Secondary Infertility?

When Trying for Another Child is a Struggle –

If you have had one or more healthy full-term pregnancies, you are very fertile and will go on to have more healthy pregnancies – RIGHT?  WRONG – Infertility can happen to anyone, at any time.  Couples who have had one or more biological children, without the assistance of reproductive technology or fertility medications and are unable to conceive or carry to term another pregnancy have Secondary Fertility.  Having a different partner this time does not matter.  It is also defined as secondary fertility if you are unable to conceive with this partner and have already had a full term pregnancy.

Secondary fertility accounts for nearly half of all infertility diagnosis.  Around 12% of the women in the United States are diagnosed with secondary infertility. (tweet this)

You should consider other options (fertility coach, etc.)  if:

  • You are experiencing irregular or very painful menstruation
  • Have had more than two miscarriages
  • Have a history of STD’s
  • Have a history of fertility related issues such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, etc.
  • Have a history of other health related problems such as diabetes, obesity, thyroid issues, alcoholism, drug addition, autoimmune disease

What contributes to Secondary Infertility?

Age – As we age our body systems are not as vital as they once were, especially if we have poor eating habits, lifestyle choices and high stress.  We can’t reverse the aging process but we can support out health in many ways including good diet choices, healthy lifestyle practices and stress reduction.

Cesarean Section – If you had a cesarean section birth there may be a chance that there is scar tissue damage to the uterus or fallopian tubes making it difficult to conceive.  Uterine scar tissue damage can interfere with implantation.  Scar tissue in the fallopian tubes can cause them to become blocked.

Hyperthyroidism – Postpartum thyroiditis has been found to occur in 7% of women within the first year after childbirth.  Overactive tissue in the thyroid gland leads to overproduction of thyroid hormones.  This is most likely caused by inflammation of they thyroid.

Obesity– If there has been a lot of weight gain since the birth of your last child, it is important to know that obesity increases the risk of infertility.

Are Your Eggs Old as a Result of What You Are Eating?

Have you thought about that what you are eating may be aging you faster and, therefore, leading to poor eggs and a diagnosis of “old eggs”?

So many women are told their eggs are too old for conception.  While some women are in their 40’s, many are still in their mid to late 30’s.  Yet, in spite of the chronological age and poor prognostic outlook many of these women go on to conceive with their own eggs and give birth to healthy babies.  Those who do, often make changes to their diet and lifestyles and followed them religiously for a minimum of a year.

One substance has been on the research radar for a good decade.  It’s been linked to tooth decay, acne, diabetes, weight gain, poor immunity, ADD, hyperactivity and aggression, cancer proliferation and now aging!  – SUGAR!

Sugar causes you to age and lowers your egg quality  (tweet this)

Diabetic research tells us that when you consume sugar (glucose) – there is a chemical reaction that takes place between sugar molecules and your fat and protein molecules.  This reaction is not controlled by the enzymes and does not take place in designated areas of the cell where the sugar molecule can be put to good use – it happens all over the cell, this cell is no longer able to function properly.  This leads to poor intake of oxygen, water, nutrients and lowered ability to expel toxic substances and free radicals.  This can lead to DNA damage and death of the cell.

This process, glycation, creates so-called ‘end products’.  These end products are called Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs) and their effect on tissues is making protein fibers stiff and malformed.  Also,  these end products act as free radicals speeding up the aging process.

This takes place wherever you have protein and fat cells.  

A study published in Human reproduction in 2011 linked the formation of AGEs to DNA damage in the eggs, lower fertilization rates, poor follicular and embryonic development and lower pregnancy rates regardless of age! (tweet this) This could account for why women in their 30’s are being diagnosed with “old eggs”.  This negative effect on egg quality and age is even more of an issue in women with PCOS and diabetes.

Old glycated collage will eventually be eliminated, recycled and reused for collagen formation.  So, now, make sure you are not bombarding your cells with SUGAR!

Some sugars are unavoidable – those which are found in vegetables, fruit and whole grains.  There is good and bad sugar.  Bad sugars are:

  • High-fructose corn syrup (which increases the rate of gyration by 10 times)
  • White sugar
  • Simple carbs (white bread, white rice, white pasta – anything white)
Green tea turns back the clock on your eggs and speeds up the recycling of the collagen fibers.  Make sure you are drinking the organic variety.
So, read labels, avoid refined carbs, drink organic greet tea and help your eggs become younger again after at least four months!

Fertility Boosting Tips

Exposure to environmental toxins both in utero and neonatally can damage your fertility. These five compounds can alter hormone function and result in adverse reproductive health effects:

Occasional exposure is not of concern.  The  concern comes with the accumulation of these chemicals in your body over a long period.

Here are seven ideas for a cleanse for helping to minimize your exposure to chemicals that rob your fertility:

  1. Eat organic food and products
  2. Never eat skin or fat on chicken and other meat as that’s where the hormones and industrial pollutants accumulate
  3. Don’t eat organ mean (liver, kidney) as that is where a lot of the toxins also accumulate
  4. Eat in season – the longer the product needs to travel the more handling and packaging it had to go through
  5. Use certified organic cosmetic products
  6. Stop nuking your food in the microwave
  7. Don’t use lead glazed glass or pottery

 

An optimal diet is about what to avoid and what to include.  Your diet should be as fresh as possible and organic wherever possible.  Key elements are:  quality protein sources and good fats!

  1. Organic meat in small quantities game, small deep sea fish like sardines, organic legumes – home cooked – not canned
  2. Whole grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit in season – again organic if possible
  3. Increase your consumption of good fats and avoid dangerous fats.  Good fats include monounsaturated fats in olive oil, polyunsaturated fats in oily fish and nuts and mid-chain fatty acids found in coconut oil

 

Dairy products account for 60-70 percent of estrogens consumed (tweet this).  Here is a list of hormones that have been found in cows’ milk:

  • Prolactin
  • Somatostatin
  • Melatonin
  • Oxytocin
  • Growth hormone
  • Lutenizing releasing hormone
  • Thyroid stimulating hormone
  • Estrogens
  • Progesterone
  • Insulin
  • Corticosteroids

 

Coffee has been shown to decrease fertility (tweet this).  So, if you are looking to increase your fertility, you may want to avoid coffee.  One study found as little as one cup per day can increase the risk of not conceiving by 55 percent.  And if you have 2-3 cups per day that risk rises to 100 percent and continues to increase with each cup.

Another study showed that women who drank coffee before and during pregnancy had twice the risk of miscarriage.  So avoiding coffee during the preconception and pregnancy may be wise.

 

Natural Alternatives to Clomid

Anovulation (lack of ovulation), or irregular ovulation, usually is treated with Clomid for women who are facing infertility.  It increases production of hormones released by the pituitary gland by inhibiting negative feedback on they hypothalamus.  It is used to hyperstimulate the ovary for IVF preparation and to stimulated and regulate ovulation in women with anovulatory cycles; most commonly used for PCOS.  This drug forces the body to ovulate, sometimes stimulating ovulation of multiple follicles.

The use of Clomid comes with the possibility of the following common side effects:

  • multiple births
  • elarged ovaries
  • pain and bloating in the abdomen
  • headache
  • heavy menstrual bleeding
  • mood swings
  • fatigue
  • breast tenderness
  • cervical mucus may become hostile to sperm, therefore preventing conception
  • possibility of ovarian hyperstimulaton syndrome and ovarian rupture
Possible Alternatives to Clomid
Before beginning Clomid, think about your long-term health.  Clomid may help you to get pregnant right away, and it does not solve the root of the problem.  (tweet this)  Ask yourself, Why am I not ovulating?”  Fertility herbs work with your body to bring real change long-term.  This ultimately benefits your fertility health for years to come.
Clomid does not solve poor egg health, PCOS, amenorrhea, etc.  (tweet this) It’s a once-a-month stimulation drug, which you have to repeat for every cycle.  Hopefully, it will help you ovulate.  Trying a natural protocol for 3-6 months prior to trying to conceive increases your  chances of successful conception by preparing your body for pregnancy.
This protocol will include:
  • Eating a nourishing Fertility Diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Implementing a stress reduction plan
  • Supportive Fertility Herbs
  • Practicing fertility massage, acupressure, body work, yoga for conception

 Useful Herbs

Tribulus terrestris – This may normalize ovulation in infertile women when used prior to ovulation.  One study showed that 67% realized normal ovulation after only 2-3 months of consistent use.  This herb has also been found to be a nourishing tonic for the female reproductive system as a whole, especially the ovaries.  It also has been found to reduce antisperm antibodies.

Vitex – Also know as chaste Tree Berry has been found to help normalize ovulation.  Vitex supports hormonal balance by having an effect on the hypothalamic-pituitry-ovarian axis, correcting the problem at the source.  Vitex has been used to reduce Polycustic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) with great results.  This herb works to normalize the entire menstrual cycle and not force ovulation.

Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) – is an estrogen regulatory.  This plant is shown to protect the body from stressors, including stress related infertility issues.  This herb is a supportive female reproductive health tonic.  It supports healthy cervical mucous production.

Macca – Promotes hormonal balance overall, nourishing the endocrine system (which controls hormone function).  The herb has been shown safe to use with the other herbs on this page.

Clomid should not be combined with using any herbs for fertility during a medication cycle.  If you are thinking of starting a fertility medication, allow yourself a month of weaning yourself off the herbs you are taking.

According the the Centers for Disease Control’s 2009 report on ART, only 37% led to pregnancy; 30% resulted in live birth.  Using a Natural Fertility Protocol and Program resulted in a 70 – 90% successful live birth rate.

Taking Action for Empowering Your Fertility Journey

Strategies for Taking Charge of Your Fertility

Try:

  • Eliminate junk food, avoid alcohol and give up smoking
  • Drink purified water that has been remineralized to add minerals
  • Get going on a moderate exercise program.  Walking 30 minutes a day is a great way to start
  • Avoid environmental pollutants and work hazards
  • Start charting your cycle
  • Avoid putting a laptop on your lap and your cell phone near your reproductive organs
  • Sleep for 8 hours a night
  • Start a weight loss program that focuses on improving metabolic health and regulates insulin production
  • If you have stress in your life, find ways to release the stress

Visualization – When you visualize something, you think about it by imagining it, and you might picture it in your mind

How to Visualize

  • Create an image in your mind – with practice this gets easier. The more your practice, the easier you will find it and the more effective using your mind for fertility will be.
A Visualization Exercise
Start with the first step and practice each step until you are confident with it before moving on to the next one.
  1. Picture a matchbox.  Whatever comes to mind, however vague or brief is visualization.  The more you do it, the clearer it will become.
  2. Start to notice more and more detail – the color, the image on the front.  Play with your imagination.
  3. Can you change the color of the matchbox?  Practice changing it from color to color.
  4. Can you rotate the matchbox so it is standing on its side or upside down?
  5. What other creative things can you do with this matchbox with your mind?  If you imagine opening it, will you find matches inside?
  6. Imagine what it feels like against your skin.

So how can visualization be used to improve your fertility or to maximize your success for conception?

  • You an visualize your body doing whatever you want it to.
  • You can welcome your embryo and nurture it.
  • You can see your embryo embedding itself in the uterus lining.
You can visualize symbolically or in a correct biological way.  Being guided through a visualization and including a time of relaxation beforehand can make it far more powerful because it enables you to enter the visualization in a more vivid way by getting your conscious mind out of the way.
Here are some visualizations to help:

 

 

 

Healthy Steps for Teen Reproductive Health

More and more female teens are inquiring about information regarding their reproductive health.  Some want to know about herbs, what to take, what the dosage is, in regards to fertility issues they have concerns with.  Fertility issues often start in the teen years.  Many have irregular cycles, fibroids, std’s, and ovarian cysts.  Today one in ten women have PCOS which originated in their teen years.

Important Steps for Healthy Fertility in Your Teen Years

Know, trust and love your body!  Learn how your reproductive system works.  This will help you understand daily and monthly what is going on in your body.  Knowledge is power!  Listen to your body.  If you feel something is not right or if you are in pain, talk to someone.  Love your body the way it is and for all it does for you!

Communicate clearly.  If you have questions or concerns, talk to a parent or someone you trust.  Find someone to help support you.

Have the courage to ask for help.  Be open, have confidence and ask questions.

Find a healthcare practitioner that you are comfortable with and fits your needs.  Have an adult help you.  If you are interested in natural, holistic methods, you will need to search for a naturopathic doctor, acupuncturist trained in Chinese Medicine or local herbalist.

Diet, exercise and sleep changes make a difference.  Teens often have poor dietary and sleep habits.

  • Eat a whole food nutrient dense diet.  Void soda, candy, chips, processed fast foods, etc.  Avoid foods that mimic estrogen in the body:  processed soy foods, non-organic foods.
  • Talk to your parents about helping you find a high quality whole food multivitamin to support your developing body.
  • Be sure you are active – 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week.
  • Teens need more sleep than adults.  Be sure you are getting at least 8 hours of restful sleep a night.  Lack of sleep is stressful for the body, which may contribute to menstrual cycle irregularities.

 

Educate yourself on pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.  Know how they can impact your fertility and health.

 

Learn about menstrual care products.  Learning to use natural menstrual care products will help protect your fertility.  They are designed with protecting your health, including supporting fertility long-term.  They are also eco-friendly compared to mainstream feminine care products.  Mainstream commercial feminine care products are often laden with toxic chemicals which may harm our fertility and pollute the earth.

 

My hope for generations to come is that they can find the confidence in their bodies to know when something is wrong or off and be able to ask for help.  Open, honest communication is important to having a healthy connection to your fertility and all of life!

 

The Benefits of Cinnamon for PCOS, Endometriosis, and Uterine Fibroids

Did you know Cinnamon has useful benefits for fertility?  It has been used for many years to curb heavy menstrual bleeding, including heavy bleeding due to endometriosis and uterine fibroids.  During the last 10 years it has been used to aid women with insulin resistance associated with PCOS and those with type 2 diabetes.

Cinnamon for PCOS

Resistance to insulin increases the body’s insulin levels.  A pilot study published in 2007 by Fertility and Sterility showed cinnamon to greatly reduce insulin resistance in women with PCOS.  The study showed that cinnamon reduced insulin resistance by increasing phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase activity in the insulin signaling pathway.  This potentiates the action of the insulin.  Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase are a family of enzymes involved in cell function.  Half of the women who took part in the pilot study took cinnamon extract for 8 weeks, while half of the women took a placebo.  After the 8 week period, both groups of women were tested using fasting and 2-hour oral glucose tolerance tests.  The group who took the cinnamon had greatly reduced insulin resistance compared to the placebo group.

Another study showed cinnamon to improve glucose levels in type 2 diabetes patients.  The double blind study used 79 patients who normally managed their diabetes with diet, or medications like Metformin, a mediation often prescribed for PCOS patients for PCOS patients as well.  Patients were randomly assigned to take 1 capsule, 3 times a day of cinnamon (equal to 3g or 1 tsp.), or a placebo for 4 months.  At 40 days fasting glucose levels were taken – patients taking cinnamon had a significantly reduced glucose level of 10.3% compared to 3.4% in h placebo group.  These findings are promising to PCOS patients beaus of the similar insulin resistance associated with both type 2 diabetes and PCOS.

One study suggests cinnamon may also reduce insulin resistance by slowing the movement of food from the stomach to the small intestine.  This slows the breakdown of carbohydrates, which is important for people with  diabetes and women with PCOS.

According to research done at the Human Nutrition Center at Tufts found that cinnamon triples insulin’s ability to metabolize glucose (blood sugar), protecting people against diabetes, lowering hunger, lowering sugar cravings, while increasing weight loss.  Weight loss is often a difficult part of living with PCOS.  Many women find that losing weight is next to impossible when living with PCOS.  Cinnamon may be one natural way to improve weight loss in women with PCOS.

Lowering insulin resistance before PCOS turns to type 2 diabetes is important.  Cinnamon may help, along with specific diet changes for PCOS and diabetes.

Why is insulin resistance a problem for women with PCOS?

  • Insulin resistance affects normal ovulation by preventing the body from ovulating or limiting the maturation process of the released egg.
  • Women who are insulin resistant are also 4-5 times more likely to have a miscarriage.  Imbalanced insulin levels due to PCOS make it difficult for the embryo to attach properly to the uterus.
  • Insulin resistance may lead to type 2 diabetes.
Suggested Usage:
Daily for PCOS or Type 2 Diabetes
Dried Bark Powder:  1 capsul, 3 times a day or 3g. = 1 tsp. of loose powdered cinnamon root
Tincture:  2-4ml or 45-115 drops a day, in a little water
Best to let your doctor know if you are using this to reduce insulin resistance.

 

Addressing Root Causes of Infertility-Naturally

Infertility affects more couples than ever.  1 out of 6 couples today experience difficulty falling pregnant.  What was once seen as a woman’s problem is now known to affect men equally.  But what are the causes of infertility and what can be done to address them naturally?

IVF is far less safe and less effective than we are often led to believe.  As well as being invasive and prohibitively expensive for many. IVF treatments carry a substantial health risk to both the mother and baby.

ART do not address the root causes of infertility.  These causes include:  nutritional deficiencies, toxin exposure, stress, food intolerances to, allergies and immune deficiencies.  These factors interact syngeristically to impact the quality of your eggs and sperm, affecting your ability to conceive and the health of your embryo.

Treatments cost thousands of dollars – $5,000 to $150,000 per live birth is typical.  Couples are starting to examine more closely the potential health complications for mother and child and are turning to complementary and alternative treatment options.

Most feel IVF is safe.  Multiple studies have reported a high risk of birth deformity including brain disorders, developmental delays and genital malformations.  Scientists have warned mothers who undergo IVF treatments of increased health risks to reproductive organs including uterine cancer in later life.

10 Strategies you can immediately implement to treat infertility and boost fertility naturally –

  • Minimize your exposure to chemicals
  • Don’t drink unfiltered tap water
  • Aim to eat an optimal fertility diet
  • Minimize animal derived estrogens
  • Avoid food intolerances – especially gluten and dairy
  • Have an STD check
  • Allow yourself 120 days before trying to conceive
  • Avoid coffee, smoking and alcohol
  • Take a good quality preconception and pregnancy supplement

Natural fertility treatments are generally more effective, as well as being cheaper, safer and less invasive.  They also offer better long-term health outcomes for both mother and baby.  Infertility for the majority of couples, is not an incurable disease.  It’s more a temporary condition caused by nutritional deficiencies and excessive toxin accumulation.  Good preparation will minimize the chance of complications and heartache down the road and insure the healthiest baby possible.

Contact me for more in-depth information and to development your road map to conception.

 

Fertility Preparation

Preconception fertility care is based on helping your body produce the healthiest eggs and sperm possible.  In a woman it takes approximately 120 days for the egg to develop towards ovulation and in the male it’s approximately 116 days for sperm production to be completed.

Recommendations include:

  • Refraining from cigarette smoking and other social drugs such as marijuana
  • Avoiding the consumption of alcohol
  • Avoiding caffeine based products
  • Avoiding pesticides and chemicals where possible, for example; hair dyes, chemical household cleaners, nail polish remover, garden sprays, paint fumes and other know toxins
  • Use organically grown unsprayed produce, additive-free foods, free range eggs, fresh fish and organically reared meat and poultry where possible
  • Adopt an exercise program
  • Eliminate stress as much as possible from your life

Smoking – A report prepared by the British Medical Association had the following key findings:

  • Men who smoke have a lower sperm count and a higher proportion of malformed sperm
  • Women who smoke take longer to conceive
  • Women who smoke are twice as likely to be infertile and non smokers
  • Men and women who smoke have a poorer response to fertility treatment
  • Women who have stopped smoking take no longer to become pregnant than those who have never smoked
  • Stopping smoking improves sperm count and quality

Coffee

  • A study of 1909 women in America found the risk of not conceiving for 12 months was 55% higher for women drinking 1 cup of coffee per day.  It was 100% higher for women drinking 1 and one half to 3 cups and 176% higher for women drinking more than three cups per day.
  • Coffee  drinking before and during pregnancy was associated with over twice the risk of miscarriage when the mother consumed 2 to 3 cups of coffee per day
  • A caffeine intake of 3 or more cups a day by women or their partners doubled the rate of miscarriages in a Danish study.
Pesticides
  • In  study of Danish greenhouse workers, an unexpectedly high sperm count was found among organic farmers.  Their sperm count was more than twice as high in those men as in a control group of blue-collar workers, suggesting that consuming organically grown foods may enhance fertility.
  • Men experiencing infertility were found to be employed in agriculture/pesticide related jobs 10 times more often than a study group of men not experiencing fertility problems.
  • Miscarriage increases in women (2.1 to 4.7 times) were found after exposure to chemical solvents  The major risk chemicals were those used in dry-cleaning, paint, paint thinners and paint strippers.
Body Weight
  • A body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9 in women is considered overweight and has been linked to irregular or infrequent menstrual cycles, an increased risk of infertility, an increased risk of miscarriage and decreased success with fertility treatments.  The positive news is that small amounts of weight loss (5-10%) may dramatically improve ovulation and pregnancy rates.
  • A study of Danish men found that sperm counts were lower in those men that were overweight (21.6%) and those that were underweight (28.1%)

Alcohol – A study from the University of California of 221 couples undergoing fertility treatments found;

  • For women alcohol consumption in the month before IVF attempt reduced success nearly 3 times with alcohol consumption in the week before egg pick (one glass per day) increasing the chance of miscarriage by 2 times.
  • For men alcohol consumption the month before IVF reduced success 2 and half times and alcohol (one glass per day) in the week before sperm collection reduced success more than 8 times.

The recommendation was made that couples abstain from alcohol consumption at least one month before the attempt to maximize the effectiveness and success of IVF.

  • Alcohol consumption in the week prior to conception was associated with an increased rate of miscarriage.  For women ten or more drinks a week was associated with  2 to 3 times greater risk of miscarriage while for men it was 2 to 5 times greater risk.

 

Fertility Awareness

According to traditional Chinese medicine, a fertility awareness chart can provide important information for you and your practitioner.  You can use it to develop an awareness of your body’s menstrual cycle an aid in understanding your fertility.  You can design your own chart using excel or any other program that you desire.  After 3 cycles you will start to see an obvious pattern and be more aware of your fertility.

The basal body temperature is your  body’s temperature when it is at its lowest.  It is important to take your temperature each morning before you raise your metabolic rate with activity.  You need to have had at least three hours sleep to have an accurate recording.  Record it as a disruption if you have not had three hours or sleep or more.  Your temperature readings confirm whether you have ovulated.

Taking your temperature can be done with a mercury or electronic digital thermometer.  The preferred method is to take the temp orally.

Recording your temperature should start on the first day of your period. If the mercury stops between two marks record it as the one below.  Place a dot on the center of the square.  If for any reason you did not take your temperature on any day, leave that square blank.

Sample Chart:  Recording mucus changes– your mucus normally changes throughout your cycle.  Following your period it acts as a barrier to the entry of your cervix but as you approach ovulaion it changes to help the sperm on its journey.  Fertile mucus is wet, slippery, stretchy and appears clear (rather like raw egg white).  When you notice this change, record it on your chart as this marks the beginning of your fertile phase. Check your mucus before urination, only record your most fertile reading of the day.  Record whether it is dry and creamy, moist and creamy and increased in amount.  Between the thumb and forefinger collect the mucus from the vaginal opening.  The wetter the sensation, the more fertile you are.  The amount will increase as you get closer to ovulation.  It is best recorded in a bar graph form which is easily read.

Sample of what your cervix and mucus changes look like:

Using your temperature chart to record your fertile phase – fertile mucus is the beginning of your fertile phase.  Ovulation is noted by the distinct temperature rise, ovulation occurs on the day before your temperature actually rises.  Fertile mucus will usually appear 2-3 days prior to ovulation to help sperm released at this time to travel to the egg.  The egg needs to be fertilized within 12-24 hours so you are also fertile for approximately 24 hours following your temperature rise.

Using your temperature chart to predict the arrival of your period – in a 28 day cycle ovulation occurs 14 days after the first day of your preceding period.  Your next period will then occur approximately 14 days following ovulation.  In women with irregular cycles it is the first part of the cycle that is shorter or longer, with you period still arriving approximately 14 days after ovulation.  On your temperature chart this  can e confirmed by a temperature drop the day before your period arrives.