HOLISTIC STRATEGIES : for Optimal Fertility Health
Jan 26, 2018 11:32AM
● By Carrie Jackson
Starting a family can be an exciting time, but for couples that are having trouble conceiving it can be incredibly challenging and stressful. Diana Zic is a health and wellness coach specializing in fertility health, a registered yoga teacher and registered prenatal yoga teacher. By exploring factors such as career, spirituality, physical activity, relationships and nutrition, she empowers and supports clients to uncover how they can be their most fertile selves. “I work with clients to develop a deeper understanding of food and lifestyle choices that work best for them to improve their energy, balance, health and happiness,” says Zic.
Fertility issues are more common than many people think, but they are often ignored or overlooked. “Many of my clients feel it’s just them struggling with their fertility health imbalances, when in reality one out of every eight couples have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining pregnancy,” says Zic. She helps her clients explore potential physical, emotional, mental, hormonal and environmental reasons that they might not be conceiving.
Zic’s interest in fertility stems from her own challenges in conceiving. “My husband and I assumed that when we were ready to start a family, it wouldn’t be difficult to do. It seemed our friends were having children without an issue, but after trying for some time to get pregnant on our own with no success and enduring a litany of tests with my gynecologist, we sought help from a fertility specialist. We thought we took good care of ourselves and didn’t understand why our journey had to begin this way, but we also didn’t understand all the factors that led to optimal fertility,” she says.
Pressure from both family and friends or internal stress or relationships issues can have a significant impact on a couple’s ability to conceive. “How you perceive or manage anxiety can greatly affect fertility. If the body is in a state of chronic stress or overwhelmed, it intuitively doesn’t want to support or begin another life, it wants to heal the stress.” says Zic.
She uses yoga to help her clients connect their mind, body and spirit along their fertility exploration. “Yoga is a helpful tool to decrease stress, anxiety, heartache and disappointment that often comes along with this very difficult journey. I encourage my students to find what works best for their bodies while using conscious and controlled breathing techniques,” she explains.
Yoga is also a viable alternative form of exercise for pregnant women and those trying to conceive. “While the goal of some kinds of exercise is to lose weight or gain muscle, this can cause undo strain on the body. My Yoga for Fertility class, which I teach at Pulling Down the Moon, in Chicago, has a less-intense effect. It focuses on balancing the nervous system, increasing blood flow to the pelvis, helping to detoxify the body with certain poses and bringing clarity to the mind,” explains Zic.
Although for most couples the focus is largely on the woman, the man’s health and well-being are equally important in conception. “Sperm count, concentration, motility and morphology, or shape, all matter. If these are abnormal, it makes it much more difficult for the sperm to meet the egg at the appropriate time. Assisted reproductive technology can help with these abnormalities,” says Zic.
Men can seek additional help and support from a urologist or other specialists to explore lifestyle changes, supplements and medication that might help. Zic also works with men. “If the male’s sperm DNA is damaged, there will be a decreased chance of fertilization, decreased chance of the embryo implanting to become pregnant and increased risk of the child being born with serious birth defect or genetic diseases. Also, evidence shows it may cause miscarriages, but studies have also shown that eating a healthy diet and taking the correct supplements can help prevent and reverse the DNA damage,” says Zic.
Many people feel like fertility health is out of their control, but simple lifestyle habit changes can yield positive results. “Basic things like cutting out processed foods, managing stress, getting adequate exercise, not drinking alcohol in excess, eating nutritious foods that supply the vitamins and minerals you need daily and drinking plenty of water can make a huge difference in fertility health,” says Zic. “My approach to fertility health and wellness is holistic. Does stress at their job or in their relationship cause them to overeat? Does lack of sleep or low energy prevent them from exercising? As we work together, we look at how all parts of their life affects their fertility health as a whole.”
Carrie Jackson is an Evanston-based writer and frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine. Connect at CarrieJacksonWrites.com.