Saturday, October 16, 2010

Increasing Female Fertility with Traditional Medicine - Listen to the Old Wives #1

As one of the only creatures on the planet with full-time sexuality, increasing or decreasing fertility is something that women have done as soon as we became conscious. Conventional medicine in general is still so very far behind us in fertility awareness. To be fair, though, we have thousands of years more experience than they do, and they only started about a century ago. They have a great deal of 'catch up' to play before they can start to match us, especially since they generally insist on starting from scratch, rather than respect and build on our previous work.

As has often been noted in traditional medicine; foods, personal habits, and other alterable factors play a huge role in female fertility.  In one study, a more than 70% increase in fertility was recorded just by changing diet!  "Among the most common causes of unexplained infertility in women is "ovulatory dysfunction" -- an umbrella term encompassing problems with ovulation. Though a number of factors can be responsible, many doctors now believe diet is key. In a study of some 17,000 women conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, researchers were able to define a group of "fertility foods" able to improve conception odds. Which dietary tenets were key to increasing fertility?
  • Eating more monounsaturated fats (like olive oil) and less trans fats (like the kind found in many baked goods or fast foods).
  • Increasing intake of vegetable protein (like soy), while reducing animal protein (like red meat).
  • Eating more high fiber, low-glycemic foods -- like whole grains, vegetables, and some fruits, while reducing the intake of refined carbohydrates and sugars.
  • Consuming moderate amounts of high-fat dairy products -- like ice cream, whole milk, and cheese.
Jorge Chavarro, MD, a researcher in the study, believes diet made a difference because the majority of women experiencing ovulatory dysfunction were also suffering from undiagnosed or subclinical PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), a condition related to insulin resistance that also affects ovulation. "It responds well to diet, so that could be one of the reasons these foods were so helpful," says Chavarro, who translated his medical study findings into a book called The Fertility Diet. Pollack believes it's worth giving the diet a try but says, "You should not depend on it alone -- make it just one part of your overall efforts to conceive."

Now if you choose to increase your healthy fat with dairy, it should be organic, since the extra chemicals and anti-bacs from conventional factory farms have been shown to accumulate in your breast and other fat tissue.  So-called stress reduction is another key factor, for so many reasons.  "If you're tempted to handle your stress by smoking or drinking alcohol, experts say don't. Numerous studies have shown that smoking contributes to both male and female infertility and can even impair the outcome of fertility treatments. Excessive alcohol consumption can impair ovulation in women and sperm production in men. "  And caffeine, naturally.  Caffeine increases a body's nervous state, as well as robbing it of precious vitamins and minerals.

Most women are not nearly as familar with thier own bodies and cycles as they should be, and traditionally have been in the past.  If you wish to get pregnant, and are having difficulty, it is even more vital that you make use of the best of tradtional and modern techniques.  The current favorites for ease and effectiveness are and Fertility Awareness.



When most women think of altering fertility with traditional techniques, they think of herbs.  The book Sister Moon Lodge lists a bunch. So does Susan Weed's The Childbearing Year. Jeannie Parvati has Hygeia, a Woman's Herbal.

All of these herbs come in raw form, which can be made into an infusion, decoction, cream, syrup, etc. It can be simply ground up, in capsule pill form, which is either just ground up or concentrated, and tablet, which is always concentrated. The price goes up with each process.

One of the cheats of CAM is to put the ground herbs in your espresso maker or your French press coffee machine to ingest. (It's a professional secret. I currently have Ginseng and Cascara in my special blend. If you come to my house for coffee, ask for regular grind.) It doesn't work so well in the drip kinds, of course. A regular daily serving of Saw Palmetto or Wild Yam in your morning coffee or tea helps you keep it as part of your regular routine without changing your lifestyle pattern at all.

Saw palmetto berries helps cure prostate in men but in women, Saw Palmetto pseudo-estrogen phyto enzymes help increase your fertility, with the added bonus of increasing your breast size and 'womanly attributes'. (Pseudo-estrogen phyto enzymes are usually referred to as simply 'estrogen' in CAM.)  Saw palmetto will increase the chance of girl children, while taking excess bioavailable zinc before fertilization increases the chances of a boy. Licorice and black and blue cohosh are also estrogen-like. Blach Cohosh is considered a uterine tonic. If you are concerned about breast cancer, Red Raspberry leaf is recommended over the phytoestrogen herbs like Licorice or Black Cohosh. Dong Quai is an excellent female hormone balancer, and highly recommended for women's complaints. Wild Yam is progesterone and dirt cheap in raw herb form. When it is taken internally, most of the beneficial hormones are destroyed by the liver. Wild Yam creams are promoted as the answer to be absorbed through the skin. However, they are very expensive, require the area of contact to be changed frequently, and really don't work much better than taking more raw Yam internally. Vitex, or chaste tree berry, is one of the ultimate womb toners. It must be taken every day for six months at least to be effective, but it has helped cure everything from endo to laser burnt womb tissue.

(I sell most of these on-line in the raw form and can find almost anything else you need.  Please see my shop for individual herb listings for more detailed information on each one. )

Individual breakdowns:

Dong Quai is an excellent female hormone balancer, and highly recommended for women's complaints.

Wild Yam.

Black Cohosh treats hot flashes and other symptoms, as well as a uterine toner.

Saw Palmetto. "Doctors now use saw palmetto to normalize sex hormones; they found that it increases sex drive in women and revitalizes their reproductive organs. ...Oddly, it's prescribed both for those who crave sex too much and for those with no sexual appetite at all. I rely on saw palmetto in my clinical practice. I find that my patients turn up looking sleek and well and feeling, shall we say, fully operational. "

Licorice root. "Many women's herbal formulas include licorice for its estrogenic properties as an aid to normalize and regulate hormone levels during menopause."

Red Raspberry leaf. If you are concerned about breast cancer, this one is recommended over the phytoestrogen herbs like Licorice or Black Cohosh.

Vitex, or chaste tree berry. "Chasteberry works primarily through the pituitary gland to help indirectly regulate the production of sex hormones. Chasteberry also contains estrogen and progesterone-like compounds that are thought to alter the secretions of other sex hormones."

HRT links:

So how are these different from the hormone fertility treatments in the clinics?  Other than the obvious cost, that is...  Hormones control most of your bodies functions. Messing with them in the chemical form will inevitably start your body systems to break down. Although they can be found naturally in plants and used to promote good health, synthetic derivatives have to slightly altered from the originals to be patented by the drug companies. Synthetics and natural hormones are not the same, but because the synthetics can fool your receptors, they mimic your body's natural chemicals and can wreak havoc on it. 

Another vital issue is the solubility of the hormones. Ingested hormones normally largely break down in the liver. To ensure that they do not, the manufacturers of artifical hormones make them relatively insoluble. Just another one of the ways that the chemical stuff is different from the ones found in nature. The bulk of these created hormones then pass through the body largely unchanged, and end up in the excretions of the animals that have ingested them (including humans and livestock), which ultimately makes it into our water table. There have been numerous studies linking synthetic hormone production with mutated sexless fish, and increasingly with the lower sperm count and general increase in infertility of human males. As well as the startling increase in female and male cancers. I found many links on this part of the issue, especially in the livestock articles. People seem less reluctant to quote the stats and draw conclusions from animals than humans.  But that is not the focus of this particular article...

If you wish to get pregnant, are pregnant, or have children and are having problems with the conventional medical system, regardless of the issues involved (and we ALL have some issue or other), seek out your local midwife. She is your greatest source of pregnancy, motherhood and child related info imaginable. My midwife has a huge library, a meeting with other mothers every month with kids up to three years old, lactation consultant services, and all the safety, comfort, and support I could ever want. I found a diaper service, birth photographer, and many other eco and safe products just from looking on her bulletin board.

Since I'm currently in Alberta, Canada, here's the ones ones I know, and they should help with keywords or links to find what you need where you are.

Find a midwife or doula by province.

Midwifery in Alberta and in Canada.

The Old Wives, or Wisewomen and midwives, that used to give this advice have been much maligned by the newcomer of 'modern' medicine.  Thousands of years of tradition is not primitive, ineffective superstition.  It is empirical treatment of the most experienced and tested kind, and with real human results, not merely tested on other animals.  Dismissing such profound and deeply investigated knowledge has only decreased our collective hertitage and skills.  Before you consider risker and less proven treatments, consider the advice of the Old Wives.  There is a reason they were given those respected titles.