Diet for Vaginal Health and Fertility
December 18, 2019 | Yesmom
Your body is a wonderland and your vagina is most definitely a part of it. Taking care of your vagina is of optimal importance. Why? Your vagina is a balanced ecosystem whose stability and composition varies by a host of psychosocial, psychological, social factors, and is likely to be altered in abnormal ways during infection. However, like you, your vagina too is capable of multitasking.
The vagina serves multiple functions when it comes to interaction with the immune system which impacts several things in the body like pregnancy and fertility. Thus, ensuring a healthy, well-balanced diet along with adequate exercise keeps your vaginal microbiome balanced and fertile. How to ensure the optimal health of your vagina? Here’s everything you need to know-
What constitutes a healthy vagina?
Quite a few things actually- It has an acidic pH, is naturally lubricated, secretes small amounts of discharge and contains several beneficial bacteria that help fend off infections. If your vaginal pH balance is thrown off a little, you are bound to feel a little different down there with a good volume of discharge, a new odor, etc. This will also give bacteria a chance to thrive and cause UTIs. it shouldn’t be alarming but proper vaginal care like safe sex, good hygiene, and frequent gynecological visits will keep your pH in check.
Prebiotics and Probiotics
Unfortunately, your vagina cannot do away with bacteria because they help maintain a normal pH and fight infections. Any foods that can promote gut health is also likely to promote a healthy vaginal bacterial balance. If you have vaginitis, chronic vaginal discomfort that can lead to unpleasant and painful sex, consuming probiotics will help you. A combination of prebiotic foods like onions, raw leeks and garlic, and probiotic foods like yogurt provides a boost of good bacteria. Calcium (present in yogurt) can help with PMS symptoms.
Indulging in healthy plant-based fats in moderation can be beneficial for fertility. Grapeseed oil, nuts, avocados, olive oil will decrease the inflammation in your body and help promote generate fertility by promoting regular ovulation. Women who truly struggle with fertility can easily indulge in a certain quantity of monounsaturated fats during the IVF cycle.
However, trans-fats, found primarily in commercial baked foods and snacks, increase insulin resistance which makes it harder to move glucose into cells. High insulin levels can lead to metabolic disturbances and affect ovulation. Omega 3 fatty acids enhance blood flow and circulation thereby boosting your sex drive. Go for whole foods over processed options. A diet that is rich in vegetables, whole grains and has less processed meat is highly likely to protect against ovulatory dysfunction.
You do not need anything complex in your life including carbs, don’t you think? Limit highly processed carbs and consume more complex ones. Your body will digest bad carbs like white rice, cookies, and cakes and transform them into blood sugar. The pancreas releases insulin into the bloodstream to drive down the blood sugar spikes and insulin inhibits ovulation. However, good carbs like the ones containing fiber-beans, vegetables, and fruits can be digested slowly and have a gradual effect on insulin. Barely refined grains are also good sources of fertility-friendly vitamins.
Women with hormonal disorders like PCOS should cut down on gluten. Ensure at least a quarter of your plate is composed of complex carbs like brown rice. You may also want to try more diverse grains like millet, amaranth, and quinoa.
Soy for Estrogen Levels
There is a lot of debate surrounding the role of soy in vaginal health. But phytoestrogens that are found in soy are good for people with reduced estrogen levels. Medications, menopause and a lot of other factors may affect decreased estrogen levels with vaginal dryness being one of the glaring symptoms. Minimally processed soy products contain a plant driven phytoestrogen called isoflavones and are hydrophilic.
Cranberries for UTIs
Cranberry juices or fresh cranberries are replete with acidic compounds and antioxidants that are helpful when it comes to combating infections and helping bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall. Women who have recurrent UTI issues can significantly benefit from cranberries provided you consume the 100% cranberry juice and not the sugar-loaded varieties which will make things worse.
Sweet potatoes are your ideal choice if you are trying to get pregnant. They are rich in Vitamin A and Beta carotene (they have direct effects on reproduction and fertility as well as ensure healthy fetal development) help protect uterine walls and the best part? They taste quite nice. They are highly recommended for women with PCOS and the nutrients contained in sweet potatoes also tend to enhance the production of sex hormones.
What should I stay away from?
Go easy on sugar
Is there something called a sugar high? Yes totally. And while it feels amazing, you must remember excess sugar intake can damage the important vaginal bacteria and the bacterial imbalance can lead to soreness, yeast infection and irritation. Concentrated levels of sugar can throw your blood sugar totally out of whack and will create unwanted issues with insulin. Instead, stick to less processed sweeteners. Sugared sodas have often been associated with ovulatory infertility.
You can drink beverages in moderation. However, several cups of tea of coffee (apart from making you a little crazy) may pave the way for dehydration. Caffeine and alcohol are both diuretics that will prevent your mucous membranes from staying moist and affect the consistency of your cervical fluid severely. However, you may want to up your intake of decaf teas, herbal tea is especially a good fertility food.
Avoid anything containing artificial hormones
Nothing good can ever come out of anything artificial, right? Often meats and other dairy products contain xenoestrogens that imitate estrogen but are artificial hormones. They can block estrogen from the vagina and prevent the mucosal lining from developing adequately which will leave you open to infection.
It is also imperative that you identify any food sensitivities. Unidentified sensitivities will negatively impact fertility and may lead to gas, headaches, bloating and weight gain and heartburn. Other foods that may enhance fertility are- cinnamon, salmon, oysters (seafood, in general, tends to be packed with fertility boosting nutrients), pineapple, pomegranate juice.
Unlike other factors that are beyond your control like genetics and age, healthy food habits and avoiding food that is detrimental to a well balanced vaginal ecosystem is something you can do yourself and help improve your ovulatory function. You are after all that you eat and so is your vagina.
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