Naturopathic Approaches to Infertility
It is infertility awareness week and I wanted to cap off the series I have been doing on how to improve your fertility naturally, with an overall summary of all the ways Naturopathic and Functional Medicine can help you to achieve the pregnancy you are longing for.
I have many of my own patient’s stories that I am going to share with you as well.
One of the areas that I find often gets overlooked with infertility, is secondary infertility. Secondary infertility is when a couple has difficulty conceiving after they have already had at least one child together. This can be quite shocking and upsetting, as most people assume if they were able to get pregnant the first time, the second time should be no problem. This is not always the case. I see a lot of secondary infertility in my practice. A lot of it is due to stress and burnout from raising their first child, while keeping up professionally and with life on a day to day basis. The high levels of stress impact hormones, particularly progesterone, which does not allow for the proper implantation of the embryo and results in either not getting pregnant or having a miscarriage.
Real Life Patient Stories
- 34 year old woman who has already had 2 failed IVF cycles comes to see me. After reviewing her bloodwork and ultrasounds from the fertility clinic, I can see that her thyroid is under functioning (hypothyroid), her ferritin (the stored form of iron) is extremely low, her Vitamin D is very low and her progesterone is low in the second half of her cycle, which is when progesterone is very important! Over the next 3 months, we changed her diet to be more fertility focused and nutrient dense, increased her iron, sent her back to the doctor to request thyroid medication, increased her vitamin D, and progesterone and she was pregnant. The pregnancy went to term and she delivered a healthy baby girl.
- 36 year old woman who has a 3 year old child and has been trying to get pregnant again for 1 year. She did not have any difficulty conceiving her first and is very worried that is it because she is “over 35 and now too old”. First let me say that this is not true! Her bloodwork looked good, so we dove more into the stress/burnout connection to lowered fertility. Your body does not want to get pregnant when it thinks the environment is not safe to have a baby. Historically, if your stress levels were high, it was because your life was in imminent danger. This is not the case today, but our bodies do not know that. We worked on including deep breathing, gentle exercise, eating plenty of nutrient dense foods, getting to bed by 10 pm, and limiting screen time in the evening, a combination of stress supporting herbs and nutrients, and biweekly acupuncture. She is currently pregnant with her 2nd after 6 months of treatment.
- 39 year old woman who has never been pregnant, wishing to have her first and not wanting to go the fertility clinic route. She has been trying to get pregnant for 1.5 years and has never had a positive pregnancy test. At our first visit I could see that she had very low body fat, and she reported being a marathon runner. A woman’s body needs to be in the range of at least 18% body fat to be able to produce proper hormone levels. Marathon running is also seen as an extreme stress by the body and makes the body think that this is not a good environment to have a baby in. It took a lot of coaxing, but I convinced her to reduce the running to short runs and races to 5 km for the next 6 months. I also added more healthy fat to her diet, supplemented with antioxidants for egg health, had her prioritize sleep and start tracking her cycles to help pinpoint ovulation. 3 months later, she was pregnant, and delivered a healthy baby boy.
As you can see from the stories above, there is a lot that can be done to help increase your chances of becoming pregnant naturally. Here is a link to an article discussing How Naturopathic Medicine Can Improve Fertility
I offer consults to soon to be parents on how to optimize their chances of fertility, reduce the risk of miscarriage and have their healthiest baby. Click here to schedule your consult. Keep an eye out in the very near future for my online Preconception/Fertility program specially designed for moms in their 30’s.
As always, if you have any questions, please post a comment below
Dr Alexis practice in Kanata, and online, and is currently accepting new patients. Click here to book your appointment
Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended health benefits