Infertility

woman sad about infertility

Infertility to Healthy Baby

by Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND

Definition of Infertility

Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after one year of unprotected trying or inability to carry a pregnancy to a live birth.

What Causes Infertility?

The most common causes of infertility are hormone imbalances, PCOS, fibroids, endometriosis, male factor and “unexplained”.

  • Hormone imbalances – usually male hormone (androgen) excess, estrogen dominance, poor or no progesterone production, excess pollutants acting like estrogen (xenoestrogens)
  • PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) – leads to lack of ovulation (anovulation), poor egg maturation and hormone imbalances as described above
  • Fibroids – benign growths that can protrude into the uterine cavity and prevent implantation of the fertilized egg
  • Endometriosis – lumps of uterine lining that have escaped the uterus and fixed themselves onto structures inside the abdominal cavity.  These growths can enlarge in response to increases in hormones and cause severe pain.  They can also block ovaries and fallopian tubes leading to infertility.
  • Unexplained – Factors that cannot be adequately measured fall into this category. Unexplained infertility may be due to poor uterine lining quality, antibodies rejecting the fertilized egg, maybe recurring miscarriages too early for a positive pregnancy test. As a naturopath, I find that “unexplained” infertility means there needs to be more digging to reveal the cause so that the root of the problem can be addressed.
  • Male factor – poor sperm shape, low sperm count, poor sperm movement

Naturopathic Treatment of Infertility

  1. Correct hormone imbalances through proper diet and exercise
  2. Aid liver detoxification of excess hormones and toxins (not through the kits found at health food stores!)
  3. Herbs to enhance progesterone production
  4. Anti-inflammatory herbs, hormone balancing and acupuncture to help with fibroids
  5. Hormone balancing and acupuncture to help with endometriosis
  6. Anti-inflammatory herbs to help with uterine lining quality, proper diet to help maintain a pregnancy
  7. Herbs, antioxidants, acupuncture and liver detoxification to help with sperm count and quality in male factor infertility
  8. Thorough investigation to determine the root cause of infertility issues

Benefits to Naturopathic Treatment for Infertility

  1. Healthier hormone balance
  2. A cleaner system, free of toxins and pollutants
  3. Overall improvement in reproductive health
  4. Healthier uterine lining
  5. Lower risk of miscarriage
  6. A healthier body to support a healthy baby

Does Natural Treatment for Infertility Work?

Absolutely!  70-80% of the people I treat for infertility problems become pregnant within 6-9 months of treatment provided they adhere to the protocol that I provide them, even those who had previously unsuccessful IVF or IUI treatment.

What is the process for natural fertility treatment?

When we work together to help you achieve your goal of motherhood, here’s what we do:

  • 1. We’ll discuss your entire medical history and every detail related to your fertility
  • 2. I’ll do a brief, non-invasive screening physical exam (check your pulse, listen to your heart and lungs, palpate your abdomen
  • 3. Ideally, you’ll already have a copy of all tests that have been run relating to fertility, if not, we can request the records from your doctor or fertility clinic for you
  • 4. I’ll review all your tests and reports and formulate a natural medicine treatment plan that will consist of scientifically validated diet, lifestyle, vitamins, minerals, and herbal remedies and possibly acupuncture to enhance your fertility and enable a healthy pregnancy
  • 5. 99% of the women that I work with have not had all the fertility-related testing done that needs to be done to thoroughly understand all the factors that may be affecting their fertility. I will provide you with a list of additional testing that should be done. These tests may be done through me (at cost) or through your medical doctor (in which case some of them would be covered by OHIP).
  • 6. We’ll follow up 3-6 weeks after the initial visit to review additional testing, questionnaires that I will send you home with on the first visit, your progress and any other new information.
  • 7. Time to pregnancy – this depends on each individual, however, as a guide, it can take 3 months to correct a hormone imbalance. It can take an additional 3-6 months for conception to occur.
  • Read Also: Three Common Causes of Female Infertility

    Infertility and Natural Medicine Research

    Natural IVF shows potential in women of advanced age
    Source: Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics 2008; 25: 163-7
    Women of advanced age who have repeated stimulated IVF failure may respond to mature egg retrieval followed by natural, as opposed to stimulated, IVF.

    Toshiki Matsuura and colleagues from Kato Ladies Clinic in Tokyo enrolled 33 women aged at least 37 years, at an average of 40.9 years, who had failed stimulated IVF treatment several times. Natural ovulation was confirmed via transvaginal ultrasound.  At 20 cycles, a single oocyte was retrieved from each patient, with a single embryo transferred at 16 cycles. In all cases, fertilization was performed using conventional IVF or intracytoplasmic sperm injection using standard techniques.

    In three cycles, the patients achieved ongoing pregnancy, defined as pregnancy progressing beyond week 9 of gestation, and delivered successfully with uneventful neonatal courses.  “In conclusion, treatment via natural IVF cycles may assist patients of advanced age who have failed to become pregnant after treatment via stimulated IVF cycles and who have regular ovulatory cycles,” the team says.

    Defects in folic acid metabolism are associated with unexplained female infertility

    Fertility and Sterility 2009

    Genetic variations in folic acid metabolism may account for some cases of unexplained infertility in women.  The frequency of these genetic variations are estimated at 25-60% of the population, so it is not uncommon and 99% of all folic acid supplements will NOT work for these people.  Supplementation with advanced forms of folic acid with B6, B12 and choline may help resolve some cases of infertility.

    Serum IL-6 Level May Have Role in the Pathophysiology of Unexplained Infertility

    Significantly Higher IL-6 levels in women with unexplained infertility suggests that this cytokine may be involved in the pathophysiology of unexplained infertility.  American Journal of Reproductive Immunology Volume 62 Issue 4 (October 2009)

    Scientists link flame retardants and reduced human fertility

    Women exposed to high levels of flame retardants take substantially longer to get pregnant, indicating for the first time that the widespread chemicals may affect human fertility, according to a study published Tuesday. Epidemiologists from the University of California at Berkeley studied 223 pregnant women in California’s Salinas Valley, an agricultural community with predominantly low-income, Mexican immigrants. More than 97 percent of the women had PBDEs in their blood, and those with high levels were half as likely to conceive in any given month as the women with low levels.

    Dietary Fat & Male Factor Infertility: Omega-3 fatty acids were found to have a positive effect on sperm development and motility, whereas high levels of other types of fats resulted in lower sperm counts.

    Source: Human Reproduction, Volume 27, Issue 5, pages 1466-1474, March 2012.

    Vitamin D & Miscarriage: Vitamin D concentrations do not affect fertility or pregnancy outcomes, however low vitamin D levels may be associated with an increased risk of late-term miscarriage.

    Source: Eur J Clin Nutr, 2012 Feb 29

    Vitamin E & Male Factor Infertility: Supplementation with vitamin E may improve sperm concentration, mobility, and rate of pregnancy.

    Source: Zhonghua Nan Ke Xue, 2012 May; 18(5):428-31.

    Ubiquinone (CoQ10) & Infertility: Men with idiopathic infertility found that supplementation with ubiquinone (coenzyme Q10) improved fertility.

    Source: J Urol, 2012 Jun 13.

    Walnuts & Male Infertility: Ingestion of walnuts was found to improve sperm vitality, motility, and morphology in men.

    Source: Biol Reprod. 2012 Aug 15.

    Vitamins C, E, Zinc & folate & Male Fertility: Daily intake of micronutrients vitamin C, E, zinc and folate was found to decreased sperm DNA damage in older men.

    Source: Fertil Steril. 2012 Aug 23.

    Exercise & Hypogonadism: Prediabetic, overweight men with hypogonadism show improvement in testosterone levels after reducing calorie and fat intake and increasing exercise.

    Source: ENDO 2012.

    DISCLAIMER: The information provided here may not apply precisely to your individual situation. Diagnostic and therapeutic choices must always be tailored to the individual patient’s circumstances, and consultation with a licensed naturopathic physician should be undertaken before following any of the treatment strategies suggested in this web site.

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