Getting pregnant and having a baby can be a trying process on its own. Now the COVID crisis is directly affecting women’s ability to choose when they can do IVF or who they can have in the delivery room.
If you’re affected by the IVF restrictions, it’s okay to feel anxious and upset. Allow your feelings the space they need and take care of your heart.
Also know that FLO Living can help you optimize your fertility during this time, especially since the stress of the current crisis can be hard on your reproductive ecosystem.
As most know, the success rate for IVF in general is low: 20 to 35 percent on average. With such a low success rate, it’s important to augment the process with natural support no matter what. Now, with the increase in our collective stress, it may make the chances of conceiving with IVF even harder. Stress contributes to hormone imbalances and blood sugar destabilization, and it can divert your body’s resources away from the process of conception and pregnancy.
If you hope to get pregnant now or in the future, you can take this opportunity to protect and enhance their fertility.
Is Your IVF On Hold During Quarantine? Here’s a Silver Lining
When a woman comes to FLO Living for help getting pregnant, the first thing I tell her is that she needs time — 3 months (at least), to be specific. From a functional and integrative perspective, it takes at least three months, sometimes longer, to prepare your body for a successful pregnancy using food, supplements, and lifestyle. In fact, the egg you release in ovulation 3 months from now, is directly affected by the food and lifestyle factors you choose today.
This means that if your IVF has been delayed because of quarantine, or if you are getting your body ready to conceive naturally, you can use this time to get your body ready to conceive and carry a successful pregnancy.
What does it look like to use nutrition, supplements, and lifestyle to get your body ready for IVF and conception? That’s a great question — and it’s one that often goes unanswered by reproductive endocrinologists. Most of them don’t have training in the functional nutrition and micronutrient needs that enhance fertility and increase the chances of passing on vibrant health to your baby.
At FLO Living, we specialize in using nutrition, supplements, and lifestyle to help women balance their hormones and achieve all their reproductive goals. Below, I’ve listed out what I recommend for anyone who wants to protect and enhance fertility right now. I hope this list gives you optimism as well as actionable advice for boosting fertility.
Boosting Your Fertility While You Wait for IVF
Taking the time to optimize your nutrition, supplements, and lifestyle is a well researched way to improve the successful outcome of your IVF process. So if you are forced to wait, I hope you will take advantage of our online programs, supplements, and our virtual consultations with our FLO coaches to really dial in your prep.
Here are my step-by-step recommendations for what you can do at home right now — and how we can help:
Step 1: Treat food as medicine
What you put on your plate is essential when you are trying to conceive. Your body needs nourishing, micronutrient-rich foods to conceive and carry a successful pregnancy.
Emphasize foods that are rich in hormone-balancing and health-boosting phytonutrients — think brassica vegetables, dark leafy greens, brightly colored root vegetables and berries — as well as foods rich in healthy fats. Avocado is a fantastic, phytonutrient-dense, high-fat, fertility-supportive food. Experts from the Harvard School of Public Health discovered that avocados contain a balance of different healthy fats that are ideal for enhancing fertility and boosting the health of your eggs. Here are some of the ways I eat avocados.
Other foods I recommend: royal jelly (which studies show supports healthy uterine muscles as well as enhanced fertility — I recommend trying royal jelly in a smoothie); turmeric (which improves blood circulation to the reproductive organs); cinnamon (which keeps blood sugar steady); and egg yolks (which are rich in vitamin D and vitamin B6). There are even foods that can lower FSH levels, like wheatgrass.
Step 2: Manage stress as best you can
When stress levels go up, the body has to make more cortisol to balance out the adrenaline. The problem? Your adrenal glands can only make so much cortisol during a day. Once you burn through your adrenal reserve, and you still need more cortisol to keep up with demand (because of all the stress you’re under), it triggers a process called the ‘pregnenolone steal.’
Pregnenolone is a hormone that plays a role in the production of other hormones in the body, including cortisol and progesterone. When your body needs more cortisol than it has on hand, it will ‘steal’ the pregnenolone it was going to use to make progesterone to make more cortisol instead. The result is a higher ratio of estrogen to progesterone, and this is not ideal for fertility.
When stress is prolonged (hello: undetermined quarantine timing, scary news, money stress, homeschooling), your body will stop making enough pregnenolone all together, which means your body stops making enough of all your sex hormones — including DHEA, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone — which will impair your reproductive function (irregular periods), fertility, libido, and contribute to weight fluctuations.
Supplementing with progesterone is not an ideal solution. The best approach is to proactively manage stress with meditation, gentle movement, targeted supplements, and by flushing cortisol through activities like exercise and orgasm.
Step 3: Clean up your cupboards (ALL of them)
I’m talking about your kitchen pantry, your medicine cabinet, and your cleaning closet. Let’s start in the kitchen, where it is important to stock up on organic, non-GMO fresh food and pantry staples The research is clear: the unprecedented number of chemicals we encounter in our environment, including our food, are directly damaging to fertility (for both men and women). The same goes for the chemicals in conventional home cleaning supplies and conventional health and body care products. Trading out products with synthetic chemicals for green alternatives seems like a small step, and you might be thinking, does it really make a difference? Yes, it does! Taking this small step has a notable (positive!) effect on your chances of getting pregnant.
Step 4: Make sure your body has the micronutrients it needs
In a perfect world, the food we eat would supply all the micronutrients we need. But a wide range of factors keeps that from being true. One big reason we lose micronutrients faster than we take them in is stress — and now is a uniquely stressful time, one where we need micronutrient support more than ever.
Every woman with a desire to get pregnant (either with IVF or naturally) now or in the near future should safeguard their baseline micronutrient stores by taking these five key supplements. I formulated this supplement kit specifically for women to balance their hormones and nourish and support their reproductive health.
For more information on the key micronutrients you need for optimal fertility, read my detailed blog on the topic here. In that blog post, you’ll also find a list of additional supplements for specific fertility-related concerns, like egg quality and irregular ovulation.
Step 5: Get Support
We may have to be physically isolated right now, but that doesn’t mean we have to go it alone.
- Try Monthly FLO. MonthlyFLO is a specially-sequenced food therapy program that recalibrates your endocrine function and supports reproductive health. Over three months, you will be guided step-by-step to make simple, cumulative food and lifestyle changes that balance your hormones naturally.
- Flo28. Flo28: The Cycle Syncing Membership is a revolutionary roadmap for women to help balance their hormones and care for their bodies, so they can feel their best all month long. It works by syncing up your daily activities (eating, working, socializing, fitness, etc.) with your infradian rhythm to promote optimal health and hormone function.
- FLO Coach Consultation. Talk with a FLO coach about your specific fertility-related concerns and the nutrition and lifestyle areas you want to work on. A FLO Coach Consultation helps you customize your fertility care.
- Get the MyFLO Tracker. This period-tracking app will help you live more in line with your FLO, which is one of the best ways to optimize your fertility.
- Listen to the “Optimize Your Fertility” Audio Session. In this audio session, you will learn why you might be or currently are struggling with fertility, how to protect and enhance your endocrine function to optimize natural fertility, what foods and supplements to take to boost progesterone levels and egg quality naturally, which birth control choices to use now that will safeguard fertility later, and how to do IVF correctly.
- Take Balance by FLO Living supplements. I mentioned the importance of supplements earlier in this post, but getting the key micronutrients contained in the Balance supplements is so important that it bears repeating — especially during this time of stress. Stress isn’t good for fertility in part because it accelerates the loss of key micronutrients in the body — micronutrients we need to conceive. This makes taking supplements critically important for anyone who hopes to conceive during this scary and unsettling time.
Alisa founded this company because she experienced firsthand how conventional medicine leaves women without enough information, support, and treatments for their chronic hormonal conditions. FLO Living is a company by women, for women who believe that we deserve to have natural, effective, empowering, and compassionate hormonal healthcare. If you need us, we are here for you and your ovaries.
Monthly FLO: The Cycle Syncing System™
Put your period symptoms into remission. Discover how to live in your FLO and get it all done with embodied time management. MonthlyFLO is the first-ever woman-centric health system that syncs with your unique rhythm. It gives you the foundation for solving any hormonal issues you may have over your lifetime.
Using the principles of functional nutrition, MonthlyFLO is a specially-sequenced food therapy program that recalibrates your endocrine function. Over three months, you will be guided step-by-step to make simple, cumulative food and lifestyle changes that balance your hormones naturally.