When I found out at the age of 29 that I had very low AMH (anti-Müllerian hormone, which measures the remaining eggs you have) and diminished ovarian reserve, I fell into a hole, I hit rock bottom (one of several during my 5 years of trying to conceive). But then I changed my life and focused on three factors: my attitude, my lifestyle and choosing the right fertility methodology for me. From this I developed a holistic fertility method that not only made a significant contribution to my dream of becoming a mother. Numerous women that I have advised over the past few years have finally managed to get pregnant with the help of the holistic approach.
Personal attitude and stress level
Stress and fertility don't mix.
Infertility and miscarriages usually lead to increased psychological and emotional stress. However, as this can significantly affect fertility, overall stress should be limited as much as possible.
It's never too late to calm your own nervous system and let it know you're safe, relaxed, and ready to conceive. Cortisol is often released during times of stress. It sends a message to your brain that you're in physical danger - that you might be eaten by a lion (because deep in our brains we're still cavewomen). Prolonged stress releases so much cortisol that it suppresses your reproductive hormones and can lead to an imbalance. These include luteinizing hormone (LH), which affects ovulation, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which affects egg growth, and especially progesterone, which is critical for implantation and continued pregnancy.
How can you reduce your stress in everyday life?
Try mind-body connection techniques. Research has shown that they can increase IVF success rates by 52 percent. These mind-body tools include daily relaxation, visualization, breathing, and yoga. My favorite technique is a daily visualization of yourself in your safe and happy place.
Three elements are important when it comes to egg health:
- Cell Health
- Good quality mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cells that produce cellular energy to support growth and maintenance and determine whether the chromosomes in the oocytes divide evenly!)
- Reduction of free radicals (oxidative stress) in the oocytes
First rule of thumb: Give yourself 3 months to improve the health of your eggs. That's how long it takes for follicle genesis (growth path) and the restoration of a healthy hormone balance. Studies show that a balanced diet stabilizes reproductive hormones, improves egg quality and endometrium, and reduces inflammation.
Consider how you can improve your diet (e.g. Mediterranean cuisine), include as many fresh, organic, pesticide-free and healthy foods as possible and avoid processed, sugary foods and saturated fat as much as possible to increase inflammation in the body reduce. A high proportion of protein in the diet (up to 80 mg/day) and monounsaturated fatty acids (avocado, nuts, salmon) also support egg growth.
During this time, also talk to a doctor or nutritionist about taking fertility supplements. Often useful are:
- Coenzyme Q10: a powerful antioxidant and my number one recommendation to reduce oxidative stress in oocytes
- A good prenatal vitamin complex containing folate / folic acid, vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin B, as well as DHA (omega-3 fatty acid)
- Some women swear by maca (although it's not to everyone's taste)
If you're actively trying to conceive, this is NOT the time for high-intensity workouts, optimizing your marathon time, or working on your six-pack abs. Excessive exercise can have a direct negative impact on our reproductive hormones, particularly LH, FSH and progesterone.
Instead of HIIT workouts, try walking, cycling, swimming, yoga, and Pilates. Basically, train as if you were already pregnant. After you have your baby, you can go back to your old exercise routine. Endurance training at medium to low impact (low impact training) is the key to improving microcirculation in the body, i. H. Better blood flow, which carries oxygen and nutrients to your ovaries and uterus. Regular exercise also helps fight mitochondrial damage.
3. Environmental toxins
Endocrine active substances (EAS) are substances that can influence or disrupt the body's hormone activity. They include parabens, phthalates and BPA. These chemicals essentially mimic our hormones, sending out signals that aren't meant to be sent and giving cells the (wrong) impulse that real estrogen has docked. Improper estrogen signaling can lead to a variety of reproductive and neurodevelopmental disorders. Exposure to EDCs has been shown to result in a lack of ovulation (anovulation), slower follicle growth, lower antral follicle count and egg viability, earlier menopause, lower implantation, and a higher risk of miscarriage.
Endocrine active substances also increase oxidative stress in cells. All of our cells in the body require a balance of antioxidants and pro-oxidants. However, when the pro-oxidants are higher, it leads to oxidation of the cells, which leads to faster aging and lower quality of sperm and oocytes.
So avoid plastics, metals and pesticides:
- Non-environmentally friendly household cleaning products - look for more natural options
- Synthetic body care including lotion, shampoo, beauty - opt for more natural, BPA, paraben and fragrance-free brands such as Weleda
- Cookware - throw away your old teflon pans as they may still contain uncoated aluminum
- Vegetable, fruit and meat options - buy organic and pesticide/chemical free products. These are a little more expensive, but the benefits are worth it: remember to only feed your body the best foods (you only fill up your car with good quality gasoline instead of one that damages the engine).
- Balance oxidative stress with antioxidants: coenzyme Q10, vitamin C, all kinds of berries (try goji berries), beets, spinach, kale… oh and acai peel (yummy!)
Methodology to increase fertility
Let yourself be examined. If you know which lot you have drawn, you can make better decisions. Knowledge is power!
A diagnosis of low AMH, reduced ovarian reserve, etc. can simply mean adjusting your timing and expectations. It can take a lot longer than you thought to get pregnant and you may need help in the form of assisted reproductive treatments such as IUI/IVF Typically, women with low AMH have poor response to stimulation drugs, so the number of follicles that you produce during a treatment cycle may only be 1-2.
Here's my personal mantra for anyone in this situation: All you need is a good egg. Not 20 like other women waking up next to you after egg retrieval. Just a good egg! But unfortunately that may take a few more rounds of IVF (and all that goes with it…).
Be aware that donor eggs are also an option, but my recommendation is to always try your own eggs first - at least once.
So the question is: is your fertility doctor willing to give your body a chance, if in doubt with the help of lower stimulating doses and multiple tries?
Are you mentally ready for this marathon?
If so, amazing things can happen. I've seen it, and I trust you can too.
Conclusion: Low AMH levels and a reduced ovarian reserve do not mean that the dream of having your own baby is over. In particular, you should then focus on the health of your eggs and improving your fertility, and adjust your expectations.