Reclaiming Fertility

More and more women today are seeking fertility assistance. Stats Canada noted a decline in women having children in their 20’s and an increase in women conceiving in their 30’s. Overall, up to 15% of Canadian women from 18-44 years of age are having difficulty conceiving (a twofold increase from 1992).

Fertility declines in the woman’s 30’s and progressively becomes more difficult after age 35. Physiological reasons for lowered fertility rates include:

  • Pre-existing pelvic conditions (e.g. polycystic ovaries, endometriosis)
  • Low ovarian reserve (number of healthy eggs remaining)
  • Hormone imbalance and declining hormone levels (estrogen, progesterone, DHEA, testosterone)
  • Irregular or no periods
  • Thyroid problems (hypo or hyperthyroid)
  • Use of oral contraceptives, especially long term use

    Traditionally, medical support for fertility involves mainly Artificial Reproductive Technology (ART) (including in vitro fertilization and intrauterine insemination). Alternatives to ART and supportive care for ART include Naturopathic Medicine (NM) and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). If a woman is considering conception, a year of preconception care is recommended, but a minimum of a 4 month fertility optimization plan is recommended.

    NM and TCM approach fertility in different ways and can be used adjunctively to balance hormones, maximize the health of ovaries and eggs and treat pre-existing pelvic and health conditions.

    Lifestyle options for women planning to conceive include:

  • Managing stress (yoga, meditation, exercise, laughter and almost any enjoyable activity will help to lower stress levels)
  • Improving sleep hygiene ( going to bed before 11pm, avoiding television, computers, and phones one hour before bed, and sleeping in a darkened room)
  • Eating a variety of vegetables and fruit and emphasizing dark green leafy vegetables will enhance antioxidant status and trace minerals in the diet.
  • Minimizing exposure to toxins (pesticides, herbicides, plastics, EMF’s from phones and computers)

    Informed decisions about the path of preconception care and the ability to choose the best combination of care for the individual woman creates favourable fertility conditions. To discuss options for fertility talk to your naturopathic doctor.

    – by Dr. Jennifer Schmidt-White

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