We are very excited to be involved with the Kansas City Infertility Association this year! Don't miss out on this free event, seating is limited!
Food additives and their effect on health have been a subject of controversy, and while these substances are described as “generally safe” by the Food and Drug Administration, they are often banned in other countries for their detrimental health effects. Additives can be toxic chemicals that can give rise to a number of symptoms, chronic diseases, and infertility.
We live in a world filled with more pollution than ever, and even at low levels, these pollutants can affect your health. These toxicants can act in an unfortunate variety of ways in the body including disrupting hormones, brain function, and immune system. Specific toxins have even been linked to endometriosis, ADHD, depression, insomnia, high blood pressure, asthma, infertility, Parkinson’s disease and breast cancer.
A new study by the National Institutes of Health links sunscreen to male infertility. Benzophenones are used in sunscreens and personal care products and are absorbed by the skin. These chemicals act as endocrine disrupting compounds, as they can interfere with the body's hormones. The recent study showed a 30% reduction in male fertility, leading to a longer time to pregnancy.
Traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture provide an effective and noninvasive option with low potential for side effects, improving a person's ability to conceive naturally. There is evidence that acupuncture improves blood flow to the uterus and ovaries, and as a stand alone treatment or combined with assisted reproductive techniques (IVF, IUI, ZIFT/GIFT, or ICSI), there are improved outcomes for conception.
An estimated 15.5% of couples in the United States experience infertility, with that number going over 20% for couples over 35.
There are some suggestions that fertility in the US has been declining over the past decades. Reasons include the "modernization theory", or the idea that couples are waiting longer to start their families, often until after 35, which is when fertility noticeably decreases.
Another reason includes environmental exposures. Lead, pesticides, and endocrine-disrupting chemicals (such as BPA, pthalates, and other "xenoestrogens"), alter normal hormone functioning and lead to decreased fertility. These environmental toxins may account for the declining levels of testosterone in men, which has been steadily declining 1% per year, which is the same rate of decline seen in sperm production.
Some studies show that despite the decreased sperm production, fertility levels have remained constant. But those numbers are no comfort to the millions of Americans struggling with starting their family. Some factors are uncontrollable. However, some factors, including exposure to environmental toxins, are more easily managed.
For an even more comprehensive list, check this out.
Botanical medicine has been used for centuries for improving fertility. With cutting edge research, studies verify the effectiveness of many of these herbs. An example of this includes an Ayurvedic herb, Withania somnifera, otherwise called ashwaganda. This herb is known traditionally to help with stress by supporting the adrenals (and normalizing the stress hormone "cortisol"), and it has been shown to improve stress and perceived quality of life (WOW!).
Because of its "stress-reducing" properties, ashwaganda may be effective in treating infertility, especially male infertility related to "stress". Treatment with this herb in a clinical study led to decreased stress, improved anti-oxidants and semen quality.
Ashwaganda is only one example of how botanical medicine can be used to increase fertility and to attain a successful pregnancy. Often, with my patients, I combine multiple different herbs into a specific formula for a patient, specifically tailored to that person's situation and cause of infertility.
Individualized medicine is your greatest chance for success.
Studies confirm that male sperm counts are declining, and environmental factors, such as pesticides, exogenous estrogens, and heavy metals may negatively impact sperm production. An estimated six percent of adult males are thought to be infertile and an estimated 15 percent of couples attempting their first pregnancy will have difficulty conceiving.
There are specific on specific nutritional and environmental factors that contribute to a man's fertility, but also other factors and conditions including (but not limited to):
- Endocrine abnormalities
- Prescription drugs (anti-seizure medications, sulfa drugs, some antibiotics and steroids)
- Previous infections
- Liver disease
- Autoimmune conditions
In addition to these conditions, evidence suggests environmental reasons contributing to poor sperm quality, including exposure to chemicals, pesticides, heat, radiation, heavy metals, and electromagentic forces (a nearby cellphone).
There are many nutritional interventions for increasing sperm count, mobility, and motility. Often addressing the underlying medical conditions, environmental exposures, and stress can increase a man's fertility.
Food plays a vital role in overall health, but what you are eating may be affecting your fertility. Here at Kansas City Integrative Health, we understand the nutritional factors that contribute to infertility, in both males and females. Dr. Rues is a naturopathic health specialist, focusing on you and your starting family