Conception and Fertility

Common conditions that can benefit from naturopathic medicine: PCOS, Endometriosis, hypothyroid, miscarriage, thin uterine lining, poor egg quality (Low AMH level), “Unexplained infertility”, IVF

Naturopathic Treatments for fertility:

The following treatments are available to help enhance your own natural fertility or to help support IVF or other medically assisted fertility procedures (IUI, ICSI etc)

Acupuncture: Acupuncture can be performed to help regulate cycles, reduce stress and muscle tension, to enhance IVF procedures such as egg retrieval and embryo transfer. Pre and Post Embryo Transfer acupuncture appointments are available.

Hypnosis and Mind-Body relaxation: Using self-hypnosis techniques can help you connect with your body and help you manage the stress surrounding your fertility treatments, even help you let go of mental and emotional obstacles that might be in the way of you being able to have your baby! You’ll receive personalized hypnosis/ relaxation recordings that you can listen to at home, work and during your fertility treatments and procedures.

Nutrition and supplementation: Nutrition plays an important part in fertility as you need to provide the proper building blocks in order to have a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby. Current research supports the use of certain supplements to enhance egg and sperm quality. Additionally, certain diets and foods can help enhance fertility and help manage medical conditions that affect fertility.

Botanicals and herbal medicine: Many herbs have been used traditionally to address women’s health — to help regulate and balance menstrual cycles, to help reduce stress effects on the body and to help improve libido.

 

Pregnancy is the result of a well choreographed conception “dance”. During a relatively small window of time during a woman’s cycle, the egg and sperm meet in the fallopian tube and almost immediately the steps towards the development of a baby begins as the minute clump of cells travel down into the uterus and find a place to implant and nestle in for 9 months. This seemingly simple journey is the result of an “orchestra” of well-timed hormonal, biochemical and physical events that work together in both the woman and man.

Just like a song can sound off when even a single note is played wrong, fertility issues can arise when some aspect of the process is off.

“Infertility” is defined by the World Health Organization as the inability of a couple to conceive after 2 years of having regular sexual intercourse without the use of birth control methods. By this definition, about 1 in 10 couples will realize that they have fertility issues. North American medical standards have a narrower definition: When a woman under 35 years of age hasn’t conceive after 12 months of regular intercourse without the use of birth control methods, or a woman over 35 years of age hasn’t conceived after 6 months, then she may have fertility issues and may be referred to medical fertility treatments. Under this definition, up to 1 in 6 couples will realize that they have fertility issues.

When fertility problems are assessed, about 40% are female factor, 40% are male factor and 20% are unknown. Therefore, it is important that both the man and woman are assessed for fertility issues. It takes 2 to make a baby!

Being fertile requires a lot of resources from the body. Imagine for a moment that every month you had to build a house, stock it with food, have it heated, have running water — essentially preparing so it is ready for someone to move in and live comfortably — only to then tear it down and then repeat the process every month, until one day someone does indeed move in.  For the woman, the menstrual cycle is akin to this — creating, maintaining and then subsequently losing a healthy uterine lining and egg requires a lot of resources from her body. Proper nutrients are absolutely required (Iron, B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, antioxidants, just to name a few) . The properly timed production of different hormones is critical (FSH, LH, estrogen, progesterone, thryoid hormones, just to name a few) . The coordinated movements from organs and muscles is essential (ovaries, fimbrae, fallopian tubes, uterine wall, just to name a few).

For the man, making healthy semen and sperm on demand is no small feat for his body either. Semen is a nutrient and enzymatic rich mixture that needs to have just the right pH and just the right combination of substances to sustain the sperm. The sperm themselves have to be just right the size, shape and have the right amount of energy to make the somewhat long and dangerous journey to the egg. And he must be able to make many millions at a time. For a long time it was believed that a man’s fertility was highly resilient and persistent until he died. Research has now been showing that male fertility is vulnerable to lifestyle choices, environmental exposure, nutrition and age.

This may explain why even couples without fertility issues can take up to 2 years to get pregnant — the conditions have to be just right.

Medical reproductive technologies can give hope to help a couple have a baby. However, many people don’t realize that IVF and IUI and other artificial reproductive techniques have their limitations, and the average success rate (live birth) is less than 50%. Considering the emotional, physical and financial demands that reproductive procedures require, it is in the best interest of the couple that each person is as healthy as they can be, even before starting treatment. The highest success rates come from the healthiest egg, healthiest sperm and healthiest uterus.

Stress and Fertility:

Have you ever eaten while under stress and then had indigestion? Did your mother ever tell you not to run or swim immediately after eating?

Have you every tried to have sex or make love while feeling very stressed or tired and you end up feeling frustrated and and unsatisfied?

Have you ever skipped a period during particularly high stress times in your life?

There is a reason why the answers to these questions may be YES. When you feel stress, or your mind perceives stress (meaning you are simply thinking about stressful things), your autonomic nervous system turns on the sympathetic response — the fight, flight or freeze response. When this happens stress hormones increase, blood sugar levels increase and your heart rate and blood pressure increase to divert resources to your essential organs such as your brain, heart, lungs and skeletal muscles in preparation to escape some form of threat. While your body is preparing to be in survival mode, resources are diverted away from non-essential organs.

During the stress response the non-essential organs are the digestive and reproductive organs, meaning under stress your body may be effectively shutting down these organ systems!

But where does stress come from? Aside from a poor diet and toxin exposure, mental and emotional stress originate from your mind. Where ever your mind goes, your body follows.

Your mind is an important reproductive organ. A holistic fertility program must include stress reduction and management to allow your body to feel safe in devoting energy and resources towards creating life!