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Boosting your Fertility

Friday, 6 November 2009

There comes a point in most people lives when their thoughts turn to having children, but sometimes the issue of fertility rears its ugly head. Most people think automatically of the Woman but Men play a very important role also. Some herbs will boost fertility in only men or only women while others work for both sexes. Ciara takes a look at what herbs could help you both.

Ciara O' Meara - Medical Herbalist
From a young age Ciara found herself allergic to antibiotics, this prompted a proactive approach to preventative medicine, ensuring that through diet and exercise she was always doing her best to stay healthy.
Ciara is a practicing Medical Herbalist. Ciara completed an Honors Science degree in University College Dublin in 1997 followed by an MSc in Medical Genetics at Aberdeen University. She spent a number of years working in the field of academic research in areas such as The Human Genome Project at Oxford University, UK, and on Cancer research at Cancer Research UK.
It was during this time that she took up a yoga practice and further cultivated an interest in natural medicine. She also completed a four year honours degree in Herbal Medicine at Westminster University in London. This University has a long established centre for excellence in the training of medical herbalists and encompasses a walk in training clinic in the heart of London.
Ciara O' Meara has clinics in Thurles, Co. Tipperary and Rathangan, Co. Kildare.

For further information and contact details please see her website: www.herbalist.ie
For information on the professional body of medical herbalist in Ireland (The Irish Institute of Medical Herbalists) please see www.iimh.org

Fertility for men and women

Many couples will experience fertility problems, 1 in 7 couples can have difficulty conceiving. Infertility is defined as not being able to become pregnant after a year of trying.
In 30% of cases there are problems with the female, 30% with the male and 40% of problems are unexplained. In Ireland the current trend is that many women are having their first child in the age-group 30-34 years. This fact is probably underlying the current apparent fertility problems in Ireland.

The first step is to have some tests done for men a sperm test and for a woman, functional tests to make sure the ovaries are ovulating and there are no underlying health issues or infections. Many couples now due to the older age of women starting a family are having these tests done first.

For a woman there may be other underlying gynecological conditions such as endometriosis, Polycystic ovarian syndrome, fibroids, blocked fallopian tube, abnormally shaped uterus, or hormone imbalances; all these conditions should be properly investigated before taking any herbs it is important that you have a diagnosis in order to have the best treatment.

For many couples simply 'cleaning up' the diet can be enough to boost reproductive health factors which can reduce fertility in both partners include stress, nutritional deficiency, exposure to chemicals such as pesticide residues, food additives, smoking, and excessive alcohol or caffeine consumption

Let us being with the ladies:
Female Reproductive health

. Take a good quality pregnancy supplement which includes folic acid (RDA 400mgs)
. Avoid constipation
. Try to eat seasonal fresh food
. Drink plenty of water ~ 2L a day

Relax (make time to do this on a daily basis if only for 15 mins) laugh as often as possible, visualise your pregnancy often and in a positive manner, positive reinforcement is a very powerful and important tool both for you and your partner.

Essential Nutrients in Pregnancy
Iron - RDA 30 mg. Best sources - meat and fish. Best vegetable sources - bread, pulses, green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, dried fruits. Needs Vitamin C to absorb.
Folic acid - Recommended supplemental level 400 mgs. Works with other B vitamins and is vital in preventing neural tube defects. B vitamins are crucial for the developing brain and nervous system. Good food sources - green leafy vegetables, especially brassicas, asparagus, mushrooms, tomatoes, strawberries and whole wheat.

Herbs for female fertility

Shatavari

Shatavari is traditionally said 'to give the capacity to have a hundred husbands'. AS such it is a good female reproductive tonic . It has a subtle hormone balancing action on the body, it also has a subtle anti- stress action on the body which makes it ideal for women trying to conceive.
Should be taken with food.

Chaste tree berry (Vitex -Agnus Castus)
This herb helps to balance hormones. It can be a useful herb to take after coming off the oral contraceptive pill to help regulate the cycle. It can help with many premenstrual symptoms. It is particularly helpful in raising progesterone levels in the second half of the cycle. Vitex is particularly useful where there are symptoms of breast swelling, soreness and insomnia before the period
It can be taken in tincture or capsules. It is best to take it first thing in the morning as this is when it is thought to be most effective.
Dosage 10-20 drops first thing in the morning or one to two capsules.

And now for the Men:
Male Reproductive health

A healthy quantity of sperm is 20 million sperm per milliliter of semen

TIPS for improving sperm quality
. Get plenty of exercise, keep weight down, excess weight will negatively affect the bodys healthy production of reproductive hormones.
. Reduce stress
. Eat a good balanced diet
. Avoid toxins, from cleaning products, environmental exposure, cigarettes, smoking cannabis. Smoking can increase the chances of erectile dysfunction, it can also damage the sperm DNA, it will reduce motility and quantity of sperm.
. Wear cotton underwear high temperatures will damage sperm, the same goes for prolonged baths or steam/ sauna treatments.

Herbs for men

ASHWAGANDA (Withania sominifera)
Boosts energy reserves and helps reduce the damaging effects of stress on the body. Studies have shown that it can help improve physical performance and exercise tolerance.

Korean Ginseng (Panax ginseng)
There is some evidence that Ginseng can improve both sperm count and libido in men. Caution high doses may cause, hypertension, anxiety or insomnia always follow prescribed quantity. Dosage 1.8- 3 grams per day of dried root.


(All these recommendations are based on healthy persons not currently taking medications, if you are taking prescribed medications or have an underlying health condition go and see your local medical herbalist for the most effective herbal treatment)

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