Over the past 30 years, infertility problems have increased
dramatically. At least 25% of couples planning a baby will have trouble
conceiving, and more and more couples are turning to fertility
treatments to help them have a family.
Approximately 40 years ago, the average age of females giving
birth for the first time was 20 years. Couples are now starting their
families in their early to mid-thirties. Many of them are turning to
naturopathic medicine to improve fecundity and increase the potential to
conceive a healthy baby.
Naturopaths have the capacity to enhance and improve the
effectiveness of fertility medical treatments through the use of
complementary therapies. Healthy eating plans, specialised nutritional
supplements and herbal remedies that have been proven to improve
insulin resistance, regulate menstrual cycles and pregnancy outcomes.
Naturopaths can help you to improve your diet and lifestyle, and given
that fecundity depends on the correct balance of a symphony of factors
in both your body and your partner’s, it is worth considering such advice.
Causes of Infertility
- Couples who decide to have a baby later in life are more likely to
experience problems conceiving. Older women are at a greater risk for
complications during pregnancy such as low birth weight babies,
stillbirths and Down Syndrome.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is an
ovulatory disorder whereby follicles do not always mature. When they
don't mature, the follicles sometimes develop into ovarian cysts. Women
with PCOS may not ovulate for months. There are many and varied reasons
why PCOS can prevent ovulation. One theory suggests that the high levels
of Luteinisng Hormone (LH) found in women with PCOS contribute to lack
- Fibroids are benign tumours
(non-cancerous growths) of the uterus (womb) and present in 30-50% of
women. Fibroids are responsible for 30% of all gynaecological hospital
admissions. They can cause cause heavy and irregular bleeding,
miscarriages and premature labour.
- Endometriosis is gynealogical condition of
reprodutive age where the tissue of the lining of the uterus, called the
‘endometrium’, is found outside the uterus, affecting other organs such
as the ovaries and bowel. 30-40% of women are infertile because of
- Thyroid gland problems such as Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are
diseases of the thyroid gland and both can affect fecundity.
Hypothyroidism means a person has an uneractive thyroid gland and does
not produce enough thyroid hormone. Whereas, hyperthyroidism is when the
thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone. Proper thyroid function is
necessary for ovulation to occur and to prevent miscarriages.
- Amenorrhea and Hypothalamaic amenorrhea can both be a result of excessive weight loss, over
exercising, eating disorders, post-pill use (OCP) and stress. Follicle
Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and LH are usually low, and the GnRH
generator/rhythm is suppressed. Women with either condition have no
menstrual cycle - no ovulation and no period.
- Premature ovarian failure is a very sad and
distressing cause of infertility. Women are born with all of their eggs
already within their ovaries. With each menstrual cycle, hundreds of
eggs die because only one of them can become a mature follicle. Women
who have premature ovarian failure lose more eggs each cycle than normal
women. Therefore, these women may reach menopause early. Premature
ovarian failure is thought to be due to a genetic abnormality.
- Hyperprolactinemia is a condition affecting the pituitary gland. Prolactin is a hormone
produced by the pituitary gland, required to produce breast milk. Too
much prolactin (hyperprolactinemia) causes a decrease in FSH and LH. A
decrease of these hormones prevents maturation of the follicle thereby
causing lack of ovulation. High levels of prolactin also interfere with
other hormones that are necessary for ovulation.
- Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia contribute
to lack of ovulation by altering the normal activity of LH. LH levels
continually fluctuate throughout a normal menstrual cycle. However, in
anorexic and bulimic women LH does not fluctuate as it should and causes
irregular or absent periods. As these women return to normal weight,
healthy cycles hopefully resume.
- Excessive exercise - female athletes that
exercise excessively often stop having menstural cycles. One of the
reasons is that that oestrogen requires a minimum of 18% body fat to
circulate. These women can develop Hypothalamic amenorrhea.
- Stress can cause conception problems! There is no question about it regardless what you may have heard. Stress also
reduces progesterone levels. The reason for this is cortisol, the
stress hormone, is made from progesterone. The stress response is a
survival instinct, so the body will use any available progesterone and
convert it into cortisol to overcome the stress, be it acute or chronic.
- Medications - some medications used to treat
inflammation and pain can interfere with ovulation. Birth control pills
(OPC's) also prevent ovulation, and shouldn't normally contribute to conception problems after a woman stops taking them, although not uncommon. Some
medications cause an increase in prolactin, which may then lead to
hyperprolactinemia. These medications include anti-psychotics and
opiods. Illicit drugs affect ovulation because their actions can affect
the hypothalamaus and pituitary gland, leading to hormonal imbalances.
- Gluten allergy/intolerance can be a cause of 'unexplained infertility'. Gluten is a protein
found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. The connection between
ammenorhea/fecundity problems and gluten is poorly understood, however one
theory is that of an autoimmune reaction to gluten affecting
reproductive hormones. Interestingly when PCOS sufferers go gluten-free
they often see a marked improvement in both their PCOS symptoms including
weight loss and pregnancy.
Natural Fertility Support
Natural Hormone Health provides comprehensive natural treatment advice
that is safe and effective for both partners during
preconception and pregnancy, leading to the birth of a healthy baby.
Natural Hormone Health provides couples with practical and
successful advice on:
- Natural medicines including supplements and herbs for fecundity
- Dietary recommendations
- Cycle and timing strategies
- Stres management
Natural Hormone Health looks at treatments and supplements that
have been proven in traditional and modern medicinal use for their
ability to relax and de-stress, balance hormonal changes, nourish and
tone the uterus and create optimum chances of conception and resilience for the rest
of the body.
Natural Hormone Health looks at various strategies to improve
male fertility. It is important to ensure the man is not lacking in any
vital nutrients that support sperm health and assist detoxification and
protection from environmental factors that can reduce sperm viability.
Men may be asked to take essential supplements that strengthen sperm
parameters, overcome issues and decrease the chances of
Naturopathic and nutritional medicine can compliment and improve IVF outcomes.
By preparing in advance for your IVF cycle you will able to support your
hormone and reproductive system, nourish your body, be nutrient-rich
during the crucial early stages of foetal development and have stress management techniques on board to help you deal with the emotional rollercoaster ride.
There are many different options you can explore to help you
increase your IVF success rates such as nutritional therapy (diet and supplements), acupuncture and mind/body therapies. More information to follow.
Read More on Infertility
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