Holistic approach to infertility

12 March 2020

Infertility is a challenge for many couples (same sex couples trying to conceive and also single person) regardless of who has the diagnosed issue and most of the time, the fertility problem is unclear. 

Infertility is on the rise. Currently, around 1 in 6 couples experience fertility issues: 35% due to women’s reproductive issues, 21% due to male factors, 12% combined male and female, and 28% with unknown causes.

Some of the conditions that may relate to infertility are due to inflammation. These include:

  • Reproductive conditions such as; Endometriosis, PCOS, fibroids and pelvic inflammatory disease

  • Recurrent pregnancy loss. 

  • Egg and some sperm quality issues.

  • Inflammatory testicular or prostatic conditions.

  • Immune system conditions such as; High natural killer cells. 

  • Hashimoto’s or Grave’s disease and other autoimmune conditions.

  • Other inflammatory conditions eg. inflammatory bowel disease. Coeliac disease. Being overweight or obese.

Another factor to consider for “unknown causes” is lack of fertility awareness. A recent Australian study found that lack of fertility awareness was a cause of infertility, with only 13% of women in the study accurately identifying their fertile window (i.e. when they’re ovulating) even though 70% thought they knew.

Educating our clients how to determine their fertile window can be the key to successful conception.

For some female clients, they may find it challenging to have their male partner on board to take care of their health. But the truth is, male fertility is declining at a rapid rate. Studies show that the average sperm concentrations in Western men have declined some 50% over the past 40 years. It's important that both female and male health is addressed when planning for pregnancy.

Infertility is also associated with advancing age, lifestyle, diet choices, and environmental factors. All these factors will affect the genetic make-up of your future baby. Therefore, it’s important to consider individualised environmental, nutritional, physical exercise and psychological support, combined with the use of appropriate supplementation to treat infertility.

Where possible, we recommend attending to preconception health for at least 3 months prior to conception, or sperm/egg collection (if undergoing IVF or donating your sperm/egg).

5 simple steps you can take to help improve your chances of conceiving: 

  • Measure your basal body temperature every morning to track when you are ovulating (your temperate should spike during ovulation and remain high until your next period). Input temperature to mobile app Kindara

  • Focus on eating high quality proteins including lean meats (e.g. organic chicken, turkey, beef) and fish

  • Incorporate a variety of fruits and vegetables into your diet to ensure a broad spectrum of phytonutrients

  • Avoid wheat and gluten products (e.g. bread, muffins, cakes, biscuits) and chemical preservatives (e.g. colourings, flavourings)

  • Limit intake of coffee and caffeinated beverages (as they destabilise blood sugar and increase cortisol production)

Trying for a baby is an exciting time, but can also be stressful - especially if fertility issues arise. Being supported by a qualified fertility naturopath who can help educate you about when you’re most fertile, and empower you to make appropriate dietary and lifestyle choices for your health and the health of your future baby, can help ease the stress and confusion around conception.

This article was written by our Melbourne Naturopath Shiho Mafune, who specialises in Woman’s Reproductive Health including Fertility (Preconception and Maternal care), PCOS, Endometriosis, PMS and Menopause. Call 9894 0014 to book a FREE 15 minute appointment with Shiho and discover how she can help support your fertility journey.