Fertility optimization is not just for couples that are presently experiencing fertility issues. It is also for couples that would like a proactive approach to optimize their chances of becoming pregnant, maintaining a healthy pregnancy, and creating a bright child with a robust immune system.
Fertility issues are more commonplace today than ever before. Current statistics indicate that one in six couples is experiencing problems with infertility and that 10-25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage (ACOG).
Reproductive wellness results from a mix of genes and environment and involves much more than just a “good diet” or what your FSH levels are on a certain day of the month.
A Unique Approach Addresses Genetic Polymorphisms
We are born with a set DNA sequence, but our genes experience heritable changes in gene function (polymorphisms) that can occur without a change in that sequence. This is epigenetics, and it means that our diet and environment affect gene translation without altering the original genes themselves.
It is similar to light switches that can be flipped on or off, but these light switches are affected by toxins, carcinogens, nutrient deficiencies, stress, hormones and even the environment in-utero! (see peer-reviewed article links below) The important thing to remember is that these flipped switches are passed down to future generations (which may be a reason why today’s children are so allergenic and immune-compromised).
A simple saliva test can identify genetic variants (polymorphisms) found to be linked to fertility issues. A few examples are variants in genes that control estrogen detoxification, hormone transport, and nutrient conversion or assimilation.
To further illustrate, a common genetic variant in which 40-60% of the population has is MTHFR. This variant affects the body’s ability to convert synthetic folic acid into L-methylfolate, the form that our bodies require for thousands of metabolic processes to occur (such as DNA formation and repair). There is a lot of talk about MTHFR and infertility lately. Our society constantly tells women to supplement with folic acid during childbearing years to prevent neural tube defects (and much of our food is fortified with it), but this is not a good thing for the percentage of the people that have this polymorphism. The folic acid is poorly metabolized by the body, creating excess levels which have been shown to be associated with a whole host of other health problems, including cancer (references available). And because the folic acid isn’t being converted to the form used by the body, folate deficiency develops.
Extensive research on polymorphisms, not only in the MTHFR gene but numerous other genes as well, has repeatedly cited associations with an increased likelihood for serious concerns related to reproduction, such as repeated miscarriage, preeclampsia, Down Syndrome, gestational diabetes, and placental abnormalities.
I use a holistic approach to help clients find answers to “unexplained infertility,” as I delve into many issues that medical providers and holistic practitioners do not address. For example, acupuncture has been known to help some people struggling with infertility, but if nutrient deficiencies or specific genetic polymorphisms are present, it won’t address the root of the problem, which doesn’t get you very far.
I identify root cause by addressing bio-individuality. What worked for one person might not work for another, because each person has a completely different genetic and biochemical make up, as well having vast variations in diet and lifestyle histories.
My cutting edge approach addresses:
- Gene expression/Genetic polymorphisms
- Biochemical imbalances
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Health conditions, past and current
- Oxidative stress
- Immune system reactivity – Certain immune cells are involved with inflammatory response that are also an essential part of the ovulation process. They’re also involved with preparing the lining of the uterus for implantation of a fertilized egg.
- Your body’s ability to detoxify
- Exposure to xenoestrogens and hormone mimickers
- Digestive functioning – If your digestive system functioning is not up to par (signified by acid reflux, constipation, poorly formed bowel movements, IBS or any other GI complaint), you’re not assimilating and absorbing nutrients needed to make hormones and detoxify the hormone mimickers that wreak havoc and cause hormone imbalances.
- Hormonal imbalances and unaddressed “period problems” – PMS, irregular or heavy/scant periods, PCOS, fibroids, endometriosis, prior birth control use
- Emotional and environmental stressors – If your adrenals are fatigued, the body is working on managing the stressful task of trying to maintain/keep from crashing, and it is not able to give energy and resources to supporting reproduction, since reproduction isn’t essential to living.
- The microbiome – A diverse and well-populated gut flora is the true root of health for every system in our bodies.
All of these factors are known to affect hormonal balance and reproductive functioning. Through working with me, you will understand how each of these points affect your body’s ability to achieve and sustain pregnancy based on your individual body chemistry.
A typical initial, face-to-face consultation takes an hour to an hour and a half and includes:
- First morning’s urine and saliva testing
- A baseline overview of your adrenal functioning
- A baseline analysis of your sympathetic and parasympathetic functioning
- In depth discussion of your health history, diet and lifestyle factors
- A look at how genetics may be impacting these results
- A customized systematic plan of your particular needs
I also conduct sessions with clients via Skype and telephone.
I may also recommend a genetic saliva test for many clients. This reveals volumes of epigenetic information regarding possible causes of problems that may be related to immunity, digestive functioning, detoxification ability, and inflammation (which may seem unrelated to fertility, but has everything to do with it!), as well as hormone production, utilization and metabolism.
Before you begin the expensive and often unsuccessful process of working with a fertility clinic, find out how to balance your hormones and optimize your fertility from a personalized nutritional and genetic standpoint!
Other testing is available at Tree of Life that can give an indication of food intolerances, mineral/vitamin deficiencies or toxicity, hormonal levels, and heavy metals. Again, all of which could also be interfering with your reproductive process.
If you’ve already gotten any sort of testing done, I can help you make additional sense of your test results and is happy to work in collaboration with any other fertility specialists and practitioners you may be seeing, whether you are already working with ART or choosing to find an alternative.
This is an educational service far beyond just helping you to achieve and/or maintain a healthy pregnancy and reproductive health; it will impact the health of your entire body (and your family) for years to come.
Contact me to ask questions or to schedule a session.
Journal articles regarding epigenetics and health of offspring:
Nature, a peer-reviewed journal known for publishing groundbreaking research, published an article that discusses two different cases in which the nutritional status during famine of a group of people was shown to affect branches of their offspring after centuries. It was one of the first pieces of research that was able to prove how related mother's health is to the epigenome of relatives much farther down the line. This article, and others on the same topic has been a large part of my research, because my main goal is to explore this idea of changing our epigenomes for future generations to come.
Here is another similar article on how famine and nutritional status affect offspring.