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Fertility, Cycles, and Nutrition: Can What You Eat Affect Your Fertility? by Marilyn M. Shannon

Fertility, Cycles, and Nutrition: Can What You Eat Affect Your Menstrual Cycles and Your Fertility?

by Marilyn M. Shannon

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Format: Paperback, 3rd ed., 202pp.
ISBN: 0926412094 
Publisher: Couple to Couple League, The 
Pub. Date: June 1998 
Edition Desc: 2nd ed


Description from

The author

Marilyn M. Shannon , February 28, 1999 
Diet, vitamins and minerals for improved fertility. 

The subtitle of Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition is, "Can What You Eat Affect Your Menstrual Cycles and Your Fertility?" The answer is a resounding yes! That positive answer actually comes from published research studies. My goal in writing this book is to transform the often hard-to-locate, fragmented, or ignored research in the area of nutrition and reproduction into practical, easy-to-implement strategies aimed at better cycles and improved fertility. So while the book is easy to read and use, you'll find it footnoted throughout with references, most from the research journals.

Part I starts with "Twelve Rules for Better Nutrition," which is aimed at helping you make better food choices while still eating typical American food. You'll enjoy Rule 12: "Use the 80-20 rule." In other words, I suggest you improve 80%, but leave the 20% alone so you don't burn out on trying too hard. I've created tables to help you substitute better ingredients for poorer choices, and I offer tips on shopping and getting better food made faster in the kitchen. Chapter 3, "Supplements to Consider," makes a strong case that taking vitamin and mineral supplements is necessary if you are looking for optimal (not minimal) health. How much? Included is a table of recommended amounts as well as safe maximal doses. I also recommend supplementing essential fatty acids in the form of flax oil, a practice that is very beneficial to cycle irregularity and infertility.

Part II gets into specific problems and their solutions. Chapter 5, "Premenstrual Syndrome" (PMS), summarizes the excellent research by Dr. Guy Abraham on nutrition and this problem. He has shown that estrogen-progesterone imbalances underlie much PMS, and he has double-blind studies using vitamin and mineral supplements to improve the hormonal profile. As you might guess, his guidelines for diet and supplements for PMS are also useful for overcoming some types of infertility. So this is a key chapter.

"Cycle Irregularities and Female Infertility" covers a number of causes of poor cycles or difficulty conceiving, as well as nutritional helps. "Luteal phase inadequacy" is a hormonal imbalance that is defined here; if it's a problem you have, the chapter explains that applying Dr. Abraham's PMS research may improve it. Thyroid function can affect cycles and fertility; I refer to the work of Dr. Broda Barnes, who asserts that you may have low thyroid function even though your thyroid test probably came back normal. Nutritional boosts for the thyroid are included. Too lean? Too heavy? Either can affect fertility, but the good news is that in either case, major weight gains or losses probably aren't necessary. The chapter also includes research on caffeine and infertility (cut down, not out), milk consumption and infertility (affects a few women), and night lighting and cycle irregularity. While the last topic is admittedly not nutrition, the research is worth considering.

"Difficult Menstruation" covers vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids for heavy bleeding, menstrual cramps, and endometriosis. The chapter on pregnancy highlights the work of Dr. John Ellis on prevention of toxemia of pregnancy. In "Repeated Miscarriage and Birth Defects," I discuss research involving both men and women. I encourage women to take folic acid before attempting to conceive. I cite the 1995 research linking excess vitamin A to birth defects, but I also remind you that the proper amount of vitamin A aids in preventing birth defects.

In "The Premenopause," preventing anxiety through good nutrition aimed at the adrenal glands is emphasized, and the many nutrients needed for bone health are named. I give you good reasons to hang on to your uterus, even if you're past the childbearing years, and I offer some other reading to help you avoid unnecessary hysterectomy.

The chapter on male reproductive health is the easiest to implement. Using the research literature, I review the nutrients that have been shown to increase men's sperm counts and sperm motility. After that, though, I just recommend a multi-vitamin/multi-mineral supplement specifically formulated for men by Dr. Guy Abraham (of PMS fame!), plus flax oil. Nutrition for prostatitis and prostate enlargement completes the chapter.

A number of other topics are dealt with throughout the book, some in question-and-answer format. Using the extensive index, you can find nutritional strategies for anxiety, low sexual desire, morning sickness, recovering from coming off the pill, yeast overgrowth problems, and more.

There are three pages of mini-reviews of some great books related to these issues--books on pregnancy, breastfeeding, hysterectomy, low thyroid function, stress and anxiety, bladder infections, yeast problems, and general health from a nutritional approach. Also included under "Resources" are some vitamin brands and phone numbers to obtain them. You can contact the Couple to Couple League International, which publishes the book, by referring to the "Resources" section.

As I often write when I am asked to autograph my book: "After the gift of life itself, God's greatest gift is the gift of fertility. I wish you all the children the Lord of Life wills for you."

Description from

A reviewer

35-year-old mother from Texas, September 11, 2000, 
Getting a handle on cycles 

This book has scads of advice backed up by research on what to add or delete from one's diet in order to solve many 'cycle problems' from infertility to PMS. I was especially helped by the chapter on PMS. I found that there are different kinds of PMS, so there are different nutritional solutions. If you are interested in food supplements, you will like her extensive advice on that, as well. There's even a chapter with information on male infertility.

Also recommended: The Art of Natural Family Planning

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