The fertility journey can be a challenge.

 

Have you been struggling to conceive for a while? You may worry that there’s something wrong with your hormones or your reproductive system but you’re not sure what you can do about it.

 

Or maybe you went to your MD to get some answers, but they found nothing wrong with you and they didn’t have any helpful suggestions (just relax and keep trying!). So what are you supposed to do if you’re concerned about your fertility and you want to do everything in your power to get pregnant naturally?

 

Focus On Your Health

 

Oftentimes, couples are told that there’s nothing to be done except for medication, IUI, IVF or other expensive fertility treatments. You need to understand two facts to realize why this isn’t the best approach.

 

First, the reproductive system is self-healing. However, you need to provide your body with the tools to heal itself. Start with a nutrient dense diet, make sure your gut functions properly and check to see that your hormone levels are optimal.You also need good quality sleep and a go-to method to reduce your stress levels, since stress impacts your hormone balance.

 

Second (and more importantly), infertility is a symptom and not a cause. When you’re healthy and your hormones are balanced, your body is naturally fertile. This is nature’s way to ensure your child has the best chances for a long, healthy life.

 

If you have difficulties with conception, it may indicate an underlying health issue that shows up as infertility. Therefore if you can get to the root of your infertility, you will improve your health and your chances of conceiving naturally. It’s a win-win, because healthy women typically have an easier time with pregnancy and birth healthy babies!

 

In this article, I walk you through the common causes of infertility, the related symptoms, and what you can do to boost fertility naturally.

 

Reasons You May Not Conceive

 

Not Enough Time

 

I know this isn’t want you want to hear, but I have to cover my bases. Infertility is not diagnosed until you’ve been trying for 6 months to a year, so you need to give it time.

 

What can you do?

If you’re sure that you have sex at the appropriate time during your ovulation window, there are things you can do to be proactive. Get curious about your health and assess your period, hormone levels, pelvic health and stress levels. The results of these tests will help you figure out the next right step.

 

Hormone Imbalance

 

The function of hormones is to regulate different body functions including sexual function and reproduction. Healthy hormone levels properly generate your menstrual cycle, which includes a healthy period, follicle development, successful ovulation, and the maintenance of a pregnancy if it occurs. Symptoms of hormone imbalance are many, but I’ll name a few common ones here:

 

  • Irregular, painful, scant or heavy periods (assess your period here)
  • Cystic or adult acne
  • Bad PMS

 

What can you do?

Get a full hormone panel (including thyroid) to check your levels. You could work with a MD, naturopath or functional medical doctor who specializes in fertility to review the results. You’re hormones may be ‘normal’ but not optimal, which could contribute to your inability to conceive.

 

You can use holistic methods to balance your hormones naturally. If you’re interested in a holistic, food-based approach to balancing your hormones, read about how my Eating For Your Cycle method works here.

 

Your Reproductive Organs

 

A tilted uterus, abnormalities, and obstructions on and around your reproductive organs can make it difficult for the sperm to reach the egg or for successful ovulation. For example, if you’ve had a pelvic surgery, you may have scar tissue that’s in the way.

 

What can you do?

You can request an ultrasound to check on the size, shape and position of your ovaries and uterus as well as for cysts, fibroids or scar tissue. Different types of ultrasound, such as a HyCoSy ultrasound, are used to better check the fallopian tubes and a sonohysterogram is used to better diagnose uterine abnormalities. Read more about  different types of ultrasounds here.

 

You could also enlist the help of specialist such as a chiropractor, osteopath or physiotherapist to assess your pelvic health. Professionals can check whether the uterus is in a position that could reduce circulation and blood flow. If you’re in Calgary or Red Deer you can reach out to me via email for some recommendations.

 

Stress

 

Stress increases the production of cortisol (the stress hormone) because your mind believes your survival is at risk. Reproduction is not a priority when your body thinks your life is in danger, and as a results, the production of sex hormones such as progesterone, estradiol, LH and FSH is suppressed. In fact, high cortisol may suppress ovulation altogether. Has your period ever been a day or two late when you’re going through a stressful time? This is this root cause in action. Stress often creates a vicious circle because you worry about not conceiving!

 

What can you do?

Assess your lifestyle and see where you can reduce stress and increase time spent on self care. Try detoxifying baths with magnesium and baking soda, experiment with guided meditations, or even take time to curl up with a mug of herbal tea and a good book. You may need to think about how you spend your vacation days… a no-stress staycation or an all-inclusive holiday could be just what you need to encourage pregnancy!

 

PCOS

 

Polycystic ovarian syndrome is one of the main causes of fertility issues and it’s something that 1/10 women experience. Essentially, androgen production increases and produces small cysts on your ovaries. These cysts distort ovulation and eventually halt ovulation altogether. You may have PCOS if you experience other symptoms of excess androgens such as excess facial, body hair, acne, problems losing weight, or an irregular or absent period.

 

If you have PCOS, you may be told that the only way to manage the syndrome is a medication called Metformin. However, PCOS isn’t permanent. It’s possible to reverse PCOS symptoms and many women with this hormonal condition are able to conceive naturally.

 

What can you do?

A naturopath or a functional medical doctor can help uncover the root cause of your PCOS. In fact, there are different causes such as insulin resistance, inflammation, adrenal, and post-pill PCOS. You can watch a free training on diagnosing your PCOS on my Facebook page here.

 

The best thing you can do is to keep your blood sugar balanced. Focus on eating a diet low in sugar and minimize processed carbs like bread, pasta, pastry and white rice. Add in lots of anti-inflammatory foods and consider our Eating For Your Cycle program to reduce and heal your PCOS. Please reach out to us on our Contact Page if you need support.

 

Endometriosis

 

This condition occurs when the endometrium lining starts to grow outside of the uterus. This can cause obstructions made of scar tissue which prevent the proper function of your reproductive organs.

 

Endometriosis often goes undiagnosed because it’s usually found in the latter stages. If you typically have no issue with your menstrual cycle and all of a sudden your period is very painful, this could be a sign. Make sure you see your doctor and request an ultrasound to rule out endometriosis.

 

What can you do?

Of course if you have endometriosis and you’re trying to conceive, work with a practitioner to help you heal your body and balance your hormones. I helped a private client who had endometriosis conceive after she tried for over 7 years.

 

Personally, you can work to improve blood flow, lymph and energy in your pelvic area with healing fertility massage. You can learn to do self fertility massage, or seek a qualified practitioner to have to done for you.

 

Endometriosis may be an autoimmune condition and it is currently being researched. In the mean time, it’s important to reduce inflammation through diet (taking gluten, soy, dairy and wheat out) and add in healing, anti-inflammatory foods and supplements.

 

Low Thyroid Hormone

 

Low or sub-optimal levels of thyroid hormone, especially T3, can suppress progesterone levels, increase the chance of miscarriage and even contribute to low egg quality. It’s essential that your egg follicles be exposed to a certain amount of thyroid hormone to be healthy.

 

What can you do?

If a full thyroid panel indicates you have low T3, you may need to supplement with thyroid hormone. If you want to conceive right away, a desiccated thyroid supplement might be a good option for you. Work to balance your hormones naturally by reducing stress, going gluten-free, and including nutrient-dense, thyroid healing foods like liver, Brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds. Ultimately, if you have a thyroid issue it’s best to work with a functional medical doctor or naturopath to address it.

 

Microbiome Disruption

 

The vagina has a bacterial ecosystem similar to the gut, and healing ‘down there’ is so  important. In fact, your vaginal microbiome can actually influence your hormones, increase the chance of miscarriage, or cause problems conceiving. On the flip side, your vaginal microbiome coats your baby as it passes through the birth canal. The newborn’s skin is covered with microbes that are a benefit to them.

 

What can you do?

Don’t douche, your vagina cleans itself naturally. Opt to use only natural soaps and water on and around your vulva. Second, allow your vagina space and time to ‘breathe’. Sleep without underwear and try wearing breathable cotton versus synthetic panties. You can also encourage beneficial bacteria by eating prebiotic foods like jicama, carrots, and radishes. The vagina is a naturally most environment, so make sure to drink lots of water as well!

 

MTHFR Genetic Mutation

 

Have you experienced multiple miscarriages, unexplained infertility, blood clotting or failed IVF cycles, or have a history of depression? All of these symptoms can be linked to methylation defects, meaning your body has a hard time ‘methylating’, or converting folate into methylfolate.

 

What can you do?

If this sounds like you, it’s easy to get tested to see if you have a mutation of the MTHFR gene. Request a MTHFR genetic test and blood homocysteine level from your doctor. Read up about the MTHFR gene mutation here. 

 

Additionally, you can discourage the effects of the mutation by taking a multivitamin with methylfolate. When methylfolate is listed on labels, it is called “L-methylfolate”, “5-MTHF” or “L-5-MTHF”.  We currently recommend the Rumina Naturals prenatal multivitamin. The Eating For Your Cycle method also helps to minimize the effects of the MTHFR mutation because it’s based on eating balanced meals and including dark leafy greens (source of plant folate). You can learn more about E4YC here.

 

Lastly, work with an OB/Gyn or midwife who is experienced with the MTHFR gene mutation. They can help you through your pregnancy and ensure you get the proper postpartum care.

 

Your Partner’s Health

 

It’s common for women to obsess about their fertility but we need to remember it takes two to make a baby. Male fertility issues can be hormonal, genetic, or even physical. It’s possible that low sperm count, poor mobility and motility could be a problem for your man. This is very common, and studies show that all over the world sperm count is dropping rapidly.

 

What can you do?

Encourage your partner to schedule a clinical semen analysis and a prostate exam, which can be done at a fertility clinic. The results need to be reviewed with a urologist, a doctor who specializes in the function and disorders of the urinary system, including the prostate. You can read more about male infertility here.

 

You can also boost male fertility with food! Try our Male Fertility Smoothie recipe (you can drink it too!) to provide his body with the nutrients required to be in optimal health. If you decide to take our Eating For Your Cycle course, the meal plans and recipes included will be of benefit to your partner’s health and hormones too. Check out E4YC here.

 

Conclusion

 

As you can see, infertility is a symptom of a variety of different causes that can affect the reproductive system or the body as a whole. In order to effectively heal yourself, you need to search for the underlying cause of your infertility. When you understand the cause, it can be easier to stick to a holistic solution that could restore your health and allow a natural pregnancy.

We are here to help you! If you need support with your fertility journey, please reach out to us through email or follow us on social media. Start with the Ovulation Smoothie Protocol: our smoothie recipe will provide all the nutrition you need during your ovulation window to encourage successful ovulation. Sign up to get the recipe delivered to your inbox.

 

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