Giving birth to a baby is one of the greatest joys one can experience. For many couples, however, this joy is not easily achieved because of difficulties becoming pregnant. Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after a year of regular sexual intercourse or the ability to carry a baby to term.
In Canada, it is estimated that 7-9% of couples are infertile, with a multitude of health concerns underlying this difficulty in conceiving (1). These can include irregular menstrual cycles, ovulation irregularity, hormonal disruptions, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), uterine fibroids, as well as many others. In addition to these, a woman’s age, stress, diet, fitness, weight, as well as tobacco and alcohol use can play a role in one’s ability to become pregnant. For many women, however, there is no known cause for infertility, which can leave her feeling hopeless.
Naturopathic medicine’s approach to healthcare, including fertility, is to uncover the “root cause” of the concern. By looking at hormones, menstrual cycle trends, as well as lifestyle factors, it is the aim of the Naturopath to help couples enhance their fertility naturally. While there can never be a guarantee with respect to treatment, below are listed a few strategies that may help to enhance fertility and promote a healthy pregnancy.
1. Acupuncture: Acupuncture has been reported to modulate the effects of Luteinizing Hormone as well as Follicle Stimulating Hormone, key players when it comes to becoming pregnant (2). It may also be beneficial in promoting follicle (egg) development (3). I commonly use Acupuncture in my treatment protocols to help regulate the menstrual cycle to optimize fertility.
2. CoQ10: Found in cellular mitochondria, CoQ10 is a potent antioxidant as well as a cofactor in the production of cellular energy. Recent research has found that CoQ10 may possibly improve egg quality (4).
3. Vitex: Also known as Chasteberry, Vitex is a botanical supplement with an affinity for the female reproductive system. Vitex has been used to help normalize ovulation, improve hormonal balance, as well as treat concerns such as PCOS and Premenstrual syndrome (5).
4. Exercise and Healthy Eating: No Naturopathic Treatment plan would be complete without a note on a healthy active lifestyle. According to research obesity has been linked to multiple medical problems including infertility and anovulatory cycles (6). Studies have shown that 30 to 47% of obese women will have irregular menstrual cycles (7). Accordingly, weight reduction can lead to the resumption of normal cycles and increased pregnancy rates. Healthy eating and adequate exercise are keys to a healthy reproductive system as well as a healthy pregnancy.
If you are having issues surrounding fertility and would like to talk to a licensed Naturopathic doctor about naturopathic treatments for infertility, please feel free to contact Dr. Linda Shih, ND, at Spine Stretch Studio - serving both Barrie and Aurora, Ontario. We look forward to helping you on the road to wellness.