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January 21, 2018  |  Login
 
Infertility
 
by James F. Balch, M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.D.

To many couples, pregnancy seems like a simple matter-so simple that not getting pregnant is their chief concern. But after years of protected sex, men and women who decide they want children may discover that conception is a far more complex process than they realized.

Here's an extremely simplified version of what must happen: First, a woman secretes several hormones-each at the correct time-that cause one of the eggs in her ovaries to mature and to be released into the fallopian tube. A man must then contribute enough sperm (tens of millions of them) that have the ability to travel up into the tube, where the egg is fertilized. The egg makes its way to the uterus and implants itself in the uterine wall. If anything goes wrong with any one of these events, the couple will not conceive. Because the process is so complicated, it often takes a number of months of trying before a woman can become pregnant. But if a couple has had regular, unprotected sex for at least a year and still cannot conceive, the partners are considered infertile.

For the last few decades, the rate of infertility in the United States has increased. No hard statistics are available, but experts estimate that between 16 and 25 percent of all couples have serious difficulty getting pregnant. As with most other conditions that have been on the rise, many of today's infertility cases can be attributed to lifestyle changes in the latter half of the twentieth century. Poor nutrition, stress, eating disorders, extremely intense exercise, and exposure to environmental toxins all take a grave toll on the body. When one or both members of a couple have weakened body systems, the chances increase that something will go awry in the conception process. People today also have more sex partners than they used to, and with increased sexual activity comes a greater risk of contracting diseases that damage the reproductive organs. Finally, many couples now choose to delay childbearing until their thirties or even forties, when a woman's fertility begins to decline.

If you're having trouble getting pregnant, it's wise for both of you to take a break and spend a few months restoring and nourishing your bodies. Good nutrition, herbal supplementation, hormone-balancing protocols, and effective stress management help a great many couples conceive; these strategies will also increase the chances that your baby will be healthy. (Not to mention that you'll need those stress-management techniques when you're a parent!)

Hormone balance is particularly important for both sexes. We find that women with infertility problems often have low ovulatory progesterone levels or low thyroid function. Both of these hormones can be a limiting factor in conception. With men, low thyroid, as well as low testosterone, can be problematic.

Many couples are confused about when, during the woman's menstrual cycle, conception can occur. It is important to understand that the best chance of conception is to have sexual relations one to two days before ovulation occurs, not on the day of ovulation. Over-the-counter LH (luteinizing hormone) test kits are readily available to help determine when ovulation is going to occur. This hormone rises approximately forty-eight hours before an egg is released (ovulation). Basal body temperature can also be used to determine ovulatory patterns. This method must be used over many months to determine when a woman ovulates. Many practitioners and books explain how to properly use this technique.

Although a lot of focus with fertility is on the female partner, keep in mind that studies show that approximately 40 percent of infertility cases are due to men's sperm abnormalities. These include low sperm count, decreased sperm motility, or abnormal sperm shape.  ....read more

 
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