Pregnancy and giving birth has existed for eons, but what have we learned with these years of experience? Everyone hears myths about fertility and pregnancy, but not everything you’ve heard about giving birth is true! Here are five fertility myths explained, including the science behind them, and what you can do to promote future healthy and successful pregnancies.
True or False?
1. Once you reach your 30s, you cannot get pregnant.
False! Though it is true age is a factor affecting fertility, it is not impossible to still be fertile at an older age. Women are born with all of our eggs, and each month an egg is released during the menstrual cycle. So as we age, the quality of eggs starts to diminish slowly, so by the time a woman enters menopause eggs are less likely to be fertile. But these aspects are controlled by factors such as stress and vitamin levels.
What can you do? I typically prescribe glutathione, an antioxidant that helps prevent damage by toxins to cells. Glutathione is important to restore egg quality, but its presence in the body decreases over time and as a result we need to compensate. In addition to glutathione, I’ve noticed iron and vitamin B levels decrease with age so I usually add supplements for these to the mix.
2. Only your cycle and reproductive system contribute to fertility.
False, again! In reality, your whole body is working to create and maintain your fertility. Two systems especially key in promoting your fertility are your gut and thyroid. If you have a compromised gut or digestive system, this can cause leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut syndrome will trigger inflammation, prevent ovulation, and create nutritional deficiencies due to lack of absorption – this in turn will affect egg quality, ovulatory response and hormone signaling. Thyroid hormones are critical in fertility and impact the other key fertility hormones, estrogen, progesterone and insulin. A sluggish thyroid may interfere with the ability to ovulate.
What can you do? The best advice I can give to women is to maintain your digestive health. To me, eating whole foods like hearty fruits, veggies, and protein whether it is meat or plant-based is extremely important. Drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water throughout the day, and add fiber to your diet. I also recommend taking a supplement with licorice root, which promotes digestive efficiency and growth. This, added with a healthy diet can help keep your digestive system working, which can regulate hormone signaling and ovulatory response.
For Thyroid stability, try Hormone Helper, a formula made from maca root that helps stabilize thyroid levels but also helps with any hormone imbalances that could occur before, during, or after a pregnancy.
3. Fertility is a female’s problem.
I would disagree. To me, fertility is as much a male as it is a female problem. Both parents contribute almost equally to fertility, so both male and female fertility have to be addressed. Once a male contributes sperm, this sperm has the difficult job of finding an egg to fertilize. Furthermore, helping promote sperm health and sperm count is just as vital as maintaining egg health and egg quality.
What can you do? For male infertility, a supplement containing L-carnitine can help to increase sperm production and motility. I highly recommend taking a CoQ10 supplement as well because it can increase sperm counts and sperm mobility. Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant naturally found in the body that improves sperm parameters such as count and movement. Lastly, I suggest Vitamin C for its prevention of sperm agglutination, allowing sperm to spread and travel more efficiently.
Along with other recommendations I have discussed, female infertility can be due to a lack of Folic acid and Vitamin E. Women can take Folic acid and Vitamin E to help with balancing estrogen and progesterone which can help with chances of pregnancy and reproductive health during this time.
4. If you have already conceived a child, you do not have problems with fertility.
Not quite. Yes, if you’ve had a child in the past, you were fertile at that point in time. But this doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed fertility after having your first born. Both men and women who have had children have expressed having trouble with fertility for a second child.
What can you do? My advice is to keep your body healthy, because this will help create an environment promoting fertility. One of the best ways to do this is to keep your weight gain at a minimum. This is important for keep hormone levels balanced but also maintaining consistent ovulation. Stick to a regimented workout schedule along with a fibrous diet to help retain fertility.
5. External factors like sleep or exercise do not affect fertility.
False. One of the biggest issues with pregnancy is lack of sleep. We need consistent sleep from 11 pm- 5 am, per the principles of Chinese medicine, to function normally and perform daily tasks but pregnancy truly requires good rest. This is such a critical time for women and no one warns that not sleeping during these hours can affect the entire hormone balance, causing infertility and subsequent treatments that could have been avoided. Exercise goes hand in hand with sleep and making your body tired.
What can you do? The solution is quite simple. Help your body sleep better! Whether it is maintaining a nightly sleep routine or going to bed at the same time every night, sleep will do wonders. Exercising regularly is also helpful for not only making your body tired but also improving the quality of your sleep so the next morning you feel refreshed. Another resource is Sleep Savior a formula that combines magnesium with magnolia bark extract, two components that help reduce anxiety and help you fall asleep faster. Sleep will help equalize any hormone imbalances that are occurring, increasing fertility.
I know this process can be daunting and even frustrating, because there are a plethora of factors that promote a pregnancy. I always tell my patients to keep three essential categories in mind: blood sugar and insulin levels, estrogen to progesterone balance, and nutritional deficiencies. Combining natural supplements with a solid diet and sleep schedule will move you and your significant other towards a healthy and successful pregnancy in the near future!