Trying to grow your family and conceive a child is a very exciting time for most couples, but can also be a source of extreme stress if there are underlying fertility issues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines infertility as the inability to conceive after one year of having unprotected sex, or after a six-month period of consistent trying. Additionally, women who are older than 35 or do not have regular menstrual cycles may also be at risk for infertility issues.
Underlying infertility causes
According to CDC statistics, an estimated 12 percent of women age 15 to 44 have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term. However, infertility is not just a problem for women. Underlying health issues in both men and women may contribute to a couple having difficulty conceiving. What many people may not know is the close link between digestive health and fertility.
The gut bacteria, know as microflora, all along the GI tract makes up what is called your microbiome. These "gut bugs" have major roles in the overall health of the body including metabolism, immune health, brain function, and even hormone production. The endocrine system, which is made up of a host of organs responsible for producing and utilizing essential hormones, is directly affected by gut bacteria.
In turn, impaired fertility is directly impacted by the health of endocrine system and the hormonal imbalances that result, especially the sex glands and adrenals. According to the Frisco Institute for Reproductive Medicine, hormone imbalance can negatively impact fertility including testosterone levels in a man, the quality and quantity of a man's sperm, quality of a woman's egg, and the entire process of ovulation in women. As some men and women age, sperm and egg counts decrease, making the changes of conception for couples in their late 30s and 40s more difficult.
Lifestyle choices have a major impact on the overall health of the gut, the gut microbiome, and every organ and system in the body. Environmental toxins, excessive alcohol and drug use, smoking, synthetic hormone therapy, and prescription medications all negatively impact the body.
"Lifestyle choices have a major impact on the health of the gut."
Chronic physical and emotional stress leads to high levels of cortisol, putting a serious strain on the adrenal glands, liver pathways, hormone levels, thyroid metabolism, and the body's inflammatory response, just to name a few. The health of the digestive system also impacts vitamin and mineral absorption and utilization. Mineral and fatty acid balance in the body is crucial for cellular and hormone communication.
Fertility and Diet
As previously mentioned, nutritional health is essential for digestive and immune health, as the gut plays an integral role in the body's overall wellbeing. Making important dietary and supplement changes may have a positive impact on blood sugar regulation, hormonal production, and overall organ health.
Dr. Campbell-McBride, author of Gut and Psychology Syndrome has stated that removing processed and refined carbohydrates, man-made chemicals, HRT, and other xenoestrogens (chemical compounds that imitate estrogen) responsible for disrupting the body's normal hormonal balance is essential for reproductive health.
In addition, consuming nutrient-dense foods high in cholesterol and animal fats such as organic meats, eggs, fish, and coconut oil support the production of sex hormones and the adrenals. Research has supported that consuming beneficial strains of bacteria have increased sperm count and elevated testosterone levels in men.
In addition, zinc therapy has been also shown in improve sperm count in men. In addition, supplementing with essential fatty acids such as cod liver oil and fish oils support liver function, provide energy, and support the body's natural inflammatory response.
For additional information about the GAPS Diet and how to get started, you can consult with a Certified GAPS Practitioner and visit our website today!