Holistic Health: When getting pregnant doesn’t go as planned

Holistic Health: When getting pregnant doesn’t go as planned

Tracy Zollinger

In my fertility practice, I see everything from young women or couples planning ahead to couples at the height of the infertility roller coaster. Chinese medicine has been addressing women’s health and fertility issues since 200 C.E. (1) The patients I see enjoy the benefits of acupuncture, herb and supplement therapies and diet and lifestyle plans. Although each man, woman and couple are unique, there are some common sets of advice for those aiming to expand their family.


There are many ways that stress affects the body and its fertility, for both men and women. Stress affects your body’s ability to properly process nutrients and move body fluids as well as the balance of hormone levels. A stress response takes resources away from digestion and re-routes those resources to your muscles and brain so that fight-or-flight can occur. Fertility is not a priority in a body under stress. This is a Catch-22 for couples experiencing fertility issues, when frustration and stress are commonplace.

What can you do?

  • Re-prioritize - Take a step back from your responsibilities and commitments. Look at them objectively as if you are analyzing them for a stranger. Be the scientist observing data. Where are the imbalances? Are there commitments that can be dialed back? If it is too hard to be objective, seek out a licensed therapist to help with the process.
  • Re-evaluate - Just say NO! Start practicing the use of this empowering word that will give you your life balance back. Some things in our lives we need to say yes to, but many responsibilities and commitments are voluntary or can be held off. Evaluate each request and say no when you can.
  • Re-energize – Acupuncture has been shown to reduce stress hormones, which, in turn, affect fertility hormones. Exercise can not only reduce stress hormones but will help keep blood and lymph flowing well.

    Our reproductive systems rely on the proper movement of blood and other body fluids. Any foods that thicken the blood or body fluids should be avoided. Foods that promote inflammation will impede proper movement of blood and fluids as well as the egg and sperm as they travel to their destination. Exercise and diet are crucial to maintain a balanced body weight. Being overweight dramatically affects fertility.

    Key foods and drinks to avoid:

  • Soda, artificially sweetened or not, is connected to low sperm count. (2)
  • Sugar and simple carbohydrates (bread, crackers, etc.) are connected to low sperm count (3) and impeded ovulation. (4)
  • Coffee and alcohol impede ovulation. (5)
    What should you eat?

  • More leafy greens.
  • Plant based proteins like legumes, beans and nuts improve ovulation. (4)
  • Healthy fats including fish or krill oil (flax for vegetarians), olive oil, coconut oil, ghee and avocado, to name a few.
    When baby making doesn't go as planned it can be a daunting and overwhelming experience. You don't have to go it alone! There are many types of professionals from therapists and nutritionists to naturopaths and acupuncturists who are skilled at helping you make the most of your efforts. Sometimes a little help can take a big burden off of you.

    Tracy Zollinger, is an Alameda mom, licensed acupuncturist and business owner. You can reach Tracy at 299-0057 or www.tracyzollinger.com.

    Select References:
    (1) http://www.itmonline.org/arts/fertility.htm
    (2) Tina Kold Jensen, et al. “Caffeine Intake and Semen Quality in a Population of 2,554 Young Danish Men.” American Journal of Epidemiology, 171 (8): 883-891.
    (3) J.E. Chavarro, et al. “Trans-Fatty Acid Levels in Sperm Are Associated With Sperm Concentration Among Men From an Infertility Clinic.” Fertility and Sterility, 95(5): 1794-1797.
    (4) http://www.newsweek.com/how-diet-affects-fertility-94591
    (5) J.E. Chavarro, et al. “Caffeinated and Alcoholic Beverage Intake in Relation to Ovulatory Disorder Infertility.” Epidemiology, 20(3): 374-81.