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If you’ve spent any time on this site, you probably know that fertility journeys can be–well, complicated. Some people seem to snap their fingers and get pregnant, while others have much longer, harder experiences that involve fascinating combinations of art, science, and straight-up mythology.
It may sound like the latter when you hear someone talking about having a “warm uterus.”
From taking fertility supplements to buying ovulation test strips in bulk, trying to conceive (TTC) has more ins and outs than many people imagine (no pun intended). For some people, this includes eating warm foods to support implantation. Yes, we’re serious.
In Eastern medicine, healthcare providers believe in taking steps outside of consuming certain nutrients to increase the chances of getting pregnant. Creating a warm uterus, for instance, is a significant step towards creating a hospitable environment for implantation.
Trust us; we’re not going to pretend that many Westerners won’t roll their eyes at this idea.
But here’s something else that’s equally as true–when trying to conceive, a lot of people are willing to try anything that won’t hurt their chances of getting pregnant.
And while Western medicine hasn’t done any peer-reviewed research (that we know of) on the concept of uterine warming, I personally know tons of people who have tried it. Because the reality is, eating warm foods for implantation doesn’t hurt anything.
And people who’ve been trying to conceive for a while will often tell you they’re willing to try just about anything. Some of what we are willing to try is based on incredible scientific research and practices, such as assisted reproductive technology (ART), such as IUI and IVF.
Other times, hopeful parents use alternative methods like acupuncture for fertility, or using heating pads, fuzzy socks, and warm foods to create a warm uterus that’s considered hospitable for implantation.
If there’s even a tiny chance it could help, while also helping TTC people feel like they have a little control over something, then we’re all for learning more about it.
In this article, we’ll tell you what we’ve discovered about warm foods for implantation.
What is Implantation?
Implantation is integral to a healthy pregnancy, and if we’re being honest, it’s a fascinating process. First, you try to bring a sperm and egg together, whether through sex, intrauterine insemination (IUI), or in vitro fertilization (IVF).
If the sperm successfully fertilizes the egg (the first major milestone), the fertilized egg will develop into an embryo during a cell division process called mitosis. By the end of this period, around 5 – 6 days after conception, the embryo will consist of an organized collection of cells called a blastocyst.
If you’ve been TTC for a while, then you probably realize how many tiny little things have to go RIGHT in order to reach this stage. Healthy implantation of that embryo into the uterus is the next step we need to achieve in order to get pregnant, and a lot has to continue going right with implantation, too.
Once the embryo reaches the blastocyst stage, it will begin hatching out of a membrane-like exterior known as the zona pellucida.
As it hatches, the embryo will attach itself to the uterine wall and burrow into the lining, which is the process of implantation.
The end of the implantation process signals our bodies to begin producing human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This is the pregnancy hormone that pregnancy tests measure for positive and negative results.
Are There Ways to Improve Your Chances of Implantation and Pregnancy?
Let me tell you about a pretty major pet peeve that IVF families have. When someone is going into a fertility clinic for an embryo transfer, people sometimes mistakenly say they’re “having an embryo implanted.”
But this simply isn’t true.
Because here’s the thing: modern science cannot force implantation to occur.
Whether conceiving by having sex or through assisted reproductive technology, the most we can do (even using the best available science) is transfer an embryo into the uterus.
Then, implantation is up to your body.
Doctors can influence implantation by running tests to determine whether any problems need to be corrected, such as poor progesterone levels or polyps along your uterine lining. Our founder, Katy, had problems at implantation due to avascular uterine tissue that had to be surgically repaired. Other people need to correct Asherman’s Syndrome or remove uterine septums.
But that’s where their magic ends.
So it’s no surprise that many TTC families take magic into their own hands, using theories from other parts of the world that they hope will improve their chances of implantation.
These are perhaps the most common:
During a study of acupuncture for fertility during in vitro fertilization (IVF) protocols, researchers discovered that when patients received treatment before their embryo transfer, implantation was more likely to occur.
Using similar logic, receiving acupuncture in the days after your menstrual cycle before ovulation could influence your chances of getting pregnant.
2. Stress Management
It’s astounding to think of how stress can negatively impact our lives. Unfortunately, it can also decrease your chances of implantation. Try the following stress management techniques when you’re TTC:
- Gentle Exercise
- Yoga or Meditation
- Date Night with Your Partner
- Hanging Out with Friends
- Taking Up a New Hobby (or Practicing an Old One)
3. Vitamin D
As with anything else in life, taking the correct vitamins is crucial to our overall health. Did you know that particular vitamin deficiencies make implantation more difficult?
Vitamin D, for example, increases blood flow and enhances the quality of your uterine health. When your Vitamin D levels aren’t high enough, they can also lead to problems with implantation.
4. Uterine Warming
Coming from the same school of thought (i.e. Eastern medicine) as acupuncture, some people believe you can use warming techniques to enhance blood flow to the uterus and, thus, improve the chances of implantation.
There are Chinese studies to support this theory, such as this one, which found that warming acupuncture specifically improves endometrial receptivity. In other words, this study suggests that using warming acupuncture can make the uterus a better environment for an embryo.
While Chinese research demonstrates the efficacy of uterine warming, we have no Western research suggesting this theory. That could mean it’s not true, or it could simply mean that Western medicine doesn’t support these theories enough to even look into them.
It’s easy to see, then, why some people are skeptical of the idea of uterine warming, while others are happy to try simple techniques in hopes that they’ll help.
Is a “Cold Womb” Really a Thing?
While issues with blood flow, vitamin deficiencies, and poor uterine lining seem plausible concerning implantation problems, complaining about a cold uterus might sound a little fishy.
Fishy or not, it’s actually a real thing!
Studies show that a “cold uterus” can make it hard for embryos to implant into your uterine wall.
Progesterone is a supplement that thickens the endometrial lining and prepares the uterus for conception. Did you know that it also increases our body’s temperature? In fact, heightened progesterone levels are the reason we experience spikes in our basal body temperature during ovulation.
In traditional Chinese medicine, the concept of a cold uterus goes beyond hormone levels.
Eastern practitioners believe in going beyond progesterone to warm up the uterus. They suggest a few things to ensure our wombs are as hospitable as possible for incoming embryos.
Common Ways to Warm Up Your Uterus from Traditional Chinese Medicine
So, what does the uterus warming process look like? Does it involve lying in the sun for hours?
Here are some of the most common ways to warm your uterus while you’re trying to get pregnant:
1. Wearing Warm Socks
You know those cozy, fuzzy socks you love so much? Well, guess what – Eastern healthcare practitioners encourage you to use them for improved uterine health!
In Chinese medicine, it’s a common belief that warm feet = a warm uterus. Many acupuncturists and other Eastern providers suggest wearing warm socks as often as possible while trying to conceive.
2. Using a Hot Water Bottle on Your Lower Abdomen
Using Chinese healthcare practices, many couples believe that applying gentle heat to your lower abdomen, such as with a hot water bottle, can create a welcoming environment for implantation. Some people use a heating pad for a warm womb.
Just be cautious that whatever object you’re using isn’t TOO HOT – this can lead to burns.
And of course, we don’t personally recommend putting something warm on your stomach when you hope to be/may be pregnant without clearing it with your own doctor first.
3. Don’t Forget a Sweater
To help keep your uterus warm, you’ll also want to ensure the rest of your body is warm. This means avoiding chills when you can. Try bringing along a sweater with you wherever you go. If you feel cold, throw it on and return to what you were doing.
The Most Popular Warm Foods for Implantation
If you’re ready to take your womb warming process to the next level, many families love using foods to try to create a warm uterus. After all, we have to eat, so choosing warming foods fits easily into our days and is truly one of those things where we can shrug and confidently say, “Hey, it can’t hurt.”
Here are some of the most common choices, some of which may surprise you:
- Soups and stews
- Hot Beverages: Many Eastern practitioners tout the benefits of bone broth for fertility, so that’s an ideal beverage option. Our readers also love hot water and ginger tea.
- Red Raspberry Leaf Tea: While this technically falls under the “hot drinks” category, it deserves its own mention. Red raspberry leaf tea is full of amazing vitamins, like Vitamin D and Vitamin E, which can assist with implantation.
- Cinnamon: Cinnamon is not only known for helping regulate the menstrual cycles of PCOS patients, but its flavor profile can bring a little extra warmth to any dish.
- Ginger: Have you taken a bite of ginger? It’s got a little kick to it! That’s why it’s a great option when searching for warm foods for implantation.
- Cayenne Pepper: People with the taste buds for a little extra heat love to throw some cayenne pepper into their meals
Let’s be real, though–most things can serve as warm foods for implantation! Just make sure to heat them before eating!
Heck, I even heard in the IVF community that pineapple helps implantation success, so when I was TTC, I would warm a slice each day with lunch!
Other Foods that Are Great for Implantation Success
Hot foods and drinks aside, you might be looking for other dietary additions to increase your chances of getting pregnant naturally. There are lots of other foods for fertility that can be helpful for optimal health:
- Dark Leafy Greens, e.g., spinach, kale, broccoli, etc.
- Protein-Rich Food, e.g., chicken, lamb, beef, kidney beans, etc.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids, e.g., walnuts, chia seeds, lentils, salmon, etc.
- Whole Grains, e.g., brown rice, quinoa, etc.
- Foods Rich in Antioxidants, e.g., blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, etc.
Time to Create a Cozy Environment for Your Embryos?
So what do you think? Are you planning to try to warm up your uterus for implantation? Many of our fertility friends say there’s no harm in rocking your fuzzy socks while you sip tea or broth! Others say they have too much to worry about, and this just isn’t something that’s worth it to them.
But in a way, that’s the beauty, right? We’re here to help you find the most reliable information. Now you get to decide for yourself what to do with it!
Are you going to try warm foods for implantation?
Kristen Bergeron is a freelance writer from Florida. In addition to writing, she is a wife, mother of two beautiful girls, Hadley and Scarlett, and a part-time photographer. After overcoming infertility and having two successful IVF cycles, she’s made it a personal goal to help educate men and women on the realities of fertility struggles. She is passionate about supporting fellow women who are trying to navigate the complicated world of conception, pregnancy, and learning to be the best mothers we can be.