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Green Your Fertility!


A Blog by Marie Lee

A friend who reads my GreenFertility blog mentioned that in her conception journey, with all the confusing info out there, she only trusts writers. I was intrigued by that (as I’m also a novelist and essayist). Elaborating, she said that writers just try to find the truth and don’t have any vested interests the same way, say, doctors, would. Also, our whole career is devoted to digesting and assimilating huge amounts of information.

Cool! That’s pretty much what I hope my blog and the Green Fertility forum will do. As a journalist, I have access to the science news wires and many other interesting sources of information, and I hope my 2 + 2 will equal 4 for you. I have written about health and women’s issues for places like the Washington Post and Natural Health, and contributed a “Green Guru” chapter to Green Babies, Sage Moms, by Lynda Fassa, the brilliant woman behind the Green Babies organic clothes line that all the celebs always buy for each other. I also won the Richard Margolis prize for the investigative journalism I’m doing into environmental toxins and the explosion of children’s neurological problems.

That said, I’m NOT a scientist, a doctor, or any kind of medical professional in any position to give you any kind of medical advice. I CAN tell you about things that I think may be helpful or detrimental to fertility, what’s worked for other people, and also what’s worked for me.

I’m 44 and have never done IVF or taken any kind of fertility drugs. I have had health issues all my life (chronic fatigue syndrome since I was 16, thyroid, etc.) and had trouble getting pregnant with my son . . . and, in fact, looking back, am amazed that he made it at all. I miscarried once, then had heavy bleeding throughout my pregnancy that puzzled all my doctors, but they just sent me on my way, since there was no drug to give me.

Well folks, once I started to look at myself holistically, suddenly everything started to make sense. When you have autoimmune disease, your body often attacks a newly fertilized egg as an invader. When your blood is not at optimum viscosity, not only does it make a “hostile” uterine lining, it makes you feel tired, because your circulation is clogged! When you’re always on the go and skipping meals . . . well, my acupuncturist scolded me and took an apple out of her lunch and made me eat it, telling me that my chi would not be able to support getting pregnant if I kept running around like that. Yes, and stress. It affects your fertility, no doubt. One reader of my blog took the huge step of quitting her loved-but-stressful job. And then she was sending me baby pictures!

Anyway, in my fertility journey and reporting, I’ve met women who’ve gotten pregnant with their first children—naturally—at 47 and 48. I’ve also met women who started IVF in their 20s (!) and find themselves with their fertility already blown out in their 30s—I met a 29 year old in premature menopause! For me, it’s going to be the natural way and that’s it. I feel like Clomid is the gateway drug that leads to everything else. But that’s not to say IVF can’t be helpful, that it can’t work (including in tandem with natural therapies, such as acupuncture), so everyone is welcome in this blog. But I might be raining on some parades, pointing out things such as the fact that IVF can’t really compensate for aging—at age 44, according to the excellent book, The Baby Business, your chances of getting pregnant by IVF and getting pregnant naturally are—surprise!—about the same.

Plus, artificial fertility doesn’t do squat for your health. One the benefits of natural fertility is that when you nurture your fertility naturally, you nurture your health. Since pursuing a wellness plan, I have, unbelievably, gotten completely rid of my seasonal allergies, cleared up my skin (and my monthly pesky adult acne pimples), stabilized my weight, largely alleviated my chronic fatigue syndrome (and have the viral markers to prove it), and now have the FSH levels (follicle stimulating hormone—a measure of ovarian reserve) of a twentysomething . . and while my younger sister is already dyeing her hair, mine’s still black and I was mistaken for a student the other day! So at the very least, I’ve given birth to a new me . . . with very few labor pains and much joy on the way.

To end this very long first post, dear new readers and old, I just want to say welcome and invite you to submit any questions you may have to me at, and every week I’ll try to answer one in the the Green Fertility forum.

Yours in health,

Visit my blog: Green Fertility

Comments (5)

Thanks for the comment, Rami. Yes, I think the injunctions against fat are probably one of the most misleading "scientific" mistakes ever.

The body has a good reason for preventing fertility. The lack of animal fats in our diet is a significant cause of infertility. Women have an extra storage of fat on their hips to protect them against the nutrient demands of pregnancy and breastfeeding. It would make sense that a low fat diet would cause infertility, since fat is the most nutrient dense source of energy. By returning to healthy animal fats, such as pastured butter, and eating whole fat dishes like organic beef ribs, many women will see and improvement in health, and eventually a return of fertility.


Hi Marie,

I've been following your blogs for years. I'm am a fellow "naturalist". I went through years of failed fertility treatments (one ended in an ectopic pregnancy which resulted in the loss of a fallopian tube) and I knew there had to be a better way to conceive. All of the drugs, hormonal injections and assembly line fertility clinic protocols were completely against my all natural way of life and personal philosophy. I stopped fertility treatments and decided that living childfree was better than treating my body this way.

After I recovered from my fertility treatments, I started researching natural methods to enhance fertility. I cleaned up my diet, explored the mind/body connection and quit a high stress corporate pressure cooker job.

To make a long story short, I conceived four times on my own even with one fallopian tube. Even though I miscarried, as I continued getting healthier, I finally conceived my daughter and had a normal pregnancy and a normal delivery at the age of 44. My daughter is perfect in every way (in my totally unbiased opinion!)

Believe it or not, I got pregnant again at the age of 49, but sadly miscarried. But it just goes to show you, age is just a number. Older women are told to run not walk to the closest fertility clinic. Very few doctors work with these women on changing their lifestyle in a way that would enhance their fertility without the use of drugs and expensive procedures.

I have many articles on my website which are very encouraging for women over the age of 40 who are trying to conceive:
I also have links to my 3 blogs on fertility over 40, pregnancy over 40 and miscarriage/recurrent miscarriage on my website.

Keep up the good work. I'll pass your blog along to my readers.

Sandy Robertson


Thank you for taking the time to share this WONDERFUL story. And it's a great point: by loading up on the veggies, you probably got all your folate, your microminerals, etc., and with a healthy balanced body you have a healthy baby as if you were only in your 20s. Thanks for showing us that age is only a number. As I wrote, I met women in their 20s in premenopause from IVF drugs getting them so out of whack. Again, I do not rail against IVF, but want to point out what CAN happen.

So let's go out and get our student discounts together!


Dear Marie,
I wanted to write to thank you for your blog Green Fertility and for your blog here on Fertility Authority. It was through resources like your blog that I was able to find the courage to take a year-long break from IVF treatments to try to conceive naturally. We conceived twice in that year and I’m now 17 weeks pregnant with a healthy baby. I wanted to comment on your blog to tell your readers my story in the hopes that other couples will give “green fertility” a chance.

I was 38 when my husband and I first started TTC. Because of my age, we waited only 6 months before requesting basic fertility testing just to “make sure everything was functioning properly.” It wasn’t. We were referred immediately to an RE.

After much testing we were given this diagnosis: I had elevated FSH (11), decreased ovarian reserve (9 antral follicles), and a luteal phase defect (25 day cycles on average). My husband also had a tumor on his pituitary gland causing it to secrete elevated levels of prolactin resulting in poor sperm count, motility, and morphology. Our RE gave us a 2% chance of conceiving on our own. Although surgery to remove my husband’s tumor would most likely improve his sperm quality, the RE was still not optimistic that we would be able to conceive naturally because of my diagnosis and age. She recommended IVF and gave us about a 35% chance of conceiving.

Throughout the testing and counseling with our RE, I repeatedly asked if there was anything we could do on our own to improve our chances of conceiving either through IVF or naturally. I was essentially told no. This seemed ludicrous to me. With what other ailment would your body not respond positively to a healthier diet, an improved exercise routine, or less stress? If I had heart disease, diabetes, or even cancer, wouldn’t I be better off if, in addition to my medicines and treatments, I ate a healthier diet and got modest exercise? And then I read somewhere that our reproductive system is not necessary in order for us to survive and therefore is the first system that the body stops supporting in times of stress. This made perfect sense to me. In fact, the only time in my life when I stopped ovulating was when I was under enormous stress and had poor nutrition. Aha!

But I was about to turn 39 and fear of the “ticking clock” was too much for us. So although we decided to go through with my husband’s surgery, we opted to try IVF as well. Our first cycle produced modest results: 6 eggs retrieved, 3 fertilized, 2 embryos available to transfer. I did not become pregnant. Our second cycle was a disaster: 2 eggs retrieved, 1 fertilized, and 1 embryo to transfer. Not surprisingly, I did not become pregnant this time either. Our RE now gave us a 20% of conceiving through further IVF treatments.

Physically and emotionally distressed, I called a moratorium on IVF treatments. I was a mess. I had chronic diarrhea. I was freezing cold all of the time. I was on such an emotional rollercoaster that I would hide out in our spare bedroom at night to avoid my husband and an inevitable fight. I was exhausted. A friend who had suffered with recurrent miscarriages referred me to her accupuncturist who treated her during her 4th and only successful pregnancy.

At this point I had also done a lot of my own research on alternative treatments for infertility and had a strong sense that IVF was the completely wrong approach for us. My husband and I made a pact to dedicate one year to alternative treatments to see if we could conceive naturally. Our basic plan was this: No caffeine. No alcohol. Eat lots of organic fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens. Reduce consumption of wheat, dairy, and meat. Eat only organic, hormone-free, and unprocessed foods whenever possible. Go to acupuncture 2 to 4 times a month and take her recommended herbs. Replace all cleaning products with “green” alternatives. Do yoga. Walk. And get more sleep. We had an 80/20 rule: 80% of the time we would adhere strictly to our new guidelines, and 20% of the time we could let it all fall away and just have fun.

I immediately noticed a difference. My digestion regulated itself. I felt warmer. My mood improved and I enjoyed being with my husband again. I slept longer and more soundly. And through charting my basal body temperature I noticed an improved healthy pattern. During months when I cheated more, I noticed a decline in my fertility – erratic temperature patterns, shorter cycles, and sometimes even a total lack of ovulation. During months when I adhered closely to our plan, my cycles were near picture perfect and at times even extended to 29 days.

Just 3 months into our plan and also, coincidentally, 3 months after my husband’s surgery, we conceived naturally. Unfortunately, I miscarried at 8 weeks. The good news, however, was that we now knew we could achieve conception. So sad but not defeated, we picked ourselves up and carried on. It was frustrating and emotionally draining each month that we didn’t get pregnant again, but we remained committed to our year plan. And 6 months later, right at the end of our year and just as we were beginning to reluctantly consider a return to IVF or adoption, I got pregnant again. I also turned 40.

I’m now 17 weeks into a very healthy pregnancy. In fact, to our amazement and delight, when we got back the results of our first trimester genetic screening I was given the same risk of having a baby with a genetic defect as that of a 20 year old woman! It’s been as if I turned and walked into an alternate universe where I’m no longer an aging, withering 40 year old body at the end of her reproductive life. But instead, I’m a vibrant and healthy expectant mother who, in the words of my midwife yesterday, is “carrying the pregnancy very well.”

I know that IVF is the only option for some couples. But I feel that the trigger is pulled too quickly on IVF without a thorough understanding of the patient’s overall health. It’s my perspective that fertility doctors have a very narrow view of what can help or hurt your chances of conceiving a baby and are far more apt to recommend medication and invasive treatments rather than encouraging the patient to take a path to support the body’s own natural processes and healing. And even in cases where IVF is the only solution, other approaches to supporting the body in an effort to improve the success of the IVF cycle are almost all but ignored. There is no silver bullet for conceiving a baby when your body is not functioning at its best. But a more cooperative approach between western and alternative medicine, and a general greening of our environment and lifestyles, could help many of us avoid the physical, emotional, and financial burden of IVF.

Thank you for allowing me to comment on your blog. Please keep spreading the word!

Sharon Curl

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