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. Often couples struggling to conceive will consider assisted reproductive technologies, such as IVF (in-vitro fertilization) or IUI (intra-uterine insemination.)
Before jumping to such expensive and time-consuming treatments there are other factors to consider. Many couples often believe that there is an underlying medical problem causing their infertility and overlook lifestyle and environment, such as nutritional deficiencies, body weight, emotional distress, cigarettes and alcohol as well as environmental pollutants – these can all impact on a woman’s ability to conceive and carry a baby to full-term. Harvard researchers 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 health conditions including infertility (Toft, 2004). Chemicals in the air, household cleaners, laundry detergents and pesticides can all be potentially 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 their diet), curing infections, and correcting other 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, and 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 is also 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 and while there is no magic pill that works for all, naturopathy can address underlying issues contributing to possible infertility or miscarriages and help each couple make important changes to their diet, lifestyle, and environment – improving their chances of a successful conception and a healthy pregnancy.
- 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.