You may have heard the saying that a “cold uterus” can cause infertility. This dates all the way back to Traditional Chinese Medicine and is grounded in the idea that a thin uterine lining does not respond appropriately to hormones.
In her book, The Infertility Cure, Dr. Randine Lewis, a licensed acupuncturist holding a Ph.D in alternative medicine, describes the second half of the menstrual cycle (when we are praying for that successful implantation!) as the Yang phase, and notes that “[l]ike fuel for the body’s incubator, progesterone is warming and therefore Yang in nature.” Progesterone has a stimulating effect on the thyroid, which is why our body temperature increases during this phase.
Progesterone’s primary role is to prepare the endometrium for successful implantation by increasing blood flow to the uterine lining. Dr. Lewis goes on to say that “[d]uring the window of implantation (about five to seven days after ovulation), certain proteins appear on the surface of the now receptive endometrium and allow the developing blastocyst to adhere and embed within the uterine lining.” It’s believed that focusing on improving blood flow and warming the uterus can help make it a more hospitable environment for the embryo, and this applies for embryo transfers.
Taking Care of Your Body During the Two-Week Wait
An embryo transfer involves taking the fertilized egg and sperm and implanting the newly formed embryo into the women’s uterus. If you are undergoing IVF, you will usually be able to confirm your pregnancy nine days after the transfer with in-clinic testing.
We know the two-week wait post-transfer can feel incredibly long. While you’re waiting, try to focus on taking care of yourself —starting with a healthy diet and some cozy self-care techniques. Whether or not you subscribe to the Traditional Chinese Medicine theories, when trying to conceive, we know we’re willing to try anything that won’t hinder our chances of getting pregnant. Plus, you should be prioritizing your own health and comfort when preparing for and recovering from an embryo transfer.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are energy channels in the feet which connect to the uterus, so maintaining warm feet can be very helpful in keeping up your body’s warming energy during this time. Consider wearing cozy socks or even a warm footbath with Epsom salts (which can also be great for relaxation!). Also be mindful of your body temperature and put on a jacket or sweater if you are cold, and cozy up under a blanket when relaxing on the couch.
Warming Foods to Help Support Implantation
Once you are warm and cozy, here are 5 foods that can be helpful to eat after an embryo transfer:
1. Warm oatmeal with fresh fruit
Some studies have shown that whole grains can help increase fertility and benefit a healthy pregnancy. Warm your oatmeal and top with some fresh berries such as blueberries or raspberries, which are loaded with antioxidants which help prevent damage and aging to your body’s cells including your eggs. The anthocyanins in blueberries help thicken uterine lining. Add some nuts or chia seeds on top to ensure you’re getting healthy fats and omega 3, and be sure to pair with some protein to maintain balanced blood sugar which is crucial for maintaining healthy progesterone levels.
2. Warm soup and stews
Soups and stews are a great option because while they can keep your body temperature warm, they are also easy to digest, leaving your body with more energy to focus on a successful implantation, rather than on digestion. You can pack in tons of vegetables which are high in antioxidants and include some gelatinous protein such as beef chuck, oxtail or bone-in short rib. These proteins are packed with glycine, which is an important amino acid in pregnancy, and is crucial for creating antioxidants in the liver and can also aid in digestion. Add in some spinach, kale or other dark leafy greens for an additional source of iron and folate.
3. Bone Broth
You’ve probably heard of the countless benefits of bone broth before. It can be especially helpful when trying to conceive and after an embryo transfer because it’s chockfull of key nutrients such as amino acids, collogen, iron, calcium, and magnesium to name a few. Amino acids (proteins) can help balance hormones and may help your body prepare for conception and pregnancy. Bone broth is also a great source of collagen, which is known for supporting healthy joints and strong bones. Other benefits include supporting the lining of the gut, boosted immunity and reduced inflammation. Consider heating up a cup of bone broth first thing in the morning before breakfast, or including it with your afternoon snack.
4. Herbal teas
Get personalized women’s health content, tailored to your own unique experience.
Our best videos for you
Science-backed product recs
Herbal teas can be a great addition to your diet after an embryo transfer. Specifically, check out red raspberry leaf tea. It includes nutrients like iron, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and potassium which can support implantation. This tea has been known to support gynecological issues in Europe as far back as the sixth century. That being said, while anecdotal evidence supports its possible role in fertility, there’s not clinical review of the effects. Another herbal tea to consider is green tea. One 2018 review found that green tea may be helpful for fertility by reducing oxidative stress. If you do decide to incorporate herbal teas into your diet, make sure you discuss with your healthcare provider ahead of time because there is a chance some herbal teas could interfere with current medications. To be safe, also ask your healthcare provider which teas can be continued after a positive pregnancy test.
We’d be remiss not to stress the importance of remaining hydrated all throughout the IVF and conception process. At least two liters of water is recommended per day or half our body weight in ounces. You can also consider any other fluids you are consuming such as milk or juice in determining how much water you need a day. Water is especially helpful if you’re taking supplements or medication throughout the IVF process. One great way of hydrating first thing in the morning is to try warm water with lemon and a pinch of sea salt. This has been benefits including helping digestion and supporting immunity and will help you keep up your mineral levels during pregnancy, which are crucial for hormone production.
For more information on how to nutrition can help along yoru fertility journey or to schedule an individualized nutrition consultation, check out: https://www.kristinellewellness.com/
Whitney Welsh is a writer and content creator who is passionate about telling stories that inspire change. She has 12+ years of marketing and communication experience at industry-leading brands including Southwest Airlines, Hilton, and Baylor Scott & White Health. In her personal life, Whitney is inspired by travel, spending time outdoors, and volunteering in her community. She is currently expecting her first baby with her husband (and their dog, Odin).