Natural Solutions For Infertility
There were a series of events that didn’t sit right with me on my fertility journey and they were;
-the endocrinologist looking over my blood results and saying ‘you have low estrogen and there is nothing you can do about it except go on The Pill which is counteractive to getting pregnant or IVF.
-then once in front of the IVF specialist getting asked a series of psychological questions and NOT one question on my nutrition or lifestyle
This prompted me to investigate what I could do myself and learned all about the world of lifestyle medicine and functional testing. I stopped IVF after 5 ovulation inductions and 3 emotional IVF cycles, this wasn’t the path for me and I was going to allow my body to heal with the knowledge I had been learning and studying. Fortunately for me I was able to conceive naturally with both Indi and Noah, I know this isn’t the case for many people and IVF is amazing for those who can’t.
Here are some natural solutions that I implemented and many of my patients have to conceive naturally or alongside IVF.
Heal with your diet
· Eat real food: If you go by this rule, you know you are getting unadulterated nutrients which your body knows what to do with. This is first and foremost over which philosophy to follow; paleo, keto, vegan, vegetarian, you just want real food first.
· Organic foods: When you can and if you can’t at least avoid the dirty dozen. The 12 most pesticide sprayed produce. Pesticides are estrogenic (estrogen like) as well as being well, poison which can have a detrimental effect on estrogen and the other important hormones needed for fertility.
· Include Omega 3’s: They can help reduce inflammation which more likely means hormonal balance for optimal fertility. They can also help with regulating ovulation and improving egg quality. Some great sources are; wild caught fish, chia seeds, walnuts, flaxseeds, sardines, hemp seeds, egg yolks and white fish.
· Folate rich foods: Its recommend to increase folate before getting pregnant for a healthy pregnancy and to avoid some birth defects. A supplement including active folate is recommended over folic acid because it is better absorbed for most people. Green leafy vegetables are your friend as well as citrus fruits, beans and asparagus and avocados.
· Increasing cruciferous veggies: Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower to name a few are important to help with detoxing estrogen, other hormones and toxins out of your body. We don’t want them recirculating through and causing hormonal chaos.
· Caffeine: Can contribute to hormonal imbalances and can put extra strain on your adrenal glands sending us into flight and flight mode. You definitely don’t want any extra stress responses as you’re trying to get pregnant.
· Alcohol: Swap out the alcohol for a kombucha in a wine glass. Alcohol causes inflammation and is going to exacerbate any underlying hormonal condition like PCOS of endometriosis.
· Processed foods: Are normally nutrient deficient and have empty calories. They are also high in refined carbohydrates which leads to blood glucose dys-regulation which can then lead to hormonal imbalances. All of which we are trying to avoid!
· Sugar: Normally goes hand in hand with the above processed foods. Again sugar and I mean refined sugar not sugar from fruits can lead to blood sugar imbalances.
· Dairy: Cows (or other animals) are usually given hormones and antibiotics to increase milk production, these are stored in the fat, which is the dairy that we consume.
· Gluten: Has been shown to cause leaky gut which means things like pathogens, big food particles and toxins can get into the bloodstream that shouldn’t get in there. This causes an inflammatory response over and over again.
Fertility supporting supplements:
This will be different for everyone depending on what is going on for individuals but some good generals ones are;
· Activated B vitamins: B vitamins are important from the preconception phase because deficiencies have been associated with a number of fertility problems and fetal abnormalities. Stress also increased the requirements of B vitamins which is a factor for couples trying to conceive.
· Zinc: Zinc is one of the big ones to be aware of, it is required for reproduction, ovulation.
· Vitamin D: Helps with normal implantation and may decrease incidences of miscarriage. Is also enhances fertility in both males and females.
· Iodine: Important for thyroid health and the develop of fetus. In Australia our soil is deficient in iodine so it is imperative there is adequate iodine during the preconception phase.
· Calcium: Is an essential nutrient for both male and female fertility as it is required both structurally and functionally.
· CoQ10: This is really important for eggs in the ovaries to grow, mature and make it to the end in the highest quality it can.
· a-Lipoic Acid (ALA): Optimal fertility is hampered by oxidative stress, ALA reduces this damage.
A lot of these vitamins, minerals and compounds are found in practitioner grade pre-natal supplements. I always ask patients to take a pre-natal at least 3 months out from trying to get pregnant.
Again every person is different and infertility issues are multifactorial, more supplements could be added depending on issues.
This was the biggest factor for myself and most other women I have seen in allowing the body to heal and fall pregnant naturally. Below is a list of possible stressors, go through each one and list what may be ‘stressing’ you and work out ways to manage, support or avoid them altogether.
· Physiological: do you have an underlying gut infection that is causing inflammation? Or are you estrogen dominant? Or do you have an under active thyroid. These are all things that could be causing a stress response.
· Physical: If you have pain anywhere in your body, it will be causing a stress response. You need to sort this out with a chiro, physio, osteo or myotherapist.
· Emotional: Emotional stress can manifest in many different ways including anxiety, depression and hostility.
· Psychological: can be things like marital problems, death of a loved one, abuse, health problems or financial strain.
· EMF (Electromagnetic frequency): This is a relatively new phenomenon but has been shown to activate a stress response within the body similar to the ‘fight or flight’ response.
· Environmental: toxins, chemicals, mould, pesticides, plastics… all these things are hormone disruptors. Think about what you can swap out for natural products or avoid altogether.
· Exercise: The right amount is a positive stressor, too much becomes a physiological stressor. The right type for where you are at is important too, running marathons is not ideal for someone who is trying to get pregnant, yoga is a better option.
This also was a game changer for me because I found out more information then what the conventional tests did. I saw there were things I could change and get specific about nutrients and supplements that made an impactful difference.
· DUTCH: The GOLD standard for hormone testing now. This should be done with all women who are struggling to conceive.
· Comprehensive Gastrointestinal test: To rule out any underling infection that is causing inflammation.
· Genetic hormone profile: Gives information about how you metabolise and detox hormones and potential dysfunctions in your genes.
You can do all these things alongside IVF too which will increase your chance of conceiving. For a more individualised treatment plan specific for you, come in and have a chat.