importantly, schedule a visit with your RE, OB, or doctor if you or your partner have a health concern that needs further investigation or treatment. If you have an irregular cycle, have your hormones and thyroid function tested on day three of your cycle. It’s also wise to have a wellness check and basic blood labs (CBC, CMP) drawn annually. Additionally, there are plenty of actions you can take on your own to support healthy, balanced hormones and fertility.
Start With The Basics
Make sure you’re getting adequate nutrition, staying well hydrated, and avoiding environmental toxins. In terms of nutrition, it’s important to eat a balanced, clean diet while minimizing processed foods, sugar, alcohol, and caffeine. It’s also best to avoid anything you know or feel your body disagrees with such as dairy, gluten, or refined oils. Depending on where you live, you may also consider filtering your water. If you’re curious, you can check to see what’s in your water directly via ewg.org.
Supplements should also be included for nutrients we can’t get enough of from diet alone. This regimen might look different from person to person, but there are certain supplements that anyone can benefit from, like COQ10, DHA, or a prenatal vitamin. Someone with PCOS may consider taking myo-inositol. (Tagliaferri et al.) When buying a prenatal, make sure to choose one that has either folate or methylfolate. Many people, unknowingly, have an MTHFR gene mutation, meaning they don’t absorb folic acid well. (Long and Goldblatt) There is no reason why women can’t take a prenatal long-term, and it’s generally advised to start taking one at least 3 months before trying to conceive, throughout pregnancy, and postpartum while breastfeeding. (Mayo Clinic) The main difference between a prenatal vitamin and a regular multivitamin are the higher levels of folate (to prevent neural tube defect) and the extra iodine. (Centers for Disease Control) If your prenatal doesn’t contain DHA, then it’s generally recommended to add in a fish or cod liver oil supplement as well. (Nehra et al.)
Track Your Symptoms
Practice listening to the messages your body gives you. Anytime you have a symptom, such as pain, headache, spotting, etc… write it down in an app, notebook, or on a calendar. The timing and quality of our symptoms clue us in to what's going on internally — you might even start to notice patterns. If you aren’t already, get in the habit of tracking your monthly cycle. You don’t have to use every method of tracking, but at least find one or two that work with your busy schedule. You can start by downloading an app or buying a journal.
Sleep, Sleep, Sleep
Make sure you’re getting enough sleep — aim for 8 hrs. or a minimum of 7 hrs. nightly. Sleep is imperative to having balanced hormones for both men and women. Start with healthy habits like getting to bed early enough, keeping the thermostat at or below 70 degrees at night, and eliminating light pollution in the bedroom. Turn off screens at a reasonable time, and keep electronics out of the bedroom. (Scholl)
Maintain And Support Gut Health
The multitude of individuals suffering from gut issues or indigestion probably don’t realize how important gut function is for hormone balance. The gut is involved in healthy hormone metabolism, so it’s important to stay regular. If you aren’t already, take a probiotic daily, or include fermented foods like kefir or kombucha. Additionally, if you’re chronically constipated, you may consider adding magnesium citrate to your daily routine.
Manage Stress And Prioritize Self-Care
Whatever your healthy preference is to unwind, whether it’s yoga or meditation, gardening or cooking — do more of it. Stress is unavoidable, so making time to do more of what helps you relax is imperative. Self-care is also important to your overall health and well-being. Make it a point to see an acupuncturist, massage therapist, chiropractor or therapist. Everyone needs maintenance, and there are so many wonderful professionals out there who can help.
Find balance with exercise and staying active. Too little or too much can be a bad thing. Don’t force an early morning run or workout if you’ve hardly slept or are feeling exhausted. Prioritize listening to your body and give yourself permission to move more or less depending on how you’re feeling day-to-day. Staying active can be as simple as adding in a daily walk, activities, or chores around the house. It’s also important to take breaks from prolonged sitting, especially if you work a sedentary job.
Show Your Endometrium Some Love
Include strategies to improve your endometrial lining and support implantation. Two ways to do this include consuming organic bone broth and additional sources of collagen in your diet. Both provide plenty of amino acids like proline, glycine, and glutamine which are vital for collagen production in the body and improve cellular function. They both provide additional proteins and micronutrients that boost overall health and are essential for healthy tissue development. Studies show that both also support gut health, metabolism, and reduce inflammation. (Chris) Another way to improve endometrial function is by increasing nitric oxide (NO) in the blood. NO plays an important role in endometrial receptivity and implantation, and can be increased supplementally, but also through diet and lifestyle. (Chwalisz and Garfield)
- Centers for Disease Control. “Use of Dietary Supplements Containing Folic Acid Among Women of Childbearing Age --- United States, 2005.” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 2005, https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5438a4.htm. Accessed 3 April 2021.
- Chris, Kresser. “The Bountiful Benefits of Bone Broth: A Comprehensive Guide.” chriskresser.com, 2019, https://chriskresser.com/the-bountiful-benefits-of-bone-broth-a-comprehensive-guide/. Accessed 20 4 2021.
- Chwalisz, K., and R. E. Garfield. Role of nitric oxide in implantation and menstruation, PubMed, 2000, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11041226/. Accessed 21 April 2021.
- Long, Sarah, and Jack Goldblatt. “MTHFR genetic testing: Controversy and clinical implications.” Men's Health, Australian Family Physician, April 2016, https://www.racgp.org.au/afp/2016/april/mthfr-genetic-testing-controversy-and-clinical-implications/. Accessed 5 April 2021.
- Mayo Clinic. “Healthy Lifestyle: Pregnancy week by week.” Prenatal vitamins: Why they matter, how to choose, Mayo Clinic, 1 May 2020, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/prenatal-vitamins/art-20046945. Accessed 4 April 2021.
- Nehra, Deepika, et al. Prolonging the female reproductive lifespan and improving egg quality with dietary omega-3 fatty acids. NBCI, 2012, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5624332/. Accessed 7 April 2021.
- Scholl, Juliann. “Sleep and Fertility: Can Sleep Affect Conception?” Science, March 2021, https://www.sleep.org/can-sleep-affect-conception/. Accessed 3 April 2021.
- Tagliaferri, Valeria, et al. “Metformin vs myoinositol: which is better in obese polycystic ovary syndrome patients? A randomized controlled crossover study.” NCBI Literature Resources, Feb. 2017, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28092404/. Accessed 7 April 2021.