If you’ve been thinking about having a baby, chances are you’ve come across people talking about natural therapies for fertility. And if you’re anything like I was when trying to conceive, you’re probably wondering what these therapies have to offer (and have been down many Google rabbit-holes in an attempt to find out!).
So, as someone who experienced first-hand the benefits of using natural therapies during my fertility journey, and who has since gone on to help women conceive as a naturopath and holistic nutritionist, I’m hoping this article will give you the information you need (and save you many hours of Googling!)
First up: what do I mean when I say “natural fertility”? Basically, I’m talking about working with you and your body to identify any underlying issues that could impact your fertility; addressing these issues with diet, lifestyle, nutritional and herbal medicine where appropriate; and using the best available evidence to:
- prepare your body to produce the healthiest eggs (and sperm) possible,
- create a beautiful environment for implantation, and
- sustain a healthy and uncomplicated pregnancy.
In fact, recent research is showing that the benefits of good health prior to conception extend well past your baby’s birth – improving your recovery time & ease of breastfeeding, and reducing the risk of several health conditions in your children AND your grandchildren!
So – how can a natural fertility approach help you conceive and have a healthy pregnancy & baby?
1. Improve your hormonal health
Fertility revolves around the health of your menstrual cycle. A healthy cycle will produce a healthy egg and a rich, receptive uterine lining every month to prepare your body for pregnancy. Even minor fluctuations can impact the delicate dance of hormones that creates the ideal conditions for pregnancy to occur. If you have an irregular cycle, one that’s unusually long or short, or have been diagnosed with a condition that affects your cycle, then you may have been told – or know first-hand – that conceiving may be more difficult for you. Some of these conditions include:
- thyroid issues
Natural medicine has many tools available to address the underlying drivers of these conditions and focus on optimising your fertility – despite your diagnosis. Remember every woman is unique, and you are not defined by your diagnosis. If you’re concerned about how your cycle pattern might affect your fertility, you can book a call here to chat with me about what your options are.
2. Improve egg and sperm health
These two tiny cells represent the future health of your baby. The time period before they mature (around 3 months) is your window to really influence the health of your new baby. Improving the health of egg and sperm cells is one of the places that naturopathy can make a huge difference.
A good starting place for improving egg & sperm health is simple lifestyle factors such as diet, nutrient status, exposure to common chemicals, stress, alcohol and caffeine, nicotine and exercise. While other factors such as age and genetics may be beyond your control, these lifestyle factors are well within your sphere of influence – and for many people, taking the time to modify some of these behaviours can make a huge difference to your chances of conceiving. Did you know – a least 40% of infertility cases in Australia are due to issues with the male partner? So it’s really important to involve both prospective parents wherever possible, and you’ll be happy to hear that sperm health in particular responds really well to naturopathic treatment.
3. Reduce risk of pregnancy complications
When you’re focused on trying to get pregnant, often the last thing on your mind is how things will go once you finally get that BFP – or perhaps you’ve experienced pregnancy complications in previous pregnancies, and that’s all you can think about. Either way, you may be surprised at how many factors contributing to pregnancy complications can be addressed during the pre-conception period.
We can use our understanding of these factors to reduce the rest of certain complications, helping you have a smooth and uncomplicated pregnancy, recover more quickly after delivery, and initiate and maintain breastfeeding more easily. Obviously there are no guarantees when it comes to risk reduction, but we can empower you to take action to minimise your risk and optimise your chance of an enjoyable pregnancy experience.
4. Improve long-term health of offspring for 2+ generations
The research behind this one is quite astounding. Certain behaviours and health conditions of both parents can influence your baby’s risk of:
- premature birth;
- low birthweight;
- developing health concerns later in life, including diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and depression.
Some of the contributing factors in parents include alcohol and smoking, diabetes, fast food consumption, depression and nutritional status.
This is why I passionately advocate for every potential parent to focus on their health for a period of at least 3 months prior to trying to conceive. It takes around 3 months for each egg and sperm to mature, so this gives you the best chance of optimising the health of these amazing little cells and therefore the health of your future babies. It really is the ultimate in preventative healthcare, allowing you to contribute to improving the health of future generations. How cool is that!
5. Empower you to take control of your health & fertility
Often ignored but possibly the most important outcome of naturopathic care during the preconception period (other than your healthy baby of course!) is the mindset shift that occurs – a shift from a place of frustration and isolation, to a sense of empowerment and control with your fertility journey.
Dealing with hormonal and fertility challenges can be a complex and disheartening experience, and naturopathic care offers a number of advantages to help you meet the challenges with a positive attitude and a sense of hope. Firstly, one of my key approaches when working with my clients is to make sure YOU are in the driver’s seat. I have a knack for explaining things in a way that helps you understand exactly what’s going on in your body, what your symptoms mean, and what your treatments (both naturopathic and medical) are designed to do. This empowers you to take control of your journey, advocate for yourself, and have a true understanding of what’s going on and what you can expect.
And secondly – we work from a place of always remembering that fertility is your body’s natural state, and using all the tools we have at our disposal to encourage your body to return to health and fertility. We will strive to identify the potential underlying causes of your unique situation, and then work to address this.
Whether you are trying naturally or find yourself on an assisted reproductive technology (ART) journey, there is significant evidence-based action you can take to support your & your partner’s health through this journey.
So, wherever you are on your fertility travels – I hope this has helped you understand the role of natural fertility! Get in touch for a free, no-obligation chat to talk about what your options are, and make sure you’ve downloaded the Fertility Checklist to get a snapshot of your fertility – it’s a great starting point. I look forward to helping you navigate your unique path on your journey.