Why You Should Eat Fats to Improve Fertility

Why you should eat fats to improve fertility

Essential fatty acids are an important factor in fertility. A balanced ratio promotes healthy skin and hair growth, adrenal activity and immunity, healthy blood, nerves and arteries, and are vital for the transport and breakdown of cholesterol. When essential fatty acids are low disorders such as dry skin and hair, frequent colds and flus, low body weight, impaired growth, and infertility may occur.

So, what impact do fats have on fertility?

Fats cells (adipocytes) assist in the production of oestrogen — the hormone involved in the production and maintenance of reproductive functions, healthy gene expression, and maintenance of healthy cholesterol levels.

Since fat is essential in the production of hormones, too little fat in the diet can therefore disrupt the menstrual cycle and interfere with normal ovulation.

Healthy fats are also essential as they help deliver fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) which are important for a healthy pregnancy.

By boosting healthy fats (when low) we provide our bodies with the building materials for various hormones that are essential for fertility.

What are the right types of fats?

A balanced ratio of omega-6 and -3 fatty acids is best. However, there is often an overconsumption of omega-6 and not enough of omega-3 which can lead to inflammatory processes in the body. The omega-6 fatty acids that are present in the diet, are often of poor quality. This is reflected in common cooking oils which are often rancid, refined, and contain trans-fatty acids due to high-temperature processing.

Making a switch to quality oils and selecting them based on desired cooking methods is essential. For dressings use quality cold pressed polyunsaturated oils to avoid free radical production. For cooking saturated fats should be used as they are the most stable and do not become rancid as easily. These include animal fats such as butter or ghee, and plant derived oils such as coconut, cottonseed and peanut oil.

Simple elements of dietary change can have a big impact on our quality of health. To ensure the right levels of omega 3 fatty acids, incorporate a variety of the following: 

  • Fish (highest sources are salmon, mackerel, sardine, herring, anchovy, tuna, and rainbow trout) 200-300g per week should be a sufficient amount for healthy intake. Fish oil tablets capsules can be a simple alternative too.
     
  • Nuts and seeds (flax seed, chia seed, hemp seed, pumpkin seed, and walnuts) contain alpha-linolenic acid (a fatty acid found in certain plants) which is a great vegetarian source of omega-3.
     
  • Dark green vegetables (kale, collards, parsley, wheat grass, barley grass) are great sources because all green chlorophyll rich foods contain alpha-linolenic acid.

Sources:

Levine, H 2016, ‘Your Fertility: A puberty-to-menopause handbook covering the facts of life every woman needs to know’, Health, vol. 30, no. 2m pp.89-95, viewed 7 June 2017.

Mumford, SL, Chavarro, JE, Zhang, C, Sjaarda, LA, Pollack, AZ, Schliep, KC, Michels, KA, Zarek, SM, Plowden, TC, Radin, RG, Messer, LC, Frankel, RA & Wactawski-Wende, J 2016, ‘Dietary fat intake and reproductive hormones concentration and ovulation in regularly menstruating women’, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 103, no. 3, pp.868-877, viewed 7 June 2017.

Pitchford, P 2002, Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, 3rd edn, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley.

The Benefits of Acupuncture During IVF for Men and Women

Chinese medicine takes into consideration the overall health of the individual, as the individual after all will be the one producing the healthy eggs or sperm for the IVF process.

Ideally your acupuncturist will start treatment at least 3 months before your IVF cycle to help correct imbalances within the menstrual cycle, or to improve sperm quality or motility. It is also important to address imbalances such as digestive health, emotional disharmony, or poor sleep as these facets of health can impact on the reproductive system in Chinese medicine.

Benefits of Acupuncture

THE BENEFITS OF ACUPUNCTURE DURING IVF FOR MEN

Treatment is all about sperm quality and quantity. As previously mentioned it is important to address sperm health AT LEAST 3 months before trying to conceive due to the time it takes to grow healthy sperm. Addressing male fertility may seem more simple than female fertility as there is no monthly cycle to work around and the focus is based several months before IVF starts. It is important to remember that addressing sperm health through quantity, morphology, and motility is based on optimising Kidney Jing (the genetic material passed on to offspring). The good news for men is that once a diagnosis is made herbal formulas can be prescribed which will lessen the need for frequent acupuncture sessions.

There are a multitude of factors in daily life that can influence your swimmers, so it is important to understand the effects of healthy diet and lifestyle factors during this period. Your acupuncturist will discuss with you any areas for adjustment based on your specific pattern of health and additional relevant factors. 

THE BENEFITS OF ACUPUNCTURE DURING IVF FOR WOMEN

Acupuncture treatments at this stage are focused on improving QI and blood flow to the ovaries to enhance follicle growth and quality, as well as endometrial thickness. Diet and lifestyle may be addressed to ensure the quality of blood is optimal and body tissues are nutrient rich, and that the emotional landscape is even to help make the processes of IVF as easy as possible.

The second phase of acupuncture treatment occurs between trigger and egg pickup (roughly day 11-14). This is a small window (around 36 hours) where the ovaries are triggered to mimic ovulation in preparation for collection. As this is often a more tense time, treatments are focused on relieving any stress or anxiety, or other side-effects such as insomnia, dizziness, headaches, abdominal pain, and nausea.

The third phase of acupuncture treatment occurs after egg collection (roughly day 14-16) and is aimed at reducing the effects of medication by reducing swelling and abdominal bloating. Directing energy and blood to the abdomen is also thought to promote healing, as well as prepare the endometrium for transfer of the embryo.

IVF Cycle Treatments

The next phase of the IVF cycle is embryo transfer (roughly day 19). Acupuncture treatment may be offered on the same day both before and after transfer. This depends entirely on the wellbeing of the individual, as acupuncture treatments are aimed at relaxing the patient and reducing the stress response to encourage implantation of the embryo during IVF.

The final stage is implantation. This occurs roughly 4-8 days after the embryo transfer, around the time the embryo would naturally implant in the uterus. The focus of acupuncture treatment is directing blood to the uterus to ensure there is a thick, nutrient rich lining for the embryo to attach and grow. Relaxation is also a key focus to ensure energy isn’t being unnecessarily diverted during the IVF cycle.

Another benefit of acupuncture treatment for IVF is being able to explain how the cycle is unfolding to an acupuncturist, describe if and where it is varied from past cycles, and how the individuals wellness is in general. It can be very valuable information whilst going through the IVF process. Acupuncturists can offer opinions, advice, and emotional support when partners are less available. Acupuncturists can also answer any queries you may have and guide you through the process to ensure your IVF treatment goes as smoothly as possible.

SOURCES: 
Lyttleton, J 2013, Treatment of Infertility with Chinese Medicine, 2nd edn, Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, Edinburgh.
Maciocia, G 1998, Obstetrics & Gynecology in Chinese Medicine, Churchill Livingstone, New York.
Szmelskyj, I & Aquilina, L 2015, Acupuncture for IVF and Assisted Reproduction: An integrated approach to treatment and management, Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, Edinburgh.

 

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