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Holistic Fertility: Complementary Methods for your Pregnancy Journey 

Jessica Joseph, RN, BSN, MHA
February 8, 2023
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Holistic fertility is a therapeutic approach that focuses on mental and physical health to improve the chances of getting pregnant. This field combines Eastern and Western medicine and considers various factors, including nutrition, exercise, acupuncture, herbs, yoga, meditation, and therapy for emotional well-being. Incorporating holistic methods benefits couples trying to get pregnant on their own or with conventional fertility treatments such as IVF or IUI. 


Nutrition and Fertility


Dietary Modifications: In an article published in Fertility and Sterility, women trying to get pregnant can follow dietary guidelines to promote fertility.  Some tips they mention are eating plant-based proteins (as opposed to meat-based), whole grains, colorful fruits and vegetables, and low-mercury fish.

Supplements: The Harvard Health Blog states that specific nutrients such as folic acid, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids positively affect fertility. Other nutrients help promote fertility, such as n-acetyl cysteine (NAC), which can support egg quality, and coQ10, which can help with egg maturation and embryo development. Many prenatal vitamins conveniently contain some or all of these specific nutrients. 


Men’s Nutrition: According to the Cleveland Clinic, men should also achieve a normal BMI range and follow specific dietary guidelines. Certain foods can adversely affect semen quality, such as foods high in sugar, fat, animal protein, and soy. Other foods, such as foods high in antioxidants (berries, spinach, kale, beans), whole grains, nuts, and seeds, can promote male fertility.

Weight: According to the International Journal of General Medicine,  women who are underweight or obese have hormonal imbalances that affect menstruation, ovulation, and the ability to get pregnant. Therefore, achieving an optimal body mass index (BMI) can increase pregnancy chances. Women who have been advised to gain or lose weight might find it helpful to work with a nutritionist.  Nutritionists can set realistic dietary goals and customize diets to specific needs. 



Exercise for Reproductive Health


Finding the right balance between exercise and good nutrition can promote a normal weight range.  Furthermore, exercise has numerous benefits on fertility, including regulating hormone levels, preventing miscarriage, and improving insulin levels. Developing a good exercise routine before getting pregnant can translate into a healthier pregnancy, especially if the exercise habits are carried over into pregnancy, which can result in fewer complications while pregnant such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.


According to Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, men who exercise have better sperm quality than men who do not engage in physical activity. Sperm parameters have shown marked improvement with exercise in men, including sperm quantity, motility (movement), and morphology (shape).    


Tips for creating and maintaining a good exercise routine involve finding an enjoyable activity and sticking to a schedule.  Vigorous and extensive exercise is not the goal, especially if you are new to exercise. Thirty minutes of exercise 3 days a week should suffice for most while avoiding being sedentary. 


Yoga and Meditation to Enhance Pregnancy Chances


Undergoing fertility treatment or trying to get pregnant on one’s own can be a stressful period.  With increased stress, the hormone cortisol can increase in your body.  According to the Journal of Human Reproduction, rises in cortisol levels can be detrimental to achieving pregnancy. One way to counteract a rise in cortisol levels is to manage stress and anxiety.


Yoga is a discipline based on Indian philosophy that incorporates specific postures, meditation (focused concentration), and deep breathing exercises. Yoga promotes relaxation and increased blood flow throughout the body. It has countless health benefits, including balancing hormones, lowering stress, decreasing anxiety, reducing inflammation, and fighting depression.


For fertility purposes, check with your provider before engaging in hot yoga. Restorative yoga classes offer a slower flow with moderate stretches. In addition, Healthline offers some valuable suggestions for yoga poses you can try in the comfort of your home.


Acupuncture For Conception


Acupuncture is a practice that originated in China and involves the insertion of thin needles to target specific pressure points in the body. Acupuncture addresses many problems associated with infertility. Treatment may increase blood flow to the reproductive tract, improve embryo implantation rates, regulate hormone levels, and decreases stress.  Some acupuncturists might recommend herbal medicine in tandem with acupuncture treatment.


Fertility experts, who have specialized in Western medicine, remain neutral on the therapeutic effects of acupuncture. However, most are not opposed to acupuncture since it’s harmless while undergoing fertility treatment.


When selecting an acupuncturist, make sure they are registered and, if required, licensed by the state. Bear in mind that not all states require licensing.  For a state-by-state licensing requirement guide, please refer to the NCCAOM website.  It is also essential to find an acupuncturist that specializes in fertility.


Therapy While Trying to Conceive


Trying to get pregnant and struggling with infertility can be emotionally challenging. Women who have suffered miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies often suffer in silence.  Women and men who have undergone sexual trauma or abuse might struggle to cope with getting pregnant. No matter the situation, finding a trusted support system, whether through friends, family, your partner, or a therapist, is crucial.


Working with a therapist offers innumerable benefits.  Therapists will review your medical and psychosocial background. They make assessments based on your stressors and recommend coping strategies.   Fertility centers might employ licensed therapists to counsel women and men struggling with infertility.  If not, your fertility specialist can refer you to a licensed therapist.


Always consult your healthcare provider before starting any new dietary, therapeutic, medicinal, or physical regimen.



C.D. Lynch, R. Sundaram, J.M. Maisog, A.M. Sweeney, G.M. Buck Louis, Preconception stress increases the risk of infertility: results from a couple-based prospective cohort study—the LIFE study, Human Reproduction, Volume 29, Issue 5, May 2014, Pages 1067–1075,


Chiu YH, Chavarro JE, Souter I. Diet and female fertility: doctor, what should I eat? Fertility and Sterility. 2018 Sep;110(4):560-569. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2018.05.027. PMID: 30196938.


Sharma, S. Biedenharn, K. Fedor, JM, Agarwal, A. Lifestyle factors and reproductive health: taking control of your fertility Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology volume 11, Article number: 66 (2013


Zhu L, Zhou B, Zhu X, Cheng F, Pan Y, Zhou Y, Wu Y, Xu Q. Association between body mass index and female infertility in the united states: Data from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2013-2018. Int J Gen Med. 2022 Feb 19;15:1821-1831. doi: 10.2147/IJGM.S349874. PMID: 35221716; PMCID: PMC8865871.

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