Fertility problems have increased dramatically over the last 20 years. 25% of couples trying for a baby will need help in conceiving.
Infertility is believed to be caused by:
Ovulation failure 20%
Tubal damage 15%
Male Problems 26%
Supplements and herbs that help increase fertility
There is a great deal of research supporting the beneficial use of nutritional supplements and herbs on both female and male fertility. The key is to balance the hormones as well as improving the overall health and vitality of both you and your partner.
Folic Acid - can prevent spina bifida in your baby. It is important that you get plenty both before and during pregnancy. In fact all of the B vitamins are essential during the pre-conceptual period. Research has shown that giving B6 to women who have trouble conceiving increases fertility and vitamin B12 has been found to improve low sperm counts.
Zinc - is the most widely studied nutrient in terms of fertility for both men and women. It is an essential component of genetic material and a zinc deficiency can cause chromosome changes in either you or your partner, leading to reduced fertility and an increased risk of miscarriage. Zinc is needed to make the outer layer and tail of the sperm and is therefore, essential for the health of your partners sperm. Studies have shown that reducing zinc in a man's diet will also reduce his sperm count.
Selenium - is an antioxidant that helps to protect your body from free radicals. This means that selenium can prevent chromosome breakage, which is known to be a cause of birth defects and miscarriages. Good levels of selenium are also essential to maximise sperm formation. Blood selenium levels have been found to be lower in men with low sperm counts.
Essential Fatty Acids - are essential for healthy hormone functioning. Men with poor sperm quality, abnormal sperm, poor mobility or low count, have inadequate levels of beneficial prostaglandins which are produced from EFA's.
Chaste Tree/Vitex Agnus Castus - This herb helps to restore hormone imbalance and increase fertility. It is particularly helpful for those women who have a luteal phase defect (shortened second half to the cycle) or those with high prolactin levels, because it stimulates the proper functioning of the pituitary gland which controls the hormones. Vitex not only helps to restore hormonal balance it can be used where there are hormone deficits. Available by talking to our Naturopaths.
1. Regulate periods
2. Restart periods which have stopped
3. Helps with heavy bleeding
4. Increases the ratio of progesterone to oestrogen by balancing excess oestrogen.
Tribulus - this herb is used specifically for increasing follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) to bring on ovulation at the right time and regulate the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. The high levels of diosgenin in it helps to improve fertility in both men and women. For men, it may help to increase sperm count, improve sperm motility, reduce the effects of sperm antibodies and also enhance libido in both males and females. Available by talking to our Naturopath.
DO NOT USE HERBS WHILE YOU ARE USING DRUG TREATMENTS OR ON ORAL CONTRACEPTION WITHOUT CONSULTING WITH A QUALIFIED NATUROPATH.
What are your choices?
The natural approach to fertility is enormously successful, because it addresses the many elements that can effect fertility. A study conducted by the University of Surrey showed that couples with a previous history of infertility who made changes in their lifestyle, diet and took nutritional supplements had an 80% success rate.
Given that the success rate for assisted conception is around 20%, it is hard to overlook these options. Natural treatment plans really do need to be adjusted to suit your individual needs and best done with one of our qualified Naturopaths, however the most important points are listed below.
Diet - Fertility and diet go hand-in-hand. You are what you eat and certain foods can boost a woman's chance of becoming pregnant while others can reduce her chances of conceiving. Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is key when trying to conceive. Your diet should contain foods from every food group. Organic foods, whole grains and fresh fruit and vegetables, all of which contain lots of vitamins and minerals. These nutrients are key to conception and fetal development. Protein sources from meat and poultry, help to maintain healthy levels of iron. Low levels of iron can develop into anemia. Vegetarians will need to supplement with iron and possibly calcium and B12. Fish is and important source of Omega-3 fatty acids which boost fertility and heart health. How ever some fish contain high mercury levels which is toxic to the fetus and can stay in a woman's bloodstream for over a year. Fish that is high in mercury levels are: white tuna, shark, frozen swordfish and marlin. Fish that contain low levels of mercury include salmon, flounder, trout, haddock, tilapia, and canned chunk light tuna (not albacore).
Alcohol - Alcohol affects your chances of conceiving, the more you drink the less likely you are to conceive. One study showed that women who drank less than 5 units of alcohol a week (that's five glasses of wine) were twice as likely to get pregnant within 6 months compared with those who drank more. Research has shown that drinking alcohol causes a decrease in sperm count, an increase in abnormal sperm and a lower proportion of mobile sperm. Alcohol also inhibits the body's absorption of nutrients such as zinc, which is one of the most important minerals for male fertility. Removing alcohol from your diets for at least 3 months will help give you the best possible chance to conceive.
Caffeine - Evidence shows that caffeine, particularly in the form of coffee, decreases fertility. As little as one cup of coffee a day can halve your chances of conceiving. One study showed that problems with sperm: sperm count, motility and abnormalities, increase with the number of cups of coffee consumed each day. Its important to eliminate caffeine-containing food and drinks for at least 3 months before trying to conceive. This includes colas, chocolate, coffee, green tea and Red Bull type drinks.
Xenoestrogens - these are essentially environmental oestrogens, coming from pesticides and the plastic industry. When trying to conceive, it is so important to balance your hormones. It is extremely important to avoid anything that might cause an imbalance and one of the main culprits is the xenoestrogens. One of the best ways to eliminate an excess intake of xenoestrogens is to buy organic produce and avoid plastic packaged foods and drinks during the pre-conceptual period.
Smoking - Smoking is linked with infertility in women. It can bring on early menopause, which is a particularly important consideration for older women who may be trying to conceive. Smoking decreases sperm count in men, making the sperm more sluggish, and can increase the number of abnormal sperm.