Many couples struggle with fertility now more than ever before. The good news is that more people are becoming aware of the treatment options to assist in making a healthy pregnancy a reality. The practitioners at Crossroads focus on treating each part of the menstrual cycle to enhance fertility. A combination of diet, exercise, herbs and acupuncture can be effective.
Acupuncture is an effective and natural way to regulate menstrual cycles as well as ovulation, hence allowing patients to know when their fertility is optimal. It has also been helpful with men in increasing sperm count and motility, as well as potentially helping with improved circulation and morphology.
In conjunction with Acupuncture, Chinese herbal formulas may be used at different phases of the cycle, as well as vitamins, minerals and other herbal supplements that may be used to improve fertility in both men and women.
Hormone testing and other laboratory measurements may also be used to help identify the underlying challenges that can affect fertility-from thyroid function, blood sugar issues, mechanical blockages, chronic digestive conditions, etc.
Corrective diet and lifestyle counseling are an integral part of fertility treatments not only to help improve fertility but overall health for the couple and also to ensure a healthy pregnancy for both mother and baby.
Treatments are individually designed to support the patient’s health and situation-whether they are seeking complementary treatment alongside assisted reproductive techniques or if the patient is seeking natural approaches to fertility.
During the Menstrual Cycle
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs have an amazing effect on clearing the uterine lining, which is important for implantation during ovulation. This may be especially relevant in a woman who has fibroids, polyps, endometriosis or very heavy periods.
After the Period – the Follicular Phase
In many cases, women who have waited to start a family may have difficulty with preparing for ovulation in the follicular phase of the cycle. In Chinese Medicine, this is often described as Kidney Yin or Essence (jing) deficiency. In Western Medicine, these women often have elevated FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) levels, have been told that their AMH (anti-mullerian hormone) levels would make it difficult to conceive naturally, are hypothyroid or having irregular ovulations. Holistic treatments such as acupuncture, Chinese herbs, diet & certain supplements treat Kidney Yin and Essence deficiency. The goal is to enhance follicle development, produce a healthy endometrial lining and effective ovulation to increase female fertility and the likelihood of conception & implantation.
Ovulation is an exciting time for couples and practitioners. Much of fertility has to do with timing and knowing when the right time is to “try.” Practitioners teach women how to recognize the signs of ovulation. Some challenges that we often see in this phase are a physical blockage preventing the egg from it’s descent to meet the sperm or a sluggish conversion of Yin to Yang energy-allowing the ripened follicle to be released. There are ways to remedy the above situations using both western medical technology, as well as Chinese herbs, acupuncture and naturopathic medicine.
After Ovulation – the Luteal Phase
In some cases, there is Kidney Yang and/or Kidney Qi deficiency. This is common in younger women who are very thin, overweight women, those who are always cold, women diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), or women with luteal phase defect. From a hormonal perspective, this can be reflective of lower progesterone output in the woman resulting in an insufficient uterine lining to support pregnancy after conception.
The good news is that there are many different approaches to remedy Kidney Yang and/or Kidney Qi deficiency through diet, lifestyle, herbs, supplements and acupuncture. After treatment, many women who have miscarried in the past go on to have healthy full term pregnancies and babies.
Statistically, almost 50% of infertility is related to male fertility-issues with sperm concentration, sperm motility or sperm morphology. Acupuncture, herbs, and natural supplements may support male fertility, alongside diet and lifestyle recommendations.
We have much to offer couples struggling with fertility or who just need a little guidance. We also offer pregnancy support, labor preparation support and post-partum and lactation support.
What is an example of a lifestyle change to help improve male fertility?
There are two definitive things to avoid to help with male fertility – smoking and drinking alcohol. However, many men do not realize that their diet can also affect their fertility. Processed meat products like bacon and sausages do affect male fertility in a negative way.
According to a study from Harvard University in 2013, men who were involved in fertility treatments and who ate more than one serving of processed meats, such as salami, bologna, bacon, hamburgers, and hot dogs, ended up with lower semen quality. The team analyzed sperm samples of 156 volunteers and compared them to each participant’s food intake, as reported on a food intake questionnaire. “Processed meat was associated with lower sperm concentration and morphology,” lead researcher Dr. Myriam Afeiche, of the university’s Department of Nutrition. Conversely, men who ate more chicken or other poultry, had a better chance of improving their fertility. However, the research does not show the exact cause and affect cycle. In reality, Dr. Rebecca Sokol says that may studies have shown that diet can affect human fertility, but out diets are very complex and it is difficult to say how a particular food type may affect the reproductive outcomes. There is one possible explanation – processed meats tend to house more hormonal and chemical residues than other meats, which could have potential reproductive consequences.
The fertilization rate for in vitro fertilization (IVF) without intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) was 28 percent higher among men who ate the least amount of processed meat than among those who ate the most processed meat (82 percent versus 54 percent).
In another 2014 study, published in the journal Epidemiology, the same researchers found that eating processed meat was associated with lower sperm count. So, this begs the question – what should men considering fertility be eating? The good news is that the Harvard Nutrition team also noted a positive association between male fertility and fish consumption. According to the research, white meat fish like cod and halibut were associated with a higher percentage of normal sperm. Salmon, tuna and other dark meat fish, on the other hand, were related to a higher total sperm count.
In essence, it is not clear whether eating red meat in general is good or bad for your fertility, due to the lack of depth of the researches. However, there is a possibility that the meat is not the problem, but rather the chemicals or hormones in the processed meats that might be an issue. Regardless, healthier dietary choices, combined with a healthier lifestyle, which includes exercise in moderation, may overall increase fertility outcomes in men.
If you or a loved one is experiencing challenges in fertility, book an appointment with us at Cross Roads Naturopathic Clinic, and we will be happy to help guide you.