Have you been told after a battery of testing that there is no ‘real’ reason that you can’t fall pregnant and that your infertility is labeled ‘unexplained’?
Yet, you are still not achieving a pregnancy. There may be a couple of other aspects in your health that need to be addressed which are not commonly tested for in conventional treatment pathways.
1) You will often hear people say that STRESS affects your chances. This is not a myth. We live stressful lives, and go, go go… all the time. When we are stressed, our bodies go into the fight or flight response. All our bodies want to do is get out of the stress. Stress on the body doesn’t just have to be emotional as most people think. It can be pain, imbalance, deficiencies, dehydration etc as well. Even good stress has the same physiological effects on the body. So what changes when we are stressed? The reproductive system is left behind, as it is not a needed part in the flight or flight response. The stress hormone Cortisol can deplete our DHEA levels. DHEA is the ‘mother’ hormone that manufactures our reproductive hormones. The body also breaks down sugar stores to give us energy. The pancreas has to produce insulin as a response to this. The ovaries are unfortunately sensitive to any alterations in insulin levels and hormone imbalances can occur. Minerals are used differently too during times of stress. Calcium and magnesium are needed in the muscles for contraction and relaxation. Calcium levels in the bloodstream rise and as calcium plays a role in insulin regulation, the ovaries can be affected too. So the moral of the story is, try and manage your stress so that your body can function in the normal ways. Easier said than done, but if you can’t fall pregnant, this may be somewhere to start.
2) Your NUTRIENT levels can also affect your fertility. Any deficiencies can cause both stress on the body, but also alter how our cells work. There is plenty of solid research to show that deficiencies in Vitamin D, Zinc, Iron, Folate and so on, can impact our fertility. Often nutrient levels are not addressed when screening for fertility issues. But it is never as simple as it seems. Nutrients rarely work alone and deficiencies are seldom isolated to one nutrient. If one is lacking, chances are there are numerous lacking. And unlike vitamins, blood tests of fat soluble minerals may not be as accurate. Nutrients also work in teams, with some working together and others against each other, therefore they need to be kept in balance. When this balance is out of whack, whether through deficiencies or excesses, some can become dominant and others deficient. A perfect example of this is with copper and zinc. Zinc is one of the primary nutrients required for fertility in both men and women. Zinc is also a mineral that is commonly low or deficient in this country. When zinc becomes low, the dominant copper can increase in levels. Copper in excess can contribute to many health symptoms and also blocks many other nutrients from getting into our cells. Copper also has a good friend in oestrogen. They can ‘egg’ each other on to increase the levels of both. Reproductive hormones anomalies can occur as a result and affect fertility.
3) DIET & EXERCISE. Not new information, but if you are putting the wrong fuels into your body, it will not have the ingredients to function properly. Bad food = poor nutrition. If you are unsure, get some nutritional help to plan your menus. Get familiar with the nutrients your body needs. Check that the foods you are eating have sufficient amounts. Although you may enjoy it, SUGAR is going to be your enemy at all times. Sugar triggers the production of insulin and, remember, the ovaries hate alterations in insulin levels. Even too many natural sugars such as fruit and milk sugars can cause this, so enjoy in moderation.
4) Look closely at what SUPPLEMENTS you are taking.
“Echinacea (for immune) and St John’s Wort (for mild depression) can interfere with the implantation of a pregnancy or cause miscarriage”
Just because they are natural doesn’t mean they are safe or appropriate for fertility and pregnancy. For example, two very common herbal supplements – Echinacea (for immune) and St John’s Wort (for mild depression) can interfere with the implantation of a pregnancy or cause miscarriage. On the other hand, some herbal supplements may actually assist with you achieving your pregnancy. By getting professional advice, you can keep ‘all your ducks’ in a row.
5) Remove CHEMICALS from your world (as much as you can). This means looking at ingredients and changing the way you shop for foods, personal care products and cleaning agents. There are many products on the market that do the job effectively, yet have no nasties in them. Chemicals can be readily absorbed into the body through the skin, through ingestion or respiration. Many can block nutrients resulting in imbalances and affect your organ function and immune system. They can also put your body in the ‘stress’ response as it tries to deal with them.
6) Get to know your BODY and your MENSTRUAL CYCLE. Is your cycle regular or irregular? Do you get mucus changes around mid cycle? Do you know if and when you ovulate? How many days between each period? Are your periods heavy? Do you get pain? All of these questions play a crucial role in your chances of falling pregnant. Usually there are only 12 chances a year to get the timing right. You will not be successful in achieving a pregnancy if you are not having intercourse at the correct times. If you are unsure, consult your health care practitioner for advice. Other symptoms could mean that all is not in perfect balance and needs to be sorted to provide optimal chances for success.
7) Trust your INSTINCTS. If something feels like it is not right, then chances are it isn’t. Not only should you trust your instincts with your own body and situation, but also in the direction of treatment / health pathways. Treatments that make you feel unwell are not right for you. Avoid practitioners that promise the earth, try to sell you ‘excessive’ prescriptions and treatments that go against your belief system. There are good and not so good practitioners in all areas of health. Word of mouth recommendations are often the best form of referral. And remember, all qualified practitioners will be able to provide you with private health rebates. Never be afraid to ask.
8) Be KIND to yourself. I recently asked the followers of my Facebook page about what they thought the top 10 tips for infertility were. Many people contributed but I would like to share the beautiful words of one of my followers. She wanted women to remember to be kind and gentle to themselves. She encouraged women to not lose sight of the fact that they are a ‘whole’ woman, despite having difficulties falling pregnant. Get counseling / assistance if your emotional health is stuggling.