Fertility Should Come Naturally
Women’s Health & Male & Female Infertility
by Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND
Licensed Naturopathic Doctor
What is Infertility?
Fertility is the ability to conceive and maintain a pregnancy to live birth. Infertility is the inability to get pregnant and maintain a pregnancy successfully after one year of trying to conceive.
There are many possible causes of infertility: male factor infertility can include problems like low sperm count, low sperm motility (sperm are poor swimmers) and abnormal sperm morphology (abnormal sperm shape or appearance). Female factor infertility can be caused by endometriosis, fibroids, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), tubal factors like blocked fallopian tubes, thin uterine lining, uterine polyps, cervical infection, lack of periods or amenorrhea, pituitary problems, lack of ovulation (anovulation), poor egg quality,recurrent miscarriage, immune problems such as hostile cervical mucous, premature ovarian failure or early menopause, aging, unexplained infertility, life stress, implantation failure, thyroid problems (underactive or hypothyroid), poor mitochondria function and oxidative stress (an aging process due to oxygen and free radicals). Read more about specific causes of infertility here.
What are the alternatives to IVF? Are there natural remedies for infertility?
Looking for an alternative to IVF? There are a number of natural methods to enhance and optimize fertility. Research supports the beneficial effects of acupuncture to improve fertility. Herbs, diet, stress reduction, vitamins, Traditional Chinese Medicine and other science-based supplements and exercise can all be used to balance hormones, particularly in situations of either estrogen dominance or androgen excess which are common causes of fertility issues. At Forces of Nature in Toronto, I have 15+ years of experience in helping women with infertility conceive and bear children as well as personal experience with having my own little ray of sunshine naturally at the advanced maternal age of 41.
What is optimal fertility?
Ideally, a healthy woman under 35 years of age should be able to conceive and maintain a healthy pregnancy within 6 months of trying to conceive, 35-40 years old may take up to a year, healthy women 40-45 years old may take up to 18 months.
IVF Alternatives: Is it possible to conceive without drugs or IVF?
Absolutely. Most women can conceive and carry a healthy pregnancy entirely naturally without drugs or IVF, but it does take thorough investigation of the root cause, the time and commitment to fix your diet and lifestyle and balance hormones. The end result though is a healthier mom, which means a healthier pregnancy and a healthier baby. The only situation where IVF is absolutely necessary is when both tubes are blocked. Age-related infertility may also require some additional medical assistance, depending on maternal age, however at my Toronto clinic, I have helped women in their 40’s conceive and have children naturally and I have helped women who were told that they would have to use donor eggs to conceive and have healthy babies naturally.
What if I prefer to combine IVF with naturopathic treatment?
That’s fine too! Having a baby is important to you and you want the most effective care possible. Combining natural treatment with conventional treatment may provide the best outcome in your particular circumstances. We’re not judgey here. I have worked with patients from many of the conventional Toronto fertility clinics including TCART, LifeQuest, Create and Hannam to ensure success with IVF or IUI treatments. I can also refer patients directly to TCART if you require a referral to a fertility clinic.
How does acupuncture help infertility? Is there any research on acupuncture for fertility?
Acupuncture for infertility helps stimulate the body to repair any issues with the reproductive organs and also helps stimulate the uterus and ovaries to work better. Acupuncture has been well researched, particularly with regards to PCOS and IVF. Some studies suggest that it also lowers the risk for ectopic pregnancy. I frequently use acupuncture to improve egg development, relieve the pain of endometriosis, ease the symptoms of fibroids, help heal pelvic adhesions and work with Toronto fertility clinics to improve IVF success rates.