Tools for Your Fertility Journey

While considering the idea of potential within one’s health, it occurred to me that one area of health that is riddled with the idea of potential is the area of fertility and, of course, infertility. For most, the potential of our future family is sprinkled across our lives at various points, impacting decision making around our career, relationships, financial decisions and so on. It is taken for granted that we will find the right partner and we will effortlessly activate this potential into a baby but maybe we don’t find the right partner, or we do and it doesn’t just “happen” on its own, or we are in a relationship that requires a little (or a lot of) extra help and a donor. Whatever the case may be, for some of us the leap from potential family to actual family can become a Grand Canyon-sized obstacle that we are not equipped to tackle without guidance.

The world of artificial reproductive therapy (ART) seems to operate in its own language and once you enter it the learning curve is steep. Things are always changing with different protocols, different doctors, blood work, and ultrasound investigations. Beyond the stress of the unknown we are also faced with the cost; the financial cost as well as the emotional cost.

All of that being said, we can acknowledge that trying to actualize your family is hard while also acknowledging that we can do hard things and we can maybe even do them well if we are prepared. So, how can you prepare your body and your life for your fertility journey? Here are five ways to start:

Diet
It cannot be overstated that diet is crucial to successful fertility treatment and a successful pregnancy. True, millions of people get pregnant every year with a completely inadequate diet but we are not talking about those people, we are talking about people who are on a path that has veered off of what the body was designed to do. There will likely be many medications, physical and emotional stress, and hormone fluctuations and all of these will be aided by a healthy diet. This means low-caffeine, low-alcohol, high-protein, low in dairy, high-fibre, and high in nutrient dense fruits and vegetables with a
good multivitamin and a folate supplement. The ideal time to shift into this is three months before starting any treatment but even if you are in the middle of a cycle, it’s not too late to change your habits.

Exercise
Keep your body moving. It’s going through a lot and the exercise will help in many ways, particularly when it comes to your emotional well-being and stress management. If you are overweight, exercise will have the added bonus of helping you lose some weight which will increase your chance of success. There will be times during certain treatment protocols when vigorous exercise is not recommended so take advantage of the rest of the time and stay active.

Study
Do some research on all of the different potential treatment options your clinic offers (and also what some alternatives are) before you go in so you can spend your appointments having discussions with your doctor instead of trying to understand everything he/she is saying. Appointments are quick and to the point and can leave you feeling confused and unheard.

Gather Tools
This journey can be tough for people in surprising ways so put together some tools to help you cope. Start meditating a little bit everyday (there are many apps geared towards coping with the many challenges of infertility), speak to a counsellor, join an online fertility group (IVF.ca is a good one), journal, take the time to work on your relationship if you’re in one, and have some good books on hand and TV shows in your queue for the “two-week wait.”

Boost Your Treatment
Consider additional supplements and therapies to boost your chance of success. Acupuncture for fertility has some good research behind it and can also help with side effects, stress, and insomnia. Consider adding in some Omega-3 fatty acids, high dose CoQ10 for egg quality, and zinc. Ideally, see an N.D. to put together a treatment plan that addresses your specific needs.

All of these tips will not only help you conceive but will help you to get there a little more easily and have a healthier pregnancy. Truly, though, the best advice I can give is to stay in touch with yourself and ask for what you need. Your family and friends will likely be happy and honoured to support you on this journey.

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