fertility information

Getting to know your cycle is key to understanding your fertility. You need to appreciate what is happening to your body at every stage of the month (i.e. based on a 28 day cycle, what is happening during week one, week two,week three, and week four so that you can interpret signs and work with your natural rhythms to enhance your fertility.

Every aspect of your cycle is equally important. Your menstrual flow is a good indicator of your general overall health and fertility. Women today do not talk with each other as much about their cycle, so, more and more women have an understanding of what is 'normal'. Now that you want to concieve, it is time to get involved, talk about it, learn about it, and feel it like never before. Always remember that what is normal for some is not for others. Volume, colour, length, etc. can vary from woman to woman. If you decide to visit a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner to increase your fertility, you will be asked questions about every little sign and symptom that is involved in your cycle. 

The Ovarian-Hypothalamus-Pituitary female sexual hormonal axis. If this regulatory system is balanced the woman will feel very little changes throughout her cycle. Most women have some kind of imbalance, therefore they do feel the changes in their cycle, although, these are good ways to get to know what is going on, and aids in the process of rebalancing. 10-15% of miscarriages happen due to hormonal imbalances. Many infertility problems are due to hormonal ovulatory disorder. It makes good sense to get to know this part of you and start balancing it today. 

Start making a daily diary of how you feel throughout your cycle. This is a good way to get in tune with your hormonal fluctuations. Charts are available to take temperature, record cervical secretions, note intercourse, and spaces for many other signs and feelings. 

The cycle begins with the start of your period (the first day when normal flow begins). There is about 14 days until ovulation (follicular phase), estrogen levels constantly increase, toward ovulation your sex drive may rise, cervical mucus appears, and you become fertile. The second half, the luteal phase, is from ovulation to your period. This is when fertilization occurs, if not, the egg is absorbed and the uterus prepares to shed its lining. Progesterone rises in the luteal phase and estrogen levels fall in the last 7 days. This is the Pre-menstrual phase.

Week One

Falling estrogen and progesterone levels signal the hypothalamus to release GnRH (gonadotrophin releasing hormone) which triggers bleeding and the start of the cycle. This makes the pituitary release FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) which starts the growth of the follicles with an egg inside each of them.

Bleeding generally lasts from 4-7 days with the heaviest bleeding on day 1. The amount bled is usually about 50-80ml. The endometrium starts to regenerate and by day 5 it will be about 2mm thick.

Most women in the swest believe that menstrual pain is normal, they take painkillers to manage. The painkilling medication can also effect your fertility. Pain is a sign that the flow of energy and blood is impeded. The blood should be red, not dark-brown and thick, or pinkish and watery. Clots also are a sign of imbalance.

Get to bed early during bleeding. Eat nourishing easily digestable foods. Do not expose yourself to climactic extremes. Try not to swim in cold water, and avoid sex if possible. 

It is also highly recommended that women stay away from tampons. The use of reuseable pads and cups such as 'the keeper' are the safe way to go, they just take a little getting used to. If you must use tampons, educate yourself in the dangers associated with them, and only use organic cotton unbleached.

Vitamins A, E, and selenium are all important to build up the endometrium. Foods rich in iron and vitamin C help compensate for the blood loss. CoQ10 helps oxygenate and move the blood, and vitamin B1 also helps build blood.

Do light exercises during your period such as yoga, qigong, or meditation.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help regulate all aspects of your menses. From pain to clots, and irregular cycles to bleeding between periods.

In ancient cultures of all types, menstruation was a time for women to rest and not have to deal with society. It was a cleansing time, cherished and honoured. Take back some of your red tent ritual!

Week Two

Between 10-20 follicles have been developing, but this week, the ONE will be chosen for ovulation. FSH levels continue to rise to stimulate follicle growth. The dominant follicle may grow to become 20 mm in diameter. The ovaries tell the endometrium to thicken to foster the possible coming implantation. When estrogen rises, FSH declines so that no more follicles mature. Estrogen peaks at around day 12, this tells the hypothalamus to release LH. LH levels surge around day 14, 24-36 hours later the wall of the follicle ruptures and releases the egg which then begins its journey into the fallopian tubes.

B vitamins are needed for proper release of the egg and synthesis of RNA and DNA. Zinc, magnesium, selenium, and vitamin A aid egg production and cell division. Vitamin C, E, selenium and zinc are all thought to be important elements in the follicular fluid that surround the egg to aid in its suvival.

During this week you will have more energy, feel more alive. Do regular aerobic activity (brisk walks, aerobics, martial arts, running, swimming, cycling, weights). You cannot have sex too much! This does not weaken the sperm, actually, chances of conception are increased with more frequent sex. Some say that sperm can last up to seven days if their seminal and protate emisions are healthy. An egg is fertilizable for 12-24 hours after release. So when fertile signs are at their optimum, intercourse is important. Day 10-15 are the days on a 28 day cycle where a woman is most fertile. 5 days before ovulation and 2 days after equals 1 week of conception intercourse every cycle. Enjoy! 


Week Three

Now that FSH has dropped, and LH is slowly declining, it is the time of progesterone. This phase is called the luteal phase. This is from ovulation until bleeding. This should last at least 10 days for their to be time for fertilization and implantation. The site where the follicle ruptured on the ovary turns into the corpus lutem which secretes progesterone. 
Progesterone; 1. builds and thickens the uterus endometrium to support the embryo which will burrow into its layers, 2. turns off LH and FSH so no more eggs are produced, 3. raises the bady temperature ever so slightly, and 4. closes the cervix and forms a plug to stop things from entering the uterus.

Zinc and vitamin A are important for the production of progesterone. Vitamin C is important for the corpus luteum and its release of progesterone.

Do moderate exercise at this time (walking, cycling, taiji, yoga), and avoid excessive weights and aerobic activity.

Acupuncture at this time can help you relax and aid in the process of implantation.

Week Four

Time to hope, pray, stay calm, and think positive. The embryo gets to the uterus 4-5 days after fertilization. The egg has 2 days to become fertilized. 7 days maximum for the egg to get fertilized and into the uterus. Another 2-3 days may be required to complete implantation. Therefore, implantation occurs about 7-10 days after ovulation. An embryo (or blastocyst) has about 30 cells by the time it reaches the uterus and starts to break its cellular capsule (zona pellucida) to begin implantation. As women age, the zona pellucida becomes tougher. After implantation has taken place, the placenta begins to form and HCG (human chorionic gonadotophin) is released signaling pregnancy. This makes the endometrium not be shed (menses), and the corpus luteum to produce more progesterone to sustain the pregnancy for the next 12 weeks until the placenta can do it on its own. If no conception has taken place, the corpus luteum will degenerate after 12-16 days post ovulation, and the 8-10mm thick endometrium will stop developing and begin to shed. Estrogen and progesterone levels fall, the hypothalamus releases GnRH which releases FSH. Bleeding occurs, follicles begin to develop, and the whole cycle starts again.

Try to eat warming foods (cooked), but not too spicy. Stay away from too many raw and cold food and drink. Ensure a healthy supply of essential fatty acids, vitamin B6, E, zinc, and magnesium are in the diet.

Exercise at will unless you think you may be pregnant, then stay away from high impact, heavy weight, extreme aerobic activities. Deep breathing and visualization of an implanting embryo is of utmost importance at this time.


Eat more To gain
Whole grains B vitamins, vitamin E, fiber
Fruits, vegetables Vitamin C, antioxidants
Lean meats, beans Protein, zinc, iron
Low-fat dairy Protein, calcium
DHA/Omega-3 (salmon, canned light [not albacore] tuna, some egg brands) Benefits baby's brain and nervous system development; reduces risk of premature birth
Multivitamin with 400 mcg of folic acid Reduces risk of 
spinal cord
 and brain defects, especially in weeks before conception and first trimester of pregnancy

Switch protein sources: Replace some of the beef, pork or chicken you eat (animal protein) with vegetable protein sources, such as cooked dried beans and nuts. When five percent of total calories eaten come from vegetable protein instead of animal, the risk of ovulatory infertility drops by more than 50 percent.

Add some high-fat dairy: The more low-fat dairy products you eat, the greater your risk of ovulatory infertility. Yes, you read that right—although the study's authors caution against using this to justify late-night freezer raids for a pint of premium ice cream. Instead, try replacing one low-fat dairy serving per day with one high-fat serving, such as a glass of whole milk.

Don't forget your vitamins: Women in the study who regularly took iron supplements and multivitamins containing folic acid had less ovulation-related infertility.

Improving Cervical Secretions

Cervical secretions are vital to fertility. They indicate fertility, and aid the sperm in their journey. The cervix is filled with a mucus secreting membrane. Estrogen changes the cervical fluid. the vagina gets moist wet and slippery, secretions may show on your underwear and toilet paper, and this fluid becomes stretchy like egg white if stretched between finger and thumb. The mucus will stretch 2-4 cm when you are most fertile. The fertile mucus creates ease of passage for the swimming sperm through the cervix. Progesterone kicks in immediately after ovulation which dries up this cervical mucus and gives it a lotion like character. 

When you are not detecting fertile cervical mucus, it is possible that you are ovulating right after you are bleeding so that the fertile mucus is blended with the blood. 

Other causes for inadequate cervical mucus; low estrogen levels (low body weight), rapid weight changes, too much wheat bran in diet, vitamin A deficiency, antihistamines, ulcer medication, clomid, some antidepressants, too much exercise reduces circulating estrogens, smoking, high doses of vitamin C dry up mucus, synthetic underwear, fabric softeners, scented toilet paper, tampons, vaginal lubricants, pH out of balance, and poor sexual techniques where the woman is not excited enough to produce sufficient secretions. 

Cervical secretions can be improved by; eating foods rich in B vitamins, drinking plenty of water, and including wheat germ in the diet all can help. 

If you have determined that your pH balance is off the following is a quick dietary reference to help.
Alkaline foods (to correct acidity): millet, almonds, seaweed, beets, artichokes, asparagus, green, broccoli, brussels sprouts, celery, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, kale, cucumber, endive, escarole, leeks, kohlrabi, lettuce, onions, garlic, ginger, parsley, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, turnips, watercress, brown rice, apples, apricots, fresh figs, bananas, berries, melons, kiwi, grapes, lemons, limes, pears, plums, peaches, mangos, papayas, bamboo shoots, bok choy, parsnips, eggplant, okra, peppers, radishes, swiss chard, rhubarb, spinach.
Neutral foods: yogurt, butter.
Acid foods: lamb, chicken, turkey, goose, duck, salmon, white fish, eggs, beans, barley, buckwheat, oats, rye, white rice, mushrooms, raisins, beef, veal, pork, ham, bacon, cheese, goat and cow milk, wheat, corn, tomatoes, oranges, grapefruit.