It is generally accepted that optimal fertility is the ability to conceive and sustain a pregnancy within 6 months of trying to conceive in women below 35 years of age, within 1 year in women between 35 and 40 years old and in 18 months for those older than 40 years of age. It can be very distressing for a couple wishing to conceive when it takes longer than planned – creating a lot of strain on the couple and a situation of chronic stress. Once medical fertility consultations begin, it may mark the start of a long journey towards conception.
How can your Naturopathic Doctor help with conception?
Naturopathic medicine can help optimize a couple’s fertility in a number of different ways. First, the main cause of infertility must be identified, as a number of factors can contribute. Male factor infertility includes low sperm count, poor sperm morphology or inadequate sperm motility. Female issues leading to infertility can be numerous from endometriosis, to PCOS, lack of regular ovulation, thyroid issues or thin cervical mucus.
Can naturopathic interventions be used with medical fertility treatments?
Naturopathic medicine can be used alone or in combination with standard medical treatments, whether IUI or IVF. In situations of severe endometriosis, or when both fallopian tubes are blocked in a woman, or in cases of age-related infertility, IVF is often inevitable. Natural interventions typically include dietary changes and strategies to work on both hormonal balance and minimizing oxidative stress due to free radicals. This can be useful in both men and women, as research has shown that exposure to free radicals from our lifestyle and modern-day societal factors (pollution, pesticides etc…) is particularly detrimental to our fertility. Acupuncture is also a helpful fertility aid, as it increases blood supply to the pelvic cavity while decreasing local inflammation and in the promoting overall hormonal balance.
Should the father-to-be also seek naturopathic treatment?
Many times, it is the mother-to-be who needs to undergo investigative tests and uncomfortable procedures and she may carry most of the burden of the stressful journey to conception. As outlined above, however, male factors can also be substantial contributors to infertility. Indeed, sperm quality and sperm count are generally not as good as they use to be in developed countries. For instance, between 1987 and 2008, it has been shown that sperm concentration has reduced by 2.5% annually and sperm motility by 8% between 2008 and 2014 in New Zealand. Lifestyle factors and environmental pollutants may be responsible for this decline. Naturopathic medicine can help by quelling free-radical oxidation through the use of targeted antioxidants and lifestyle factors influencing fertility in males are discussed.