Pre-conception Program

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Pre-conception programs have demonstrated a 80% success ratio in studies

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Causes of Infertility

Nutritional Deficiency

Nutritional deficiencies can affect the chances of conceiving because vitamins and minerals are required for the healthy development and maintenance of Sperm and eggs. Common causes of nutrient deficiencies include a poor diet, and malabsorption due to allergies or stress. The use of Anti-oxidants such as vitamin C, E and the mineral zinc are important as they prevent cell damage by neutralising free radicals. Free radicals are highly unstable molecules formed from exposure to chemicals and radiation. These molecules have an affinity for attacking fatty acids in cell walls which then ultimately causes their destruction. Sperm cell membranes are very heavily concentrated with polyunsaturated fats which make them an ideal target for free radicals. Nutritional deficiencies can also contribute to hormonal imbalances and hostile cervical mucus in women which again commonly leads to fertility issues. Sperm require vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, Zinc, selenium, calcium, B12, Folic acid and Co-enzyme Q 10 to function at optimal levels. Sperm count, motility, and morphology can all be assisted by supplementation. I have personally treated many men successfully to lift all these above parameters.

Hormonal Imbalances

Hormonal imbalances for women are a common cause of infertility. It is imperative that we balance the hormones in a women’s cycle. If for example the post ovulatory stage (second half) is too short the endometrium will not have enough time to prepare for the implantation of the egg. Hormonal imbalance can also lead to cervical mucus becoming hostile and therefore not allowing the sperm to penetrate and fulfill their objective. Herbal medicine can truly work wonders here; a variety of herbs can be used to balance oestrogen, testosterone and progesterone levels depending on the individuals circumstances. Treatment of this type should only be guided by a qualified medicinal herbalist

Polycystic ovaries – (PCOS)

Although the cause of this condition is still poorly understood it is thought to be related to an imbalance of the endocrine system. Multiple cysts can form on the ovaries affecting their functional capacities. Symptoms of this condition include, infertility, insulin resistance, increased testosterone levels, increased facial hair, scalp hair loss, acne, obesity, absent ovulation, no menstruation (amenorrhea)or periods longer than 35 days (oligomenorrhea). Not all these symptoms have to be present when diagnosing PCOS. The diagnosis is usually confirmed  by using a laparoscopy examination, it can sometimes be detected by an ultra sound. PCOS is the cause of 35% of female infertility. Medical treatment is usually through pharmaceuticals such as clomid which stimulate ovulation, and combined oral contraceptive to help relieve symptoms. Other medications include gonadotrophin releasing hormones agonists, glucocorticoids, ketoconszole, finasteride and metformin for blood sugar regulation. Unfortunately these pharmaceuticals can have negative affects and indeed metformin cannot be taken in the second and third trimester of pregnancy. It has been found that the combined pill can actually exacerbate insulin resistance especially in those who are overweight.(1)

Natural remedies are very successful at treating PCOS, although it may take months to achieve a complete resolution after just weeks of treatment there should be a noticeable improvement in symptoms. Exercise as well as nutritional supplementation and medicinal herbs to balance the hormones and blood sugar levels are all important components of this treatment protocol.

Endometriosis

This is a condition where the uterine lining becomes detached and is transported to the abdominal cavity, where it can grow in unusual locations such as the fallopian tubes, ovaries, rectum or colon. These fragmented tissues continue to grow in response to hormonal stimuli until cysts are formed. These cysts are the cause of the pain, and cause scarring and adhesions which can result in infertility. In fact 30% of female infertility is due to Endometriosis. This condition is medically diagnosed with laparascopy and drugs such as the pill are given to prevent ovulation and menstruation. Surgey is commonly used to treat endometriosis, unfortunately in many cases it returns. Laser surgery can be used to treat scarring and adhesions. The medical treatment, however does not treat the cause of the problem and therefore is often unsuccessful. Indeed being on the contraceptive pill makes it impossible to conceive anyway! Natural remedies again are very successful at treating this condition. Medicinal herbs that balance the hormones, reduce stress, clear the lymphatics, reduce scarring, relieves pain are all very useful. Nutrients needed to repair tissues also very important. Specific vitamins and minerals are chosen here. In many cases certain foods such as dairy will need to be eliminated from the diet.

Stress

Stress is one of the main causes of infertility. It can cause absolute havoc within the reproductive system. Due to our fast paced lifestyles there is no surprise that many people will experience stress of some sought. Some people find it difficult to slow down and to be able to focus for extended periods. To learn how to cope with stress is very important as it can affect ovulation, cause irregular menstruation, chemical alterations in vaginal secretions and negatively impact on sperm count, quality and motility. Stress can basically shut down the reproductive system. When we are stressed we use up vitamins and minerals at a more rapid pace. This is why it is important to supplement with vitamins and minerals to ensure we have adequate levels of nutrients to reach our desired result. The B vitamins, zinc and vitamin C are readily used up when we are under constant stress. These vitamins play a critical role in reproduction health and therefore any deficiency may result in infertility. Vitamin C is found in very high amounts in the ovaries, whereas zinc is required to help regulate the menstrual cycle and B vitamins are required for adrenal function which in turn help us deal with stress.

Chemicals

If we are exposed to high levels of toxins or radiation our reproductive system can be adversely affected. This exposure to chemicals and radiation can increase the amount of free radicals in our system. Free radicals as mentioned above have an affinity for our cell walls which are mostly made of lipids (fats). Once the cell wall is destroyed the cell can no longer function. Free radicals are increased by exposure to pollutants, stress and excessive exercise. Free radicals such as reactive oxidative species (ROS) have the capabilities to damage all cells including sperm. This is why it is extremely important to include a good anti-oxidant formula in your pre-conception program. Common pollutants that we are exposed to which generate free radicals include radiation, car exhaust fumes, cigarette smoking and paint fumes. If you work in an occupation where you are exposed to toxins, taking anti-oxidants is very important. The anti-oxidants have the capability to neutralise these free radicals by donating electrons. Pilots, printers, flight attendants, mechanics, farmers, painters, roadside workers, hairdressers are some occupations where increased exposure to chemicals is found. It is important for both the male and female partners to be careful in regards to toxic exposure from chemicals. It has been found that men, who smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs have been found to have reduced sperm function.

Chemicals can also mimic hormones as some have similar structures. These chemicals known as endocrine disrupters are sometimes referred to as xeno-oestrogens. Due to their ability to affect hormones they have the potential to negatively influence a women’s chance of conceiving. They are commonly found in personal care products, tobacco smoke, exhaust fumes, plastic and pesticides.

Liver function

If you are exposed to many toxins at the workplace, herbs, anti-oxidants and amino acids may be prescribed to assist the liver in cleansing the body of damaging chemicals. A healthy liver is critical, as one of its jobs is to break down hormones such as oestrogen. If the liver is not functioning in a healthy manner hormone levels build up in the body making it more difficult to fall pregnant. Unfortunately there will never be a pharmaceutical agent that will treat the liver successfully. Many medications can have an adverse affect on the functioning of the liver.

Age

As a woman ages her fertility rate declines. After the age of 35 a steep drop in fertility rates occur. After the age of 40, chances of conceiving are even more difficult about 1% -2%. Men are capable of reproducing offspring at any age, however recent research suggests.