Fertility Support for Women and Men, From Your Naturopathic Doctor
BY DR. TORY JACKSON
Over the past twenty years, fertility problems have increased dramatically.
Roughly 16% (or 1 in 6) couples in Canada experience infertility or fertility issues. This number has doubled since the 1980s. As high as one quarter of all pregnancies can end in miscarriage.
Infertility for women may be caused by several factors; as age increases, fertility decreases (notably after age 35), decreased egg production (with irregular or absent periods), sexually transmitted infections (STI) may cause blockages in fallopian tubes, uterine fibroids or polyps, endometriosis, hormonal imbalances, PCOS, ovarian failure or early menopause.
Men’s Infertility may be due to low sperm count, low stored energy or irregular shape, a history of an STI or various hormonal imbalances.
Sometimes it’s multi-factorial and there can be difficulties with both individuals or, the cause is undetermined according to conventional medicine. Interestingly, the most common cause of infertility is unexplained even if thorough investigations are performed.
A natural approach can be used to optimize fertility regardless of known or unknown causes. It’s important to also look at nutritional, lifestyle and stress factors that can affect the fertility picture. Toxin load, pollutants and smoking can greatly affect quality of eggs and sperm and hormone levels.
Studies show that changes to lifestyle and personalized nutritional support can improve the success rate of conception up to 80 percent. Pre-conception care is given over a 3-month period to allow for positive changes in egg or sperm maturity. An in-depth assessment of diet, overall alcohol and/or caffeine consumption can highlight nutrient deficiencies that are essential to conception. Vitamins B6, B12 and Folate are essential for the proper development of reproductive cells. Additionally, the antioxidant actions of Vitamins E and C, Beta-carotene and selenium can protect against free-radical damage of eggs and sperm. There is recent research regarding low Vitamin D status and infertility. Vitamin D works to support hormone production in men and women, helps to regulate menstrual cycles and aids in the proper development of sperm nuclei.
Zinc is an especially important nutrient. For women, zinc is needed for estrogen and progesterone metabolism. For men, zinc is a key component of the outer surface of sperm and concentrated in the tail of sperm. Research shows that a chronic zinc deficiency has been linked to low sperm count.
Healthy fats are required for healthy hormone composition, anti-inflammatory action and the production of semen-rich prostaglandins. Certain amino acids, such as L-Carnitine and L-Arginine are required to optimize sperm count and quality.
Fertility patients can also benefit from the use of other naturopathic treatments. For instance, certain plants, such as Vitex Agnus castus (Chastetree) is specific for progesterone support necessary for building uterine lining and egg implantation, helping to nourish the fetus in the early part of pregnancy.
Acupuncture is well documented to increase fertility rates up to 60-70% in patients involved in IVF (in-vitro fertilization) or other forms of ART (assisted reproduction therapy) by supporting circulation to reproductive organs and balancing hormones.
Visceral manipulation is a very gentle, hands-on therapy applied to internal organs and their supporting structures to restore optimal movement. Restrictions and adhesions can occur as a result of surgery, infection, trauma or toxin load. The application of visceral manipulation can help optimize function to organs, muscles, circulation, nerve innervation and lymphatic support.
Because Naturopathic Doctors take a multi-faceted approach to create a individualized fertility support, additional testing of one or more of the following is often required; a steroid hormone panel (blood, saliva and/or dried urine testing), a fatty acid profile, essential and toxic minerals testing and infection screening. Tests are performed either in-office, in a lab setting, as take-home kits.
If you have concerns about your fertility status or require additional fertility support through naturopathic treatments, contact the clinic to schedule a consultation to discuss your individualized treatment plan.