Natural Fertility Enhancers

Herbs and a healthy lifestyle can help couples achieve a successful conception.

| May/June 2002


Herbs and a healthy lifestyle can help couples achieve a successful, natural conception.

A couple of generations ago, women most often faced the problem of having more children than they knew what to do with. For modern women, however—particularly those who delay childbearing until later in their reproductive years—infertility has become a significant concern. Since 1995, at least one in six women of childbearing age has sought professional support for infertility, a number that has grown significantly since the early 1980s and which appears to be steadily rising. If you are a woman or couple experiencing infertility, you can see that you are not alone!

Difficulty conceiving a child can be attributed to a myriad of complex biological, nutritional, social, and emotional factors. The diagnosis of infertility, whether self-defined or medically diagnosed, can lead to further emotional and social stresses, not to mention an odyssey of medical evaluations and interventions.

Although there is no guarantee that natural methods of approaching conception difficulties will be successful, they can improve your overall health and self-concept while laying the foundation for a healthier conception if this is achieved. Further, a number of practitioners using natural fertility-enhancing methods, as well as couples creating their own fertility programs, do find such methods successful. This article provides an overview of the causes of fertility problems and some of the methods of overcoming infertility naturally.

Declining fertility rates in the United States

Some of the explanations for declining childbearing trends in the United States since the 1980s include changing social roles and personal goals of women, delayed age of marriage and postponed childbearing, increased use of birth-control methods, difficult economic conditions, and increased concern for the environment. Basically, fewer women are trying to get pregnant, and more women are waiting until they are older to conceive. In fact, more women are waiting longer now to get pregnant than at any other time in the past thirty years. One in every five women having a first child in the United States is over the age of thirty-five. It is estimated that about one-third of women who wait until the mid- to late-thirties to try to get pregnant will experience some difficulty, and at least half of all women older than forty will experience infertility. While statistics indicate greater difficulty for “older” women, the oldest recorded age of pregnancy in the United States was in a fifty-seven-year-old woman from Oregon, and it is not uncommon to hear stories of women from other cultures having babies well into their late forties. Unfortunately, waiting until they are older to get pregnant often causes women to feel more of an urgency of time when they finally do decide to try, and although women can get pregnant at anytime in their reproductive cycles, it does tend to get harder as we get older.

However, rates of infertility appear to have increased across all age groups, attributed in part to increased rates of gynecologic problems, sexually transmitted diseases, and male reproductive problems. Environmental problems, nutritional deficiencies, and lifestyle may also play important roles.

The increase in fertility difficulties combined with increased access to assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization and fertility-enhancing drugs has led to the unprecedented use of medical intervention for conception. In 1995 alone, 15 percent of all women of reproductive age (9.3 million women) used some form of reproductive services to try to achieve a pregnancy.

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