Starting a family can be one of the most exciting decisions a person or couple can make. But if you’ve been struggling to become pregnant for a while, only to be disappointed each month, you may be feeling a bit discouraged. And, you’re not alone… as many as one in 10 couples struggle to conceive naturally in the first year of their fertility journey.
Functional medicine can offer many natural and holistic solutions to address fertility challenges. It assesses the body as a whole system and seeks to uncover the root causes of your conception challenges. In many cases, a functional medicine practitioner can address problems that haven’t even been diagnosed, simply because they strive to improve mental and physical health overall.
Here’s a look at how functional medicine can make a difference in your journey to becoming pregnant, before implementing fertility drugs or invasive procedures.
Conception Is a Complex Process
The journey to becoming pregnant is much more complex than you might think. A tiny sperm cell must weave its way through the vaginal passageway to your uterus to find your egg, which has gone through a complicated journey of its own.
Then, conditions have to be exactly right for conception to occur. The timing has to be perfect, or your egg won’t be ready to welcome sperm. And the sperm has to be healthy enough to work its way into the egg when it arrives.
Anything you and your partner can do to improve your overall health and reproductive function will increase your chances of conception, and that’s where functional medicine comes in.
How Poor Health Impacts Your Fertility
And, that’s just the physical part of the conception process. From a biological standpoint, becoming pregnant is even more complex. There are countless biochemical processes involved in developing healthy sperm and eggs, releasing the egg at the right time, fertilizing the egg, implantation, and of course, growing a healthy baby.
Think of functional medicine as a proactive process to get your reproductive system (and the rest of your body) as healthy as possible. It’s a holistic way to address underlying conditions that may be preventing you from becoming pregnant, even if you aren’t exactly sure what’s causing the problem.
What is Functional Medicine?
Functional medicine looks at the patient as a whole, from nutrition and lifestyle to biochemistry, genetics, and environmental exposure. The practitioner seeks out the underlying causes of the disease, rather than offering a quick fix to address your symptoms and sending you on your way.
Treatments might include IV nutrition therapy, colonics, diet changes, exercise, and reducing exposure to toxins. It’s a process that’s grounded in science, and the practitioner may also prescribe supplements or medication as needed. The focus is on addressing chronic health issues, rather than just the acute symptoms you may be experiencing today.
Using Functional Medicine to Address Infertility
Many factors can contribute to infertility, including:
- Chronic inflammation throughout the body and digestive tract
- Chronic stress
- Too much or too little exercise
- Nutrient and mineral deficiencies
- Autoimmune disorders, which can lead to Premature Ovarian Insufficiency, PCOS, Fibroids and Endometriosis
- Endocrine-disrupting toxins found in the environment, household products, and personal care products
All of these factors can cause hormonal imbalances and affect your fertility. Functional medicine looks to address these factors and get your hormones back into equilibrium, which greatly improves your chances of conceiving.
A functional medicine practitioner relies on diagnostics to determine which hormones are out of balance and then helps you make changes that focus on balancing those specific hormones.
The best place to start when it comes to correcting hormonal imbalances is to correct nutrient deficiencies. One of the ways you can do so is to use IV nutrition therapy and implement dietary changes. According to functional medicine practitioners at Rahav Wellness, nutrient deficiencies can have a major impact on how your body functions, including its ability to regulate hormonal function that affects your ability to conceive and carry a pregnancy.
Avoiding inflammatory trigger foods including:
- White flour
- White sugar
- GMO Soy
- Animal products
- High fructose corn syrup
Doctors at Rahav recommend using blood work to determine where your nutrient levels are deficient. Then, those deficiencies can be addressed using personalized IV nutrition therapy and supplements. The physicians Parsley Health offer personalized virtual care utilizing functional medicine integrating an organic, whole food diet as one of the pillars for optimal health.
Many people don’t realize how important gut health is to overall health, mental health, and healthy hormone levels. When the gut is compromised, it can contribute to chronic inflammation throughout the body, which affects all of the body’s systems and can lead to auto immune disorders. Poor gut health also inhibits the body’s ability to absorb nutrients efficiently. Introducing probiotics, live microorganisms which support healthy gut flora and can help balance an inflamed immune system and contribute to healthy wellbeing.
Many chemicals and pollutants that we are exposed to every day can disrupt the endocrine system and have a dramatic impact on hormone levels and fertility. Dietary and lifestyle cleanses can be helpful. IV therapy and colonics are used in functional medicine to detoxify the body and support endocrine health.
Your practitioner will also encourage you to go through your household and personal care products to eliminate anything containing toxic ingredients such as chemical fragrance, parabens, and PEGs, which are known endocrine disruptors that can enter the body through the skin.
With today’s hectic lifestyle, most of us are dealing with chronic stress every day. Finding healthy ways to manage stress is essential for balancing your hormones and improving your chances of conceiving. The regular practice of stress management techniques including yoga, exercise, and meditation are encouraged daily.
When you seek to improve your lifestyle and health with functional medicine your you can optimize your fertility.