For those of you struggling with infertility, I understand the pain. As an ND who has gone through it, I understand the worry, sadness, and stress it can cause. Even finding the right practitioners and the right treatment approach can be a challenge. From my own fertility journey, to the many patients I’ve supported on theirs, I have seen the magic of naturopathic medicine alone or alongside conventional fertility care.
In this article, I wanted to outline the assessment and treatment approach, and modalities that I use when a patient comes to me for fertility support. In some cases, a specific diagnosis for the infertility has been made, and we would start treatment. In other cases, patients come to me with ‘unexplained infertility’ and I will spend the time necessary to help uncover reasons for the infertility.
In the case of ‘unexplained infertility’, I often run some laboratory tests to more thoroughly check thyroid function and hormones such as cortisol, estrogen, and progesterone. This helps to determine if there are subtle abnormalities with the thyroid or hormones that are impacting fertility. I also have these patients track their BBT (basal body temperature) and ovulation signs so that we can monitor the cycle and increase fertility awareness.
Once a diagnosis has been established, we focus on treatment. As far as treatment goals, they include the following:
1) Optimize egg/sperm quality,
2) Balance hormones
3) Treat the specific cause of infertility
4) Support mental-emotional health (a very important piece!)
Treatment modalities that I frequently use with my fertility patients include the following:
2) Lifestyle Medicine
5) Counselling & Mindfulness techniques.
Nutrition involves a dietary assessment, individualized dietary guidelines, and nutrient supplementation. Lifestyle medicine involves an assessment of one’s current lifestyle and introducing changes that support fertility such as exercise and sleep recommendations, and specific stress reduction strategies. Herbs can be very powerful in the treatment of infertility. There are several that have been studied and found to regulate the menstrual cycle and improve conception rates. Acupuncture has also been well studied and has been found to be a great supportive treatment in infertility. I find that acupuncture, in addition to mindfulness techniques can really improve patients’ mental-emotional health and support the relaxation of the nervous system that is needed for healthy conception.
An individualized approach to infertility is so important, since there are so many possible causes and reasons for it. This is why seeing and ND can be so helpful; the holistic and individualized assessment and treatment approach lends itself to fertility care. As an ND who has been there herself, I strive to be a compassionate practitioner who sees and supports you as a beautiful person going through a challenging time, not as an infertility diagnosis.