Infertility is on the rise.
In Canada, 1 in 6 (16%) couples experience infertility; a number that has almost doubled since the 1980’s.
3 out of 10 times, infertility is connected to the man, and 4 out of 10 times, it is due to factors in the woman.
What is infertility?
Infertility is the inability to conceive after trying for 12 months for women under 35, or for 6 months for women over the age of 35.
What can cause infertility?
Causes or contributors to infertility for women may include:
- Past pelvic inflammatory infection, sexually transmitted infections
- Endometriosis, PCOS, progesterone deficiency, or other hormonal imbalances
- Fibroids, or polyps in the uterus
- Irregular or absent menstrual cycles
- Environmental toxins, chemotherapy and radiation
- Thyroid conditions – especially Hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
- Diabetes, blood sugar management, and/or weight management issues
- Age (over 35 in women) or early menopause
- Diminished ovarian reserve (a reduction or loss in the optimal number and quality of eggs that a woman has in her ovaries)
In men, causes for infertility may include:
- Poor sperm quality
- Low sperm count
- Sexually transmitted infections
- Hormonal imbalances
- Environmental toxins
- Chemotherapy and radiation
- Tobacco or alcohol use
The good news is that you can boost your fertility naturally! In addition to conventional fertility treatments, working with a nutritionist or a naturopath who understands your unique needs will improve your chances of conception by creating an individualized plan using nutrition, natural supplements, and healthy lifestyle habits.
Nutrients to Boost Fertility
Folate (not folic acid – this is the synthetic form) is one of the most important nutrients for boosting fertility and all the way through your pregnancy. Folate, along with vitamins B6 and B12 support energy production, hormone balancing, and benefit skin and hair health. During pregnancy, these B vitamins are important for the development of the nervous system and preventing birth defects. High quality meat, dairy, and eggs have the highest levels of B vitamins, but plant-based options like broccoli, beans, nuts and seeds, and whole grains are also excellent sources of these nutrients!
Essential Fatty Acids, particularly Omega 3s help to produce healthy hormones, and balance hormone levels which contribute to more regular menstrual cycles. Salmon, trout, sardines, walnuts, chia, and flaxseeds all contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
Vitamins A, C, E, zinc, and selenium are all antioxidants that protect cells in the body from damage, and are especially important in ensuring the health of eggs and sperm.
Vitamin A is available in a few forms, the most common of these forms are beta-carotene and retinol. The beta-carotene form is generally safer, and can be found in foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash. Caution is required if supplementing with vitamin A as it can cause birth defects when taken in excess – be sure to work with a nutritionist to learn more about safe dosing and necessary requirements.
Vitamin C is a well-known antioxidant nutrient that provides numerous benefits including collagen formation, adrenal, thyroid, and immune support, tissue growth and repair. Vitamin C also aids in the absorption of iron, another nutrient that is essential when boosting fertility and promoting a healthy pregnancy. You can find vitamin C in foods such as peppers, citrus, green leafy vegetables, kiwi, berries and cherries.
Another antioxidant nutrient – vitamin E – protects the cells, promotes healthy ovaries (therefore healthy eggs), and also benefits sperm health in males. Vitamin E can be found in nuts, seeds, avocados, beans, and sweet potatoes.
Selenium plays a big role in liver detoxification, which is an important aspect of hormone balancing and regulating your cycle. Selenium also improves immunity, and increases sperm count in males. Food sources include brazil nuts, sesame seeds, cabbage, and whole grains.
Zinc is yet another antioxidant-rich nutrient that supports ovulation and egg health in women, as well as sperm development in males. Zinc can be found in fish, oysters, pumpkin seeds, nuts and dark leafy greens.
Increased vitamin D levels in women have been linked to higher potential of conceiving. Especially in Canada, vitamin D deficiency is common, so supplementation may be necessary. Some food sources could include mushrooms, fatty fish or fish oils, egg yolks, and liver (again, beware of vitamin A excess).
Iron is required for the oxygen carrying molecule hemoglobin and energy production. Food sources of iron include beef, blackstrap molasses, dates, eggs, fish, green leafy vegetables, and whole grains.
Vitex or chaste tree berry is an herb that can be used to balance hormones, most often by increasing progesterone levels. This helps to regulate cycles and promote healthy ovulation.
Foods to Avoid To Boost Fertility
- Inflammatory foods. This includes sugar, gluten, dairy, canola/vegetable oils, or any other food sensitivities that are unique to you.
- Pesticides – try to buy organic and local foods whenever possible to limit your exposure to environmental toxins and synthetic chemicals.
- Coffee – lowers fertility in females, and may reduce sperm quality in males.
- Alcohol and tobacco. These substances damage egg quality, making conception much more difficult. Alcohol and tobacco during pregnancy should also be avoided.
1. Track your cycle. This means taking note of when each phase of your cycle is happening, especially ovulation (this is prime time for conceiving). When paired with proper nutrition, your chances of conceiving become even greater!
2. Reduce and manage stress. Reduce exposure to stress, or incorporate practices to manage stressful situations that you can’t avoid. Try yoga, meditation, exercise, and daily walks as healthy ways to get through stressful times.
3. Try acupuncture. Book an acupuncture appointment with Dr. Kristin Spark to find out more!
If you’re looking for more information, book an appointment with certified holistic nutritionist, Taryn Guzik to start balancing your hormones and boosting your fertility!
Please be aware that this is intended to share general information, and is not medical advice. If you have any concerns, you should speak directly with a qualified health practitioner.
Don’t miss Taryn’s free webinar Fertility Foundations April 13th at 7 pm EST.
Participants get access to the replay as well as two bonuses from Taryn: a hormone balancing recipe guide and her e-book: Own Your Cycle.
Sign up by clicking below.