When it comes to infertility, there are many things to consider. Although many couples do not want to discuss their battle with infertility, one in every eight couples will struggle to conceive. Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive or maintain a pregnancy, after trying for 12 months without medical assistance. Medical assistance can include IVF( In vitro fertilization), egg donation, surrogacy, as well as IUI (Intrauterine insemination). As a naturopathic doctor, I work with patients to provide them with the most optimal reproductive health to help support a healthy pregnancy.
In order to optimize my patient’s chances of conceiving, I take into consideration the general health and reproductive health of both partners. as often times infertility is due to a combination of factors not just one. I also take into consideration environmental exposures as well as micronutrient status. In my experience, supporting the body with proper nutrients can really help optimize your body for pregnancy.
TOP NUTRIENTS FOR FEMALE INFERTILITY:
- Folate – protects genes during rapid cell division (via methylation of DNA). This is important because during the development of a healthy embryo there is an extremely high rate of cell division. Deficiency in folate leads to a rise in homocysteine. Elevated homocysteine levels can cause damage to reproductive cells.
- Vitamin B6 & B12– Both of which are necessary to convert toxic homocysteine into a benign (non- toxic) form. Lower levels of homocysteine have been linked to a better change of pregnancy.
- Vitamin D – Higher levels of Vitamin D (in the range of 60-80) have been linked to a better success rate of IVF. Vitamin D also influences production of sex hormones including estradiol and progesterone.
- Vitamin C- has been shown to increase serum progesterone levels and has even been seen to induce ovulation in certain women. Vitamin C also enhances the effect of the fertility medication clmiphine (clomid)
- Vitamin E– protects reproductive cells (follicles).
- Selenium – deficiency in selenium have belinked to an increase risk of miscarriage as well as infertility. In one (small but powerful) trial, 100% of infertile women achieved pregnancy after supplementation of selenium. Although more studies are needed, this is a great example of the benefits of selenium.
- Glutathione – protects eggs (whether they are fertilizd or not) from damage caused by reactive oxygen species. Glutathione also has protective effects on follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) on embryonic development.
- N- acetyl- Cysteine– can improve ovulation and pregnancy rates in women struggling with infertility due to a condition known as PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) that did not respond to fertility medications. It is also a precursor to glutathione.
- Antioxidant Status– reproductive cells, including embryos are very susceptible to damage from oxidative stress which is why adequate antioxidant status is so critical in fertility. Low antioxidants have been linked to an increase risk of infertility and miscarriage.
- Minerals– several enzymes that are needed to protect a women’s reproductive organs are dependent on trace elements including zinc, copper and magnesium. One example of this is the enzyme superoxide dismutase.
TOP NUTRIENTS FOR MALE INFERTILITY:
- Glutathione– a cofactor to the enyzme (glutathione peroxidase) helps ensure the structural integrity of sperm. Deficiency in glutathione can decrease sperm motility preventing the sperm from reaching its destination.
- Coenzyme 10 – this powerful antioxidant protects sperm from damage and helps the sperm remain viable. There is even research directly coorelating CoQ10 levels and sperm count and motility.
- Carnitine – which transports fatty acids is important for male fertility as fatty acids are the preferred energy source for sperm to enter into cells.
- Copper and Manganese– are both cofactors for the enzyme superoxide dismutase which cans as a powerful antioxidant protecting sperm from oxidative damage.