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Infertility means not being able to get pregnant after a year of trying or are unable to stay pregnant. Around 10% of women in the US have difficulty getting or staying pregnant. Women and men both can have issues that cause infertility. Infertility takes a huge emotional toll, often exacerbated by the physical and psychological rigors of treatment. It is more common than most people think, with infertility levels increasing in recent years. When having trouble conceiving, it can be challenging to decide what the best steps towards finding help can be. Understanding the potential causes of infertility can guide you in determining imbalances within the body, leading to more successful treatment.
Causes of Infertility
While infertility can be caused by structural issues in the uterus, blocked fallopian tubes, endometriosis, scar tissue, and other anatomical problems, there are other factors that can limit the ability to become pregnant.
- Hormonal issues affect ovulation and sperm function, lacking the necessary hormone changes leading to conception.
- Thyroid disorders, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and various gland disorders cause hormone imbalances.
- Lifestyle factors can also cause limitations when trying to get pregnant, including poor diet lacking in nutrients, stress, exposure to chemicals and toxins, certain medications, and diseases like Celiac disease, Sickle cell, kidney disease, and diabetes.
Where to start?
Determining any physical cause of infertility may be the first step in the process. Looking into the underlying causes and correcting them can have substantial effects on infertility. While there are many options to consider, like medications, insemination, surgery, and in vitro fertilization, starting with lifestyle factors and making your body healthier is a helpful beginning step. Fixing your health can also fix whatever may be preventing you from getting pregnant.
Communication between hormones and the brain can cause hormonal imbalance. Testing hormonal levels that impact the hypothalamus-pituitary adrenal axis (HPA axis), which communicates with sex hormones. The HPA axis regulates the cardiovascular, metabolic, and reproductive systems along with immune functions and the body’s response to stress. Activation of the HPA axis by stress stimulates the production of cortisol, leading to weight gain, insulin resistance, diminished sex drive, and infertility. Adrenal, thyroid and sex hormone levels affect reproduction. Comprehensive testing of both partners provides information on hormone relationships to assess and provide optimal treatment options to correct imbalances.
An imbalance in gut bacteria, gut dysbiosis, may be caused by overuse of medications (antibiotics, antacids, NSAIDs), diets high in sugar and processed foods, chronic stress, excessive alcohol, and environmental toxins. When estrogen-regulating gut bacteria are healthy, these bacteria help to maintain estrogen balance. Gut dysbiosis can cause too much estrogen. Unhealthy guts cause a lack of absorption of the necessary nutrients and minerals essential to balancing hormones and reproductive health. An unhealthy gut can lead to leaky gut, where the intestines are chronically inflamed, causing your protective gut barrier to be damaged. Dysbiosis has been associated with conditions known to affect fertility like PCOS, endometriosis, and Hashimoto’s.
Optimal Nutrient Levels
Hormone signaling needs nutrients like iodine, iron, B vitamins, vitamin D, and A and zinc to work properly. However, many people lack the necessary levels of nutrients. Assessing these levels through bloodwork and symptoms associated with nutrient deficiencies helps to determine which nutrients may need to be added in through supplementation or better food choices.
Increasing Fertility Naturally
Taking a whole-person approach to fertility and improving overall health, stress and hormone levels support the body and harmonizes all systems to work together to bring proper function. Nutrients can assist with bringing hormones back into balance and promote proper functioning. Some nutrients that naturally support fertility are:
- Chasteberry – Sometimes called vitex or monk’s pepper, produced by the chaste tree, had been used for thousands of years as natural fertility and hormonal treatment. It raises progesterone levels by increasing luteinizing hormones (LH) and suppressing prolactin levels, which regulate ovulation. By improving menstrual cycles, chances of conceiving are more likely to occur.
- Evening Primrose Oil – With a wide array of benefits to fertility, evening primrose oil reduces PMS and inflammation, improves uterine health, and increases cervical mucus production. It is a rich source of omega-6 fatty acids, linoleic (LA) and gamma-linolenic acids (GLA). Both LA and GLA are needed to make prostaglandin, which acts like a hormone sending messages to signal cells throughout the body. Prostaglandin helps to control the regulation of hormones, promoting healthy function. Evening primrose increases cervical mucus production which creates a more alkaline environment to nourish and carry sperm, promoting its survival to fertilize an egg.
- DIM – Diindolylmethane is a plant nutrient found in cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower, that promote the breakdown and synthesis of estrogen. This means it helps the body reduce the level of “bad” estrogen and increasing “good” estrogen, balancing hormones. “Good” estrogen and DIM protect cells as antioxidants, regulating proper cell growth and naturally eliminating damaged cells. DIM assists with estrogen dominance, improving egg health, and hormonal balance. While cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and Brussel sprouts contain DIM, they alone will not provide enough of the nutrient. A supplement of DIM is recommended to reap the maximum benefits.
- Coenzyme Q10 – Consumed naturally in the diet, CoQ10 functions as a vitamin increasing energy production and acts as an antioxidant. While found in meat, fish, and some fruits and vegetables, supplementation with CoQ10 is still recommended to get adequate levels. CoQ10 enhances fertility by increasing energy production, promoting high-energy activities like fertilization and embryo development. Studies show that women’s egg health and fertilization rates improved with CoQ10 supplementation. CoQ10 also has been shown to enhance male fertilization, increasing sperm motility, and count.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids – Omega 3’s are needed to maintain a balanced production of prostaglandins. Many diets are deficient in omega 3 fatty acids, which are found in considerable amounts in fish like salmon, sardines, anchovies, herring, and tuna. Omega 3’s improves egg quality and is found in high concentrations in sperm, suggesting that omega 3’s are vital to sperm motility and health.
- Myo-Inositol – Some women experience infertility due to polycystic ovarian syndrome or have higher than normal testosterone levels. This type of infertility can significantly benefit from a myo-inositol supplement. By reducing testosterone levels and re-establishing ovulation, myo-inositol improves the chances of becoming pregnant.
- Magnesium – One of the essential minerals to the body, magnesium plays a huge role in overall fertility and development of a healthy baby. Magnesium regulates potassium, sodium, and calcium and is critical to countless functions in the body. It functions to regulate hormones levels, like progesterone, which is vital to conception and pregnancy. Magnesium deficiency is common, so bumping up foods that contain magnesium in the diet is a good idea. Green leafy vegetables contain high levels as do pumpkin seeds, black beans, avocado, and dark chocolate. Supplementing with magnesium helps to ensure the body is getting enough magnesium to properly perform all of the various functions dependent on this mineral.
Implementing these nutrients can help with increasing the chances of becoming pregnant. Both males and females who are looking to support fertility naturally should combine these nutrients with a diet free of processed foods and filling the menu with antioxidant-rich foods like fruits and vegetables.
Recommended Lab Testing
- Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
Recommended Supplements by INEVO Body
EvoXCore – Supports PCOS, fertility, blood sugar metabolism and hormone detoxification
Fem Protx – Supports symptoms from perimenopause, menopause and PMS
Estrevo – Supports estrogen metabolism and detoxification
Progestevo Cream – Non-prescription progesterone cream
EvoBolix Shake – Go-to meal replacement shake supporting hormone balance and weight loss
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Burstein, E., Perumalsamy, A., Bentov, Y., Esfandiari, N., Jurisicova, A., & Casper, R. F. (2009). Co-enzyme Q10 supplementation improves ovarian response and mitochondrial function in aged mice. Fertility and Sterility, 92(3), S31. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2009.07.121
Chopin Lucks, B. (2003). Vitex agnus castus essential oil and menopausal balance: a research update [Complementary Therapies in Nursing and Midwifery 8 (2003) 148–154]. Complementary Therapies in Nursing and Midwifery, 9(3), 157–160. doi:10.1016/s1353-6117(03)00020-9
Traxler, C. (2018). 5 ways to benefit your fertility by taking DIM. Retrieved from https://natural-fertility-info.com/benefit-your-fertility-with-dim.html
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