Fertility & Natural Family Planning

Understanding natural fertility, infertility, and related moral and social issues.


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The Magic of Blackstrap Molasses

Finally, we have my favorite natural helper, blackstrap molasses!  This stuff packs a serious nutritional punch…

What is it?

Molasses is essentially the by product of the sugar making process, when the juice from the sugar cane plant is boiled.  After the third boiling, the result is blackstrap molasses which contains vitamins and a hefty dose of minerals.

Why should I take it?

It contains lots of nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, copper, potassium, manganese and a significant amount of iron.  Part of the beauty of blackstrap, is the combination of minerals, many of which are required for the absorption of the others.

Many women, especially those menstruating, pregnant, and/or breastfeeding, are at a high risk of developing iron deficiencies.  Additionally, those of us that eat a primarily vegetarian diet may not be getting enough iron.

Iron is critical for optimum fertility.  Increasing iron intake has been shown to lower the risk of ovulatory dysfunctions (that often cause ovulatory infertility) by up to 60%. Blackstrap molasses can also help to balance hormones and reduce heavy menstrual bleeding.

There are a number of other health issues that blackstrap molasses can help.  Read more herehere, and here.  Some of the most notable cures, probably include arthritis, fatigue, and anemia.

Where to find blackstrap molasses?

I have found it at some Whole Foods, but not others.  Most health food stores will carry it.  If you have trouble finding it, you can always order it online.

What to look for:

  • Organic
  • Unsulphured
  • High iron content – some brands have more than others (up to about 25% DV)

Put it in:

  • Homemade salad dressing
  • Hot chocolate (or coffee)
  • Sauteed greens
  • Smoothies
  • Oatmeal

You can probably come up with lots of other ways to take it.  Some people even take it straight off the spoon!


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Sunny Secret: Get a Tan, Get… Healthy!?

Our next all natural fertility helper is… the sun!

Okay, not quite.  It’s actually the nutrient, vitamin D3, made by our skin after sun exposure.  It is disease fighting and vital for good health.  Not getting enough has been linked to autoimmune disorders, pre-term birth, cancer, osteoporosis, and recently there has been evidence of a connection between infertility and vitamin D3 deficiency.  In one study, within a sample of women struggling with infertility, it was discovered that only 7% of them had adequate levels of vitamin D.  There also appears to be a link between vitamin D and ovulatory dysfunction.


Why aren’t we getting enough?

  1. It is almost impossible to get enough Vitamin D from food sources alone.
  2. We wear lots of sunscreen, which impedes UVB rays.
  3. Most of us work inside during the day.
  4. Pollution (& clouds) reduce UVB rays.
  5. Depending on where we live and the time of year, there may not be enough UVB rays available during the day.

How to increase your D3 levels

  1. Get more sun!  Preferably about 20 minutes of midday sun a couple days of week, sans sunscreen and with some skin exposed.
  2. If getting more sun isn’t going to happen, then you may want to take supplements.  The daily recommend intake can be found here.  However, according to this study it may not be enough.  I have read that there is discussion about upping the daily recommended dosage.  If you happen to be deficient, it is likely that you may be directed to take a much higher dosage for a time to get your levels up depending on your situation.
  3. You can get some vitamin D from fortified foods, like milk and cereal.  The following are natural food sources:
  • Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, catfish, etc.)
  • Eggs
  • Beef liver
  • Fish liver oils
  • The only vegan dietary source of Vitamin D are mushrooms and UV irradiated yeast.
To keep in mind…

  1. People with darker complexions need more time in the sun than those with lighter skin tones to produce the same amount of Vitamin D.
  2. If you, or someone you know, are suffering from infertility or an ovulation disorder, ask your doctor to check your levels with a blood test.
  3. We need vitamin D to absorb calcium.
  4. There is a difference between vitamin D2 and D3.  Look for D3.
  5. Adequate vitamin D levels are critical during pregnancy, and some say even pre-conception.

Want more information?


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Castor Oil: Fertility Friendly

Alright, first up is all natural… castor oil!  It comes from the seed of the castor plant, also known as Rincinus Communis or Palma Christ (“Palm of Christ”).  The oil permeates the skin and can reduce inflammation and pain while increasing blood flow and cell turnover. In addition to its healing properties, it is really relaxing when used as an abdominal pack.

Fertility Related Castor Oil Uses

There are numerous ailments that benefit from castor oil.  The following focuses on fertility related conditions, but others can be found here.

  • Shrinking fibroids
  • Treating endometriosis
  • Dissolving cysts
  • Inducing labor
  • Increasing blood flow in the uterus
  • Detoxifying prior to conception (recommended in the 3 months prior to trying to conceive)

How to Use

Castor oil can be directly massaged into skin.  For a greater healing effect and to aide fertility related issues, a castor oil pack can be made by soaking wool flannel in the oil and then applied to the abdomen.  Dry heat is then applied using a heating pad or other hot pack for 45 minutes to 2 hours.  The oil can be cleaned off the skin with weak baking soda and water solution.  More detailed instructions can be found here.

Where to Find Castor Oil

I found the oil at Whole Foods and health food stores in Tucson (Sunflower Market & New Life Health Center).  Both Whole Foods & New Life Health Center sold the wool flannel.

Precautions

  • Castor oil can stain
  • Use isn’t advisable in the cases of menstruation, heavy bleeding, infection, breast-feeding,  or pregnancy
  • When using to detoxify prior to pregnancy, it is recommend that after a few months use should be slowly tapered off and then only used with mild heat prior to ovulation