Pre-conception: 3 months before actively trying to conceive
Before trying to conceive both men and women need to look at a number of factors.
- Toxic Burden and Detoxification.
- Toxins go to baby
- Heavy metals and other endocrine disruptors
- Some metals accumulate in the pituitary which is important for proper endocrine function
- Many toxins sit at receptor sites of cells and stop your hormones from functioning properly (i.e. BPA- estrogenic)
- Depending on your history of work, travel, home life, we may want to consider testing for some toxins
- Diet and Lifestyle and how it will increase or decrease your odds of success
- Gut inflammation and hormones (IgG testing and why it’s a good idea), gluten avoidance, high antioxidant diet
- Connection between gluten and infertility cut it out before it becomes the problem!
- Caffeine and alcohol effects. Even before conception both have impact on ability to conceive and maintaining pregnancy (this apply’s to both men and women!)
- Hormones: both men and women should get a baseline hormone test to see where they are at. Females may want to start charting their cycle to start to understand when they are ovulating, etc.
- Estrogen, progesterone, FSH, LH, testosterone, thyroid,
Actively trying to conceive:
For an average young couple, it typically takes 4-5 months to conceive. For an older couple, it typically 6 months to 2 years or more to conceive.
Problems with conception- infertility:
Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive a child after having regular unprotected intercourse for a full year (for women 35 years plus 6 months). One in every 5 or 6 North American couples is “infertile.”
Causes of infertility:
- Female – 30-40% of cases. Usually due to Ovulation factors (hormonal imbalance), tubal or uterine factors (scarring/obstruction of fallopian tubes, prolapsed uterus, fibroids, endometriosis), cervical/immunological factors (hostile cervical mucus, sperm allergy);.
- Male – 30-40% of cases. Common causes can include Oligospermia (less than 20 million sperm per ml), Severe oligospermia (less than 5 million sperm in total specimen), Azoospermia, Low motility (<50%), Irregular morphology (<30%), DNA fragmentation in sperm.
- Unknown – 15% of cases.
Help in the process: Women
Knowing your cycle is key. A temperature chart or hormone testing will give us information whether we need to boost progesterone or other hormones. We may also need to consider improving egg quality or uterine lining. Acupuncture has also been known to improve egg quality, and blood flow to ovaries and uterus.
Diet and supplementation: Ensuring low inflammation through addressing food sensitivities and allergens. Focusing on foods that promote good blood flow is also key. Nutrient support helps proper development and improve quality of eggs.
Environmental: Chemicals in our environment can change, block or increase particular hormones. This can influence your ability to conceive. Going through an environmental history can be a clue as to why conception has not yet happened, as well as a direction for treatment.
If history of recurrent miscarriage:
- women consider progesterone issues or clotting issues
- Solvent and metals testing
- Genomic profile including MTHFR
Help in the process: Men
Lifestyle: alcohol or other drug use, smoking, emotional stress, obesity, medications, nutritional deficiencies, food intolerances need to be addressed For example, gut inflammation due to food allergy, often in particular gluten, has been shown to decrease conception rates in both men and women. Caffeine and alcohol effects also have impact on ability to conceive and maintaining pregnancy. Nutritional deficiencies also negatively impact sperm production.
Environmental: Chemicals and heavy metals can lead to hormone imbalances in the body. They interfere with the synthesis, secretion, transport, binding, action or elimination of hormones in the body that are responsible for reproduction. These include pesticides, plastics, PCB’s, dioxins, heavy metals such as mercury and lead, and many others. These chemicals also reduce sperm production.
Biological: hormone imbalance, DNA fragmentation, issues with motility and morphology of sperm. Often higher estrogen or low testosterone can be in issue in men due to dietary factors and environmental influences (pesticides, alcohols, etc.). Any imbalance of hormones is going to be problematic for production of sperm and quality of sperm.
Naturopathic Medicine can help with lifestyle, environmental and biological reasons for infertility. However if there are structural problems we are able to support you through conventional treatments for these things, but would not be your primary care provider in those instances.
Naturopathic Fertility Treatments offered:
Nutritional Counselling and Nutriceutical Interventions: Both have a major impact on both male and female fertility.
Herbal Remedies: Botanical medicines, have been documented in several studies as having a positive effect on fertility.
Acupuncture: There are several studies that show a positive effect of acupuncture on sperm production and function for men and cycle regulation/ovulation in females.
Detoxification: Detoxification is important to reduce environmental burden that may be impacting conception.
IV Therapy: Intravenous glutathione for DNA fragmentation and specific vitamins and minerals to correct nutrient deficiencies. IV therapy can be a fast and efficient way of building up your vitamin stores to bring you to an optimal level of health.