IVF and fertility treatment with drugs is big business.
MASSIVE business in fact.
I have been down the infertility treatment road.
No one ever mentioned natural fertility treatment options to me.
But I really wish they had.
When I first started my fertility journey, there were a series of events that didn’t sit right with me.
Firstly, I remember my endocrinologist looking over my blood results.
They said, ‘you have low estrogen and there is nothing you can do about it except go on The Pill, which is counterproductive to getting pregnant or IVF”.
Nothing you can do about it. No natural fertility treatment options.
Secondly, I remember my IVF specialist asking me a series of psychological questions.
Fair enough, maybe they’re being thorough, I thought.
But not ONE question on my nutrition, nor my lifestyle.
Again, no natural fertility treatment options.
My gut was telling me something was missing here.
I just knew it.
So I decided to investigate what natural treatment options, if any, there were.
Wow! My mind was completely blown with what I discovered.
I learned all about the amazing world of lifestyle medicine and functional testing.
Nutrients, herbs, foods, hormone detox pathways, genetics - it was staggering the amount of information on natural fertility treatment options IN THE MEDICAL LITERATURE!
I was speechless.
I stopped my IVF after 5 ovulation inductions and 3 emotional IVF cycles.
I knew this wasn’t the path for me.
I was determined to allow my body to heal with the knowledge I had gained.
Fortunately for me, I was then able to conceive naturally with both Indi and Noah.
I know this isn’t the case for everyone, and IVF is a great option for those who can’t.
Natural Fertility Treatment - the core concepts
Here are some of the natural fertility treatments that I implemented.
I use many of these with my patients to help conceive naturally, or boost the success of IVF.
Heal with your diet
· Eat real food: If you go by this rule, you know you are getting natural nutrients which your body knows what to do with. This is first and foremeost over which philosophy to follow; paleo, keto, vegan, vegetarian, you just want real (unprocessed) food first.
· Organic foods: When you can, and if you can’t at least avoid the dirty doxen, (the 12 most pesticide-sprayed foods). Pesticides are estrogenic (estrogen like) as well as being…well…poison, which can have a detrimental effect on estrogen and the other important hormones needed for fertility.
· Include Omega 3’s Daily: These can help reduce inflammation, which helps keep hormonal balance for optimal fertility. They can also help with regulating ovulation and improving egg quality. Some great sources are; wild caught fish, chia seeds, walnuts, flaxseeds, sardines, hemp seeds, egg yolks and white fish.
· Folate rich foods: It’s recommended to increase folate before getting pregnant for a healthy pregnancy and to reduce the risk of birth defects. A supplement including active folate is better, over folic acid, because it is better absorbed for most people. Green leafy vegetables are your friend as well as citrus fruits, beans and asparagus and avocados.
· Eat 3 serves of cruciferous veggies daily: This family of veges include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kale. They are important to help with detoxing estrogen, other hormones and toxins out of your body. We don’t want them recirculating through and causing hormonal chaos.
· Caffeine: Can contribute to hormonal imbalances and can put extra strain on your adrenal glands sending us into flight and flight mode. You definitely don’t want any extra stress responses when you’re trying to get pregnant.
· Alcohol: Swap out the alcohol for a kombucha in a wine glass. Alcohol causes inflammation and is going to exacerbate any underlying hormonal condition like PCOS or endometriosis.
· Processed foods: Are normally nutrient deficient and have empty calories. They are also high in refined carbohydrates, which leads to blood glucose issues which can then lead to hormonal imbalances. All of which we are trying to avoid!
· Sugar: Normally goes hand in hand with the above processed foods. Again sugar, (and I mean refined sugar not sugar from fruits), can lead to blood sugar imbalances.
· Dairy: Cows, (or other animals), are usually given hormones and antibiotics to increase milk production. These chemicals are stored in the dairy fat, which is the basis of the dairy products that we consume.
· Gluten: Has been shown to cause leaky gut which means things like pathogens, big food particles and toxins can get into the bloodstream that shouldn’t get in there. This causes an inflammatory response over and over again.
Fertility supporting supplements:
This will be different for everyone depending on what is going on for individuals, but some good generals ones are;
· Activated B vitamins: B vitamins are important from the preconception phase, because deficiencies have been associated with a number of fertility problems and fetal abnormalities. Stress also increases the requirements of B vitamins which is a factor for couples trying to conceive.
· Zinc: Zinc is one of the big ones to be aware of. It is required for reproduction, and ovulation.
· Vitamin D: Helps with normal implantation and may decrease incidences of miscarriage. It also enhances fertility in both males and females.
· Iodine: Important for thyroid health and the develop of fetus. In Australia, our soil is deficient in iodine, so it is imperative there is adequate iodine during the preconception phase.
· Calcium: Is an essential nutrient for both male and female fertility, as it is required both structurally and functionally.
· CoQ10: This is really important for eggs in the ovaries to grow, mature and make it to the end in the highest quality they can.
· a-Lipoic Acid (ALA): Optimal fertility is hampered by oxidative stress. ALA reduces this damage.
A lot of these vitamins, minerals and compounds are found in practitioner grade pre-natal supplements. I always ask patients to take a pre-natal at least 3 months out from trying to get pregnant.
Again every person is different, and infertility issues are multifactorial, more supplements could be added depending on issues.
This was the biggest factor for myself.
It’s vital to allow the body to be calms, heal and fall pregnant naturally.
Below is a list of possible stressors, go through each one and list what may be ‘stressing’ you and work out ways to manage, support or avoid them altogether.
· Physiological: do you have an underlying gut infection that is causing inflammation? Are you estrogen dominant? Do you have an underactive thyroid? These are all things that could be causing a stress response.
· Physical: If you have pain anywhere in your body, it will be causing a stress response. You need to sort this out with a chiro, physio, osteo or myotherapist.
· Emotional: Emotional stress can manifest in many different ways including anxiety, depression and hostility.
· Psychological: can be things like marital problems, death of a loved one, abuse, health problems or financial strain.
· EMF (Electromagnetic frequency): This is a relatively new phenomenon, but has been shown to activate a stress response within the body similar to the ‘fight or flight’ response.
· Environmental: toxins, chemicals, mould, pesticides, plastics… all these things are hormone disruptors. Think about what you can swap out for natural products or avoid altogether.
· Exercise: The right amount is a positive stressor, too much becomes a physiological stressor. The right type for where you are at is important too, running marathons is not ideal for someone who is trying to get pregnant, yoga is a better option.
This also was a game changer for me, because I found out more information then what the conventional tests did.
I saw there were things I could change and get specific about.
This makes nutrients and supplements have a specific and powerful effect.
· DUTCH: The GOLD standard for hormone testing now. This should be done with all women who are struggling to conceive.
· Comprehensive Gastrointestinal test: To rule out any underling infection that is causing inflammation.
· Genetic hormone profile: Gives information about how you metabolise and detox hormones and potential dysfunctions in your genes.
You can do all these things alongside IVF too, which will increase your chance of conceiving.
For a more individualised treatment plan specific for you, come in and have a chat.