When it comes to trying to conceive, there’s a very important factor that you might not be paying much attention to – blood flow to your uterus and ovaries. It’s super important to ensure good blood flow to your reproductive organs so they are nourished and able to perform at their peak when you need them the most.
Ways to increase blood flow to your uterus:
1. Traditional Chinese Medicine. Naturally I had to start with my area of expertise. A review of studies in 2011 showed promising results with increasing endometrial blood flow leading to successful embryo transfers in IVF. The studies showed better results with herbal medicine than with acupuncture, however electro-acupuncture was able to control the expansion of uterine arteries by inhibiting the sympathetic nerves.
2. Yoga. There are certain yoga poses that will encourage blood to flow in a different direction to your daily postures. For example, laying on your back with your legs bent and hips raised off the ground (Setu Badha Sarvangasana) will encourage blood to flow back towards your reproductive organs. This is great at any time of your cycle except for during menstruation (we want to maintain the normal downward flow in this instance). A slightly easier pose if you can’t maintain the previous one for long is to lay on your back with your legs up the wall. You can stay in this position for up to 10 minutes to encourage blood flow to your reproductive organs. These are just a couple of poses, but anything that opens up your hip flexors or involves some sort of gentle inversion is ideal.
3. Exercise. In addition to yoga, most gentle forms of exercise will increase your overall blood flow. You’ll also feel pretty great with all those endorphins pumping through your system as well! When we lead a sedentary lifestyle, our blood flow becomes sedentary as well. If running appeals to you, check out an app I found recently called C25K which teaches you to go from couch to 5km running in 8 weeks. (It’s one of my goals for 2014!)
4. Fish Oil. I bet you weren’t expecting this one! Good quality fish oil has a slight blood thinning action which can be useful for people with blood stasis (that’s a Chinese medicine term that means exactly as you would expect, the blood just doesn’t flow very well and gets a bit stuck). If you’ve ever wondered why fish oil has to be stopped 2 weeks prior to surgeries, this is why. I recommend a practitioner quality fish oil high in DHA to my patients who are trying to conceive or are pregnant. You can read more about supplements for conception here.
5. Intercourse. Yep, possibly the most fun way to increase blood flow to your reproductive organs! Luckily, if you’re trying to conceive, you’re already doing the right thing around ovulation. Remember though, the sperm needs to be ready and waiting in your system BEFORE ovulation.