How Can We Improve Fertility
In this final installment of my fertility series, I will discuss some of the basics you and your partner can do to help improve your fertility. As background to this fertility protocol you can find the other articles here and here.
As far as supplements and herbs go there are definitely a few that are good for both men and women who are trying to conceive. We all need a multivitamin to ensure that we don’t have any frank nutrient deficiencies. Every woman trying to conceive should take a good prenatal vitamin. Quality does matter folks! A one-a-day is not going to cut it. The nutrients we need are too big to compact into just one pill a day. And you want to make sure that your supplements are absorbable and in an active form. We have you covered locally at the Vail Valley Pharmacyand online at The Supplement Boutique. You may think you are saving money when buying supplements at the store, but you are probably wasting more because you aren’t able to actually absorb those lower quality nutrients.
Both men and women trying to get pregnant need high quality fish oil. Fish oil is important because essential fatty acids play a significant role in early embryonic development. Higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids correlate with improved sperm quality and improved embryo morphology. Finally, DHA, a major component of fish oil, is essential for proper fetal brain development.
Antioxidants and Other Supplements
The environment, illness, and even aging can cause oxidative stress. It has been implicated in decreasing sperm viability and decreasing egg quality. Supplementing with antioxidants such as vitamin C and E, minerals like selenium and zinc, as well as specialty antioxidants such as NAC, CoQ10, melatonin and resveratrol have all been shown in research to improve gamete quality, improve pregnancy rates and improve live birth rates.
Other herbs and supplements are very effective at improving fertility rates, but are based on the needs of the individual. I have put together conception supplement packs at the pharmacy–one for men and one for women–with some basic supplements that help with fertility. They are at the pharmacy to purchase at any time. This is a good basic approach. We can get more specific if needed.
During an initial consultation with a couple, I like to let them know what to expect overall during their time working with me. It takes close to 4 months for egg and sperm to be manufactured and matured. And in my practice I see most couples get pregnant between 4 and 6 months after initiating care. I recommend couples take this first 4 months to reconnect and focus on getting healthy rather than trying to conceive. (The exception to this is couples over 40 who are trying to conceive naturally, as time is of the essence!). In my experience, most couples still want to try as they go through the program, but still appreciate the shift in focus from getting pregnant to getting healthy.
Acupuncture and Fertility
And finally, I love-love-love to use acupuncture to improve fertility in couples. When used in conjunction with Western fertility treatments, acupuncture increases conception rates by 26%. A recent study from Tel Aviv University reports, “When combining IUI with TCM treatments, 65.5 percent of the test group were able to conceive, compared with 39.4 percent of the control group, who received no herbal or acupuncture therapy.”
According to several research studies, acupuncture can increase fertility by increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs and balancing the endocrine system. Acupuncture also provides tremendous stress relief. Stress is one of the main causes of unexplained infertility, and improving the stress response certainly helps couples get pregnant.
I typically recommend acupuncture treatment for both female and male partners, usually once or twice a week until pregnancy is achieved, in addition to all of the general and personalized treatments that we work on together. I have really had great success using these methods. This has become my favorite ‘condition’ to treat because the outcome is so beautiful.
Keep in mind that fertility is highly individual and it is important to uncover root causes to have success. It is also important to remember that it takes time to correct imbalances and deficiencies–but so worth the wait!
Make sure to come visit me at the Vail Valley Pharmacy to pick up your highest quality, professional-grade supplements, which really do make a difference in whether or not they work. And if you are struggling with infertility or know anyone having a hard time conceiving, please call me.