Starting a family is a big decision that can be more like a journey than one specific moment.
Just like any journey, you may encounter roadblocks along the way.
Fertility issues may be one challenge you face as you start on your family journey.
If you’re struggling to get pregnant, a naturopathic doctor can help you get past this bump in the road.
Naturopathic doctors can support you through every phase of life, from healthy conception to naturopathic treatment for kids once they are born.
Let’s talk about fertility, and how your naturopathic doctor can help.
The Facts on Fertility
When you’re trying to get pregnant and are unsuccessful, it can feel lonely and isolating.
You may try for months or years without becoming pregnant, and especially if people around you are conceiving easily, it’s understandable to be stressed, jealous, and frustrated.
But the truth is, you aren’t alone.
1 in 6 Canadian couples experience infertility according to Canadian government statistics, so chances are someone you know has gone through the same thing.
Consulting with a naturopathic doctor is an important first step in addressing your fertility and starting a healthy pregnancy.
Causes of Infertility
Infertility can affect anyone, and there are a number of reasons why someone might have difficulty conceiving.
Before we can address your specific fertility problems, we need to investigate the potential cause.
Below you’ll find some of the most common causes of infertility.
Women’s fertility in particular can be affected by age, especially after age 35 or so.
Since women are born with all the eggs they will ever have, as they get older fewer eggs remain, and those that are left are of lower quality than when they were younger.
Men over 40 may also experience age-related fertility issues, such as decreased sperm quality and quantity.
2. A Hormonal Imbalance
There are a variety of hormones that play a role in reproductive health and the body’s ability to conceive and carry a pregnancy.
For example, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) are responsible for ovulation, and if they are out of balance, it can make conception more difficult.
The reasons for a hormonal imbalance are varied, so it’s important to work with a professional to understand what might be causing one.
3. A Thyroid Disorder
While thyroid disorders are most common in women, they can also affect men, and infertility is often one of their effects.
Thyroid function is also critical to a healthy pregnancy, so if you do have a thyroid disorder, it should be carefully monitored before and after conception.
4. Low Sperm Count
When it comes to fertility, sperm is a numbers game – there are usually 39 million sperm in a typical semen sample.
However, for a variety of reasons, men might not produce enough sperm, which reduces the probability of conception.
There may be a medical or genetic cause for low sperm count, but there are also lifestyle factors such as nutrition and substance use, that could be at play.
5. Emotional Stress
A particularly challenging contributor to infertility is emotional stress.
Reducing stress is easier said than done when the uncertainty and frustration of trying to conceive is weighing on you.
There are a variety of things you can do to reduce the amount of stress in your life, including acupuncture, meditation, exercise, support groups, and counselling.
Your naturopathic doctor can help connect you with resources and options for managing stress related to fertility and the rest of your life.
6. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is a condition that affects a number of hormones, including those responsible for ovulation and pregnancy.
Because it affects so many hormones and causes irregular menstrual cycles, it’s an important condition to look out for if you would like to become pregnant.
How Can a Naturopathic Doctor Help During Pregnancy?
There is a wide array of changes, symptoms, and needs you may experience while pregnant – and it can be overwhelming.
By including a naturopathic doctor as part of your pregnancy care team, you’ll be supported with carting, safe, and effective strategies to manage symptoms, stress, and hormones, from conception to delivery.
This may include:
- Reducing Morning Sickness
- Managing Your Stress
- Monitoring Your Hormone Levels
- Keeping Your Nutrient Levels Optimal
- Preparing You For Labour
1. Reducing Morning Sickness
One of the classic symptoms of pregnancy, especially early on, is the dreaded morning sickness.
Nausea and vomiting are commonly associated with early pregnancy and can be disruptive to a pregnant person’s life, as well as being just plain unpleasant.
Thankfully, naturopathic medicine has a number of options to ease these symptoms.
There are many herbal medicines and supplements that can help with nausea, stomach upset, and anxiety.
Ginger, for example, has been shown to help manage nausea.
So has peppermint, lemon, cinnamon, and fennel, among others.
As well, acupuncture is an effective treatment for nausea and dry retching in pregnant people as well as helping with other unpleasant symptoms.
2. Managing Your Stress
For all the excitement about a new baby, pregnancy and planning for parenthood can be a stressful time.
A naturopathic doctor has a wide variety of ways to help you manage stress and its negative effects on your body.
One of the most important, for both pregnancy and stress, is nutrition.
Feelings of stress might make you want to reach for comforting junk foods, but these really only offer short-term relief.
You can work with a naturopathic doctor to choose foods that help you find satisfaction when you eat them, as well as keeping your body well-nourished in order to fend off stress and support your developing baby.
Drinking more water, indulging in flavinoid-rich dark chocolate, eating plenty of vitamin C-rich citrus fruits, soothing indigestion with peppermint, and enjoying the benefits of raw fruits and vegetables are only some of the ways you can adjust your diet to help manage stress.
A naturopathic doctor can help you make a plan to incorporate these and other healthy eating habits into your daily life and increase specific healthful foods during your pregnancy.
3. Monitoring Your Hormone Levels
We already learned in Part 1 how important hormones are for fertility, including ovulation and preparing the body for conception.
But hormones will continue to play an important role throughout the course of your pregnancy, and a naturopathic doctor can help keep an eye on them.
A naturopathic doctor will want to see a full thyroid panel, as well as tests for other important nutrients like B vitamins, vitamin D, and folate, that play a role in hormone production and use in the body.
Monitoring hormones and their associated nutrients can help you and your naturopathic doctor choose dietary and supplemental strategies to keep you healthy, energetic, and feeling your best, while your body supports the growth of a new human.
4. Keeping Your Nutrient Levels Optimal
During pregnancy, your body shifts massive amounts of energy to the development and growth of the fetus.
That doesn’t always leave a lot for you.
A pregnant person’s caloric and nutrient needs increase significantly during pregnancy, and supplements can be a great way to meet those needs.
However, not all supplements have the best dosage, form, and balance of nutrients for your particular case, and many also contain non-medicinal ingredients like colours and binders that your body just doesn’t need.
With the help of a naturopathic doctor, you can choose high-quality supplements, vitamins, and minerals that meet your specific needs without any unnecessary filler.
Your naturopathic doctor can also help you adjust your diet to ensure you’re eating enough nutritious food, and taking in enough calories, vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients to satisfy both you and your growing baby.
5. Preparing You For Labour
At 35 weeks gestation, you’re on the home stretch.
You may be spending a lot of time getting your home and family ready for your baby’s arrival, and making plans for how you’d like your delivery to proceed – but how much have you prepared your body?
Taking the time to ready your body for the process of labour and delivery can help shorten the duration of labour, reduce the need for pain medication, and decrease the risk of an unplanned C-section.
Starting at 35 weeks, a naturopathic doctor may recommend herbs such as evening primrose oil and red raspberry leaf, as well as acupuncture treatment, to encourage smooth labour and delivery.
Specific acupuncture points can be used to promote hormone release, encourage dilation and softening of the cervix, and help your baby find its optimal position in the pelvis.
Acupuncture has also been shown to shorten the first stage of labour by an average of two hours.
Even if you end up past your due date, your naturopathic doctor can help with strategies to avoid a medical induction.
Book An Appointment With Annex Naturopathic
Pregnancy is an exciting time, but it can also come with many questions, hopes, and fears, and the number of answers and options is overwhelming.
The naturopathic doctors at Annex Naturopathic are here to empower you on this journey with knowledge and support.
We can answer your questions and find specific recommendations to meet the unique needs of you and your pregnancy.
Contact Annex Naturopathic today and start your family journey on the right foot.