A Naturopathic Doctor’s Approach to Fertility
In the United States, approximately 13% of women between the ages of 15 to 49 experience difficulties with their fertility, according to the CDC, and about 15% of couples struggle to get pregnant. Because the more conventional treatments tend to be complicated (and expensive!), many women are turning to alternative solutions.
There are a variety of reasons why couples may struggle to conceive, including:
- Female hormone imbalance
- Male hormone imbalance
- Thyroid issues
- Timing conception
- Poor egg quality (This can decline with age or happen prematurely.)
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Chemical toxicity
Because naturopathic practices are patient-centered, holistic, and motivated to determine the underlying causes of fertility challenges, solutions tend to be safer, easier, and more straightforward than more conventional methods.
Your naturopathic doctor will begin by gathering personal details which may affect your ability to conceive:
- Diet and nutrition
- Environmental exposures
- Family history
- Medical history
- Physical activity level
- Significant stressors
- Sleep patterns
In addition, he or she will conduct tests and ask detailed questions to determine whether hormonal imbalances are causing issues like irregular periods, impaired ovulation, PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), or luteal phase defects.
Meanwhile, male partners are tested for decreased sperm production or quality, metabolic syndrome, nutritional deficiencies, stress/anxiety, and overall health. They are urged to eliminate marijuana and tobacco use. Excessive heat can damage sperm and reduce sperm production, so men are advised to avoid sitting in a hot tub and to not place heat-conducting electronics near the pelvic area surrounding the days when trying to conceive. As far as nutrition is concerned, male partners should optimize protein, fruit, and veggie intake. Zinc, CoQ10, vitamins A, C, and E, and selenium may be recommended.
Timing of conception is important. It is tragic how many couples have spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to conceive without ever learning what time of the month conception is possible. Numerous resources are available to learn natural family planning (NFP) methods (aka fertility awareness methods) such as “Honoring Our Cycles: A Natural Family Planning Workbook For Knowing Which Days You Can and Can’t Get Pregnant” by Katie Singer. NFP methods are based on the idea of identifying the natural signs that occur in a woman’s body during ovulation. NFP classes are available in many areas most commonly through the local Catholic Diocese or Catholic Church.
Your naturopathic doctor will focus on optimizing the health and well-being of both parents before pregnancy, in order to increase the odds of a successful conception and a healthy pregnancy. He or she may ask both parents to detox prior to conception. The detoxification process will help to correct hormonal imbalances and decrease exposure to xeno-estrogens.
A proper food plan supplemented with nutrients prescribed according to your needs will optimize your health and prepare your body for the upcoming changes. Usually, your doctor will recommend a whole foods diet rich in protein, fiber, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables along with removing food intolerances. You will be advised to eliminate fried foods, sugary drinks, alcohol, and sugar. You’ll need to pay attention to your water consumption to stay well-hydrated.
Prenatal vitamins, including a folate-rich multivitamin, cod liver oil, probiotics, and vitamin D (if deficient) are strongly advised, as micronutrients play an extremely important role in fertility and pregnancy health. Your ND will choose nutrients specific to your needs to support the ability to conceive.
For stress reduction and optimizing organ function (as well as PMS, menstrual pain, irregular ovulation, and menstrual issues), naturopathic physiotherapy is highly recommended. We have also found this therapy helpful during the 1st and 3rd trimester of pregnancy for better outcomes.
Throughout your fertility journey, it is essential to keep in mind that stress, anxiety, grief, and so many other emotions may come with the journey—and to find effective coping strategies to help. On a mission to treat the whole person, your naturopathic doctor will encourage you to seek the emotional support you need, whether through counseling, therapy, herbal supplements, prayer, group support, or perhaps a combination of these options.
So many successful pregnancies and births begin with a visit to a naturopathic clinic. Our bodies are very capable of healing naturally, with proper support. If you are struggling to conceive or simply want to optimize conception and pregnancy schedule today with your naturopathic doctor.