What You Need to Know about Infertility

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April 25, 2017
infertility, naturopathic doctor toronto, naturopathic doctor danforth

At the end of March I had the pleasure of attending the Integrative Fertility Symposium in Vancouver, BC. it was 4 days of non-stop information from industry experts and leaders. This year focused on the reproductive circle of life, with topics ranging from fertility, pregnancy, pediatrics and menopause. Because it’s National Infertility Awareness Week, I wanted to focus on some gems that were especially highlighted at the conference. 

The 5 things you need to know about infertility

1. Supplements help

I’m not one to unnecessarily push supplementation, but when certain conditions can lead to nutritional deficiencies, adding something back in seems like a no-brainer. In women with PCOS, ovulation improved with the addition of myo-inositol, as well as pregnancy rates! But remember, not all myo-inositol is created equally and the health benefits are dose and time dependent. 

2. Seeing cervical fluid is amazing!

Amenorrhea is defined as not experiencing a menstrual cycle. When women aren’t getting their period (especially when they used to have one), this causes problems for fertility as the woman is not ovulating. When a woman begins to heal her body and undergo support for her cycles – noticing the presence of cervical mucus is a step in the right direction in reestablishing ovulation!

3. As women get older their chances of conceiving decrease, while the rates of miscarriage increase. 

This may be due to diminished ovarian reserve (number off eggs that a woman is born with decreases) or aneuploidy (abnormal amount of chromosomes in a cell). In women, the egg is the oldest cell in the body. Many of our other cells turn over and replenish, but our eggs never do. When we’re born, they are in a frozen genetic state, but ‘wake up’ and begin to genetically work when we’re ready to ovulate. Cells who have been around for 20 years are going to work differently than cells who have been around for 40, and as we age there a higher chance for our eggs to make a mistake.   

4. While men make sperm everyday, it’s not perfect. 

Unlike women who are born with a finite set of eggs, men are able to create new sperm on a daily basis. And like any cell, sperm can be affected by its environment. Environmental factors (smoking, alcohol, obesity, etc.) can create a change in the DNA profile, leading to a change of function of those cells. 

5. Epigenetics plays a big role in fertility. 

Many of us grew up with the idea that we’re stuck with our genes (genetic material) and we can’t change them. Recently, this has been shown to be a fallacy (it’s something that I learned back when I was completely my Bachelor degree in Biology). Epigenetics is the study of changes in the genetic material causes by modification of gene expression, rather than changes to the genetic code itself. 

As I mentioned in #4, negative environmental factors can cause a change in sperm function and fertility. However, negative lifestyle factors can also affect women too. An example that is used at every conference is a smoking pregnant woman. Her choice is affecting her, her daughter, and the eggs found in her daughter’s ovaries (future grandchildren!). Environmental causes that both men and women should be aware of are: smoking, DDT, BPA exposure (and it’s counterpart BPS). Furthermore, maintaining a healthy weight and having a consistent exercise routine can help improve fertility parameters for both men and women. 

Final Thoughts

In Canada, 1 in 8 couples experience infertility. And because it’s not something that most people openly discuss, it can be a very isolating experience for both men and women – especially if they’ve adopted a mindset of blame. 

Infertility is not something that you need to go through alone and without support. Moreover, sometimes simple fixes can change the results on a pregnancy test. If you are looking for support, especially when it comes to assessing which supplements to take or which environmental factors you need to watch out for, book an appointment with me. We’ll go through your current health and health history and more, to determine your best fertility plan. 

If you found this information helpful, please sign up for my monthly newsletter called The Flow for great and informative content like this!

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