Understanding Infertility

You may be one of the lucky couples who are able to conceive easily, seemingly if you just look at each other the right way. But that is not the good fortune most couples experience. In fact, it is more common for a woman not to get pregnant from her first attempt.

I would like to share some information about infertility in the hope of extinguishing any confusion, guilt, fear or other bad feelings you’re carrying around about this.

Infertility is not your fault or that of your partner.

Issues with fertility are no more your fault than having poor vision. Some people are genetically pre-disposed to specific health conditions. You might be pre-disposed to high blood pressure, migraine headaches or infertility. None of us can control all of the complex, biochemical and metabolic processes going on inside our bodies. However, there are some things we can control that influence those areas. The key is we must know about them to affect change.  Let me explain, and it’s good news for those dealing with infertility.

1 out of 6 couples in the U.S. and Canada are affected by infertility

Research scientists are hot on the trail of two fascinating areas of study called nutrigenomics and epigenetics. What they are teaching us is that our genes respond to what we eat.  Changing what you eat doesn’t just alter your weight or eliminate heart-burn. It changes how your genetic code reacts during various stages of a person’s life, and even in later generations.  You will start hearing more about both of these areas in upcoming years because both will continue to influence food manufacturing and governmental guidelines on nutrition. Eating healthy to minimize or resolve health issues will become the norm instead of being considered nonsense.

The other encouraging trend here is that more and more people, like you, are not just sticking their collective heads in the sand pretending that you are super-human and don’t have any genetic weaknesses or bad eating habits. You are educating yourself and dedicating the necessary time and effort into figuring out what steps you can take to overcome your inherited and biological weaknesses before they manifest.

How Prevalent is Infertility?

Pregnancy rates have fallen to a record low in the U.S. as of 2013 and cases of infertility are on the rise; approximately 7.5 million women are affected. Of those, approximately 40-50% of the issues are due to infertility issues with the male, which includes issues with low sperm concentration, poor sperm motility (movement), and/or abnormal sperm development.

The World Health Organization defines infertility this way:

“Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system defined by failure to achieve the clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.”

According to a study published in the Journal of Human Reproduction Science, 38% of women will get pregnant after one month, but the majority of women who were having sex each month during their peak time of fertility took three to six months to conceive. Hardly a “one and done” scenario for most women.

Are You “Infertile”?

Do not be too quick to label yourself infertile, even if you’re in your mid to late 30s and have been trying to get pregnant for more than a year. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences conducted a study and found that the majority of women up to age 39 (whose male partner was under the age of 40) who did not become pregnant in their first year of trying, did become pregnant in their second year – without any medical assistance. Implementing a nutrition and lifestyle strategy may help decrease that time frame, reduce inflammation in the body, help resolve other minor health issues, and increase your odds of a successful conception in spite of age-related declining hormone levels.

Clearly for most couples, getting pregnant takes planning, timing and lots of patience. In my book, Baby Maker, I emphasize that you and your partner must take active roles is adopting a health plan for conception. As a couple, take a close look at what you are putting into your bodies, and allow six to eight months on your plan before trying to conceive.

Is Your Current Diet and Lifestyle Enhancing or Damaging Your Fertility?

When we eat food, drink a beverage, inhale a scent, odor or substance or apply chemically-laden lotions, creams, make-up, hair dyes, shampoos, conditioners, etc. to our body -- it all gets absorbed or digested, shuttled through the digestive system and eventually broken down into molecules. These molecules then get directed through various metabolic pathways that determine how the body will use them.

As a hopeful future parent, your goal is to deliver nourishing, beneficial, health supportive molecules to your body’s internal systems. You can accomplish this by paying close attention to what is in your diet and what types of things you need to avoid.

If your diet consists of too much junk, the molecules you will send coursing through your body will be toxic, creating havoc in cellular communication, poor absorption in the GI tract, dysfunction in your internal filtration and detoxification processes, impairment of the immune system, and a long list of other possible negative outcomes – all of which can contribute to infertility.

A fertility-boosting nutritional and lifestyle strategy is imperative for a successful conception and the healthy pregnancy and baby you deserve.