Infertility is defined as the inability for a couple to conceive after trying naturally for one year. In women older than 35, infertility is diagnosed after 6 months of regular, unprotected intercourse.
What is happening?
If you are a female, there are a number of the risk factors that may affect fertility.
- Maternal age (after age of 35)
- Medical conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Blocked fallopian tubes (often due to sexually transmitted diseases)
- Fibroids or polyps in the uterus
If you are a male, risk factors that may contribute to infertility are:
- Paternal age (although this does not affect men to the same extent as women, it can decrease sperm quality and levels of testosterone)
- Medical conditions having to do with the male reproductive system
- Exposure to sexually transmitted diseases
Risk factors for both include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Drinking too much alcohol or caffeine
- Cancer treatments (chemotherapy or radiation)
What about my career?
More women are entering the work force and delaying childbirth. If this sounds like you, I think it is important to consider your health, the amount of stress you have and how this can potentially affect your fertility. Sometimes we need to be reminded that the human body is not a machine and needs nourishment. Our bodies do not have any “on” or “off” switches. Being pregnant is no simple task and so the right amount of nutrients, balanced hormones, and rest is required. I advise women to think about their wants about having a child, and try to prepare their bodies and mind at least 6 months before they plan on conceiving.
What about stress?
We have all heard the saying “stress kills”, but most people do not believe this to be true or sure don’t act like it’s true. In my clinical practice, I have witnessed the causal link of how stress weakens the physical body as well as the mind and soul. There is an apparent “societal push” to work more, have more and earn more. With this mentality, there leaves little room for relaxation, play and joy in one’s life. Individually, it is wise to manage your stress and learn to trust and listen to your authentic self rather than the ego. Social media has become an open book for the way people live their lives. It is also a place where the ego decides that what you have is not enough in comparison to others and can leave you feeling hopeless, angry and sad. If you have been struggling with fertility issues, I would advise that you take a social media holiday for a few months and see how you feel.
Are you healthy?
If you have a known medical condition that might pose a risk for fertility, and your future offspring, then take some time to nourish yourself to better health and vitality. Naturopathic Doctors do a great job at helping the body heal with nutrition, herbs, supplementation, acupuncture, stress management and lifestyle modifications.
I always suggest that each partner spend time improving their health in mind, body and spirit.
Try these simple lifestyle modifications:
- Avoid antibiotic/hormone fed animal meats and GMO foods.
- Exercise 5 days a week.
- Eat 8 servings of fruits and vegetables.
- Take a high quality multivitamin.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes.
- Find ways to manage stress. ie. yoga, journaling, meditation, acupuncture.
- Connect and strengthen your love and bond with your partner.
With both partners healthy, not only does this increase your chance of fertility but also makes you a healthier parent for your child. The future generations depend on your health. It starts with you.
If you are trying to conceive without success, ask yourself these questions:
- What do I believe to be true for the reasons I have not yet had a baby?
- Have I done everything I can to help my situation? Including the naturopathic options? Acupuncture?
- Is there a lesson in this journey I am on?
If you have been given this diagnosis, I am sure it is frustrating. Sometimes the medical community cannot come up with a diagnosis. However, if you see an acupuncturist or naturopath we see the body in a holistic way and through our means of diagnosis we can help you increase energy, balance and relaxation.
Be kind with your words when asking about childbearing to a couple.
Due to the increased number of fertility rates, I advise that people be more considerate when asking a couple about children. Of the patients I have treated, a similar report was that people are so insensitive to the topic and it bothers them tremendously. It can be very emotionally draining going through the process of trying to conceive. If you are someone who has never gone through it, what you can do is be sympathetic and avoid questions such as “when are you going to have a baby?”
Love yourself a little more.
As you know, I am the Naturopath who preaches on having more self love. Self love is the healer for all things. Miracles are created out of love. A lot of women can be hard on themselves, blame themselves and have tremendous guilt if things are not going to plan. This does not help you. Healing on a deeper level through a process of forgiving and loving is necessary. Detoxing the mind from fear can also be helpful. Fear is a negative emotion that inhabits the body and causes destruction. It starts in the mind, and finds its way into the heart and soul. Only love can conquer fear. I urge you to look at the thoughts and beliefs that shape your fears and try to work on changing them to ones that are more positive and loving. This takes time and a lot of effort but it is worth it. Here are some affirmations you can do to be more loving on your journey to motherhood. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDr5TaABRyg
I believe that each and every one of us has been called to be more loving towards ourselves and others. Love can create miracles. Try loving yourself a little more.
Reach out if you would like support. I offer support and nourishment for the mind, body and soul.
Dr. Jen Cisternino, ND