NATUROPATHIC APPROACH TO INFERTILITY
OUR NATUROPATHIC PROTOCOL FOR INFERTILITY IS FOR:
- Normal, healthy, fertile couples who want to do the best for their babies and avoid any problems caused by an unknown folate deficiency / inherited error of metabolism both of which require the individual to take a much higher than normal dose to avoid deficiency and associated birth defects e.g. neural tube defect
- Couples who have general infertility with or without known cause, including problems with sperm count, motility, an-ovulation, peri-menopause lack of periods etc
- Couples who have experienced single or recurrent miscarriages
- Couples wishing to try for another baby with a previous history of having a baby prematurely, or malformation, or low birth weight, or stillbirth or sudden infant death syndrome
- Older couples including women over 40 years, to help improve their fertility and help reduce the risk of Downs Syndrome
- Couples where one of the partners has chronic health problems that could affect chances of fertilization e.g. epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, eczema, myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), asthma, migraine
THE PRECONCEPTION CARE PROGRAMME
Many of our young patients had asked our naturopath to create a program for them for optimum health and wellness before getting pregnant. However since no two individuals are the same, we have created a program that incorporates various aspects of health but is individual in nature.
Each programme differs a little from couple to couple depending upon what is found in their initial health screen. The preconception care programme we use with our patients incorporates:
- Individual dietary programs based on your diet diaries
- Reduction of nutrient deficiencies, once we have established what deficiencies you have through blood testing
- Nutritional and homeopathic support in specific doses for increasing male and female fertility
- Reduction of heavy metal toxicity i.e. aluminium, mercury, lead, cadmium if your hair mineral analysis reveals high levels of heavy metals
- Nutritional, homeopathic support along with hypnotherapy for successfully quitting smoking
- General gentle detoxification for the body
- Stress Management - Stress affects fertility. At the clinic, we offer acupuncture and hypnotherapy treatments for stress management. Our hypnotherapist will teach you how to relax your body in stressful situations through breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, visualizations. The acupuncture sessions will help you to better manage your stress and also improve your overall energy, and at the same time, improve your chances of getting pregnant.
- Lifestyle Choices - Factors such as diet, caffeine, alcohol and nicotine that can affect fertility will be addressed. Your treatment plan will also include a list of foods you should be having based on your specific eating habits to improve overall health and hence fertility.
- Acupuncture treatments along with specific supplements to improve fertility and balance hormones naturally*. We also offer acupuncture for patients who have decided to do IVF and would like to improve their rate of success, as well, acupuncture for delayed labour. Interested couples should call our naturopathic clinic to schedule a visit for an assessment and acupuncture session.
LIFESTYLE FACTORS THAT CAN AFFECT FERTILITY
Smoking can cause menstrual abnormalities in women and considerable alcohol intake can affect sperm production in men. Smoking can affect reproduction for both women and men. In women, smoking may lead to ectopic pregnancy, cervical and tubal problems, and menstrual abnormalities.
In men, smoking may lead to an abnormal semen analysis. In fact, smoking more than 20 cigarettes a day lowers sperm production and quality. For couples trying to conceive, especially for couples with unexplained infertility and men whose semen values are borderline, cessation of smoking should be a serious consideration.
This is important for both partners due to second-hand smoke exposures during pregnancy or even after the baby is born - studies have shown that children exposed to second-hand smoke have increased ear infections and other health issues.
DRUGS & ALCOHOL
Considerable alcohol intake, marijuana or other illegal drug use can sometimes significantly reduce sperm production in terms of quality and numbers. For example:
- Marijuana is linked to many problems with sperm production.
- Steroids can cause sterility.
- LSD can cause chromosomal damage.
- Excessive drinking can affect sexual performance.
Alcohol specifically can cause reduced testosterone -- the male hormone that contributes to sperm production. This condition may be reversible once the drug or alcohol abuse stops. In women, drinking may lead to irregular menstrual cycles and anovulatory menstruation (menstruation that occurs without ovulation).
Alcohol can also increase the risk of miscarriage once a woman becomes pregnant and can cause a severe collection of birth defects knows as fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Overall, it is best to avoid alcohol while trying to conceive.
Seafood can be an important part of a balanced diet for pregnant women. It is a good source of high quality protein and other nutrients and is low in fat. However, some fish contain high levels of a form of mercury called methyl mercury that can harm an unborn child's developing nervous system if eaten regularly.
By being informed about methyl mercury and knowing the kinds of fish that are safe to eat, you can prevent any harm to your unborn child and still enjoy the health benefits of eating seafood.
Women: Studies show a correlation between increased caffeine consumption and difficulty conceiving. If removing coffee completely from the daily routine is a hard adjustment, try limiting it to only one cup per day and consider switching to decaffeinated coffee. It’s important to note that soda and chocolate contain caffeine.
Men: Some studies suggest that drinking a cup of coffee before intercourse can cause sperm to become more active in some men. Although slow sperm is one of the leading causes of male infertility, combating this with coffee drinking may lead to other problems such as sleepless nights.
Women: Although women tend to know about the importance of calcium for many health reasons, some may not be aware of the role calcium plays during pregnancy. In pregnant women who don’t get enough calcium, the fetus will leach it from their bones, which may impair health in the mother later on. And, once pregnant, the baby will need calcium to grow strong bones and teeth, healthy nerves, heart and muscles.
Men: Studies show that consuming 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 10 micrograms of vitamin D each day may improve male fertility.
Good Sources: Yogurt, skim milk, calcium-fortified orange juice, cheese, rice, tofu.
Women: Women who don't get enough folic acid may increase the chance of miscarriage and birth defects. It is important for women trying to conceive to have adequate folic acid intake (400 micrograms or 0.4 milligrams) prior to getting pregnant, since the fetus needs folic acid early on in order to prevent neural tube defects. Many women may not realize they are even pregnant during this early time.
Good Sources: Leafy green vegetables, chicken liver, beef liver, lentils, asparagus, papaya, broccoli, hard-boiled eggs, wheat germ. As well, women should consider taking multivitamins or supplements containing folic acid.
Women: Pregnant women with severe deficiencies of zinc may have increased risk of miscarriage, pregnancy-related toxemia, extended pregnancy and prolonged labour. An added benefit of zinc is its ability to help prevent stretch marks.
Men: Even short-term zinc deficiencies can reduce semen volume and testosterone levels.
Good Sources: There are not many foods rich in zinc except oysters. Beef, seafood, lamb, toasted wheat germ and miso do contain zinc, but a good prenatal vitamin supplement will fulfill the zinc need.
* DISCLAIMER: The information on this article is the property of Dr. Sushma Shah, Naturopathic Doctor, and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any diseases or promote any services or products mentioned on the website.