Thursday, August 4, 2011

Fertility Diet and FSH Levels

For today's blog post, I answer questions about FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) levels, which is one measure of our fertility from a medical standpoint, how dietary changes impact FSH, and how optimizing fertility is about more than just dietary changes.

QUESTION 1: I thought I read somewhere that you had a high FSH level before getting pregnant. I wondered after you changed your diet and did the yoga, meditation and so on, and then were able to get pregnant, did you retest your FSH level to see if it had dropped?

ANSWER 1: My FSH was elevated at the time (above 10), but not yet super-high. It was still indicative of “diminished ovarian reserve,” though, and combined with my age, I was given a 2% chance of being able to conceive on my own. A healthy, clean, fertility diet can definitely help to balance hormones and improve the quality of your eggs, as well as the quality of men’s reproductive health. (See my blog on the subject here: )

Acupuncture has also been known to improve reproductive health, and bring down FSH numbers too (although not always dramatically). (See: for some general information on this.)

I did not have my FSH measured after I started my fertility diet and other modalities. I just felt great and obviously it had a positive impact, as I conceived our son four months later. I suspect my FSH numbers did not move too much; but keep in mind that FSH is only one measure of egg quality. As Julia Indichova details in her book, Inconceivable, at the age of 42 she had an FSH of 42. She completely changed her diet and other factors and became pregnant eight months later. Her FSH the month of her pregnancy was still very high, 30; yet, she went on to deliver a healthy baby. Something to keep in mind.

QUESTION 2: Was there anything else you did in addition to the yoga and diet changes that you feel helped you conceive? My story is similar to yours. I am almost 41 and was told that I have a 2% chance of conceiving naturally.  I am not prepared to accept this and am doing everything I can. However I do feel that my stress level is an issue and I also have an FSH level that the doctor says is indicative of peri-menopause.  I would love to hear if you have any further suggestions or recommendations for me.

ANSWER 2: I’m so glad to hear that you are choosing to do what you do have power over to optimize your health and fertility. There is a lot you can do. I talk about this in our book, under “Lifestyle Factors,” but in addition to strictly following the fertility diet, I did Yoga 4 Fertility three or so times a week, meditated 20 minutes every day, visualized the end result (holding my baby, breastfeeding, doing a playful activity w/baby) every morning and evening, and did Julia Indichova’s guided visualization from her CD (at I also cut my workload to help keep stress at minimum.

I believe strongly in the mind-body connection, and it’s very important to find healthy ways to manage stress (such as with mediation, yoga, etc.). Although I didn’t do these while I was TTC, I also recommend Circle+Bloom’s mind-body programs for deep relaxation (they have a free demo on their site) and definitely acupuncture, although I know that’s an added expense. For the acupuncture, find a practitioner who specializes in women’s health and fertility. Acupuncture has been proven to aid fertility, helping to lower FSH levels and improve egg quality.

Last recommendation, have patience (which I know is challenging!). It takes our bodies about 3 months to fully adjust to dietary changes (and acupuncture treatments).
All the best to you on your fertility journey!

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