In our modern world of environmental toxins, chronic stress, the standard American diet (SAD), overly prescribed antibiotics, and too much time hunched over a desk staring at a screen, there are a lot of factors that can impact our fertility (or lack thereof).
It may sound bleak, but it often feels that many aspects of modern society are in point blank conflict with our bodies’ functional needs for creating new life. Whether you plan to have children or not, your fertility is often a reflection of your overall health, so you should take measures to balance your hormones, eat a proper diet, and optimize your surroundings for minimal stress and maximum safety.
In this blog, Seed and Soil Wellness provides our guide to overcoming infertility with integrative medicine. Keep reading for a healthy and happy conception voyage.
What is Infertility?
To state it simply, infertility is when your body is in a state in which it is unable to conceive a child. Keep in mind, a woman is actually only fertile for about 6 days of each month during ovulation, when an egg travels from the ovaries down the fallopian tube.
Therefore, couples should not expect to get pregnant at all points during a woman’s cycle. However, most healthy couples can expect to conceive within 6 months to a year of trying. If it takes longer than this period of time to get pregnant, it may be a good time to consult with a professional, such as our providers at Seed and Soil Wellness.
An estimated 10-15% of couples struggle with infertility, and 1 out of 4 of these couples are diagnosed with ‘unexplained infertility.’
Signs of Healthy Fertility in Women
There are signs that can help indicate whether or not you are fertile as a woman. These include:
A regular menstrual cycle
Fertile cervical mucus around ovulation
A healthy libido
An increase in basal body temperature around the time of ovulation
If any of these signs are missing, there may be something going on within your body that is preventing proper communication between your hormones and reproductive organs.
Is Infertility Common?
Infertility has become what some are describing as a “secret epidemic.” In the United States, it is estimated that 10%-15% of couples are infertile. When working with a doctor to find the root of your infertility, the “why” may not always be so obvious.
We will examine the most common causes of infertility in women as well as how integrative medicine can help you get your body to a state suited for conception.
The 5 Main Reasons You Might Be Infertile
1. Ovulatory Dysfunction
As a woman, your period might be the most obvious indicator of your cycle, but ovulation takes center stage when it comes to fertility. If something is hindering the release of an egg from the ovaries, pregnancy will not be possible.
Different conditions can negatively affect ovulatory function, such as:
Exposure to toxins
All of these factors can contribute to infertility, which we will further investigate throughout this article or are happy to speak with you about.
2. Hormone Imbalance
An issue with your hormones is almost always part of the problem when it comes to infertility. Your hormones give the instructions to guide your reproductive organs through pretty much every step of conception, from building the uterine lining to the quality and release of the egg.
Frequently seen imbalances that can cause infertility include:
Environmental endocrine disruptors, diet, and stress can all harm your hormone production. A regular menstrual cycle is a helpful indicator of hormone health. If your cycle is too short, too long, you experience spotting, or skip your period altogether, you likely have a hormonal health issue.
Other conditions, such as endometriosis, are not directly caused by hormonal imbalances but will be made worse by hormonal imbalances. These types of conditions can make it difficult for your body to conceive.
3. Malnourishment or Food Sensitivities
Healthy ovulation, and therefore the ability to conceive, requires proper nutrients. Vitamin B or dietary protein deficiencies can negatively impact your fertility.
Additionally, diets high in sugar, unhealthy fats, or processed foods can increase your toxic load and lead to blood sugar issues and insulin resistance. These conditions can make it challenging to get pregnant.
4. Acute or Chronic Stress
If you are struggling with irregular periods or fertility challenges, the first place you should look is your daily stress levels. Conceiving and growing a baby requires a lot of resources, both internally and externally.
If you are overly stressed, your body may be telling your reproductive organs that it’s not safe to carry a baby. Stress can be emotional, physical, or mental and impacts:
Your stress response is a highly complex system, but your nervous system can’t tell the difference between being chased by a lion or feeling a lot of pressure at work.
5. Unhealthy Weight
Bodyweight matters when it comes to fertility, but it’s not about how you look on the outside. Your body needs the proper percentage of body fat to make hormones, so too much or too little can cause problems.
What Does it Mean if Infertility is ‘Unexplained’
Approximately 1 and 4 couples with fertility challenges will be diagnosed with ‘unexplained infertility.’ In many cases, this ‘unexplained infertility’ is caused by factors that we don’t have a super accurate way of measuring such as:
Increased inflammation or oxidative damage
Exposure to environmental endocrine disruptors
Healing Your Fertility with Integrative Medicine
There are several steps you can take from a holistic route to dramatically improve your fertility challenges.
1. Schedule a ‘Preconception Physical’
Schedule an appointment with a functional medicine doctor, such as Dr. Damon at Seed and Soil Wellness, to have a thorough evaluation of the state of your body. During this appointment, you can address any underlying health issues to create the best environment to make a baby.
2. Create a Non-Toxic Environment
Your lifestyle and environmental exposures have a big impact on your health, and therefore, your fertility. Make sure your nutritional intake, stress, and toxic exposure are all at the appropriate levels to create the optimal environment for pregnancy.
3. Improve the Quality of Your Eggs
Toxins can damage your cells, increasing oxidative stress and hurting developing egg cells. These eggs can take 90 days to mature before ovulation, so you need to give yourself several months of consistency to truly see results. To protect developing eggs, build the following into your routine:
Foods that support hormone balance
Lowered environmental toxins
Supplements such as berberine, n-acetyl, cysteine, or a prenatal
Keep in mind that although supplements are natural, they may not be right for your body and can do more harm than good in some cases. Always consult with your doctor, like Dr. Damon at Seed and Soil Wellness, before taking any supplements.
Learn More > Foods to Cut if You Have a Hormonal Imbalance
Take Control of Your Fertility with Seed & Soil
The journey towards conception can often be daunting and full of anxiety and frustration, but you don’t have to stay stuck! With integrative medicine, you can re-establish control of your health and fertility by finding the root cause of your challenges that lead to lasting solutions.
With our functional medicine providers at Seed and Soil Wellness, you can improve your fertility with the proper diet, correction of hormone imbalances, reduction of toxic exposure, and adequate stress management. Our team will help you achieve your dream of becoming a parent.
Ready to take back control of your reproductive health? Schedule your evaluation with Dr. Damon today!