Holistic Medicine and Infertility
Sadly, in the US today, one out of seven couples experience infertility. Even with rapid medical advancements, these figures have been steadily climbing over the last several decades. So for many couples yearning to conceive, Holistic Medicine may be the best approach to help them address the underlying health issues causing their infertility such as ovulatory problems, endometriosis, thyroid problems, hormonal imbalance, or age - in a safe and effective manner.
Even with all the high-tech procedures available for infertility, often holistic approaches such as Naturopathy, Herbal Medicine and Homeopathic Medicine are the most effective. When integrated, holistic therapies can be some of the safest and most fruitful methods of care for infertility and can be safely combined with Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
Naturopathy for female infertility aims to relax and de-stress a woman's body, balance hormonal changes, nourish and tone the uterus and create optimum fertility and resilience for the whole body. This is done by correcting nutritional deficiencies, adjusting hormonal imbalances, and improving overall reproductive health. A Naturopath will combine herbal, homeopathic and whole food supplements in conjunction with dietary changes to increase the probability of conceiving. As is the case with Acupuncture, Naturopathy strives to balance the underlying dysfunction in the body by offering the body the support necessary to reach homeostasis, or balance. While there are many causes of infertility, some would-be parents respond best to natural methods, and others may require surgical or medical intervention.
Even though each individual has unique nutritional needs, there are a few basic tenants that couples should follow when trying to conceive:
- Nutrition: the reproductive system requires the proper vitamins and minerals to function properly. It is recommended to consult with a Naturopath to determine your unique needs.
- Natural Foods: eat food that was created by nature (so unless you have a Twinkie Tree, you know what this means).
- Processed Foods: eliminate processed and refined foods (see Twinkie Tree above)
- Saturated Fats: Avoid trans fats and hydrogenated oils (e.g., margarine, fried foods).
- Water: Drink one third to one half of body weight in ounces of water daily (e.g., a 150 lb woman should drink 50 - 75 oz of water).
- Alcohol: avoid alcohol. Alcohol has been associated with decreased fertility
- Caffeine: avoid caffeine. Caffeine has been linked to tubal disease and endometriosis (causes of infertility) and delayed conception. Decaffeinated coffee has been associated with spontaneous abortion.
Alcohol will affect both you and your partner. In fact, drinking any alcohol at all can reduce your fertility by half - and the more you drink, the less likely you are to conceive. One study showed that women who drank less than five units of alcohol a week (equal to five glasses of wine) were twice as likely to get pregnant within six-months compared to those who drank more.
Research has also shown that drinking alcohol causes a decrease in sperm count, an increase in abnormal sperm and a lower proportion of motile sperm. Alcohol also inhibits the body's absorption of nutrients such as zinc, which is one of the most important minerals for male fertility.
Caffeine consumption is an important factor in regards to diet and infertility. Drinking as little as one cup of coffee a day can halve your chances of conceiving. One study showed that problems with sperm count, motility and abnormalities increase with the number of cups of coffee consumed each day. Once again, it is important to eliminate all caffeine-containing food and drinks for at least three months before trying to conceive. That includes colas, chocolate, black teas and coffee, among other things.
Xeno-estrogens are essentially environmental estrogens, coming from pesticides and the plastic industry. When you are trying to conceive, one of the most important things you need to do is to balance your hormones. One of the best ways to eliminate an excess intake of xeno-estrogens is to buy organic produce for the pre-conception period.
There are strong links between smoking and infertility in women. It can even bring on an early menopause, which is a particularly important consideration for older women who may be trying to beat the clock. Smoking can decrease sperm count in men, making the sperm more sluggish, and it can increase the number of abnormal sperm. With men, the effects on fertility are increased with the number of cigarettes.
Life Beings at Conception Not At Birth
The days and weeks following conception form a critical window within which the nutritional environment of the uterus sets the 'tempo' for fetal growth.
But nothing more clearly illustrates the continuity between the new life within the uterus and the baby that will become, than the fact that the quality of nutrition during these nine months produces lifelong effects on the brain, kidneys and heart; determines the risk of degenerative disease; and profoundly influences the quality of life that persists through adulthood and into old age.
Other Diet and Fertility Tips
- If you can't buy organic fruit and vegetables, wash them in a veggie wash or with vinegar to remove any pesticide residue.
- Do not overcook. Do not use microwave ovens for cooking or defrosting. Apart from radiation exposure, microwaves denature proteins.
- Cook with minimal amount of sesame oil, organic butter or coconut oil. These are mono-unsaturated fats and will not saturate on heating. Store these oils out of light (in dark containers), in the fridge (except olive oil, which is fine at room temperature).
- Eat seasonally. Look at what is in season and stick to eating those fruits and vegetables.
- Eat locally grown products. Think about where you food is coming from.
Bottom line – there is no one best solution to solving infertility – but there are several effective, safe and affordable natural, holistic approaches available that often work where other methods have failed to produce the ultimate reward: the gift of life!
If you are experiencing infertility we invite you to visit our on-line scheduler and schedule your Initial Appointment with Carolyn today. Click here: Trinity On-Line Scheduler.