I would estimate that of the women I work with, 30% have digestive issues (IBS, Crohns disease, Colitis), 15% have chronic yeast infections, 80% have high stress levels, 60% have chronic inflammatory related fertility issues such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, PCOS, etc.) Clearly, gut health needs to be addressed when anyone is looking to heal fertility issues. Healthy gut flor is one of the first lines of defense we have in preventing disease, but also in healing problems already present. If there is a lack of gut flora, we cannot even begin to think we can heal fertility problems.
Fertility related issues that will benefit from Prebiotics and Probiotics:
- Thyroid problems (directly negatively impact fertility)
- Estrogen dominance (estrogen is pro-inflammatory)
- Autoimmune related infertility
- Yeast Infection
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
- Sexually Transmitted Disease
Healthy fertility requires eating a diet rich in a variety of whole foods. This should include probiotics and prebiotics. Probiotics and prebiotics help to digest and utilize food in the best way possible. Digestive health is a key pillar in the foundation for healthy fertility.
We cannot metabolize important phytoestrogens from plant foods and medicinal herbs without adequate amounts of healthy intestinal flora.
The Importance of Good Intestinal Bacteria
Our intestines contain over 100 trillion bacteria. These bacteria protect our health. Gut flora plays many important roles in protecting us from many health problems, including many fertility problems. This good bacteria is also an essential component in healing existing fertility problems.
Important Actions of Good Gut Bacteria
- Synthesizing vitamins so they can be utilized properly by the body
- Changing which genes are active in gut cells
- Keeping harmful bacteria from spreading in the body
- Helping prevent infections
- Helping digest good efficiently
- Helping prevent colon cancer
Changes in the body that lower the amount of gut flora may give rise to health problems, including fertility issues. Probiotic supplementation should be a part of your regular protocol when treating infertility. Low gut flora gives rise to inflammatory disease. Endometriosis, PCOS, uterine fibroids, adenomysis, dysmenorrhea, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and autoimmune related infertility issues all have a common element involved: chronic inflammation. Inadequate levels of gut flora also give rise to the most common female vaginal problem: yeast infection. We need gut flora to utilize all the foods, herbs and nutritional supplements we take. If we don’t have healthy amounts of beneficial gut flora, the body is not going to be able to benefit from efforts in increasing fertility naturally. Healing fertility must begin in the gut.
Main Causes of Lower Levels of Gut Flora
- Antibiotic use
- Poor nutrition
Our gut flora is established by the time we are 3 years of age. This means our natural gut flora can be compromised since we were a young child. Think about your mother’s health when she was pregnant. Was she ill? Did she have to take antibiotics while pregnant? What happen to you directly after birth? Were you bottle fed? Were you given antibiotics early in life? If you answer yes to any of these, you are more likely to have lower levels of gut flora; possibly setting you up for health issues later in life.
So, when you are pregnant and breastfeeding, you will need to maintain healthy gut flora to ensure your child has the best digestive health from the start.
- Fresh dandelion greens
- Jerusalem artichoke
Probiotics are products, including some foods that contain live microorganisms that replenish good bacteria in the intestines. If you have low levels of gut flora, or you aren’t sure if you do or not, you can eat foods with live active cultures or take a probiotic supplement.
Antibiotics kill both bad and good bacteria. Taking a probiotic is essential to full recovery. If you are being treated for any fertility issue with antibiotics, begin taking a probiotic supplement right away, even before you begin your antibiotic use.
Excellent Sources of Probiotics
- Organic yogurt (must say live cultures/bacteria)
- Fermented and cultured vegetables (raw sauerkraut)
- Probiotic supplements
Choose probiotics that are refrigerated, not pasteurized and say “contains live cells.” The supplement should contain at least a billion colony form units (CFU’s).