Endometriosis impacts the quality of life of about 1 in 10 of women out there (Mavrelos et. al, 2015).
One of the most devastating impacts of this condition is its potential impact on fertility, and a woman’s ability to have a family.
If you do suffer from endo, have you ever considered how you can naturally improve your fertility?
Endometriosis can cause infertility in a couple of ways:
(1) If the condition affects a woman’s ovaries or fallopian tubes, this can impact the ability of an egg from travelling to the uterus, where it can be fertilised by sperm (Nall, 2016).
(2) While more research is needed around this, the inflammation caused by endometriosis can potentially damage a woman’s egg or a man’s sperm, causing the body to release compounds that can damage or destroy these, and keeping a woman from falling pregnant (Nall, 2016).
While many women who have been diagnosed with endometriosis undergo surgical treatment or other medical management strategies to improve their fertility and chances of conceiving, there are ways you can naturally boost your fertility even if you have endometriosis.
Let’s get into it!
Including certain foods and avoiding others in your diet has been shown to help with symptoms and severity of endometriosis. These foods can help reduce inflammation in your body, making it a more hospitable environment for a baby to potentially grow and thrive in (Nall, 2016).
So what are these magical foods you should be eating?
Studies have shown that eating a significant amount of omega-3 fats, found mostly in oily fish, nuts and seeds can help reduce inflammation, and prevent lesions associated with endometriosis (Nall, 2016).
Ideally, you want a high ratio of omega-3 fats compared to omega-6 fats (Nall, 2016), which are found in things like eggs, poultry, meats and sunflower oils. So prioritise your foods rich in omega-3 to nail that balance!
Research has found that antioxidant-rich diets, and even supplements, can reduce chronic pain caused by endometriosis (Santanam et. al, 2013).
After just two months of antioxidant supplementation, women with endometriosis were found to have less inflammation, oxidative stress and chronic pelvic pain, so antioxidant-rich foods can play a huge role in improving fertility (Santanam et. al, 2013).
Think things like berries (the darker, the better!), dark leafy greens, beetroot, spinach and dark chocolate (that’s right, here’s your invitation to snack on chocolate, you’re welcome!) are all rich sources of antioxidants.
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An anti-inflammatory or Mediterranean dietary pattern has been shown to help reduce symptoms and severity of endometriosis, making it potentially useful in improving fertility (Saguyod et. al, 2018)!
his type of diet requires eating lots of veggies, legumes and beans, nuts and seeds, seafood and foods rich in omega-3s daily (and LOTS of extra virgin olive oil!), and limiting red meats, sugars, and poultry to smaller amounts (Nall, 2016).
The Mediterranean diet has been suggested to improve endometriosis-related pain from periods, sexual intercourse and bowel movements, and is fantastic for fertility – it’s a win-win!
Brassica or cruciferous vegetables
Things like broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, kale, bok choy, Brussels and cabbage are excellent sources of fibre, and have been shown to help lower oestrogen levels – which is so beneficial for women suffering from endometriosis (Fujiyoka et. al, 2016)!
Again these can help improve fertility by reducing inflammation and balancing sex hormones – critical if you’re looking to fall pregnant!
2. Exercise daily & maintain a healthy weight
Regular exercise and maintenance of a healthy weight has been shown to improve symptoms of endometriosis, and potentially assist with fertility (Nall, 2016).
Moderate exercise, like walking, lifting weights, aerobics and swimming, have been proven to help reduce inflammation associated with endometriosis, a key cause of infertility in affected women (Montenegro et. al, 2019). Regardless of how frequently the women exercised, they were found to have lower oxidative stress and inflammation in their bodies (Bonocher et. al, 2014) compared to those who didn’t exercise, showing the power of exercise in improving and treating endometriosis (Montenegro et. al, 2019).
So fitting in a daily stroll or workout can really do wonders!
3. What you don’t eat is as important as what you do…
As we’ve discussed, preventing inflammation in a woman’s body is essential for improving fertility if you have endo.
So it makes sense that, though there are foods you should eat plenty of to help with this, there are also a few foods you should minimise or avoid.
- Sugar and processed foods – these significantly increase inflammation in your body (Nall, 2016), so minimising your intake may improve your chances of falling pregnant.
- Trans fats – found in foods like fast food and fried food, these fats have been shown to increase the risk and severity of endometriosis (Butler, 2020).
So the bottom line is, prioritise nourishing, whole foods, and a healthy and active lifestyle, and consider limiting inflammatory, processed foods. Remember, while endo has been linked to an increased risk of infertility, these are simple things you can do to help yourself and improve your chances of falling pregnant!
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