If you consider yourself a health-conscious person and have trouble conceiving, you may be interested in holistic fertility treatment.

But what is it? And does it work?

We get into everything you need to know here.

What is holistic fertility treatment?

With holistic fertility treatment, lifestyle factors are heavily discussed as other mind-body connection behaviors can positively impact overall health and fertility. In other words, holistic fertility treatment means a medical and natural overall health approach to pregnancy achievement.

Holistic fertility treatment starts the same way as traditional fertility treatment. Find a fertility clinic near you to be evaluated by a provider. One of the first steps you need is to have a pelvic ultrasound and bloodwork for further evaluation in order to determine appropriate treatment options. This may include support for timed intercourse, Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), or In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).

In addition to blood tests, ultrasounds, and hormonal medications - which are significantly reduced for patients who undergo minimal-stimulation, or mini-IVF when compared to traditional IVF - holistic fertility treatment includes:

  • An emphasis on a nutritious, fertility-focused diet
  • Acupuncture treatment
  • Fertility supplements
  • An emphasis on low to moderate-intensity exercise
  • An emphasis on stress reduction and improvement in sleep
  • An emphasis on mindfulness and meditation
  • An emphasis on emotional and social support

Why are the elements of holistic fertility essential?

The following elements are critical to a holistic fertility treatment plan. For recommended local acupuncturists that we partner with and a list of recommended fertility supplements, please ask Dr. Davis during your appointment.

A healthy diet

A healthy diet is vital to your overall health and fertility, mainly because food significantly affects your hormone levels. Specifically, diets high in refined carbohydrates and sugar elevate blood sugar levels, increase insulin resistance, and alter hormonal functions vital to growing and ovulating eggs in women.

Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal disorder, are often told that weight loss and a healthy diet with high protein, healthy fats, and low in carbs is the first line of defense against the condition to help regulate hormones and promote ovulation.

In general, focus on whole food ingredients and cooking at home. This will help decrease processed foods, essentially focusing on lean proteins, such as poultry or fish, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Finally, eat mindfully—check in with your body and stop when you are full.

Try not to eat just because you are stressed—follow your body's clues and see the improvement yourself!

Fertility Acupuncture

Fertility Acupuncture dates back to Chinese practices as far as 2,500 years ago. It aims to restore the balance and energy flow in your body so that it can function properly. Placing needles or lasers on various parts of the body helps to increase blood flow, which fertility advocates believe can support the growth of eggs and the uterine lining, overall increasing the chances of success during fertility treatment. Acupuncture can also be very helpful in regulating irregular periods or improving painful periods.

Fertility Supplements

Fertility supplements can also be beneficial to help optimize one’s health. Supplements are vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, and other naturally occurring compounds that can be absent or limited in a patient's natural production or diet intake. Since they positively affect fertility, they are recommended when trying to conceive.

Dr. Davis' Fertility Supplement Recommendations

At Pearl Mini-IVF, Dr. Anne Davis suggests (though not for all patients):

  • Prenatal vitamin with folate instead of folic acid, which is harder for some to metabolize
  • CoQ10, an antioxidant that supports egg quality
  • N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), is a powerful antioxidant and protects the body from oxidative stress
  • Vitamins D and K, most people are deficient, and these nutrients are essential for fertility and healthy pregnancy outcomes
  • Fish oil for egg quality, hormone production, as well as decreasing inflammation
  • L-Glutamine and pre/probiotics, which promote a healthy gut and decrease inflammation

Reducing Stress

Reducing stress is one of the most important things you can do for your health because stress has a significant effect on every part of your body, including your reproductive system. While stress is inevitable, chronic stress experienced daily, coupled with a lack of coping mechanisms, can really wreak havoc on your body. It can contribute to a lack of sleep, negative cognitive patterns, a lack of resilience, inflammation in your body, and serious medical conditions. It should also be noted that stress during fertility treatment is extremely common and normal because the process is, well, stressful – this is all the more reason to try to limit stress or actively find ways to reduce stress.

Four great ways to reduce stress, gain muscle, lower inflammation, and support mental and overall health include exercises such as yoga or strength training, meditation, and mindfulness. Exercise and movement improve your health and release endorphins and feel-good hormones that reduce stress. Yoga, mindfulness, and meditation also have an enormous impact on stress management. They help you connect to your emotions at the moment and feel grounded instead of rushing to feel a host of difficult emotions to navigate during an already stressful time period.

Emotional and Social Support

Emotional and social support is another great aspect very important to holistic fertility treatment, particularly because it can be an overwhelming and isolating time for many patients. Research has shown that sharing and communicating with loved ones help you feel a part of a social community and is vital to well-being. We are, after all, social animals, and support from others literally helps us live longer. Did you know that Nobel-Prize-winning research shows that people who maintain strong social connections have longer and healthier lives based on an indicator in their DNA called telomeres? It's true! Talk to your friends and family, go out for dinner, laugh, dance, and spend time with people.

Does a holistic fertility approach work?

Yes. It is important to note that focusing on all lifestyle aspects for at least three months before conception provides the most benefit.

Overall, it is always best to be evaluated by a licensed healthcare provider to learn what is best for you. Mental and physical well-being are essential for successful fertility treatment.

At Pearl Mini-IVF, our team is committed to holistic fertility treatment and will talk to you at length about how to achieve it during your time with us. Our care team is like a second family – we listen, cry, and celebrate with you. At Pearl- we are here to support you!