Enhanced fertility and optimized health for mother and baby
Naturopathic medicine is an effective approach for supporting fertility, optimizing health throughout pregnancy and getting your little one off to a healthy start in life.
Infertility is defined as not becoming pregnant after 6 to 12 months of frequent, unprotected sex.
10 to 15% of reproductive-aged couples will struggle with fertility issues. Approximately 35% of infertility is accounted for by “female factors” (e.g., hormonal imbalances), 30% by “male factors” (e.g., low sperm quantity and/or quality) and 20% by a combination of both. The final 15% (more recently estimated to be closer to 40%) of cases of infertility are “unexplained”.
How can natural fertility treatment help me become pregnant?
Natural fertility treatment is an ideal compliment to conventional fertility treatment as it focuses on an element neglected by the conventional fertility approach: the health of the environment in which the egg will be fertilized and in which the fetus will grow. Neglecting to optimize the health of the mother in this process is akin to expending large energies planting a seed, but planting it in poorly prepared soil.
Is there scientific support for the use of natural medicines in treatment of infertility?
The results of a study conducted at the University of Surrey demonstrated that a natural fertility approach that includes use of lifestyle modification, diet therapy and nutritional supplements can result in a successful pregnancy rate of 80% in couples with a history of infertility.
The authors of another study published in 2010 in the medical journal Andrologica concluded, regarding natural fertility techniques: “There is strong evidence that complementary treatment with an appropriate nutraceutical (nutritional supplement) improves the natural conception rate of infertile couples and increases the success rate of assisted reproductive techniques.”
What if an underlying medical condition is causing my infertility?
Naturopathic Medicine can be used to effectively address many common causes of infertility including:
Use of a metabolic detoxification protocol may be an important tool for resolving both female and male infertility issues.
Toxic chemicals we are exposed to in our food (e.g., hormones used in meat production, plastics used in food packaging) and environment (e.g., pesticides) are stored in our body’s fat tissue. As fat cells are broken down for use as energy, stored toxins are released into our bloodstreams.
Toxins can have a wide range of negative effects in the body, but importantly with respect to female fertility, may act as “hormone disruptors” (i.e., interfere with the body’s hormonal signaling system). In men, they may affect sperm quality and/or quantity.
Metabolic detoxification protocols may be used to reduce levels of toxins in the body, improving a women’s “environment” for supporting conception and a healthy pregnancy, and help men increase their sperm health and numbers.
Learn about metabolic detoxification here.
Ovulation is triggered and regulated by hormones.
70% of women having problems with ovulation have hormone imbalances related to ovarian cysts, but other factors, for example, prolonged use of the birth control pill may also result in hormone imbalances.
Botanical (herbal) medicines, nutritional supplements, acupuncture, dietary protocols and metabolic detoxification programs can all be incorporated into a treatment plan to naturally regulate ovulation, provide optimal ovum nourishment, and allow for implantation in a healthy womb lining.
Stress can be an important factor in both female and male infertility. Some experts hypothesize that it is the main explanation for the increase in “unexplained infertility” rates from 10 to 20%, 20 years ago, to 40% now.
Although the precise effect of stress on fertility is unclear, the effect is definite. In women, a 2014 study concluded that “Higher levels of stress … are associated with a longer time-to-pregnancy and an increased risk of infertility.”
In men, research has demonstrated that increased stress results in decreased sperm concentration and motility.
Additionally, prolonged exposure to chronic stress decreases the body’s ability to produce progesterone, a requirement for supporting a healthy pregnancy.
“Modern life” is the cause of constant stress for many living in an urban environment. Managing stress effectively, and supporting the adrenal gland (the organ responsible for our resistance to stress) can be an important measure in improving natural fertility and maintaining a healthy pregnancy.
Male fertility factors are at the root of half of cases of conception challenges. Men are subject environmental toxicity, stress and hormonal imbalances just as women are.
Important steps in addressing male infertility include:
- Laboratory assessment of sperm quantity and quality
- Use of a metabolic detoxification protocol to reduce circulating toxins
- Creation of a healthy lifestyle plan
- Development of a stress management plan to manage chronic stress
- Development of a natural medicine protocol to support increase in sperm quality and quantity
Learn about our Non-Celebrity Detox package here.
Learn about our Serenity Now Stress Management package here.
Can natural medicine benefit me if I am using assisted reproduction technology (e.g., in vitro fertilization)?
Yes. Research published in the journal Fertility and Sterility demonstrated that women having acupuncture treatments before and after embryo transfers had a pregnancy rate of 42.5% compared to 26.3% of women who did not.
Natural Fertility Treatment at Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine
Every person is unique, from their personal health history, to their family health history, to their lifestyle and work demands, to the many variables in-between. For this reason, the approach to natural fertility treatment at Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine is personalized.
Natural fertility treatment at Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine always involves:
- Ensuring the underlying causes of infertility (e.g., uterine fibroids) are addressed
- Identifying and addressing lifestyle factors (e.g., high stress) that may be compromising your ability to conceive
- Creation of a healthy lifestyle plan that supports optimal general health
- Prescription of natural medicines and treatments to optimize your body’s biochemical and physiological function
- Ensuring both partners reproductive health is assessed and optimized
- On-going support via follow-up appointments and our in-office and online dispensaries
Are natural fertility treatments covered by O.H.I.P.?
O.H.I.P. does not pay for natural fertility treatments, but as a government-regulated healthcare profession, services offered by naturopathic doctors, including natural fertility treatments, are covered by most extended healthcare plans.
Infertility [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2014; [cited 2015 Mar 19]. Available from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/infertility/basics/definition/con-20034770.
Poppe K, Velkeniers B. Thyroid and infertility. Verh K Acad Geneeskd Belg. 2002; 64(6):389-99.
Cohen D. Ten ways to boost your fertility. Daily Mail [Internet]. [cited 2015 Mar 18]. Available from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-124003/Ten-ways-boost-fertility.html.
Bouchez, C. Stress and Infertility [Internet]. WebMD; [cited 2015 Mar 18]. Available from: http://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/features/infertility-stress.
Comhaire F. The role of food supplementation in the treatment of the infertile couple and for assisted reproduction. Andrologia. 2010 Oct; 42(5):331-40.
Obesity linked to infertility in women [Internet]. WebMD; [cited 2016 Aug 24]. Available from: http://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/news/20071211/obesity-linked-to-infertility-in-women.
Low sperm count [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2014 [cited 2015 Mar 18]. Available from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/low-sperm-count/basics/causes/con-20033441.
Infertility & Reproduction Health Center [Internet]. WebMD; [cited 2015 Mar 18]. Available at: http://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/medical-reference-index?page=6.
Lynch CD, Sundaram R, Maisog JM, Sweeney AM, Buck Louis GM. Preconception stress increases the risk of infertility: results from a couple-based prospective cohort study–the LIFE study. Hum Reprod. 2014 May; 29(5):1067-75.
Janevic T, Kahn LG, Landsbergis P, Cirillo PM, Cohn BA, Liu X, Factor-Litvak P. Effects of work and life stress on semen quality. Fertil Steril. 2014 Aug; 102(2):530-8.