8 top fertility-boosting foods and herbs

It pays to be extra fussy with one’s diet if you are trying to conceive (aka TTC in netspeak). Remember to always consult your doctor before you start consuming any non-standard “remedies”.

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#1. Chicken/turkey
If you have been experiencing difficulties with your menstrual cycles, you might just be anaemic, a medical condition linked with an iron deficiency. Meats like chicken and turkey are good sources of iron.

Dr Christopher Chong, SmartParents panel obstetrician, gynecologist, who practises at Gleneagles Hospital says, “For females, anaemia can be especially challenging as it can lead to anovulation – the condition where a woman experiences no ovulation.” Without the production of eggs, there’s certainly no chance of getting preggers!

Plus as these lean meats are also rich sources of protein, they will keep you fuller for longer without piling on the kilos.

#2. Spinach
Popeye was probably on to something! Spinach is a rich source of a particular type of B vitamin — folate (sometimes as referred to as folic acid) — which enhances both egg and sperm health. A few limited studies have shown encouraging signs that spinach can change sperm quality for the better, said Dr Chong.

Folate is also a major factor in prevention and treatment of anaemia, it works to improve blood circulation. It also helps that a good serving of stir-fried spinach is readily available at a economic rice stall near you!

A combination of both Western and TCM methods have been shown in studies to increase pregnancy success rates by 15 to 27 per cent!”

#3. Asparagus
Besides being a rich source of fiber, which can help in improving bowel health, asparagus is also considered an aphrodisiac — a tradition started by the Greeks — that can help increase sperm count in men and ovulation in women. Regardless of what it actually does, as a veggie, it is also incredibly easy to prepare, you could either eat them raw or simply pop them into the microwave for four minutes on medium setting.

#4. Oysters
All references to oysters as an aphrodisiac are true. Sort of. Oysters contain certain amino acids that can increase sex hormones in the body. Zinc is another important mineral found in oysters that has been found to improve sperm production. However, before you wolf down oysters, Dr Chong cautions that as these shellfish — often consumed raw — are more likely to land you with an infection. Besides, fishy breath isn’t the sexiest of ways to initiate baby-making.

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Backed by some 3,000 years of history, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) opens up another treasure trove of options for the TTC.

Lim Lay Beng, a registered TCM physician, states that a combination of both Western and TCM methods have been shown in studies to increase pregnancy success rates by 15 to 27 per cent!

Lim cautions readers against self-medication, recommending that one should always consult their physician before consuming any of these herbs. TCM diagnosis is dependent on personal observations like pulse analysis of the individual, in identifying the possible problem areas. Thus, there is no one-size-fits-all approach in TCM.

“Other than the kidney, the functions of the spleen and liver all have effects on one’s fertility as well.”

#5. Dodder seed/tu si zi
According to Lim, the kidney is the organ that governs reproduction and thus can influence one’s fertility. Based on research, these Cuscuta chinensis Lam seeds can help “improve the quality of the eggs and increase one’s chances of pregnancy” while reducing the chances of miscarriage. Eucommia bark is another herb that can do the same, she says.

#6. Chinese Angelica root/dang gui
A herb commonly boiled with chicken in a soup, Angelica sinensis has been used to treat gynecological problems like menstrual irregularities and pains, according to the book by a group of doctors at KK Womens’ and Children’s Hospital, New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth.

Lim agrees with the books authors, adding that the herb is commonly used in regulating one’s menstrual cycle. Chinese Angelica Root is also used commonly to improve the fertility of the patient who is weak in liver functions.

#7. Morinda root/ba zi tian
Low libido is problem for couples trying to conceive. Morinda (Morinda officinalis) root along with Epimedium and common Curculiginis rhizome can help to increase libido by “strengthening the kidney”.

#8. White peony root/bai shao
Other than the kidney, any deficiencies of the liver and spleen — and specifically the stagnation of the liver’s qi or “life-force” – can have adverse effects on one’s fertility. This herb — with others like tree peony bark, nutgrass galingale (Cyperus rotundus) rhizome, turmeric root-tuber, silktree Albizzia (Albizia julibrissin Durazz) bark and Chinese thorowax (Bupleurum) root — is also commonly used to treat infertility caused by “weak liver functions”.

Photo: iStock

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