'Infertility' is defined as 12 months of unprotected intercourse without pregnancy, and there are usually many factors at play. In this article I will touch on what naturopathic medicine views in regards to hormones and detoxification to help you become more fertile. Trying to conceive can become all-consuming and emotionally draining, and going the allopathic route can be hard on your body. In this and associated articles, I will offer safe and effective alternatives; it is my wish that they will give you hope and inspiration to achieve a healthier body and a happier mind. This can only improve your chances of natural conception.
With my patients, I like to start with questionnaires and a physical exam to find out which hormones and systems are out of balance. I look for adrenal, thyroid, pituitary and ovarian imbalances, as well as imbalances in corresponding hormones such as cortisol, thyroid hormone, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.
A vitamin could be seen as a hormone in that it travels via blood and affects every cell in your body, just like thyroid hormone does. I highly recommend checking your blood levels for vitamin D3 at least once per year (right about now the levels would be the lowest) as that ensures that the right amount gets supplemented. To boost your vitamin D3 levels in the summer, expose at least 60% of your body to the sun, without sunblock, for about 20 min per day, with darker skin needing longer exposure. Having said that, never allow sun burns; make it shorter if you burn easily.
Adrenal function is extremely important. Your adrenal glands produce cortisol, a hormone which determines cell absorption of other hormones. Adrenals also help thyroid function, which is closely tied to ovarian function. 50% of infertile women are hypothyroid, i.e. have reduced thyroid function. As you can imagine, your hormonal system is finely tuned and orchestrated where every part affects every other part; imbalance in one organ or system affects others. If you focus only on estrogen, progesterone, and your ovaries and uterus, the big picture is missing and treatment is not as effective. Adrenal and thyroid functions can be assessed with a physical exam, blood work, and basal body temperature measurements.
Detoxifying your body is crucial, as we are bombarded with environmental toxins from many different sources and the cumulative toxic burden puts a toll on us, affecting sperm quality and hormonal balance. Many of these toxins are environmental estrogens. Others are heavy metals, BPA from plastics, pesticides, and prescription medications. Your liver's detoxification process eventually falls short as it gets overburdened with toxins from many different sources, which results in excess hormones (usually estrogen) in your body. Here are some of the ways to help clean up your body:
Eliminate plastic containers, cling wrap and Teflon (PFOs increase infertility by 70-134%!); Use glass containers and stainless steel cookware. Only organic skin products or edible oils should be applied to your skin, as chemicals absorb through skin directly into your blood stream; Use natural toothpaste, cosmetics and sunblock.
Eliminate GMO foods (soy, corn, and canola oil), trans fats (margarine, vegetable oil), artificial sweeteners, soda (which contains brominated vegetable oil) as they are linked to infertility.
Dairy and wheat are unnecessary at best and harmful at worst. They are best eliminated for a period of 3 weeks and then reintroduced to assess their possible ill effects. An elimination diet is often a good way to start a detox.
Cigarette smoking diminishes ovarian reserve; marijuana can disrupt the ovarian cycle; alcohol can lead to loss of menstruation, decrease ovarian size, and increase rate of miscarriage; high coffee consumers (more than 4 cups/day) are 80% more likely to need more than a year to conceive than non-consumers.
By Dr. Olja Keserovic, Naturopathic Doctor
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