As a naturopathic doctor I’ve had the privilege of helping women navigate through the probable causes of their infertility. With great success, too, as many of my patients have achieved pregnancy naturally.
There are many causes of female infertility. Some respond to natural methods, others at times require surgical or medical intervention. Naturopathic treatment of female infertility is aimed at correcting nutritional deficiencies, adjusting hormonal imbalances, and improving overall reproductive health.
Common causes of infertility
The common causes of infertility I frequently see include:
- Scar Tissue
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- PCOS/Ovarian Cysts
- Thyroid Disease
- Short luteal phases (day 15-28 of your cycle)
Addressing the more common causes of infertility
Many of the common causes of infertility such as cysts, fibroids, low thyroid function, and shorter menstrual cycles, I address with botanical medicine (or herbs). Herbs are very powerful in helping regulate hormones and I have seen first hand how incredible they are not only for fertility, but for women’s health overall.
When women come in to discuss getting pregnant, I always begin with a detoxification program that ideally lasts for 3 months and for some may be 6 to 9 months. And this is for every woman regardless if it is for their first or fourth child. This ensures I am helping the body rid of toxic build up which can include heavy metals and various other environmental toxins, which for some children can be troublesome for their overall health.
My goal is to ensure the mother’s body is as healthy as it can be for a growing baby. The program consists of botanical medicine that supports liver function, exercise and nutrients that support detoxification, such as glutathione and cysteine.
Importance of nutrition
It is of utmost importance that the diet is as healthy as possible to ensure the body is receiving all the vitamins, minerals and amino acids as building blocks for making a child. I encourage women to eat foods that are more hypoallergenic, anti-inflammatory and contain good fats
Most important examples I use include:
- Refrain from drinking caffeine
- Discontinue smoking cigarettes
- Reduce alcohol intake
- Balance blood sugar
- Increase foods that contain goods fats such as avocado, meat that is hormone free and lots of color from fruits and vegetables
Specific nutrients that support fertility and help prevent miscarriages
- Bioflavonoids — Help strengthen the uterus by promoting healthy blood vessels.
- Vitamin C – Besides its antioxidant properties, it assists in ovarian function and egg development, along with helping increase serum progesterone levels.
- Folate (methylfolate) — To prevent folate deficiency during pregnancy, which can cause neural tube defects in the fetus, it is suggested that folate supplementation start three months before conception. (See below for an explanation on folic acid vs folate.)
- Vitamin B-6 — Has been established as a vital nutrient for women’s reproductive health and helps balance estrogen and progesterone levels.
- Vitamin E — Helps prevent miscarriage by protecting reproductive cells (the follicles)
- Selenium – a deficiency can be a culprit for miscarriages.
Folic acid vs Folate (Methylfolate)
Vitamin B9 comes in different forms and most commonly is found as folic acid, which is the synthetic form of vitamin B9. Once folic acid enters the body, it is required to convert to folate (methyfolate) in order for the body to use it.
With advancements in laboratory testing, genetic mutations have been found in the enzyme that is needed to convert folic acid to folate. It is estimated that 40% of the population have a mutation in this gene, which is called MTHFR. This is now becoming one of the leading causes for miscarriages and once addressed, hundreds of women are achieving pregnancy to full term. It becomes very important to ensure your prenatal supplement contains folate, which will read as 5-mthf or L-methylfolate on the label.
Overall, I like for my patients to know there are other holistic approaches to fertility, which includes preventing miscarriages. Not all of my patients have successfully achieved a natural pregnancy, but in one way or another, their bodies are not only stronger, but so is their mind as they navigate through the path of becoming a mother.
About the Writer
Dr. Bean is a Canadian Naturopathic Doctor who provides complete healthcare by using alternative medicine for both you and your entire family. She recently became a new mother so is passionate about helping women with common pregnancy complaints and raising healthy babies. She currently offers a program specifically developed for laboring mothers to help decrease pain during labor.