When planning to start a family, it is ideal if possible to take a few months out to build your and your partner’s health prior to conception. Preconception planning helps you to identify the health concerns and other issues that prevent you from being at your healthiest.
Maternal health at conception and during pregnancy is a strong determinant of the health status of future adults. If you have been a smoker, recreational drug user, had a regular alcohol intake or contraceptive pill use, this time can be one of detoxification and replenishment of essential nutrients. We are constantly exposed to harmful substances in our air, water and food. Such toxins include: industrial chemicals, pesticides, food additives, preservatives, heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium, solvents and hormones which cause problems when they are accumulating faster than our bodies can get rid of them. A naturopathic doctor can design a detoxification program specifically for you and your partner to help decrease these substances.
Men’s health also plays a key role in a healthy pregnancy. Research indicates that sperm health is very important. For example, it is known that male smokers not only have lower sperm counts and more sperm abnormalities affecting their fertility, but their partners are also more likely to experience difficulty getting pregnant and suffer increased rates of miscarriage. We know environmental and lifestyle factors can have an effect on your health, your fertility, your pregnancy and the health of your unborn child. Perinatal Naturopathic Doctors can help you implement strategies to help you give your children the best possible start in life.
If you are having difficulty conceiving, have irregular menstrual cycles, PCOS, endometriosis, want to detoxify your body or simply looking for ways to optimize your health prior to pregnancy, an APND member will be able to help. As Naturopathic Doctors, our members use safe and effective remedies to improve your chance of conception and a healthy pregnancy.
Naturopathy can be very useful to enhance fertility in both men and women. It can be safely used on its own or to complement assisted reproductive technologies. One of the most popular treatments used by Perinatal Naturopathic Doctors is acupuncture. Acupuncture has been the subject of many recent studies showing positive results with respect to enhancing fertility. It can be helpful anywhere along the fertility journey. In one study in the journal Fertility & Sterility, the use of acupuncture with IVF almost doubled the rates of pregnancy! Whether you’ve just started thinking about having children and want to regulate your cycles or you are in the midst of the IVF process, acupuncture can be very helpful and calming.
Many other naturopathic treatments can be used to promote fertility, such as nutrient supplementation and herbal medicine. These therapies have been studied to normalize the morphology of sperm and increase both the motility and number of sperm in a sample.
Women’s menstrual cycles are complex. There has to be a balance of numerous hormones for ovulation to occur. Once ovulation does occur, there has to be good healthy endometrium for implantation to happen. There are many therapies that can help to balance hormones, optimize the menstrual cycle and prepare the body for conception, including herbs, nutrition, acupuncture, and homeopathy.
To help diagnose, your Perinatal Naturopath may inquire about:
- your menstrual cycle
- the colour and consistency of your flow
- cervical fluid/mucous
- basal body temperature
- PMS symptoms
- general health
- any recent relevant test results, e.g. blood work, ultrasound, semen analysis, etc.
Last but definitely not least, naturopathy can help with managing the stress that can develop when trying to get pregnant.
The benefits of Perinatal Naturopathic medicine don’t end when you conceive! Check out the section on pregnancy when that time comes for you.