Infertility or subfertility is defined as an inability to conceive or carry a baby to term after one year of regular intercourse without birth control. Common causes of infertility include hormone imbalances, ovulatory disorders, endometriosis, and problems with sperm count or motility. Frustrated couples struggling to conceive often consider assisted reproductive technologies such as IVF (in-vitro fertilization) or IUI (intra-uterine insemination) – but before immediately jumping to such expensive and time-consuming treatments, why not try the natural route first?
While couples generally believe that medical problems are the cause of their infertility, lifestyle and environmental factors are often overlooked. Nutritional deficiencies, body weight, emotional distress, cigarettes and alcohol as well as environmental pollutants all have impact a woman’s ability to conceive and carry a baby to full-term. Harvard researchers have found a clear link between diet and lifestyle habits and fertility (Chavarro, 2007). There is also growing evidence linking toxic chemicals to a variety of different illnesses and conditions including infertility (Toft, 2004). Chemicals in the air, household cleaners, laundry detergents and pesticides can potentially be harmful to your body – and increased exposure can affect your chances of conceiving.
One study conducted at the University of Surrey, followed the progress of 367 couples on a health improvement programme. The programme included appropriate supplements, removing heavy metals, improving diet (increasing organic food into the diet), curing infections and correcting lifestyle issues. By the end of the study, 89% of the couples had given birth. Within the group, 37% had a history of infertility and of these 81% had a healthy child. In addition, 38% of the couples in the group had experienced miscarriage in the past and of these 83% gave birth with no miscarriages (Ward 1995).
The following tests and treatments can help improve your chances of becoming pregnant:
- Tests and screening for hormone profiles, heavy metal status, nutrient status
- Nutritional counselling to ensure adequate nutrients to support conception and pregnancy
- Appropriate supplements and Western botanical medicines to address hormone imbalances, ovulatory disorders, and other factors contributing to difficulties conceiving
- Lifestyle counselling to address fertility awareness, smoking, alcohol, exercise, weight, stress management, emotional and psychological factors, etc.
It would be a good idea to complete a detoxification programme before trying to conceive. The detoxification programme involves:
- Reducing heavy metal toxicity if tests reveal high levels
- Supporting your body’s detoxification mechanisms
- Reducing environmental toxic exposure through education
Fertility is multi-factorial. While there is no magic pill that works for everyone, each couple can ensure they have all the necessary building blocks in place for a healthy pregnancy. Naturopathy is an ideal way to address any underlying issues contributing to infertility or miscarriages.
- Chavarro, J.E. et al., 2007. Diet and lifestyle in the prevention of ovulatory disorder infertility. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 110(5), 1052-3.
- Toft, G., 2004. Epidemiological evidence on reproductive effects of persistent organochlorines in humans. Reproductive Toxicology, 19, 5–26.
- Ward, N., 1995. Journal of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine, 5, 205-208.