As an integrative fertility specialist, my team and I help couples through their fertility journey with treatments and suggestions for lifestyle changes so they can start a healthy family.  In addition to state of the art technology to help my patients conceive, I can help patients prepare  their body and mind to maximize the chance of a successful pregnancy. This is referred to as integrative fertility. Here are some common questions I get from my patients.

Q: What should I eat to support my fertility?

A: The general nutrition principles for preconception are the same, whether you are trying naturally or going through fertility treatments. I usually recommend that prospective parents focus their diets on whole, fresh, and natural foods. Eat a lot of colorful vegetables and fruits, ideally, if you can get them locally and seasonally. Enjoy some nuts and seeds. 

Eat less meat. If you do eat meat or dairy products, choose organic because the non-organic ones can be high in pesticides and environmental toxins. Enjoy high-quality fish and seafood, but avoid high mercury ones, such as tuna and king mackerel. Also, cut sugary, fried, processed, canned, or prepackaged foods. 

Your nutrition plan should also take your health status into account, especially factors that led you to seek fertility treatment in the first place. For example, if you have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), you may do better with a lower-carbohydrate diet. If you struggle with PCOS or other conditions that could be treated with nutrition, I recommend working with a nutritionist to customize your diet program. 

Nutrition is one of the most important building blocks, both for pregnancy and raising children. I recommend cooking at home as much as possible so you can choose the ingredients that go into your food.

Q: What fertility supplements do you recommend?

A: When I see my patients during their preconception appointments, I use labs to identify nutritional deficiencies. Based on the labs, I help them get to optimal rather than just normal levels. Your bloodwork may indicate a need for therapeutic doses to achieve healthy levels of these nutrients. Many common nutritional deficiencies can affect fertility. 

Iron deficiency is widespread among women of reproductive age, and it can affect fertility 1

Many North Americans are also deficient in vitamin D, which is important for fertility for both prospective moms and dads. A recent study found that among women seeking fertility treatments, those with healthy vitamin D levels had significantly higher live birth rates 2

Magnesium is an essential mineral for general health, hormone balance, and pregnancy 3. It is also one that is harder to get through food alone. 

Folic acid is a standard recommendation for any prenatal regimes, although I now recommend methylfolate (MTHF) instead. 

Generally, a high-quality prenatal multivitamin with methylfolate, fish oil, magnesium, and vitamin D should cover your nutritional base. Antioxidants such as vitamin C and Coenzyme Q10 have also been shown to boost fertility for both genders. However, the best answer to this question would be to work with an integrative fertility specialist to optimize your nutrition status.

Q: What are natural ways to support my hormone balance?

A: Many women struggle with hormone imbalance symptoms such as premenstrual syndrome, acne, heavy bleeding, and fibroids. 

The modern diet and lifestyle expose us to a lot of substances that act like estrogen while depleting our progesterone. The good news is that you can fix much of the hormone imbalances naturally by:

  • Managing stress – stress reduces progesterone, worsening hormone imbalance
  • Using nontoxic home and body care products that are free of parabens, phthalates, and perfumes
  • Eating organic meats to avoid pesticides and environmental contaminants
  • Eating a lot of fiber and staying regular promotes hormone balance, as constipation hinder the elimination of old hormones 
  • Filter your water with a filter that removes hormone disruptors. To learn about which ones I recommend, check out my resources page.

Q: Can we improve the quality of sperms and eggs without drugs?

A: During fertility treatments, it might look like the prospective moms do most of the work, but prospective dads can also do their part to maximize the chance of success. In other words, both partners can improve the quality of their sperms and eggs with these tips. 

  • Managing stress. Don’t forget mental health and stress management for prospective dads, especially during fertility treatments. Couples counseling and stress management practices will come in handy during this time.
  • Sleeping well is essential for hormone balance and reducing oxidative stress.
  • Avoiding hormone disruptors and toxic exposures, including at work
  • Eating a healthy diet with the rainbow color of plants to increase antioxidants
  • Drinking less coffee. Excess caffeine intake may reduce sperm quality 4.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly
  • Not smoking and reducing alcohol as much as possible 
  • Making sure you consume enough zinc and folate. These nutrients are very important for the quality of both sperms and eggs, and overall pregnancy.
  • Antioxidant supplements, such as CoQ10 and lutein, may be helpful for some couples.

Oxidative stress can damage the DNA and reduce the quality of sperms and eggs 5,6. Therefore, these low oxidative stress lifestyle tips will improve the chance of having high-quality embryos.

The key to a fertility-supporting lifestyle is to build healthy habits and create a supportive network around you. If you’d like to schedule an integrative fertility consult, contact me today.

References:

1. Chavarro JE, Rich-Edwards JW, Rosner BA, Willett WC. Iron intake and risk of ovulatory infertility. Obstet Gynecol. 2006;108(5):1145-1152. doi:10.1097/01.AOG.0000238333.37423.ab

2. Chu J, Gallos I, Tobias A, et al. Vitamin D and assisted reproductive treatment outcome: a prospective cohort study. Reprod Health. 2019;16(1):106. doi:10.1186/s12978-019-0769-7

3. Tonick S, Muneyyirci-Delale O. Magnesium in Women’s Health and Gynecology. OJOG. 2016;06(05):325-333. doi:10.4236/ojog.2016.65041

4. Ricci E, Viganò P, Cipriani S, et al. Coffee and caffeine intake and male infertility: a systematic review. Nutr J. 2017;16(1):37. doi:10.1186/s12937-017-0257-2

5. Alahmar AT. Role of Oxidative Stress in Male Infertility: An Updated Review. J Hum Reprod Sci. 2019;12(1):4-18. doi:10.4103/jhrs.JHRS_150_18

6. Ruder EH, Hartman TJ, Goldman MB. Impact of oxidative stress on female fertility. Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 2009;21(3):219-222. doi:10.1097/gco.0b013e32832924ba

It is estimated that 10% of women of reproductive age are impacted by polycystic ovarian syndrome, also known as PCOS.  This condition has to do with a hormonal imbalance where high amounts of androgen and insulin can be found in the body.  Though the cause of PCOS is unknown the hormonal abnormalities can lead to metabolic and reproductive challenges.

Symptoms of PCOS include:

  • Irregular periods 
  • Increased hair growth on the face, chest, back, stomach 
  • Severe acne or oily skin
  • Weight gain
  • Thinning hair or hair loss on the head
  • Insulin resistance
  • High cholesterol and/or blood pressure

Research shows that a healthy diet and physical activity can help to manage PCOS and improve symptoms.  Eating a balanced diet that is rich with high-fiber vegetables and fruits, lean protein and anti-inflammatory foods can help to lower your blood sugar, improve your body’s use of insulin and regulate your hormone levels.  This food pyramid created by Dr. Joel Furham is a great example of food choices that will support managing PCOS:

Foods to avoid if you have PCOS are:

  • Refined carbohydrates and processed foods
  • High sugar snacks and drinks
  • Inflammatory foods such as processed red meats

In addition to eating well, getting plenty of daily physical activity (shoot for 10,000 steps!) can also help.  

If you’d like support with managing your PCOS, or if you think you may have PCOS, contact me and we can develop an integrative plan to help you return to health.

When women or couples experience challenges with fertility, they look for possible causes. While there may be medical reasons for a woman’s difficulties in getting pregnant, research has shown other factors such as stress and environmental toxins may also play a role. 

Many men and women encounter toxins in their personal care routines every day, often unaware of the impact these could have on their fertility.  Research has identified four primary areas of fertility that are impacted by toxins in personal care products. Learn more about these effects below. 

Endocrine Disruption and Reproductive Harm

The endocrine system is the body’s chemical messenger system. It is responsible for transmitting information that makes hormones. These hormones control everything from moods, growth, development, metabolism, and reproduction. 

Many cosmetics and personal care products contain synthetic byproducts such as parabens, phthalates, glycol ethers, fragrances, cyclosiloxanes, and bisphenol A (BPA).  These can act as endocrine disruptors causing interference with hormone signaling, production, and excretion. 

What’s In Your Personal Care Products?

An article by the Environmental Working Group cited women use an average of 12 products containing 168 unique ingredients every day. Men use about six products daily with 85 unique ingredients. Their study shows that some of the chemicals in personal care and cosmetic products have been linked to health problems.

The most common effects of exposure to endocrine disruptors appear to be reproductive and developmental effects. These include ovulation disorders, fibroids, disruption of thyroid function, male sexual dysfunction, low sperm count, possible link to cancer, and low birth weight in babies.

Common Toxins In Personal Care Products

  • Parabens are perhaps one of the most common toxins added to personal care products as a preservative. They can act as estrogens and disrupt hormone signaling. They have been linked to potential fertility issues in men and women, congenital disabilities, a link to breast cancer, as well as a link to more aggressive tumor growth and the formation of malignant cancers. Many moisturizers, facial cleansers, sunscreens, deodorants, shaving gels, kinds of toothpaste, cosmetics, and other personal care products contain parabens. 
  • Phthalates are commonly found in some cosmetic fragrance mixtures, nail polishes, hairsprays, after-shaves, deodorants, and other personal care products like shampoos, conditioners, and moisturizers. Phthalates have been found to cause reproductive abnormalities such as reduced testosterone and sperm quality in men and early puberty in girls.
  • Formaldehyde is a preservative commonly added to products to add to shelf life and prevent mold and bacteria growth. Nearly one in five cosmetic products contains a substance that generates formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. These products include shampoos, conditioners, bubble baths, and other personal care products, including those marketed for children. Formaldehyde and formaldehyde like chemicals are also found in hair straighteners and “smoothing” creams marketing for the BIPOC community. Exposure to formaldehyde can include risks of reduced fertility and increased risk to the fetus. 
  • Triclosan and triclocarban are chemicals found in a variety of products.  Triclosan was banned in antibacterial soaps in 2017. However, they are still found in some dish soaps, personal care products, and toothpaste. It is used in a variety of products but won’t be on the label. To avoid triclosan do not buy products listed as antibacterial. Although this might seem tempting and should make things cleaner, its all harm and no good in this situation.  Even at low levels, these chemicals have been shown to interfere with thyroid signaling and male and female sex hormone signaling leading to reproductive abnormalities. 

Unfortunately, the cosmetic industry in the United States is largely self-regulated at this time, and there is not any restriction on the use of harmful chemicals in personal care products.. In February 2020, the California Assembly reintroduced the Toxic-Free Chemicals bill under A.B. 2762 which proposes banning 12 toxic ingredients, such as mercury and formaldehyde, from the beauty and personal care products sold in California. This is the third time such a bill has been proposed, earlier iterations of the bill being blocked in April 2019 and failing in January 2020. You can read about their efforts here. 

Toxins such as those listed are readily absorbed into your skin and metabolized by your body. Because you use these products daily, the exposure to such toxins compounds over time creating a greater effect of harm on your body. 

Defend yourself against toxins

Your best defense is taking the time to educate yourself about the products you use and making changes to clean products. Although this article specifically addressed personal care products, environmental toxins are all around us. To learn more and find out how you can reduce your exposure you can find additional references and articles here on our website.

To start educating yourself about toxins in your personal care products and other purchases you make, I suggest the Environmental Working Group’s website www.ewg.org.  EWG is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. They also have a database created specifically for products. Some are EWG Verified, meaning the products are free from harmful chemicals, provide full transparency in labeling, and follow good manufacturing practices. Other products rated on a scale from 1 to 10 indicating least to most harmful in terms of your health. You can enter your current products in the search in the Skin Deep Database and see how they measure up. 

Reducing or eliminating toxins in personal care products is one facet of integrative medicine we suggest to women and couples we work with at our clinic.  If you are interested in a consultation to see if integrative techniques can further support your fertility journey, contact me at Shala Salem, MD 

Health trends come and go, they can be challenging to implement long-term, or carry a high price tag that isn’t manageable for most.  But one trend for improving health that likely has staying power is mindfulness. Why?  Because it’s easy to try, free or low-cost, and it now has plenty of evidence-based research backing it.  Here are six ways that mindfulness has been shown to improve health.

Less Stress

Studies have shown that mindfulness-based stress reduction can be helpful to reduce symptoms associated with stress, anxiety, and depression. 

Heart Healthy

A regular mindfulness practice can help to lower blood pressure and has been recommended by the American Heart Association as an adjunct treatment for heart disease.

Improved Immune Function

Regular meditation may help your body heal and fight disease.  Studies have shown meditation to have a positive impact on immune response.  

Mental Focus

Meditation can reduce reactivity to stress or challenging situations, at the same time, it makes it easy to draw your attention back when distractions happen.  This is why proponents of meditation say they experience a clear, focused mind is a benefit of the practice.  

Increased Emotional Regulation and Self-Control

Mindfulness trains the practitioner to slow down and be in the present moment.  By developing the skill of self-awareness and observation, you are able to be less reactive and more in control of emotions.

Slows Cell Aging

Cell aging occurs naturally over time and can increase with stress and disease. Research has shown that meditation could help slow this process.

Now that you know some of the physical and mental benefits of mindfulness, it’s time to integrate it into your life.  Building a mindfulness practice can happen over time.  You can start small with just a few minutes of meditation each day.   Begin by sitting calmly and breathing slow with your eyes closed, for just a few minutes.  Add this into your morning routine or a time of the day that makes sense for you.  If you need more guidance, try a yoga, tai chi, or qi gong class to adopt mindfulness techniques.  Practice builds consistency, but for most people, it will take time to build your practice, so be patient with yourself.  Even 20 minutes a day can have a huge benefit on your overall well-being.  

If you want to learn more about mindfulness-based stress reduction, check out our videos page or reach out to Dr. Shala for more information.

What Is The Mediterranean Diet?

As a doctor who works with patients seeking integrative fertility support, I am often asked if there are specific foods the couple can eat to improve their chances of conception. Many of my clients have had success following The Mediterranean Diet for fertility. 

An integrative approach to health takes into account the whole person, including all aspects of lifestyle. How and what we eat plays a crucial role in the body’s ability to heal and function optimally. While nothing can guarantee a couple’s success in conception, the Mediterranean Diet is a sound way of eating that can be sustained throughout a lifetime for good health. 

What Foods Are Included?

The Mediterranean Diet has its roots in ancient times. Farmers in the area known as the Mediterranean basin commonly ate foods like sheep cheese, vegetables, olives, nuts, fresh fish, and very little meat or bread. 

To incorporate this way of eating into your lifestyle, focus on eating fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, healthy fats such as olive oil, moderate amounts of fish, seafood, dairy, eggs, and poultry. Red meat and simple carbohydrates are limited. You can find some resources about getting started here

Choose Fresh, Whole Foods

One of the most important things to remember is that the Mediterranean Diet features fresh, organic, minimally processed foods. When fresh foods are not available, opt for foods that have been flash-frozen to retain most of the nutrients.

A typical “western diet” full of highly processed foods is usually unfavorable to conception. Processed foods are likely to contain trans-fats, sugar, pesticides, BPA, and other ingredients that have been found to adversely affect metabolism and ovulation. 

Enjoy Your Meals

The culture of the Mediterranean is also important to mention. Imagine the pleasure of enjoying fresh, healthy meals, eating slowly, and spending time in the company and conversation with friends. This is the type of mindset you will want to have while eating. Allow yourself to taste each of the flavors on your plate and take time between bites. 

Having a slow, leisurely meal is unlike the way most of us Americans tend to eat. We are much more likely to grab a bite and eat while working or eat a take-out meal in our car while running errands.  By slowing down during mealtimes and reducing stress you begin an integrative approach to fertility.  

Benefits of The Mediterranean Diet for Fertility

Health Benefits for Women

Foods like broccoli, asparagus, brussels sprouts, and eggs are all rich in folate and B6. These minerals and vitamins have a positive relationship with the possibility of conception. Vitamin D is also essential when trying to conceive. Vitamin D helps to increase both progesterone and estrogen levels, which regulate menstrual cycles and ovulation. Dietary sources like oily fish (salmon, herring, sardines), egg yolks, and mushrooms are rich sources of Vitamin D. 

The Mediterranean Diet is high in antioxidants because of the large number of fresh vegetables and fruits recommended. This creates a healthier endometrium; or mucus membrane of the uterus, preparing it for embryo implantation.

Health Benefits for Men

Women aren’t the only ones who benefit from monitoring their eating habits while trying to conceive. Men’s dietary choices play a role in conception as well. In men, Vitamin D supports both the semen quality and semen count. It can also increase their levels of testosterone, which boosts libido. 

Stress and Vitamin and Mineral Levels

Trying to conceive or facing infertility treatments can be stressful for couples. Stress is known to deplete essential vitamins and minerals within the body, which can hinder pregnancy efforts. The B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, and iron are the most common nutrients affected by stress. 

All of these play a vital role in fertility, as well as overall wellness. Remember, part of the Mediterranean Diet is slower, more leisurely meals. So being less stressed during meals will hopefully have a ripple effect throughout your day and allow you to retain some all-important building blocks within your body. 

The Mediterranean Diet has numerous health benefits, and they reach far beyond improving fertility success. It’s never too early for men or women to adopt this lifestyle, but it is recommended to be more intentional about your choices at least three months before trying to conceive. 

If you find you need additional support with your integrative fertility journey, please reach out to us online, by phone, or through one of our offices

What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is an ancient technique practiced in Traditional Chinese medicine. According to the practice, there are over 2,000 acupuncture points each connected by different pathways or meridians. Energy, or qi, flows through the pathways promoting overall health, but when the paths become blocked, this can lead to poor health or disease.

Acupuncture seeks to reopen the pathways and stimulate the energy flow by inserting thin, metallic needles into the points and then stimulating them manually or electronically. The stimulation is sometimes augmented by heat, pressure, or friction. Chemicals from the body’s central nervous system are released into the bloodstream, muscles, spinal cord, and brain, triggering the body’s natural healing abilities. 

Many diagnoses, including digestive, neurological, musculoskeletal, respiratory, emotional, and gynecological conditions, may benefit from acupuncture. Some studies have shown that acupuncture, when used in conjunction with other fertility treatments, may increase success.

Acupuncture and Infertility Treatments

Acupuncture may help with infertility treatments by increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs, balancing hormones, and reducing stress. It appears to be most beneficial when started in the three months before beginning other treatments, such as IUI or IVF, and while couples are undergoing supplemental care.  

Acupuncture appears to support a variety of conditions that appear to play a role in infertility. These include hormone imbalance which affects the uterus and ovaries, thyroid issues, irregular menstruation, ovarian cysts, fibroids, blood stagnation, endometriosis, problems with the fallopian tubes, obesity, stress, and low sperm count and sperm motility.  

Increased Blood Flow

For patients who may be preparing for in-vitro fertilization or embryo transfer, acupuncture can be used to increase endometrial blood flow. The additional blood flow to the uterus helps the lining develop and thicken, preparing it to receive the embryo and increasing the chances of a successful transfer.  

Hormone Balancing

Acupuncture stimulates the central nervous system and triggers the release of neurotransmitters, endorphins, and insulin sensitivity. This can help patients diagnosed with PCOS or who might need support in normalizing reproductive hormones and ovulation. 

Patients who may have hypothyroidism or high FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) levels and receive acupuncture benefit from improved egg quality.  

Acupuncture has also been found to be very useful in the treatment of insulin sensitivity. Patients who are insulin resistant and obese may experience difficulty with fertility due to irregular ovulation or no ovulation. 

Acupuncture and Infertility in Men

Men may also play a role in the fertility success of a couple. If this is the case, acupuncture may support the sperm count, sperm motility, and sperm morphology. Improving blood flow and balancing hormones through acupuncture can positively affect these areas, increasing the likelihood of conception. 

Stress and Anxiety Relief

For many couples trying to conceive and pregnancy can be a stressful time. This can be especially true of couples experiencing infertility. Stress has been found to contribute to additional difficulties in conception. Stress plays a role in lowered libido, a reduced immune system, decreased sperm quality, hormonal disruption, and disordered eating. 

In the same way, acupuncture balances hormones through the release of endorphins, it also serves to reduce stress and anxiety. Endorphins act as natural pain killers within the body. They work with the body through the central nervous system to decrease reactions to stress and regulate body systems like the immune system, digestive system, emotions, moods, and sexuality.

Additional Resources

For some additional reading, I have linked these articles from my site:

https://www.reproductivefacts.org/news-and-publications/patient-fact-sheets-and-booklets/documents/fact-sheets-and-info-booklets/acupuncture-and-infertility-treatment/

My goal is to support you as a whole person focusing on your mind, body, and spirit throughout your fertility journey. Acupuncture may work best when used alongside our other modalities. Please contact us for a treatment plan designed especially for you. 

A fertility journey can feel like a lot of uncertainty. You may feel a lot of anxiety with the ups and
downs. Many couples find it stressful and overwhelming. The good news is that decades of
research have shown that there is a lot you can do lifestyle-wise to boost your chance of
success with fertility treatments. Here are some simple and evidence-based tips.


1) Eat healthier
Nutrition is one of the best building blocks for a healthy pregnancy, so you want to prepare your
body by improving your overall diet. I encourage home cooking as often as possible to ensure
that you always have healthy and nutritious meals. I also advise cutting back on sugar, alcohol,
and processed foods in favor of more whole and nutrient-dense foods, such as vegetables and
fruits.
Eat more of
● Colorful vegetables and fruits. Even better if you can get them fresh and local.
● Whole grains and legumes
● Clean and organic meat, poultry, and fish
● Nuts and seeds
Eat less of
● Fast foods
● Pre-packaged foods, such as canned or frozen foods
● Packaged snacks like chips and crackers
● Candies
● Sugar and sugar-containing foods


2) Use clean cosmetic and household products
Hormone disruptors are chemicals that can throw off your hormones and reduce your fertility.
These include parabens, phthalates, BPA (bisphenol-A), perfumes, and triclosan, to name a
few. You can find them in typical cosmetics, soap, shampoo, sunscreens, and cleaning and
laundry products.
Since consumers have become more conscious of these hormone disruptors, you have a big list
of clean options to choose from nowadays. A great resource for this is the Environmental
Working Group at ewg.org. You can check the products you already have around the house on
there and shop from their safe EWG-verified list .


3) Eat the rainbow
I emphasize eating the rainbow—as many colors of plants as you can. Also, eat more plants.
The pigments that give plants their colors are antioxidants that protect your cells and DNA from
oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress, or having more free radicals than antioxidants, is a fact of the modern lifestyle.
In healthy doses, such as from exercising and getting the sun (without burning), free radicals
improve your ability to fight off more oxidative stress. However, too much oxidative stress, such
as from mental stress or toxic exposure, can damage sperms and eggs.
Fortunately, the solution is rather delicious. This summer, visit a farmer’s market to pick up your
local produce or sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture box. Try as many new
vegetables and fruits as you can. Learn to make new salads and cook your vegetables in
different ways.


4) Chill out
Your reproductive functions work best when you are in rest and digest mode. Yet, it is too easy
to be constantly on and always have so much expected of ourselves. We have all gone to
school to learn and accomplish things, but we are not taught enough about how to wind down,
turn off, and just be.
If you are gearing up for fertility treatment or preparing for pregnancy, now is a great time to
develop a stress-busting routine. Meditation, yoga, dancing, or walking in nature are excellent
(and free) ways to reduce your stress. Regular spa or acupuncture treatments are also amazing
ways to recharge. It is also a great time to revisit your priorities, eliminate stressors, and
establish healthy boundaries.


5) Get sun and vitamin D
Summer has arrived. It is a great time to enjoy being outside, from gardening to hiking. Although
the sun gets a bad rep because it is associated with skin cancer, getting sun can actually boost
your fertility. Healthy levels of sun exposure (without getting sunburns) can reduce inflammation,
balance your immune system, and promote blood vessel health, all of which are important for
pregnancy.
Many people only think of vitamin D as important for bone health and calcium absorption. But, in
fact, vitamin D is also essential for fertility and pregnancy. Studies have confirmed that healthy
vitamin D levels increases the odds of a successful pregnancy following IVF.
If you burn easily, be sure to use a non-toxic sunscreen. Also, the Dminder app has alarms that
can warn you to cover up before you burn. If you need to supplement, vitamin D3 form is better
than D2.


6) Get your shut-eye
Getting enough rest is an important part of preparing your body for a pregnancy. It can be hard
not to work, surf on social media, or watch TV late into the night, especially if you struggle to get
your “me” time during any other times of the day. But prioritizing sleep and your bedtime routine
is a worthy time investment. Restorative sleep helps reset your stress response and keep your
hormones balanced.
Allocate 1 – 2 hours to prepare yourself for bed. Create a sacred and relaxing bedtime routine.
You can spend this time taking a candlelit hot bath, reading a relaxing book, journaling, or
having sex (unless your doctor tells you not to). If you need to be on a screen or watch TV, use
blue-blocking glasses. These routines will help you get the most restorative sleep that will
support your fertility journey.


Getting fertility treatments and starting a family is an exciting, although very uncertain, journey.
You want all hands on deck to boost your chance of a successful pregnancy, and studies have
shown that the basics like these are very impactful.

If you are interested in learning more about integrative fertility, Dr. Shala Salem is an integrative fertility specialist who can help.


References:

  1. Rattan S, Zhou C, Chiang C, Mahalingam S, Brehm E, Flaws JA. Exposure to endocrine
    disruptors during adulthood: consequences for female fertility. J Endocrinol .
    2017;233(3):R109-R129. doi: 10.1530/JOE-17-0023
  2. S CM, Elmas C. The Effects of Oxidative Stress and Some of the Popular Antioxidants on
    Reproductive System: A Mini Review. Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences . 2016;06(02).
    doi: 10.4172/2155-9600.1000464
  3. Fung JL, Hartman TJ, Schleicher RL, Goldman MB. Association of vitamin D intake and
    serum levels with fertility: results from the Lifestyle and Fertility Study. Fertil Steril .
    2017;108(2):302-311. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2017.05.037
  4. Zhao J, Huang X, Xu B, Yan Y, Zhang Q, Li Y. Whether vitamin D was associated with
    clinical outcome after IVF/ICSI: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Reprod Biol
    Endocrinol . 2018;16(1):13. doi: 10.1186/s12958-018-0324-3
  5. Hollis BW, Johnson D, Hulsey TC, Ebeling M, Wagner CL. Vitamin D supplementation
    during pregnancy: double-blind, randomized clinical trial of safety and effectiveness. J Bone
    Miner Res . 2011;26(10):2341-2357. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.463

Deciding to grow your family is an emotional, personal decision, but can sometimes met with challenges in the conception process. Traditional medicine has allowed for many advances that can assist women in this journey, but often fails to recognize the individuality of a woman. The practice of integrative medicine is a specialty practice that combines conventional medicine and select fields of natural medicine, and focuses on treating the whole person in mind, body, and spirit for optimal health. You may choose this approach in your fertility journey because it is more aligned with your beliefs, values, and philosophies about health. 

It’s a Partnership Between the Patient and the Practitioner

Integrative medicine seeks to work together with the patient in their current state toward common goals. There is open dialogue about any obstacles to lifestyle changes and the likelihood of complying with treatment guidelines before making recommendations. Sometimes, it’s agreed upon that certain conditions may be managed rather than cured as a goal. Both parties agree on the next steps, possible outcomes, and the likelihood of achieving various goals.   

Wellness for Fertility includes Mind, Body, and Spirit

Integrative medicine looks at the whole person. We are multidimensional, dynamic beings and all of our systems affect each other in profound ways. As an example, fertility issues might be caused by diet. Instead of approaching the treatment of a symptom, like anovulation perhaps which of course can be a factor, integrative medicine might explore outside influences of diet. Recommended practices focus on nutrition to help support ovulation. 

Conventional and Alternative Methods are Used to Help Your Body

Using a combination of therapies allows for integrative medicine to be as personalized as possible. Offering both traditional medicine and integrative techniques, affords patients the best options for them, their needs, and their lifestyle. 

In this collaborative relationship, patients are provided with education about how and why different systems work together and benefit from various therapies to continue making choices in their best interests and maintaining health. 

Integrative Medicine Based on Inquiry and New Paradigms

The practice of medicine is dynamic. It’s essential to have an innate sense of curiosity, observation, and investigation in integrative medicine. If something does not appear to be working as expected, other possibilities can be explored. 

We Use This Model to Support Your Journey 

My approach to integrative fertility is born out of my fellowship training in integrative medicine. Once put into practice these natural methods such as yoga, acupuncture, and healing foods supported my own pregnancies. My medical training lacked so much of the information about nutrition, mind body techniques, toxic exposures and how all of these things affect body functions.  I made it my mission to bring all of these disciplines together to help women achieve optimal wellness healing their minds, bodies, and spirits. 

A list of resources and their benefits is included here on our site. Additional articles are included within the blog to provide information on how each discipline can complement traditional medicine and your fertility journey. 
Remember, any of these steps alone may not lead to pregnancy success in a person struggling with infertility. Each and each set of circumstances is unique. We focus on integrative practice, weaving together the best options for you, your goal, and your lifestyle. If you are interested in a consultation to see if integrative techniques can further support your fertility journey, contact me at Shala Salem, MD