OK, so you got pregnant pretty quickly trying for baby number one, but it’s not seeming quite as easy the second (or third) time around. As a rule in my practice—I hate the word “infertility”—but what according to Resolve.org, secondary infertility is defined as the “inability to become pregnant, or to carry a pregnancy to term, following the birth of one or more biological children.”
Typically the rule of thumb is that if you are under the age of 35 and have been “trying” for 12 consecutive menstrual cycles you fall into this category. Alternatively, if you are over 35 and have been “trying” for 6 consecutive menstrual cycles without success you also fall into this category. For both, the recommended course of action is to see a fertility specialist and get some tests run on both you and your partner.
Being in the field of Traditional Oriental Medicine (TOM) and specializing in what I like to call “fertility enhancement” I help women and their partners (of all ages) reach optimal fertility through a combination of techniques. I use acupuncture, Chinese herbs, lifestyle and dietary recommendations to help get women pregnant and make sure they carry a healthy pregnancy to term. That’s not to say that I don’t encourage the use of western medicine’s assisted reproductive techniques. But I also encourage women to give my more holistic approach at least 3-4 menstrual cycles before heading down the path of expensive, time consuming and emotionally exhausting infertility treatments.
Acupuncture combined with Chinese herbs, lifestyle and dietary changes can not only help regulate a women’s hormones and menstrual cycles but it can also help bring on timely ovulation and improve the quality of a women’s “eggs” (technically they are called follicles), her uterine lining and her overall state of health and well-being. As well, this combined approach can help improve a man’s sperm count and quality.
The added benefit of the “fertility enhancement” approach is that is helps reduce stress and anxiety and from a TOM perspective—it helps bring your energy into balance and allows your body to function optimally so that you are emotionally and physically open to conceiving.
So what are some things you can do right now to help increase your odds of getting pregnant? In addition to getting yourself some acupuncture (to find an acupuncturist in your area, go to NCCAOM.org or ask a friend for a referral), here are my top 5 recommendations:
- Change your diet—focus on eating foods as close to their natural state as possible. We have a saying in TOM, “If it sits on your counter and it doesn’t go bad, don’t eat it.” Eating lots of green vegetables and nutrient dense foods that contain good quality fats will improve the quality of your health, your “eggs” and helps balance your hormone levels. And, have your partner do the same as it will help improve his sperm quality.
- Meditate regularly. As I say in my first book, taking 5-10 minutes of “chill out and check in” time each day can dramatically reduce your stress levels and help bring your body and your hormones back into balance.
- Have fun in the bedroom. Have sex because you want to—not because you are “trying” to conceive. Keep it sexy. I know schedules are tight and exhausting but baby making should be fun. When it feels forced it is nearly impossible to have your energy or “Qi” in line with your husbands and this does not bode well for conception. So try your best to enjoy yourself and your partner.
- Have sex at the right time. This is a quite obvious one however I am often surprised when women are trying to conceive and not having sex at the “right time”. Keeping track of your ovulation by either charting your basal body temperature or using ovulation predictor kits can help you pinpoint the most optimal time to conceive. Ideally you should start having sex a few days before ovulation happens and have it every 36-48 hours for 7-10 days straight.
- See yourself pregnant. Visualize yourself with a very pregnant belly, waddling around and excited for the newest addition to your family. I really believe that visualizing ourselves where we want to be helps us get there.
Of course, if you have been “trying” for a while and it’s just not happening you should get in and see a reproductive specialist to get some tests completed, however I think its imperative that you also work on improving you and your partners overall quality or mental and emotional health. For your body to be in the best place to conceive it’s ideal to be in optimal health.
Lastly, be sure to keep an eye out for my latest book, Yes You Can Get Pregnant: The Diet That Will Improve Your Fertility Now & Into Your 40’s, which is coming out this month and can really help maximize your fertility!
Licensed acupuncturist, herbalist and book author Aimee E. Raupp is a women’s health and fertility expert. Her growing practice focuses on improving health and beauty, preventing disease and increasing fertility among women whose health and wellness are challenged by the demands, stressors and imbalances of Western culture. Find her on Facebook and Twitter @aimeeraupp.