Natural Remedies for Cold & Flu When Trying to Get Pregnant

What are safe, natural remedies for the cold & flu season when you’re trying to get pregnant? At this time of year, people are getting sick left & right which means your risk of getting whatever they have is significantly increased. However, there are some simple, all-natural ways to boost your immune system so you can stay healthy or even if you do get sick, recover a lot faster.

This is important when you’re trying to get pregnant because you want to be able to put your best foot forward into every single cycle.

If you’re trying to get pregnant naturally, you or your partner can get so sick that you miss your fertile window period. You might even miss up to two fertile cycles because one gets sick right after another. And that’s something that can be avoided or at least minimized with the recommendations below.

If you’re doing IVF or insemination, being at your healthiest will allow you to respond better to the medications so your chances are the best they can be and not decreased because your immune system is too busy fighting an infection rather than helping you get pregnant.

Let’s start with what to avoid first. Although very effective and commonly used, some over-the-counter (OTC) and prescriptions medicines for the cold & flu may decrease your fertility unknowingly.

Let’s start with the OTC medicines that you can buy at any drugstore...

NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)

The most popular are Aspirin, Advil, Motrin, and Aleve.  They’re used to reduce pain & fever.

Unfortunately, their drawback is that they may interfere with ovulation. Ovulation involves a follicle in the ovaries breaking open and releasing an egg. This is a natural inflammatory process. Inflammation is usually considered “bad,” but in this case, inflammation is required for healthy, normal ovulation.

NSAIDs suppress inflammation, but it may do it so well that it stops “good” inflammation as well.

Know that inflammation at the right time is needed to stimulate the body but it’s chronic, long-term inflammation that is damaging.

Low dose aspirin is often recommended by fertility doctors with the idea that it can help improve blood flow and decrease inflammation.  If this is the case for you, continue as recommended by your doctor but avoid high doses of these pain killers on a long term basis, especially before ovulation.

Men also need to be careful because long-term use of NSAIDs can reduce sperm quality. Men often overuse NSAIDs to deal with various pain conditions that they may be experiencing.  In those cases, they can find safer, alternative ways to address their pain like seeing an acupuncturist, chiropractor, or physical therapist. Those therapies may be covered by his insurance.

Dextromethorphan (DXM or DM)

Used as a cough suppressant, DXM is the active ingredient in most OTC cough medicines.They include Alka Seltzer Plus™, Dimetapp™, Mucinex DM™, Pediacare™, Robitussin™, Theraflu™,  Triaminic™, Tylenol Cough & Cold™, Vicks DayQuil™/NyQuil™, Vicks Formula 44™ and more. In fact, more than 100 OTC medications have DXM.

DXM is NOT recommended during pregnancy and is listed by the FDA as a Category C pregnancy drug risk. What this means is that animal studies have found possible risks to the fetus, and while that doesn’t mean it will for sure have a negative impact on human babies, to be safe, it’s best to be avoided if you think you might be pregnant or are pregnant.

Anti-Histamine

Anti-histamines are used to relieve runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, and sneezing.OTC anti-histamine medications include Benadryl, Vicks NyQuil, Tylenol Cold and Cough Nighttime, Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold & Cough Liquid Gels.

Anti-histamines are often used long-term for allergy relief.  Brands such as Zyrtec and Claritin are some of the most popular.

The issue is that ALL anti-histamines cross the blood brain barrier, acting directly on the brain.  They work by blocking the activity of a natural substance in the brain called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is involved in learning and memory.

Excessive use of anti-histamines has been linked to dementia, Alzheimer’s, and certain brain cancers. This is something you want to avoid so that you reduce the risk of it affecting your baby’s brain development.

Antibiotics

Colds & flus are caused by viruses, NOT bacteria. Since antibiotics kill bacteria, they have no effect on viruses which are completely different organisms.

One of the biggest concerns that we face right now as a human race is antibiotic resistance.  They have been over-prescribed for decades, ever since they were distributed on a large scale in the 1940s.

Scientists and doctors didn’t realize until it was too late that if they are used when they’re not really necessary, they may not work as well for future infections when it’s really needed for more life-threatening illnesses.

This is because bacteria have such short life cycles that they can evolve very, very quickly by natural selection to develop resistance to the antibiotics.  In fact, bacteria can divide anywhere between once every 12 minutes and once every 24 hours. The average lifespan of a bacterium is around 12 hours.

So that’s 2 generations of bacteria in one day compared to our lifespan of 80-90 years.  That’s why we evolve so slowly because we live so long.The takeaway is to be stingy and very intentional with your use of antibiotics.

You want to be able to use them when you really need them and not for something trivial like the common cold.  The cold is inconvenient but it’s not life-threatening. You’ll recover in a few days.

Antibiotics are often prescribed for secondary complications as a result of colds or other respiratory infections, such as:

  • Bronchitis is when the lung’s airways become inflamed, resulting in symptoms like cough, mucus, and difficulty breathing. It’s almost always caused by a virus and usually resolves on its own within a week. 
  • Sinus infections may be bacterial or viral.  The only way to know is to culture the mucus which takes several days so it’s only done if theinfection persists for more than 2 weeks. They usually resolve on their own within 1-2 weeks. 
  • Ear infections mostly affect children.  Use the “wait and watch” approach where you wait 48 to 72 hours to see if the symptoms get better.  If they don’t, you then start on antibiotics or better yet, try natural remedies. 
  • Pneumonia can be bacterial or viral.  Bacterial pneumonia can be deadly so should be treated with antibiotics.  It’s not something you want to mess around with.

Flu Vaccine

I don’t recommend the flu vaccine when you’re trying to get pregnant because of the mercury exposure.

Manufacturers use thimerosal, a mercury derivative, as a preservative.  Mercury is toxic to the brain and is associated with brain damage and developmental delays in babies whose mothers were exposed to high levels of mercury during pregnancy.

If you’re going to get it because it’s required of your job or you want the protection, request the mercury free flu vaccine.

Now that I’ve covered some of the more common medications you may want to avoid or reduce the use of, let’s talk about some things you can proactively do to prevent the cold & flu.

Natural Remedies for Cold & Flu

First and foremost, your goal during the cold and flu season is to strengthen the immune system.  You do that with two basic necessities:

  1. Sleep!!Completely underrated, sleep is a time for your body to heal itself when it’s not busy taking care of more important activities during the day such as movement, thinking, and digestion.Most women need eight to nine hours of sleep every night.  The amount will differ depending on your genetic predisposition.

    You’ll know when you have enough sleep if you wake up feeling refreshed for the day.

  2. Hydrate 

    As a general rule of thumb, drink half your weight in ounces of water. 

    Your body is over 60% water, with most of it in your cells, including your immune cells and your eggs.

Beyond those two basic needs, I recommend two supplements for extra protection to boost your immune system.

DoTerra’s On Guard beadlets

On Guard is a blend of essential oils such as wild orange, clove bud, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary.

You can get them online or through a DoTerra rep. I’ve been using them for years. When I discovered them through a DoTerra rep, it was like finding the Holy Grail for immunity during the cold & flu season.  I haven’t been sick with the cold or flu in years since using them. Before them, I used a bunch of products that were very effective.  But when I had kids, I needed to find something that would work for both adults and kids and didn’t have sugar.

To use them, my recommendations are:

  • one per day for prevention...If you’re in a hospital, health clinic, school setting or surrounded by others who are sick, take one a day to ward off the germs.
  • Take every 3-4 hours at first sign during waking hours.At the first sign of feeling “off”, take one beadlet every 3-4 hours within the first 12 hours.  If you can, continue that frequency for the first 24 hours.The key to using On Guard (or any cold remedy) is to be aware of what your telltale sign of an impending cold is.For me, that’s a scratchy throat. For others, it may be a headache, feeling tired, sneezing, stuffiness in the head.  Whatever it is, don’t wait to figure out if it will develop into something because by then it’ll be too late. Instead, take it as soon as you notice the symptom.
  • After 24 hours, take 3 times a day if symptoms continue.  Stop when you feel better.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential in many body functions, including strengthening the immune system.

One of Vitamin D’s most important roles in fertility is that it protects the embryo so the mom’s body doesn’t attack what is essentially a foreign entity.

Vit D also stimulates AMH production so is recommended for women with low AMH.

Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with lower ovarian reserve. One study showed women with high initial vitamin D levels had a 4 time better chance for successful IVF compared to women with low levels.In men, low sperm count, motility, and morphology have been linked to low vitamin D levels.

Your take away?  Get your Vitamin D level checked and supplement if necessary.

Ask your doctor to check your vitamin D level with a blood test.

If you need to order the vitamin D blood test yourself, you can do so here.  If you order using my link, you will receive a complimentary call with me to review your results.

Your level should be above 40 ng/mL.

If it’s below that, supplement with 5,000IU of vitamin D3 (not vitamin D2) every day.

Recheck your blood level after one month to ensure that your level is rising in response to the supplement. If it isn’t, you’ll need to increase it to 10,000IU per day.

More Natural Remedies to Fight the Cold & Flu

Tried everything above and still got sick?  Here are some remedies to help you recover faster.

  • Sleep & hydrate. 
  • Raw garlic - an excellent anti-viral and anti-bacterial.  Although your partner may not appreciate kissing you, it’s incredibly effective. 
  • Stuffy nose - use eucalyptus oil in a diffuser, sprinkled on the shower floor or in a hot bath, in a face steam, or rubbed directly onto the skin under the nose 
  • Headaches - a strong cup of hot peppermint tea (steep two bags of peppermint tea in hot water for 4-6”) 
  • Muscle aches - soak in an epsom salt bath to allow the magnesium to relieve your muscles 
  • Trouble sleeping - chamomile tea and/or magnesium in an epsom salt bath or as a  supplement 
  • Cough - raw honey (take 1 tbsp throughout the day to soothe your throat) 
  • Sinus infection -nasal rinse with salt water 
  • Ear infection - 10 drops of 3% hydrogen peroxide in each ear for 5” and drain excess 
  • Fever - do nothing because this is a good sign that your body is battling the pathogen

If all else fails and you need quick relief, seek an acupuncturist, naturopath, or homeopath for natural remedies.

If you do get sick during an important time in your fertile cycle, don’t blame yourself or feel regret.  Rather, use this opportunity to learn how to be better prepared.

Stay healthy!

Reference:
Dabrowski, Filip A., et al. “The Role of Vitamin D in Reproductive Health—A Trojan Horse or the Golden Fleece?” Nutrients, vol. 7, no. 6, May 2015, pp. 4139–53.

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