Stress and Fertility – Increase Your Chances of Getting Pregnant




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Stress and Fertility

Being Stressed Can Lower Your Chances of Getting Pregnant

The stress you feel in your day to day life causes  your body to produce a variety of different hormones, many of which are not helpful if you are trying to get pregnant.

Adrenaline, one of the stress hormones, signals your body to be ready to run. This is known as “fight, flight, or freeze” response.  This is an evolutionary response that was extremely valuable and kept your prehistoric relatives safe and alive but not so valuable now.  The chance of you being chased down by a bear is very slim but our body doesn’t know the difference between the fight or flight response due to an actual bear or something non life threatening.    Of course, some the the stress you feel in your day to day life can make your life a bit miserable, but you won’t die from that.  Your body doesn’t know the difference though and will produce the same fertility unfriendly hormones in both situations.

Negative Effects of Stress on Fertility

For women, ongoing stress can cause hormone imbalances. If your reproductive hormones are not being produced in the correct amounts, ovulation could be impacted or your uterine lining may not develop enough to sustain a pregnancy.  For men, studies show that stress can have a negative impact on sperm motility, sperm count and sperm morphology.   The stress that both you and your partner experience on a daily basis can make getting pregnant more difficult than it should be.

If you are overly stressed, your libido will probably suffer as well. Honestly, it’s pretty difficult to be “in the mood” when your body’s hormones are saying you might encounter something that needs to be fought or run from. Ultimately, if you are not having sex, the chances of getting pregnant is slim to none.

If your body thinks that a fight is impending, it will not be cooperative in your baby making endeavors. Really, why would you want a baby if a bear could get you both. Yes, I know, there is no bear, but the chemicals and hormones your body pumps out when you are under stress say that there might be!   While this response is valuable when there is a life or death situation, day to day stress doesn’t warrant this bodily reaction. If you are trying to get pregnant, helping your body de-stress will increase your chances of getting pregnant.

Reduce Your Stress By Adopting These Practices

There are many ways you can reduce the stress you encounter in your life. These practices will help calm your mind, allowing your body’s stress response to reset itself. The journey from high stress to healthy reaction to life can be a bit hard but every positive change you make will help retrain your automatic stress responses.

 

Meditation:

Numerous scientific studies have shown that meditation can be an effective way to reduce stress and help build resilience to future stressful situations. Circle and Bloom has a great free meditation that will get you on the path to fertility relaxation.

There are some more specific  stress reducing mediation programs available too.

 

Exercise:

In addition to helping improve your overall health, regular exercise can also be an effective stress buster. When you exercise, your brain produces feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins. As the endorphins in your body increase, they help counteract the “the bear is going to get me!” adrenaline that stress causes. Less adrenaline means less feelings of stress.

 





Counseling:

Sometimes, everything just seems too overwhelming and stress inducing. A trained therapist can help you help you learn how to effectively deal with the stressors in your life.  When you are in the midst of a stressful situation, chance are you are not seeing things all too clearly. Talking with an uninvolved third party can help bring clarity and hopefully a plan that will help you move forward.

 

Sleep:

Aim for between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night. When you don’t or can’t get this much sleep, it makes you less able to deal with the normal day to day stress. For women, erratic sleep cycles can throw your hormones off as well. Definitely not what you want if you are trying to get pregnant. You may have to implement some of the suggestions above first to help lower your stress. When you are super stressed, chances are it is making you unable to actually fall asleep as your mind replays all the stress on a loop.

 

 

 

Resources:

Effects of work and life stress on semen quality.
Janevic T, Kahn LG, Landsbergis P, Cirillo PM, Cohn BA, Liu X, Factor-Litvak P.
Fertility and sterility. 2014 May 23; 102(2): 530-538

Effects of stress on reproduction in non-rodent mammals: the role of glucocorticoids and sex differences.
Tilbrook AJ, Turner AI, Clarke IJ.
Rev Reprod. 2000 May;5(2):105-13. Review.

A prospective study of psychosocial stress and fertility in women.
K A Sanders N W Bruce
Human Reproduction, Volume 12, Issue 10, 1 October 1997, Pages 2324–2329,https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/12.10.2324

Effectiveness of a meditation-based stress reduction program in the treatment of anxiety disorders.
Kabat-Zinn J, Massion AO, Kristeller J, Peterson LG, Fletcher KE, Pbert L, Lenderking WR, Santorelli SF.
Am J Psychiatry. 1992 Jul;149(7):936-43.

Conceiving a Baby Boy – Tips to Increase Your Odds




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Ways to increase your chances of having a baby boy.

Whether this is your first baby or your third, you may have your heart set on having a baby boy.  Most of the time, you will have a 50 / 50 chance of that happening.   If you follow some of the suggestions below, you may be able to boost the possibility of having a boy beyond the 50% mark.

How Your Baby’s Gender is Determined

The sex of your baby is determine by the chromosomes  from his mother (her egg) and father (his sperm). The mother’s genetic contribution is a 2 X chromosomes (XX). The father supplies an X chromosome and a Y chromosome.

In order for you to have a baby boy,  the mother supplies a X chromosome and the father donates one of his x chromosomes. Male children will typically have the same chromosome pair as his father, XY. All this happens automatically and you usually don’t have much control in how the chromosomes combine.

 

 

If you only have two possible genders that are available, statistically, your chance of having a boy is 50%, sort of like a coin toss.   Depending on how much money you have, your choices would be a bit limited.  You significantly raise your chances of conceiving a baby of your gender preference, but the path will not be cheap or easy and involves many fertility specialists.    We will cover those options below, but will start with the most common and least expensive ways you can try to influence the gender of your baby to be.

 

Understanding the Shettles Method for Gender Selection

For over two decades, countless couples have relied upon the Shettles Method to influence the sex of their baby. When used properly, the Shettles method claims a success rate between 75 and 90 percent in conceiving the desired gender.

Throughout his book, Dr. Landrum Shettles gives couples techniques to promote the conception of a boy. While the basic outline of the method is below, Dr. Shettles’ book is much more thorough.

The Shettles Method is premised on the idea that boy sperm are smaller in size and less robust but are quicker than girl sperm. (The premise that the male sperm are faster has been refuted by the medical community since Shettles published his work.) The recommendations below derive from Shettles’ understanding.

 

Timing Sex Close to Ovulation

There are three primary ways to time your ovulation properly, including:





  1. Cervical Mucus Charting

    Charting cervical mucus daily is essential to track ovulation. Prior to ovulating, cervical mucus will be elastic and much more watery than usual, resembling raw egg whites. You should chart your cervical mucus for more than a month to increase your chances of predicting ovulation properly.

  2. Charting Your Basal Body Temperature (BBT)

    When used in conjunction with charting your cervical mucus, you can greatly increase your chances of having a boy. To chart your BBT, you need a basal thermometer. You will use this thermometer each morning directly after waking up and prior to doing anything else. Your body temperature will increase after ovulation. Because you’re looking to know when ovulation occurs, it’s important to chart this for a few months before you begin trying to get pregnant. This will help you determine the right times to have intercourse.

  3. Ovulation Predictor Kits

    One final way pinpoint when you will ovulate is by using ovulation predictor kits. The kits are designed to measure when luteinizing hormone, or LH, has been released. This is important because it shows you when ovulation is about to occur. Testing should ideally occur twice daily to best determine the time that this occurs. The best times to test are once between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and once between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. Once you get a positive result, ovulation will occur about 24- 36  hours later.

 

Timing Intercourse and its Frequency

As was mentioned above, the best time to have intercourse if you want a baby boy is no more than 24 hours before ovulation and no later than 12 hours after ovulation has occurred. Boy sperm will reach the egg more quickly near ovulation because the cervical mucus becomes slippery and less acidic, providing a favorable environment for the boy sperm’s survival.

 

Whelan Method for Gender Prediction

In her book, Boy Or Girl?, Dr. Whelan suggests that you have sex 4 to 6 days before you ovulate, in order to conceive a male baby. In order to determine when you will be ovulating, she suggests that you chart your BBT temperatures for several months before trying to conceive. The data collected during this time will help you pinpoint when your temperature typically rises about .5 degree – an indication of when you have actually ovulated. Once you know when you are ovulating, you can calculate backwards to help you have sex at the appropriate time to have sex to get pregnant with a boy.

For both the Shettles method and Dr. Whelan’s method, reading the books so you understand the steps involved in order to conceive a child of the desired sex.

Keep in mind, that these methods are not guaranteeing that you will have a boy. Dr Shettles method claims a 80-90% success rate and Whelan’s method has a claimed success rate of 65% when trying to conceive a boy baby. All the methods appear to do is increase your chances of having a boy so try the one that seems the best to you.

Other Gender Selection Tools

You can also try other methods to increase your chances beyond the 50% average that is normally there. They have the same sort of success rate as the books above, but they give you more alternatives to try and sway the gender game in your favor.

Chinese Gender Chart

This chart is supposedly an ancient chinese way of helping you have the baby of your preferred gender. The chart is rumored to have been found in a Chinese tomb over 700 years ago. The Labor of Love has two versions of this chart that you can try. Based on the polling of the people who tried them out, the average accuracy rate is about 65%.

Using an Ovulation Calendar

Babyhopes has a free ovulation calculator that provides guidelines as to when to have sex if you are trying to have a boy. You will need to know how long your cycles are and when your last period arrived in order to use this effectively.

The Big “O” – Orgasm

Orgasms during intercourse should be embraced when trying to conceive a boy because the vaginal environment will become more alkaline following the orgasm, a fact that is favorable to the boy sperm. Additionally, an orgasm will help the boy sperm move up into the cervix and toward the ovum.

 

Conceiving a Boy Can Have a High Success Rate – For a High Cost

If you are undergoing infertility treatments which include an IUI or IVF, you can possibly also add  preimplantation genetic testing of the embryos. This testing typically checks for chromosomal and genetic disorders but the sex of the embryos can also be determined.  Depending on your doctor and clinic, you may be able to say that you only want male embryos transferred.   This genetic testing is almost 100% accurate in determining the gender. Due to ethical reasons, you may have to really shop around to find a practice that is okay with this.

There are a couple of potential issues with using these procedures to make sure you have a baby boy. Cost is a big barrier for most people.  The cost for the IVF with the added genetic testing can run upwards of $20,000.  In addition to the cost, you will have to subject yourself to all sorts of poking and prodding.  In order to harvest your eggs for the procedure, you will have to take fertility drugs to get them ready.  The medications can have unpleasant side effect.  The egg retrieval can be painful as well.

In addition to these, you might have a problem finding doctors / practices that are willing to allow gender selection like this. Using assisted reproductive technology (ART) to select the gender of your baby is currently a very hot topic with supporters both for and against using assisted reproductive technology (ART) to select the gender of your baby.

Bariatric Surgery and Conceiving a Child




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Obesity is a rising problem in the western world. It is estimated that over one in four women of childbearing age is currently obese. Doctors believe that percentage will continue to rise over the next several years. Obesity makes it harder for women to conceive and also creates the potential for complications during pregnancy.

An increasing number of women who struggle with their weight are turning to bariatric surgery. There are several types of bariatric surgery. Each is designed to effectively decrease the size of the stomach, either by removing part of it or by implanting a band or similar medical device. While bariatric surgery poses its own set of risks for those who want to conceive a child, current medical research shows that conceiving a child after bariatric surgery is safer than conceiving a child while obese.

Some of the more common complications experienced by pregnant women who have had bariatric surgery include:

  • Band slippage
  • Band migration
  • Band leakage
  • Spontaneous miscarriage (for the 18 months immediately following bariatric surgery)

Obstetricians and gynecologists recommend waiting at least a year after having bariatric surgery before trying to conceive a child. Roughly one in four pregnancies within a year of bariatric surgery result in complications related to the bariatric surgery. When you do conceive a child, regardless of how long you wait, make sure that your health care providers are aware of your bariatric surgery.

Doctors recommend that women who have had bariatric surgery and want to conceive a child-after the year’s wait, of course-should consult their health care professionals regarding fertility options, nutrition, vitamin supplementation, and weight gain and loss during and following pregnancy.





Doctors stress that the potential effects on conception and pregnancy should not hinder women who struggle with morbid obesity from seeking help through bariatric surgery. The risks of morbid obesity, both to your ability to carry a baby to term and for your own long term health, generally outweigh the potential risks of bariatric surgery.

If you struggle with obesity and haven’t yet undergone bariatric surgery, talk to your doctor about your desire to conceive a child. She will be able to advise you regarding whether bariatric surgery is the best weight loss option for you.

 

 

Nutritional Help for Cervical Mucus




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Citrus Fruit and Vitamin C

 

If you’ve been trying to conceive for any amount of time, chances are pretty good that you’ve heard of cervical mucus. You know, for example, that this substance is produced by a woman’s body, that it peaks during ovulation, and that it can help with conception. You know that cervical mucus aids the sperm in getting to it’s destination, where it can fertilize an egg. What you may not know is that there are certain nutritional ingredients that can be tremendously beneficial when it comes to helping your body produce enough of the right kind of cervical mucus.





Here are some of the key nutrients you need to get if you want to optimize your cervical mucus for conception:

  • Vitamin C. This vitamin is a key part of overall health. It helps to make the walls of your blood vessels stronger, it fights off infections, and it helps wounds to heal. On top of that, it’s also thought that Vitamin C will help make your cervical mucus increase in volume.
  • Nitric Oxide. This nutrient helps make sure the reproductive organs are getting enough in the way of blood flow. This helps the reproductive organs to function at a higher level, and it thereby helps increase the amount of cervical mucus your body produces.
  • Lactobacilli. These tiny little organism play a huge role in the vaginal environment. They help the vaginal environment to be more helpful in terms of cervical mucus.
  • Grapeseed Extract. When combined with Vitamin C, this nutrient adds extra power. It helps to give protection and support to the sperm, as well.
  • Evening Primrose Oil. This herb has been used for generations to help with conception. It is an essential fatty acid that has anti-inflammatory properties. It helps to increase your cervical mucus, and it helps to make sure that the cervical mucus your body produces is the type that’s most conducive to getting pregnant.

If you’re trying to get pregnant and have been tracking changes to your cervical mucus, it can be worth giving some of these nutrients a try to see if they help to increase the volume and quality of your cervical mucus.

 

Factors in Conception




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For some people, conceiving a child is as simple as going off birth control, and “just seeing what happens.” There are people who get pregnant within one or two cycles. For others, it takes longer and can be stressful and confusing. Once several cycles have come and gone, the couple may be feeling discouraged and frustrated, like something might be wrong with one or both of them.

There are several factors in the process of procreation, and it may be helpful to examine them so that a person can be realistic about his or her timeline for conception. Some factors can be changed or altered; other factors are unalterable.

Age: This is one of the main factors when it comes to a couple’s ability to conceive. Men’s fertility remains fairly stable from puberty until they die, but women have a fertile window over the course of their lives. They are very fertile in their late teens and twenties. A woman’s fertility declines significantly when she hits 30 years old, and declines again at 35. At 40 years old, the odds are against a woman being able to conceive, and it is almost impossible by 45. The general advice is that the best window for a woman to conceive is between 25 and 35 years old—during that time, her life and career are relatively stable and her body is still fertile and strong, and she has the emotional and physical energy for raising small children. If you are outside that window, you may still be able to conceive a child, but it might be helpful for you to accept the reality of where you are in your life.

Weight: If either partner is over- or underweight, the couple’s fertility may be reduced. It is important that both people keep their weight at a healthy level in order to produce healthy sex cells (sperm and egg) and to maintain healthy hormone balance.





Diet: You can change this factor the most easily. Both partners would do best to eat a diet rich in high-quality fats and proteins. Make sure to focus on unprocessed whole foods. If possible, try to find foods that are either flash-frozen, or that are local, as these will have the highest concentration of quality nutrients.

Health: Both partners’ fertility levels benefit from overall good health. Exercise, diet, and mental and emotional well-being are all helpful in order to create the ideal opportunity for procreation. Make sure you exercise every day; even a walk around the block can be immensely helpful to your physical well-being. Your body will likely only be fertile when your body is healthy; we as humans have evolved to only be able to procreate when we are not in danger. If your body is stressed or in poor health, your fertility will suffer.

It is helpful to start trying to conceive knowing your odds of success so you can be realistic with your expectations. That said, the best advice is to keep yourself as healthy as you can in order to have the best success in conceiving.

Tips for Getting Your Body Ready for Conception




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The state of a woman’s body, as the site of conception and the place where the fetus grows into a baby able to survive on its own, is one of the most important factors in conceiving a child. As a mother-to-be, you may feel a tremendous responsibility to your future baby to provide them with the best start possible in life. You may be wondering, ‘What can I do now, before we start trying to conceive? Am I just thinking too far in advance?’

A few months before you start trying to conceive is the best time to prepare your body for conception and pregnancy! Here are some things you can do to prepare:

1)      Eat With Pregnancy in Mind

A good rule of thumb is to eat as if you are already pregnant. Make sure to eat enough calories; even if you are overweight, now is not the time to cut calories to try to lose weight. If you want to lose weight, try eating less processed foods and increase exercise rather than decreasing how much you eat. Eat when you are hungry. Make sure to eat plenty of good fats like coconut oil and fatty fish. If you are concerned about mercury content in fish, try to eat smaller fish like canned herring, and wild-caught salmon. Try to ensure that at least three-quarters of the food you eat is not processed: meat, fish, dairy, fruits, and vegetables should fill most of your plate, along with some whole, unprocessed grains like quinoa.

 

2)      Exercise

If you are a hard-core workout fiend, you can keep up the pace, but it may be beneficial to tone it down slightly. If you have not been exercising, start slow. Mild to moderate exercise each day will help maintain overall good health, reduce stress, and keep the blood flowing to your reproductive organs.





Mild exercise will also likely increase your sex drive, which will benefit your relationship and will help make it more likely to conceive in two ways. The first is that when your body is wanting to have sex, your cervical mucus will increase in volume and improve in consistency, the better to transport sperm into the cervix. The second way is that, with a better sex drive, you will be having more sex!

 

3)      Reduce Stress

Stress is likely the number-one reason couples are unable to conceive (although this is not able to be proven). The best thing to do is stay in touch with your partner, keep your relationship strong, and laugh a lot. It is easy to get caught up in the stress of trying to start a family, which may unfortunately further delay conception. When your body is feeling stressed, it acts to prevent pregnancy, so it is best to keep stress levels low.

 

4)      Relax

This is somewhat related to the previous tip: don’t get so caught up in doing everything you can to try to get pregnant that you forget to relax and have fun! You are likely nervous and uncomfortable, wondering what the future will hold, but try to think about how you’ll remember this time once you have your full brood of kids!