Fertility can seem like an elusive state for some couples. Many women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome struggle with fertility or worry about not being able to conceive when the time comes. There are several conventional therapies out there from in vitro fertilization (which can cost anywhere from $12,000-$20,000 per try) to hormonal therapy like Clomid (which carries a risk of miscarriage and may lead to depression). Many couples may not even consult with a doctor until they have been trying unsuccessfully to conceive for months or even years. And by that time, it has taken a toll on their emotional well-being and relationship. The good news is that there are so many natural, more cost-effective ways to improve your chances of conceiving and having a healthy baby. Proper planning is key.
Naturopathic practitioners recommend preparing your health 6-12 months prior to conception.
Think of it in terms of building a new home: you wouldn’t build a home on an unstable surface – you would first lay down a sturdy foundation. It’s the same for your future baby – you want to create a strong, nutrient rich environment for your baby to hunker down in for the next 9 months. Cleanses are a great place to start as they wipe the slate clean and improve your body’s ability to absorb and utilize nutrients.
Decreasing Your Toxic Burden
I am a firm believer in cleansing the liver regularly. The liver is what processes nutrients and cleanses the body of toxins and excessive hormones. Toxins in pesticides, beauty products, air pollutants, poor nutrition and plastics build up in our system, disrupt our hormonal function, and can lead to infertility (1).
According to naturopathic physician and nutritionist Dr. Aumatma Shah, pesticide exposure can reduce the uterus’ ability to support embryo implantation. In addition, pesticides may cause decreased fertility, stillbirth, premature birth, developmental abnormalities, hormone disruption, and ovarian disorders. This is why regular cleansing is beneficial for our health – it helps keep chemicals and toxins from building up.
Detoxing and cleansing are not recommended when you are already pregnant or when you are breastfeeding as it takes time for the body to clear out the toxins – you do not want to expose your baby to those toxins as they are on their way out. The best time to cleanse is up to a year before you conceive. And future dads should cleanse too! They are contributing half of the genetic ingredients, after all.
And a word of caution – there are a lot of fad detox and cleansing plans on the market, some of which are aggressive and dangerous. In my opinion, detoxing should not mean starving yourself. A nutritionist can work with you to safely and gently clear your system before that egg gets fertilized, ensuring that it has a clean environment to make a home in.
What Does a Cleanse Look Like?
Now before you run off at the mention of “cleansing,” let me reassure you that it does not have to involve juices that taste like grass and plant protein powders that taste like dirt. I like to do cleanses that involve delicious meals, yummy herbal teas, and loads of self-care. It is 1-2 weeks of eating organic, whole foods like zucchini pasta with pesto sauce and banana avocado smoothies. Not so scary, right?
Cleanses can include fresh salads, raw nuts, vegetable soups, fruit smoothies, healthy fats, lots of filtered water, and herbal teas. It’s like washing out your insides! In addition, certain self-care practices help the detoxification process such as gentle yoga, dry brushing, massage, castor oil packs, sitting in the sauna, and journaling (yes, cleansing involves an emotional toxin release, too!). Doing a cleanse once per year (or more if you’d like!) is a great practice to have not only for those wishing to improve their fertility but for those wishing to improve their overall health.
Other Benefits of Cleansing
The first few days of cleansing may not be so pleasant because your body is releasing toxins. However, after that, some of the benefits you might experience include:
- Clearer skin
- Stronger hair and nails
- Improved mood
- Better sleep
- More energy
- Better digestion
- Increased nutrient absorption
Once you flush your body of excessive toxins and hormones, you will feel a lot better and improve your chances of having a successful and healthy pregnancy. Not only that, but starting your health journey well before you conceive can help improve your baby’s health beyond birth. If you’re interested in learning more about cleansing, feel free to contact me.
There’s a Tea For That
There are lots of great herbal teas to incorporate during a cleanse that aid in the process of clearing out the liver. These herbs should not be used during pregnancy.
My favorites include:
Dandelion Root Tea helps clean out the liver and may improve the immune system (2). There are some yummy dandelion teas on the market, my favorite of which is Teechino, an herbal coffee blend. Just add some homemade cashew milk and it tastes like coffee!
Milk Thistle Tea helps to draw toxins out of the body, supports the liver, and has anti-cancer properties (3). It has also been shown to reduce damage to the liver due to antibiotic use. I’m tellin’ ya…herbs are powerful!
Have you tried a cleanse before? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!