With the incidence of infertility on the rise and the business of baby making very competitive its important not to lose sight of the basics.
Conception is a natural process and is most likely to occur in the following instances:
- Both prospective parents are in their normal weight range
- Inadequate antioxidant status (zinc, vitamin C, selenium, etc) has been corrected
- The woman has a balanced endocrine system (ie thyroid, cortisol, reproductive hormones are in balance)
- Conditions such as polycystic ovaries, endometriosis and PID have been ruled out or treated
- Sperm count and quality is high with no or low heavy metal, halogen, glycol or estrogen exposure
- Iron levels are adequate
- Intake of alcohol, soy, gluten, medications and steroids is low
- The woman is aged less than 35 years
- Stress levels are normal
When something isn’t right
If the couple is having difficulty conceiving the underlying causes must be investigated and addressed. Functional and nutritional medicine has a vital part to play here.
The most common causes of infertility are stress and inadequate nutrient status. Both stress and deficiencies can lead to the contributing factors of infertility i.e.:
- Poor sperm quality (zinc is essential for healthy semen)
- Elevated cortisol levels (caused by stress; inhibits fertility)
- Obesity (obesity decreases chances of conceiving)
- Polycystic ovaries (related to poor diet)
- Low thyroid function (related to poor diet, soy intake and high stress levels)
- Poor digestive health (multiple consequences leading to decreased fertility)
- Low libido or too tired
- Oxidative stress (exposure to chemicals and toxins)
It is recommended a period of at least 3 months be dedicated to preconception care for both prospective parents. It takes over 3 months for sperm manufacture and a similar length of time for healthy eggs.
Preconception care may include:
- A detox program
- Herbs and nutrients to balance hormone levels
- Nutrient supplementation
- Exercise recommendations
- Meditation or relaxation practices
- Other individualized programs
These simple strategies to improve the health and wellbeing of prospective parents have been shown to be remarkably successful in improving the couple’s chances of a healthy conception, healthy pregnancy and delivery and, the most important thing, a healthy baby.