Dr. Yousuf, ND Discusses: Fertility – The “F” word

Let’s be honest – Infertility can be stressful.   I have seen a lot of cases where the female partner takes ownership of the process because she feels accountable for not being able to conceive.  Yet, according to Assisted Human Reproduction Canada, only 40% of infertility cases are caused solely by female factors!  In other words, there is more to conceiving a baby than hormones and reproductive organs. 

Whether you are starting the process, or you are undergoing fertility treatment,  it is important to assess how your body is functioning biochemically.  This will allow your naturopathic doctor to address any underlying imbalances that are impeding conception.  Typically this involves blood work and specialized labs that extend beyond hormones, and evaluates specific markers relating to your endocrine system, digestion, mitochondrial function, and detoxification pathways.   Remember that only 40% of infertility cases are due to the female reproductive system.

The Organic Acid Test is an effective tool that uses 75 markers to provide a snap shot of how the various systems in your body are performing.  It is not uncommon to see dysregulated mitochondria or even compromised detoxification pathways when helping couples get pregnant, both of which help to protect your body against oxidative stress and optimize DNA integrity.  When properly treated, this alone can improve your chances of a healthy pregnancy as DNA replication is the main process for embryo development. 

When planning to get pregnant, it is a good idea to give yourself three months to detox and rebalance your body.  This will help to increase you chances of pregnancy and support a healthy one!  Building and supporting your nutritional status can be easily done by with a good quality prenatal multivitamin three months before attempting to conceive.   When choosing your prenatal, review the ingredients and make sure it includes MTFR forms of B vitamins as they allow for proper absorption and utilization.  Essential fatty acids (high DHA) in the form of a fish oil play a role in fetal neural development, helps to decrease inflammation, and increases circulation.

Getting pregnant is an exciting and anxious time for couples.  For this reason, managing stress plays a critical role.  Meditation and physical exercise are a great way to offset the effects of elevated cortisol (stress hormone), which can have a negative effect on your sex hormones.  Stress is managed by taking herbal complexes; however it is a good idea to have your naturopathic doctor review what you are taking.  Tribulus, used in fertility and for stress, can falsely raise FSH levels (for those of you undergoing fertility treatments).  

For the guys: CoQ10, carnitine, and arginine are a great starting point as they can increase the quality of sperm and motility.  It is a great idea to continue to exercise but make sure that you are wearing loose underwear as heat can decrease your sperm count.  It is also a good idea to “flush your pipes” 3 to 4 times a week.  This help to ensure that your ejaculate contains highly motile and healthy sperm when attempting to conceive. 

Acupuncture is a very common adjunct care treatment for those going through IVF or IUI.    Clinically, the best results are achieved by adapting the Paulus Protocol with a technique called the sacred turtle.  If you are not familiar with acupuncture, treatments are scheduled around ovulation and implantation.

The Association for Pre-conception Healthcare in the UK conducted a study that stated  couples going through IVF were 47% more likely to get pregnant if they used a pre-conception healthcare plan prior to treatment.  This is mainly due to the fact that IVF does not improve chromosomes, mitochondrial function, pregnancy health, nor children’s health outcomes.  This may be why I see a growing number of couples enter my practice who have undergone IVF treatments without success. Fertility can be both exciting and anxiety ridden time for a lot of people.  You and your spouse’s connection, along with some biochemical support, are going to get you pregnant.  Take a deep breathe and partner together.

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