Modern infertility treatments can be a boon for couples struggling with specific, identified problems. At least 20 percent of infertility problems, however, have no identifiable cause, according to the Pacific College of Asian Medicine. In these cases, natural treatments may significantly increase the chances of becoming pregnant, typically without the expense or potential side effects associated with traditional infertility treatments.
A Harvard School of Public Health landmark study examined the lifestyle choices and fertility trends of 120,000 nurses. It found that a healthy diet is a critical component to healthy fertility as it can balance hormone levels and build a woman's immune system to support optimum fertility. A diet low in trans-fats and high in healthy fats, such as olive oil and avocados, is recommended. Simple carbs and sugars should be avoided, but plenty of whole-grains, fruits and vegetables should be consumed daily. A multi-vitamin high in folic acid and iron is essential as well. Limiting meat consumption, upping servings of vegetable protein from legumes, and getting one serving of whole-fat milk, yogurt or cottage cheese each day round out this eating plan designed to support fertility, according to Walter C. Willett, MD, leader of the study and co-author of "The Fertility Diet."
Time to Quit
Food isn't the only thing going in your body that influences fertility. Smoking or using tobacco can also inhibit fertility. Stop smoking altogether until after you conceive and your baby is born. Cut down or eliminate alcohol, coffee and soda consumption, and limit or eliminate use of over-the-counter medications, if possible. If you take prescription medication, don't stop without consulting your doctor. Men should avoid taking medications containing ibuprofen or aspirin, while women should avoid melatonin supplements, says Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, writing for Psychology Today.
A Balanced Lifestyle
Stress and a frenzied lifestyle, including overly strenuous exercise programs, can reduce fertility by decreasing progesterone levels or suppressing ovulation. Alice Domar, PhD, of Harvard Mind/Body Program for Infertility, recommends giving up all forms of strenuous exercise to improve fertility. At the same time, incorporate activities designed to reduce stress and increase balance and flexibility. Yoga, meditation, gentle swimming or a moderate daily walk can maintain fitness while reducing stress levels, according to Domar, co-author of "6 Steps to Increase Fertility."
Acupuncture is a traditional technique used in Asian medicine that involves inserting thin, sterile needles into the body at specific points. Practitioners believe that acupuncture helps regulate the flow of energy throughout the body, reducing stress, balancing the endocrine system for optimal hormone production and increasing blood flow to reproductive organs, according to the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. Research results on the effectiveness of acupuncture for treating infertility is mixed, but a 2012 study from Tel Aviv University found that 65.5 percent of couples undergoing intrauterine insemination were able to conceive when they used acupuncture in conjunction with other holistic methods, while 39.4 percent of couples conceived using insemination only.