Nutrition and Fertility

I’m learning more about how nutrition affects fertility in my personal life. Before I get into that specifically, let me give some background. My youngest, Leo, was born with gallstones and multiple severe food intolerances which may or may not be related to the gallstones. Because of that, I have had a very limited diet for almost two years now, with no dairy, soy (including soybean oil and soy lecithin), beef, pork, nightshades, eggs, and only very limited fats, like the occasional avocado or coconut oil. If I cheated, he had a gallbladder attack, so I had a great incentive not to cheat on diet.

Because Leo has never found food to be a comfort, he did not comfort nurse until more recently. I knew that fewer nursing sessions would equal an earlier return to fertility, so I started charting again around his first birthday (I use and teach the Billings Ovulation Method – feel free to ask me for more info on that).  As expected, I ovulated shortly thereafter. I also knew from experience that I shouldn’t expect the first cycle(s) to be fertile, but to anticipate a short luteal phase. This is normal, and it is what happened. The normal progression is for the luteal phase to lengthen in subsequent cycles until fertility has returned.

For the first couple of cycles, the luteal phase did lengthen, and I thought everything was on track. I had a normal luteal phase with one cycle and figured my fertility had indeed fully returned. The next cycle, though, the luteal phase had shortened to nine days, which is considered too short to be fertile as it doesn’t allow enough time for implantation. I was irritated, to say the least, but I figured it was a fluke. I was also starting to experience dizziness at times, and when I put that information on my chart, I saw that it happened at specific points in my cycle. The next few cycles continued to have a nine-day luteal phase, and the dizziness was getting worse. My breaking point came last month, when I was dizzy for the entire cycle and my luteal phase shortened to seven days.

I no longer thought this was normal, even though Leo had begun to comfort nurse and thus nursed more often. I knew my chart showed low progesterone, and I learned that the dizziness can go along with that. A while back I’d read a post by Simcha Fisher about progesterone cream, so I was all set to try that, too. When I ran that by my husband, though, he wasn’t sure about trying that yet. I was feeling desperate, but he reminded me that maybe my restricted diet was adversely affecting my fertility, and thought I should try adding some things back in to see how it went.

Rather nervously, I started taking fish oil. I started slowly, and didn’t notice any reactions in Leo, so I increased the dose. After a few days of that, I started eating eggs for breakfast again, and still didn’t notice him reacting (I wish I could say all his intolerances were gone, but when I tried soybean oil he had a very upset stomach, so I can’t relax on that one yet). So for the past month I’ve eaten eggs for breakfast daily and have taken fish oil 3x/day. In just this cycle, I have noticed a huge improvement. My dizziness isn’t completely gone, but only lasted a few days and wasn’t as severe as before. My luteal phase lengthened to 13 days! That’s nearly double what it was last month, and is considered a perfectly normal luteal phase length.

There really haven’t been other changes, as Leo has still been nursing frequently. Actually, before I started eating eggs and taking fish oil, he’d complain that the milk was “empty,” but he hasn’t been saying that as much now, so I think it’s helping with milk production, too. So if anything, he’s nursing more than he did. I’m really amazed at how much nutrition plays a role. When I started doing this, I had it in my mind that I’d try it, but if there wasn’t any improvement, I’d go get the progesterone cream. Now I’m just going to keep eating more good fats.

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