The A, B, Cs of infertility, improving your fertility and seeking the help you need.
What is Infertility?
Infertility is most often defined as the inability to conceive after 12 months of regular unprotected intercourse. However, many factors including age, medical history, and testing can lead to a clinical diagnosis of infertility long before a year of trying to get pregnant. Chances are, if you’re reading this, it’s a good time to seek help. Infertility affects approximately 1/8 of the population. Infertility does not discriminate across any demographic or ethnic boundary and has many potential causes.
The Causes of Infertility
Preparing for Treatment
Improving Your Fertility
The simple guide to improving your sperm, egg, embryo, and uterine quality.
Unlike many disorders and diseases, infertility often does not advance in a linear progression. Although it is true that fertility generally declines with age for both men and women, simple lifestyle changes can have drastic effects on sperm quality, motility, and count, as well as egg quality, ovulation, uterine lining, and the overall reproductive environment.
Infertility, though often regarded as a disease in and of itself, is a diagnosis often connected to underlying issues of physiological health and wellness. This provides each and every person struggling to conceive with an incredible opportunity to take back their fertility and improve the chances of conception and healthy pregnancy.
While many with the proper approaches to optimizing their fertility will still need assisted reproductive technologies, some will not. We recommend each and every one of our clients follow our ABC’s of improving fertility to increase the odds of a successful pregnancy naturally, while helping to improve the outcome of any treatment needed. Ideally, these lifestyle changes should be made for three months to see their full effect.
Eating a high fat, low carbohydrate diet is the most important thing you can do when trying to get pregnant or maintain a pregnancy. Eating a High Fat Diet improves fertility by:
- Reducing Inflammation: Inflammation is the number one root cause of infertility. Eating a Standard American Diet (high carb low fat) causes chronically elevated blood sugar levels which lead to advanced glycation and other damaging bodily responses (like chronic excessive heat from fermentation in the bowels. Bowels that sit right on top of reproductive organs) that cause inflammation. This reduces nourishing blood flow throughout the body (notably the ovaries, testes, and uterus).
- Improving hormone functioning: Many critical fertility hormones are made from cholesterol, but because cholesterol is also imperative for brain function and repair (aka survival) it’s almost impossible to maintain a healthy hormone balance if you’re not eating enough.
To achieve optimal nutrition and give our bodies every constituent to make the best eggs, sperm, embryos, and uterine environment, we often need to complement our diet with hi-quality fertility specific supplements.
Female Fertility Supplements: From folate to inositol to co-q10 and DHEA there are lots of supplements that help improve fertility through several routes. We recommend females take Molecular Fertility’s Female Essential+, Ovarian Bloom, Fish Oil, DHEA (unless PCOS), and CBD to optimally improve egg quality and hormonal balance.
Exercise and Fertility
What to do:
Both males and females should cultivate a gentle exercise program like walking (how about a nice romantic evening walk with your partner every day) or yoga for fertility practice specifically designed to improve blood flow (and thus nutrients) to the reproductive organs.
What not to do:
Both male and female partners should eliminate any high-intensity exercise. High-intensity exercise creates spikes in cortisol levels (signaling to your body that it is not a good/safe time to bring a child into the world). Additionally, high-intensity exercise leads to extensive microtrauma throughout the body causing inflammation (the number one cause of infertility) and creating a need for your body to repair (instead of focusing on reproduction).
After experiencing failed IVF cycles or recurrent pregnancy loss, incorporating additional pharmacological medications (which focus on the immune system and reducing inflammation) can be critically effective, in addition to the other changes and traditional fertility medications.
If you are experiencing either of these situations, it is possible that your body is attacking the embryo or is unable to properly support the embryo and deliver the nutrients it needs to thrive. This can be due to chronic inflammation, which blocks the microvascular delivery of nutrients to the embryo.
Fortunately, there are several medications to help reduce inflammation, modulate, and balance the immune system.
Testing Your Fertility
One of the quickest ways to find out the cause of your infertility is to have a full fertility work-up to evaluate the fertility of both parties involved. Remember, infertility affects males and females equally.
Both partners must be checked.
Basic Female Fertility Testing
Blood Work: Blood type and Rh, Antibody Screen, CBC (complete blood count), CMP (complete metabolic panel), Varicella, AMH, Rubella IgG, TSH, Prolactin, Testosterone, Vitamin D, HIV 1 & 2 Antibody, RPR, Hep B surface antigen, Hep C Virus Antibody
Imaging: Hysterosalpingogram (HSG), Saline infused Sonohysterogram / Hysterosonogram (SHG)
Basic Male Fertility Testing
Getting the Help You Need
Trying to conceive and maintain a healthy pregnancy can be incredibly stressful. We’ll guide you every step of the way to ensure that you are prepared and taking every step necessary along the way!
Schedule Your Consultation
Your first official step is scheduling a consultation. Consultations can be done in-person at one of our offices or by phone, FaceTime or Skype.
There is a lot you can do to improve your fertility. Incorporating a few new tricks into your life now can greatly improve the odds of conceiving naturally or with assisted reproductive technologies like IUI and IVF. While some wait until their consult to get started, many changes can be started now and are best if incorporated for at least 90 days prior to treatment. We also recommend tuning into our twice-weekly Facebook Lives on Sunday (in English) and Thursday (in Spanish), both at 8 pm EST.
Develop Your Plan
During your consult, you’ll work with one of our fertility specialists to develop the perfect plan for you. If you’re having an in-person consultation, it’s also a great time to have any necessary testing done.
Start Your Treatment
After developing your plan, most people begin treatment within a month or two of their consultation. Of course, sometimes life happens and people delay, but due to the significant factor age plays in fertility it is often better to get started sooner rather than later.