Are you trying to conceive (ttc) this year? Have you been trying for a while and nothing is happening? Have you been diagnosed with infertility? Infertility is officially defined as the inability to conceive after actively ttc for at least a year. During these times with restrictions on in-person appointments, it can be hard to get an appointment with a fertility clinic as many appointments are postponed but our bodies aren’t taking a break and slowing down because of this pandemic. You shouldn’t be left hanging. Please know there are other avenues for support.
Every person or couple has their own story for why they can’t conceive. Please know there are support groups out there and if you are looking for a counselor or a support group, please reach out to me and I may be able to provide you with some resources, especially if you live in Canada.
In honour of Canadian Infertility Awareness Week which was last week, here are some of my tips if you are looking to get pregnant and have been struggling (of course, this also depends on your reason for the struggle):
First, and foremost, please be gentle on yourself. Whatever you are going through, please know that 1 in 6 Canadians deal with infertility so you aren’t alone. Sometimes, the time isn’t right and that is why it is hard to conceive – the universe has strange ways of giving us what we need at the right time. Sometimes, taking a break from trying every month and/or then having unprotected intercourse with no expectations may be the secret.
View your entire body as a flower garden and tend to it with self-care and love and it will flourish. Just take care of yourself and try not to let any peer or societal pressure make you stressed about the idea of conceiving. We always put too much pressure on ourselves and naturally get influenced by everything we see online and our friends and family posting about their kids and new babies being born. If you need to, take a break from social media for a while so you don’t see the new baby posts and announcements.
Your time will come. In the meantime, keep watering your flower garden with love and it will be ready for the ‘right time’.
There is a lot of stress right now. Stress increases your cortisol which in turn will affect your estrogen, progesterone, thyroid and other hormones. This can lead to changes in your menstrual cycles, affect your endometrial lining, and may trigger inflammation. Egg and sperm quality can decrease with increased stress.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to keep your stress down as much as possible right now. Some strategies are:
- Connect with friends and/or family virtually if they aren’t within your close contacts
- Pamper yourself with a delicious meal, either home-cooked or order takeout
- Have a warm bath with magnesium salts
- Create a bedtime routine such as a warm tea, reading a book, and/or meditation
- Create a morning routine that excites you each morning. Maybe it’s a black cup of coffee and a journal or hot lemon water and listening to music.
- Speak to your healthcare professional or naturopathic doctor about any additional adrenal, anxiety, or calming supplements that may help
- Find an hour of quiet time in the day or even 30 minutes in the middle of the day for some alone time
- Have a massage or acupuncture treatment from time to time
If you haven’t had your hormones tested, talk to your doctor about having them tested. There are many ways to test your hormones – via the blood, saliva, and through the urine. MDs will order a blood test which will give you an idea of which hormones are out of range. You may even consider speaking with a naturopathic doctor or other functional healthcare provider to know if your levels are within the optimal range and NOT just in the normal reference range. If you are lucky, you may be able to get your MD to requisition a urinary cortisol test. A functional medicine practitioner or a naturopathic doctor has the ability to order saliva testing or dried urine hormonal testing. Saliva will give you an idea of how much hormone is in the tissue ready to be utilized where urinary testing will measure the metabolites so you have an idea of how your body is utilizing hormones.
The key hormones you want to have tested as they can impact male and female fertility are:
- TSH, Free T3, Free T4 – thyroid hormones
- Day 3 Estradiol in females
- Day 21 Estradiol and Progesterone in females
- LH and FSH (day 3 for females and any day for males)
- DHEA-s, Total and Free testosterone (any day but best in the morning)
- 4-point urinary cortisol analysis
- ESR and CRP
- Others dependent on your health history
Inflammation can affect your hormones and yield oxidative stress which can decrease egg/sperm quality. Poor quality can impact sperm motility, fertilization rate, implantation, and embryo development if pregnancy were to occur. Inflammation could be related to a chronic inflammatory condition like diabetes or an autoimmune disorder like rheumatoid arthritis or it can be from an injury. Digestive issues can also trigger inflammation.
There are various anti-inflammatories to help reduce inflammation and antioxidants like melatonin and glutathione that can help to reduce oxidative stress. Working with a naturopathic doctor and figuring out what the root cause is of the inflammation is always the best approach so you can take the best supplement(s) for you.
There you have it – These are my Four (4) tips to help optimize fertility. Please reach out if you need help with any of the above. Unsure how I may help you, you are welcome to book a Free quick 15- minute meet and greet.