Fertility concerns and difficulty conceiving are becoming increasingly prevalent as individuals around the world delay having children. Even many individuals who try to conceive at a biologically advantageous time are finding the path to parenthood to be much more complicated than it has been historically.

Despite falling infertility rates, many more women are reporting issues with conception or carrying a child to term. Infertility impacts about 12% of women ages 15-44, and in over a third of these couples, both male and female factors may play a role. In many of these instances, lifestyle contributors can impact your fertility rates and give you more control over your own fertility than you may realize.

Functional medicine is focused on understanding an individual’s unique imbalances within their own body, and developing a path back toward balanced levels to optimize fertility. Imbalances in the body that can impact fertility include all of the following:

  • Thyroid levels
  • Adrenal levels
  • Sex hormone levels
  • Glucose levels
  • Presence of toxins
  • Hydration
  • Nutrition
  • Gut bacteria
  • Physical fitness
  • Psychological stress

Functional medicine uses several strategies to boost fertility.

Focusing on your Diet

One of the most significant indirect contributors to infertility is an inadequate diet. Getting insufficient nutrients may be due to not getting enough food or more frequently, because of a low-quality food supply. In other instances, it may be due to autoimmune conditions that impact the ability to absorb nutrients.

Functional medicine focuses on having an organic diet with abundant good fats and lean animal protein, with little or no processed foods, sugar, gluten, or dairy. When necessary, supplementation may be used to increase nutritional intake. Individuals should also steer clear of alcohol, coffee, fish that may consume heavy metals and anything else that could have toxic elements that may negatively impact your fertility.

Along with a nutrient-dense and clean diet, it’s a good idea to consider the balance of one’s gut bacteria. This action means ensuring you are eating enough sufficient fiber. Foods that have been fermented or contain probiotics can also help you to achieve the right balance of gut bacteria for digestive health.

Emphasizing Wellness

Functional medicine aims to improve overall health, which also enhances fertility. For many people, their physical activity level is not compatible for optimal fertility. For many women experiencing infertility, it may be due to under eating and over exercising, and while exercising is often associated as being beneficial for health, it all comes down to balance. Exercise that is too intense or difficult without the proper recovery time can be just as detrimental to fertility as obesity. Functional medicine can help an individual select an optimal exercise routine to enhance fertility.

Optimizing Mental Health

Mental health issues are increasingly affecting individuals of all ages, but particularly those in child-bearing years. These effects are commonly experienced due to high-stress levels stemming from an overactive and overworked population combined with insufficient sleep. These problems are compounded when fears about infertility, miscarriage, and childbirth are present.

Functional medicine seeks hormonal balance, which often cannot be achieved when social and mental well-being aren’t taken into consideration. Psychological well-being can frequently be optimized by taking actions such as controlling stress adequately, getting sufficient sleep, and pursuing activities that generate positive energy. You can also use moderate exercise, such as walking and light jogging, to help you relax or control your cortisol (stress) levels.

Fertility Acupuncture

For those who do not have experience with it, acupuncture is the insertion of ultra-thin, sterile needles into specific points on the body to increase blood flow to those areas. These body points regulate the way the body functions. Fertility Acupuncture has been used for centuries to treat some causes and contributors to infertility.

When an experienced acupuncturist completes the procedure, it can provide many benefits, with few or no side effects. Benefits of receiving acupuncture include:

  • Boost the blood flow to the reproductive organs.
  • Improve ovarian and follicular function.
  • Improve sperm count.
  • The development of a thick, rich lining of the endometrium.
  • Balance hormone levels.
  • Relieve stress.

As you can see, the effects that many individuals experience with acupuncture are aligned with the goals of functional medicine.

For any individuals experiencing infertility or difficulty with conception, functional medicine that takes into account the role of lifestyle modification, nutrition counseling, and acupuncture can be the first step toward taking your fertility’s health in your own hands. These steps can give you a much greater chance of achieving the desired outcome – a healthy and successful pregnancy.

Rettner, Rachael. “US Infertility Rates Drop Over Last 3 Decades.” Live Science, 14 Aug. 2013, https://www.livescience.com/38877-infertility-rates-drop-united-states.html.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Infertility” https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/infertility/index.htm