Fertility Advice

Help to improve your fertility:

In a society such as we live in today, it is almost impossible to avoid the stress & strains of modern living, we can though, when conscious of this start by making little changes to improve our lifestyles.  At times we can even be unaware of what we do and the choices we make which can have huge, long-lasting impacts on our lives, our body & minds.

Here are a few tips based on a book by Emma Cannon, ‘The Baby Making Bible’.  Her further books are ‘Me & my bump’, ‘Total Fertility’ & Fertile:  Nourish & balance your body ready for baby making.

1. Sleeping position:

The position you sleep in can affect the quality of your sleep, according to sleep researchers.  Recommended positions include:

  • The Foetal position – on your left-hand side with your back straight & your knees bent.
  • The star fish – flat on your back in a star shape, which is similar to the yoga position – Savasana.
  • The Yearner – on your side with your arms stretched ahead of you.

I should add that although sleeping on your back is a recommended position for many, it can encourage snoring in some people.  Sleeping on your front can cause cricks in the neck, back problems and pin & needles.

Some women find that pillows help to prop them up.  For example, if you sleep on your left hand side with your right leg hitched up, a pillow under your right knee can provide support for your back.   A pillow between the knees in the foetal position can help them stop knocking together.  These positions are also very good once you are pregnant.

2.     Exercise:

Exercise is very important.  It can help to channel frustration, releases endorphins which can make us feel happier & more confident in ourselves & can also help move qi & blood more efficiently throughout the body.  The latter is very important to overcome in stagnant types, which in accordance with Chinese medicine is the most common ‘type’ to deal with in problems of infertility.  A big factor in this, especially in the Western world is due to the stress & strains of modern life which can take its toll on women & reproduction.

The amount of exercise is personal to the individual.  A general rule is for those who are used to a vigorous routine, they should slow it down so as not to strain the body too much. Those who are not used to exercising should start gently & remain consistent throughout their pregnancy.

The following forms of exercise are helpful when it comes to fertility:

  • Qi Gong:  this is particularly good for those who need to build or move qi.  It has a very powerful effect on the mind and the body and can be practised by anyone of any age or body type.
  • Swimming:  a good gentle exercise for general movement.
  • Yoga:  Great for everyone.
  • Walking:  This is beneficial not just for exercise but also to get those who feel ‘stuck’, moving again.  It’s a good distraction and it’s an excellent gentle build-up if you are not used to exercising.
  • Tennis:  perfect if you are moderately fit because it helps the mind to focus and allows you to have interaction while you exercise.
  • Pilates:  Encourages core strength, stability and it is an excellent preparation for pregnancy.
  • Belly dancing:  something a little different, and particularly good if you are damp, blood or qi stagnant.

3. Think about your environment:

There is worrying evidence that our increasing use of chemicals is polluting the ecosystem and having an impact on the normal reproductive function of animals.  Tests have shown that a group of chemicals call alkyl phenol ethoxylates (APE’s) are commonly used in cleaning products, detergents, hair dyes, aerosols, rubber and plastics that are not easily biodegradable when they are washed down the drain.  And it has been found that fish that swam in contaminated water showed signs of feminization, hermaphroditism and lower survival rates.

Although it is very difficult to avoid completely, each of us can do our own little bit to reduce our level of exposure, here are a few suggestions:

  • Limit harsh chemical household cleaning products:  Use natural alternatives where possible.  White wine vinegar or cider vinegar dissolves dirt cleans glass and can even be used to clean wooden floors and toilets.  Soda crystals are brilliant for scouring, particularly baths & basins & they are cheap too!
  • Insecticides and pesticides:  these are dangerous to pregnant women and so, equally should be avoided by those trying to conceive.
  • Dry Cleaning:  Try to limit the amount of dry cleaning that you have done.  When you have to have clothes dry cleaned, take them out of the plastic and air them afterwards.
  • Cellophane (cling film):  Cellophane contains chemicals that are oestrogenic and potentially damaging to sperm.  Cancer, polycystic ovaries and endometriosis.
  • Soft Plastics:  These again can leak oestrogen-mimicking chemicals.  If you are going to buy bottled water, buy glass wherever possible or if you do buy something stored in soft plastic, think about switching the contents to glass jars or bottles.  Be especially careful about allowing water bottles in the car to heat up for the same reason.
  • Aluminium:  be careful about using products with aluminium such as tin foil and definitely don’t cook with it.
  • Microwave:  My view is that microwaves are not good when you are trying to conceive.  If you have to use one, don’t buy a second-hand (in case it leaks) and don’t stand in front of it when it is on.  And never microwave food wrapped in plastic (such as ready meals) or on a plate wrapped with cling film over it.
  • Beauty products:  Choose natural alternatives wherever possible and go without make-up occasionally.
  • Nail varnish/chemically dyed or fake tan chemical sprays: Avoid as much as is possible!  If you use them or if you regularly lie in the sun slathered in sun cream you are probably exposing yourself to benzophenones, PABA’s, cinnamates and salicylates.  There are chemical free or chemically reduced alternatives such as the Dr Hauschka sun creams.
  • Botox Injections:  Avoid these altogether.
  • Anti-perspirants:  Buy deodorants rather than antiperspirants and check to ensure that they don’t contain aluminium.  We are meant to sweat, it’s part of the elimination process
  • Talc:  This should be avoided, especially on your underwear or vagina as it can travel up the Fallopian tubes and affect the ovaries.

4. Diet:  

Although the attitude of “Let medicine be your food and food be your medicine” – Hippocrates, is a very healthy view to food, try not to be too much of a food fascist and remember, food is one of life’s greatest pleasures.

Try as much as possible to eat fresh & where possible organic produce.

The principles of how to eat:

  • Eat well, eat light, live longer
  • Eat foods that are in season.  Chinese medicine holds great store by the importance of life’s cycles, harmony with nature and balance and recommends eating foods that are appropriate for the time of year.
  • Eat slowly, chew your food properly to aid digestion
  • Eat for your type (see section on type in blog)
  • Don’t eat too late at night as is more difficult to digest your food and this may result in you having more difficulty sleeping
  • If you can afford organic food, great, if not, stick to buying locally produced or grow your own.
  • Try not to study, watch TV, read or discuss work while eating.  In Chinese medicine it is the function of the stomach to digest both thought and food.  If you do both at the same time, you are taking the energy away from the digestive function.

What to eat:

  • Eat a good breakfast, porridge made with water.
  • Chicken soup is restorative & nourishing Although I personally do not eat meat, I often suggest to patients with similar diets to consider making an exception at certain times of their lives.



  • Eat foods that are in season.  Chinese medicine holds great store by the importance of life’s cycles, harmony with nature and balance and recommends eating foods that are appropriate for the time of year.
  • Sprouting:  Sprouts: the natural vitamin and mineral boost! They are inexpensive, easy to grow and very nutritious. Eating a variety of sprouts can provide you with the right amount of all 8 essential animo acids.
  • Know the difference between good and bad fats: 

Good fats: 

Monounsaturated fats:  these lower total cholesterol and can help with weight loss.  They are found in:  nuts, including walnuts, almonds & pistachios, avocados and olive oil.

Polyunsaturated fats:  these also lower total cholesterol and can be found in:  Fish oil, including salmon and other oily fish (these are omega 3 fatty acids), sunflower, rapeseed & flaxseed oil.

Bad fats:

Saturated fats:  mostly bad when taken in excess including:  red meat, egg yolks, cheese & coconut oil.

Trans fats:  Avoid these!  They are used to preserve foods for longer and are found in:   chips, fried foods, pre-packaged pop-corn made in microwave & some margarines.

Margarine is made by a process known as hydrogenation, which uses the cheapest fats and mixes them together with metal particles.  It contains chemicals which are damaging; treating yourself to butter on occasion instead is a far healthier option.

Note:  Olive oil should never be heated over 180 degrees

5. How & what to drink:

  • Water has become a feature of many health fads in that people think they need to drink vast quantities and do so all day long from large plastic bottles.  Water is important but you can get your intake through other means such as soups & teas.  Don’t flood your system with gallons of water.  Drink when you feel thirsty, when you have a dry mouth, a headache or if you feel dizzy when you stand up.
  • Coffee:  too much caffeine has been linked to early miscarriage so please do limit your intake of any caffeinated drinks to one cup a day at most if you are trying to conceive.
  • Tea:  herbal tea is an amazing drink and there are literally thousands of research papers demonstrating its health benefits.
  • Don’t flood your system with gallons of water.  Drink when you feel thirsty, when you have a dry mouth, a headache or if you feel dizzy when you stand up.
  • A diet that is rich in nuts, seeds and berries provides essential fatty acids and moisture is what the body needs.  And of course there are times when you need to increase your water intake such as in very hot weather, when you sweat more or during a cycle of IVF.
  • Don’t drink when you eat as it will flood your digestive system & dilute digestive enzymes.
  • Avoid dry foods such as rice cakes and health food bars.
  • A cup of room temperature water with a slice of lemon followed by porridge will give you a good quota of fluid.
  • Don’t drink water from the fridge – drink warm water away from meals.

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