What Causes Infertility?
What causes infertility is a complicated subject. There are multiple infertility causes. I have touched on each of them below. Click through at the end of each of the descriptions for more detailed information about each fertility problem. The good news is that naturopathic medicine can be used to address each of these infertility causes and restore normal fertility.
Top 18 Infertility Causes
Endometriosis is a condition that involves chunks of endometrial (uterine) lining tissue that are in the abdomen and may be blocking ovaries, blocking fallopian tubes and causing pain either at menstruation or throughout the menstrual cycle. Read more…
Fibroids are benign but abnormal tissue growths that can contribute to infertility by causing the inside of the uterus to be misshapen, impeding healthy implantation. Read more…
PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS, is a condition where ovulation is either irregular or absent. There are a number of reasons why this can occur, the most common, but not the only reason, is androgen (male hormone) excess. Read more…
Probably the most frustrating of infertility causes, only because it leaves couples wondering why they can’t conceive. There are certain fertility tests that fertility clinics don’t do and other aspects of fertility that can’t necessarily be measured. For the former, patients often seek naturopathic care and for the latter, as a naturopathic doctor, I would treat as if these issues were a problem since we can’t test to confirm whether they are or aren’t. Read more…
What does your immune system have to do with your fertility? In some instances, the immune system may be attacking your partner’s sperm, in others, it may be attacking the fetus.
Male Factor Infertility
With the exception of a couple of problems (mumps as a teenager, vasectomy) men are actually fairly easy to fix if there is a problem with low sperm count, low sperm motility or low sperm morphology. Up to 50% of fertility problems can be due to Male Factor Infertility. Read more…
High stress can be counterproductive or counter REproductive for a few reasons: low libido due to stress, spikes in cortisol, blood sugar and insulin leading to hormone imbalance, erectile dysfunction due to stress, stress-related anovulatory cycles etc.
This is one aspect of fertility that is difficult for conventional fertility clinics to detect and manage. It never hurts to create optimal conditions for implantation and encourage production of a receptive uterine lining. Naturopathic medicine can help enhance the quality of the uterine lining and balance hormones that make for better implantation.
Blocked Fallopian Tubes
Hysterosalpingo-contrast-sonography (usually shortened to HyCoSy) is an ultrasound procedure used to assess whether the fallopian tubes are open, as well as detect abnormalities of the uterus and uterine lining. Endometriosis is a common cause of blocked fallopian tubes.
Thyroid problems are one of the more common reasons for infertility. Thyroid problems fall into 3 categories: overactive (hyperthyroid, Graves disease), underactive (hypothyroid) or Hashimoto’s disease (autoimmune thyroiditis). Naturopathic doctors will correct the thyroid problem in different ways depending on the type and cause of the thyroid issues. Read more…
Lack of Ovulation (Anovulation)
Anovulation or lack of ovulation can occur for a number of reasons including hormone imbalance, thyroid problems, premature ovarian failure, menopause, PCOS and stress. Reversing the underlying condition that is causing anovulation, helps women in achieving regular ovulation. Read more…
Poor Egg Quality
Producing an egg every month is the first step in conceiving, next the egg has to be of good quality. Factors that can influence egg quality include hormone balance, oxidative stress and maternal age. Read more…
Recurrent miscarriage can be due to low progesterone or luteal phase defect, oxidative stress, hormone imbalance, genetic abnormalities such as MTHFR mutation. These are all factors that can be addressed through naturopathic medicine.
Advanced Maternal Age/ Age-related Infertility
Age is just a number, right? Although some of the literature makes being over 35 seem like a death sentence for fertility, it doesn’t have to be that way. Two of the greatest influences on fertility over the age of 35 are hormone balance and oxidative stress. Naturopathic medicine offers a number of effective ways to combat oxidative stress, rejuvenate the ovaries and restore healthy hormone balance.
Given that the average age for menopause is 52, the ovaries should continue to produce eggs regularly at least up to a woman’s mid-40’s. If they appear to be underactive, it’s a matter of delving into some testing to determine the cause of the problem: vitamin/mineral deficiency, underactive thyroid, underactive pituitary or some other part of the endocrine system that isn’t supporting normal ovarian function.
Hostile Cervical Mucous
Cervical mucus is meant to assist sperm in reaching the waiting egg. However, in some women, the immune system is attacking sperm cells and preventing them from reaching the egg. There is a blood test called antiphospholipid antibodies that can help detect antibodies to sperm.
Certain strains of bacteria can cause an infection of the cervix that can interfere with normal fertility. In order to detect these, a high cervical swab needs to be done to check for Mycoplasma and Ureaplasma.
Polyps are growths inside the uterus that can have a negative impact on fertility. The conditions that allow polyp growth may be the factor that is causing infertility, so simply removing the polyps may not be adequate to correct the problem. Read more…
IVF Acupuncture and Naturopathic Support
Several studies have shown a benefit to having acupuncture done while undergoing IVF. Benefits include reduced risk of ectopic pregnancy and improved pregnancy rates.
As with IVF, naturopathic care can improve the outcome of IUI’s. Creating a healthier more balanced body makes a better environment for conception to occur and for a baby to develop.
Medically Reviewed by Dr Pamela Frank