Please Avoid These Five Things if You are Trying to Fall Pregnant
Low fertility is a very common problem these days; a study by The University of Queensland on women between 28 and 36 found that 18.6% (almost 1 in 5) of them were diagnosed as infertile. While there can be many different causes for low fertility, there are some things that should be avoided by all couples trying to conceive and to have a healthy baby.
1. Heavy Metals
Heavy metals can have a very destructive effect on fertility, and all of us are widely exposed to them in our daily lives. Aluminium, arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, mercury and nickel are often in our bodies at higher levels than you would expect (or want).
Sources of Heavy Metals
- Aluminium: cigarette smoke, certain medications (aspirin, ant-acids, nasal sprays), cookware, deodorants, aluminium foil, dental amalgams, tap water, certain food additives
- Lead: cigarette smoke, hair dyes, lead pipes, car exhaust, lead paint
- Mercury: dental amalgams, thermometers, tattooing, fabric softeners, cosmetics, laxatives, insecticides, seafood
- Nickel: cigarette smoke, fertilisers, hydrogenated fats, margarine
- Arsenic: car exhaust, coloured chalk, household detergents
- Cadmium: cigarette smoke, fertilisers, batteries, metal coatings, plastics.
Other sources of heavy metals include cosmetics, newsprint, birth control pills, antiseptics, body powders, cheese, toothpaste, milk products, and nasal sprays.
The problem with heavy metals is that they will take the place of the good minerals your body needs to function properly. For example, lead has been found to displace calcium, iron, manganese, selenium and zinc, leading to reproductive failure, slow infant development, damage to sperm, sterility, and impotence.
Getting Heavy Metals Out of the Body
We recommend all prospective parents consider having testing to determine if toxic metal accumulation is disrupting their natural fertility. We also encourage reducing your exposure to any heavy metals, to ensure the safest pregnancy and healthiest baby possible.
Hair analysis or urine analysis are excellent methods to find out the level of heavy metals in your body, and these tests can be arranged at our clinic. Certain herbs, supplements, and acupuncture treatments can be used to clear or significantly reduce the heavy metals, and ensure that your body is in peak optimal health for conception.
2. BPA Exposure
Awareness of the effects of BPA on the hormone balance in men and women is increasing all the time. We are commonly exposed to many hormone-disrupting chemicals these days, and some of the most important are the xenoestrogens. These are chemicals which imitate oestrogen in the body, but instead of playing a crucial role in the hormonal system, they upset it instead.
Xenoestrogens are not biodegradable, and are stored in our fat cells. They have been linked to infertility, endometriosis, early onset puberty, miscarriages, disrupted reproductive cycles, ovarian dysfunction, decreased sperm quality, stimulation of mammary gland development in men, obesity, cancer, heart disease, and numerous other health problems. Oestrogen is a very important hormone in the body and is essential for both men and women, but in modern diets there are often high levels of toxic oestrogens in many of the foods we eat, and even in the packaging it comes in.
Where Are They Found?
Xenoestrogens are found in many day-to-day products. One of the worst xenoestrogens is Bisphenol A (BPA), an industrial chemical that acts as a synthetic oestrogen. It has been used to harden plastics for more than 40 years, and is everywhere, including the lining of canned foods and drinks, water bottles, cash-register receipts, medical devices, compact discs, dental sealants, and many other products. In 2009, laboratory tests commissioned by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) detected BPA in the umbilical cord blood of 90 percent of newborn infants (together with more than 230 other chemicals).
BPA has been linked to reproductive abnormalities, reproductive system development problems, decreased intellectual capacity, behavioural problems, reproductive system cancers, obesity, diabetes, early puberty, asthma, heart problems, and other chronic ailments. According to Consumer Reports’ testing, just a couple of servings of canned food can exceed the safety limits for daily BPA exposure for children.
How to Reduce your BPA (and Other Xenoestrogen) Exposure
- Avoid commercially grown produce (most are grown with pesticides)
- Eat organic, grass fed meat and wild caught fish (factory farmed meats contain oestrogenic compounds)
- Avoid drinking or eating out of plastic containers
- Eat mostly raw, fresh foods (processed, pre-packaged foods of all kinds are a major source of chemicals such as BPA)
- Store your food and beverages in glass rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap and canned foods (which are often lined with BPA-containing compounds)
- Do not reuse plastic water bottles (BPA is found in some bottles made of polycarbonate- look for plastic identification code 7)
Stress has a major effect on both male and female infertility for a number of reasons. It can interfere with the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, which controls the delicate balance of the hormones for conception. Women exposed to repeated stress can have inhibited levels of estrogen and progesterone.
Cortisol is the main stress hormone, and is part of your body’s ‘emergency response system’. If a tiger jumps out at you from behind a tree, your heart suddenly beats faster, your breathing gets faster, certain muscles will tighten, your blood sugar levels rise, and non-emergency systems in your body are suppressed, such as your digestive, immune and reproductive systems. Your body is now in ‘fight or flight’ mode. This is great for emergencies, but if your body is frequently in this mode, it may become difficult for you to conceive or to remain pregnant.
A 2010 study showed that stress decreases sperm concentration, sperm count and sperm motility (activity) to below the normal range of the World Health Organization.
Reducing stress not only improves the pregnancy outcomes for natural conception but also for those couples using assisted fertility technology. A 2006 study demonstrated that reducing stress may diminish the number of IVF treatment cycles needed before a pregnancy is obtained.
4. Diet High in Red Meats, Trans Fatty Acids, and Grains.
In a recent study, it was found that diets rich in red meat and processed grains seem to impair the ability of sperm to move about, and diets high in trans fats appear to lower the amount of sperm found in semen.
“The main overall finding of our work is that a healthy diet seems to be beneficial for semen quality,” said Audrey J. Gaskins, lead author of the first study. ”Specifically, a healthy diet composed of a higher intake of fish, fresh fruit, whole grains, legumes and vegetables seems to improve sperm motility,” Gaskins explained, “which means a higher number of sperm actually move around, rather than sit still.”
Fructose directly increases the amount of circulating testosterone in women, and more testosterone directly impairs a woman’s ability to conceive. Therefore, it is most important that for a woman to increase her chances of having a baby, she needs to minimise her fructose intake.
Other Things to Note
- Avoid drinking alcohol, particularly beer (hops has been linked to increased oestrogen)
- Detox the liver (all oestrogen compounds need to pass through the liver)
Natural therapists consider that a woman’s periods can reflect how well her hormones and reproductive system are working. So one of the aims of any course of treatments is to help improve her periods as much as possible, which may include the timing and length of the period, making sure the flow is not too heavy or too light, and treating any period symptoms (in conjunction with normal medical treatment).
There is some research evidence that acupuncture may assist in supporting specific fertility treatments, such as IVF, and there is also broad agreement by Chinese medicine practitioners and other health practitioners about acupuncture as an adjunct treatment for IVF. Please check with your therapist about how acupuncture may be able to help you.
Naturopathy has been used for thousands of years to improve fertility. According to recent studies from the Foresight Foundation in the UK, a comprehensive course of treatment (modelled on the Foresight programme) has over a 75 per cent live-birth success rate without the help of IVF. Naturopathic medicine looks after the chemistry of the body, including nutrition levels and toxin levels. It stabilises hormone health, and works well at regulating periods, cycle length and ovulation times. Naturopathy can help ease endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome, as well as improving sperm morphology (sperm shape), motility count, and egg quality.
While acupuncture and naturopathy can each significantly improve a couple’s fertility, the improvement is even greater when both are used in a co-ordinated way, which is what we specialise in at our Brisbane clinic.
If you are trying to conceive, or are looking to start trying in the next 12 months, or are going through IVF, we recommend having your nutrient levels, thyroid function, hormone balance, stress levels, internal circulation, and toxicity levels checked at our clinic. A Comprehensive Health Assessment, performed by our Head Therapist, is normally $120, but is currently available free of charge. During your Assessment, we will identify and explain to you:
- What exactly is happening with your fertility
- Why you might be having difficulty conceiving, and
- What are the best approaches to improve your fertility quickly and effectively
Please note that it is much better if you and your partner each have an Assessment, and if possible sit in on each other’s appointment. There is no obligation with an Assessment, only information and understanding. Places for these Assessments are limited, so if you would like to reserve an appointment for you and your partner, please ring or email soon. Please also feel free to contact the Brisbane clinic if you would like more information about any aspect of fertility improvement, and we look forward to meeting you soon.