If you’re struggling with fertility, you’re definitely not alone. Infertility affects 10-15% of reproductive age couples. For many couples struggling with infertility, functional medicine is a treatment option explored less frequently.
What is functional medicine? How can it help with fertility?
Naturopathic/Functional medicine is an approach to healthcare that focuses on identifying and addressing underlying causes of symptoms using a systems-based approach while supporting the body’s natural capacity to heal. Conventional and functional lab tests are used to identify the root cause of imbalances. Another critical component of functional medicine is wellness and addressing imbalances before they progress to a disease (primary prevention).
Naturopathic medicine is an important part of infertility management that is often overlooked. Naturopathic medicine can be helpful in the following causes of infertility:
Environmental toxin exposure (affects sperm count, sperm viability, ovulation, egg viability, hormone levels)
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Miscarriage/recurrent pregnancy loss
Other hormone imbalance
Immune system health
Addressing diet and lifestyle factors can be helpful in cases of unexplained infertility.
Functional medicine can also improve success with in vitro fertilization (IVF).
The beauty of a functional medicine approach to fertility is couples not only being able to successfully conceive and become parents but also get the added benefit of improving their own health in the process. Expectant moms are then beginning their pregnancies in a healthier place which then translates into them having a healthier pregnancy.
What does a functional medicine approach to fertility look like?
The functional medicine approach to infertility is centered around correcting factors that are contributing to infertility in the individual. The goal is to work on improving every aspect of the couple’s health that could be contributing to infertility. Functional tests can be done to assess.
Levels of toxic chemicals, heavy metals
Function of the immune system
Natural treatment modalities including diet, lifestyle counseling, herbs, nutritional supplements, bio-identical hormones can be used to correct these factors. A fertility team comprised of a reproductive endocrinologist, gynecologist, naturopathic/functional medicine physician, and/or acupuncturist can be an ideal combination for fertility support.
Written by: Shayna Peter, NMD, CNS, LDN
Functional Medicine Naturopathic Doctor
Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist