If you are asking, “Why can’t I get pregnant?!” you are not alone. In a healthy, perfectly fertile woman, the chance of achieving a successful pregnancy is only about 25% – even if you have sex every day.
On top of that, infertility is on the rise. Currently, 6.1 million couples in the United States are struggling to get pregnant the natural way.
The infertility services market, from infertility clinics and sperm banks to fertility drugs and surrogacy programs, now tops $3.5 billion, up four-fold from 25 years ago, according to a recent study from research firm Marketdata.
Nearly $2 billion of that total comes from spending on in vitro fertilization (IVF), in which egg and sperm are fertilized in a laboratory to create an embryo that can be implanted in a woman’s uterus, hopefully resulting in a successful pregnancy.
Overall, growth in the infertility market is projected to continue at a 3.6% annual clip, hitting $4 billion by 2018.
Unfortunately, success rates of fertility treatments are not always significant. IVF only has a 40% success rate in women under 35 and costs thousands of dollars per round.
Fertility drugs can often cause a multiple pregnancy (like twins or triplets) or Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome leading to multiple symptoms and even dealth.
Infertility is not a random thing. It is your body telling you that something isn’t right. It’s your body saying, “Nope. Now is not the right time to get pregnant.”
Remember that everything in the female body revolves around a cycle which prepares you to get pregnant every single month. If you are struggling to get pregnant that there is some deeper imbalance standing in your way.
Your overall health plays a massive role in your fertility. Most know that eating a healthy, whole foods diet, getting regular exercise and reducing stress are crucial to maintaining health. These things are also important in achieving healthy pregnancy.
But there are certain imbalances involved in infertility that most doctors don’t know about and fail to address in their patients.
The key to reversing infertility is to improve your overall health and addressing hidden imbalances that are blocking your pregnancy efforts. Here are three unknown reasons that may be affecting your fertility and preventing you from achieving your baby dreams.
1. Hormone Imbalance
Did you know that the hormones surging through your body every minute of the day influence or even control many of the most important bodily processes—including the ability to get pregnant?
In almost every case of infertility I have seen (and I have seen hundreds of cases), there has always been an underlying or even hidden hormone imbalance that is preventing women from conceiving.
There are several hormones that play a direct role in your fertility. If these hormones are too high or too low or out of balance with each other, getting pregnant will be no easy task.
“As stressful and upsetting as it may be, it’s important to remember that 1 in 8 couples of reproductive age will experience difficulty conceiving. And, in many of these cases, hormonal imbalances are at least part of the problem,” remarks board-certified reproductive endocrinologist Rachana Garde, M.D., of SGF’s Woodbridge and Annandale, VA locations.
There are several hormones involved in not only your capacity to get pregnant but your ability to maintain a healthy pregnancy to term.
Some of the hormones that will most significantly impact your ability to become pregnant are:
- Thyroid – Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located on the front of your neck. Many know it as the regulator of your metabolism but it has many other important functions including energy production, bowel transit time AND your ability to conceive naturally. Having an underactive thyroid is a leading reason why some women are infertile. The thyroid is part of the endocrine (hormonal) system and is under control of the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland in the brain. The thyroid is contained in this feedback loop which also is connected to your sex, your stress hormones, and your ovaries. You can think of all of these glands — hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, ovaries, adrenals — as being a part of a spider’s web. When something happens at one part of the web, it’s felt through the entire web. Thus, imbalances anywhere in this system will influence the other glands and hormones, including your thyroid, in the system.
- Progesterone – Progesterone is essential to maintaining a healthy pregnancy to full term. If a woman has levels of progesterone that are too low, she will often have a very short luteal phase which is the length of time between ovulation and the beginning of the menstrual period. A short luteal phase means that fertilized eggs are not able to properly implant in the uterus, and miscarriage can easily occur.
- Estrogen – Estrogen is the hormone responsible for building the uterine lining in the first half of the menstrual cycle. Estrogen is the goldilocks hormones. You don’t want too little and you don’t want too much. You want it to be just right. Too little estrogen and the uterine lining may be too thin for an egg to properly implant after fertilization. Too much estrogen and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) may be suppressed. FSH controls the production of eggs in the ovaries and without it eggs will no be released properly.
- Testosterone – Elevated testosterone can lead to a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is the leading cause of infertility in the Western World. In PCOS, cysts can build up on the ovaries and burst which may cause irreversible damage to the reproductive organs. Additionally, too many male hormones in your body can interfere with those precious female hormones that you need for ovulation. If ovulation doesn’t occur then there will be no egg for a sperm to fertilize.
This list just scratches the surface of the hormones in your body which affect fertility. Research has also shown that insulin excess (from eating too much sugar and refined carbohydrates) can interfere with pregnancy hormones as can excess cortisol or cortisol deficiency.
Standard blood tests are not an effective measure to assess hormones levels. Hormones that are in the blood are in transit and are bound up in protein carriers. They are not active or usable in the cell. For that reason, the most common outcome of blood testing is a false negative. Your hormones will look completely normal even though they are depleted or in excess on a deeper cellular level.
Saliva and urine testing is the best option for diagnostic testing of hormones. Unfortunately, these are expensive and not covered by insurance. The good news is that you can get an idea of your risk for a particular hormone imbalance based off of some of the symptoms you might be experiencing.
Make sure to pick up my FREE Hormone Imbalance Self Test so that you can determine if you have an imbalance in 5 minutes or less. The key to finally getting pregnant and fulfilling your dreams of a happy, healthy family, always starts with re-balancing your hormone levels.
2. Heavy Metal Toxicity
Heavy metals are natural components in the Earth’s crust. However, they are poisonous to the body even in small quantities.
They enter our food and water supply by industrial and consumer waste, or even from acidic rain breaking down soils and releasing heavy metals into streams, lakes, rivers, and groundwater.
Heavy metals are also added to medicines as well as thousands of different food products, household products, personal products and an unknown number of industrial products and chemicals. They are everywhere!
More and more heavy metals are being added to our environment every single year. Currently there are 84,000 chemicals in our world and only 1% have been tested for safety. Because of this, no person is spared exposure. Even those who live away from civilization, high in the mountains are still dealing with some level of toxicity.
It’s not a question of “do you have heavy metals?” it’s a question of “How many do you have and is your body able to detox them?”
Those of us who don’t detox well (due to mineral deficiencies, gut imbalances or chronic stress) or who those who don’t get enough nutrients and minerals in their diet are significantly more likely to hold onto heavy metals.
What does this mean for fertility?
Heavy metals can easily accumulate in the body, get stored in various organs and tissues and then easily disrupt metabolic function. They also are strong antagonists to many minerals which cause minerals to be displaced and lost from the body.
Minerals are the spark plugs of the body and are critical for virtually every single chemical reaction in the body. Mineral deficiency can virtually cause any symptom, including fatigue, weight gain, insomnia and the inability to get pregnant. Additionally, certain metal toxicities like copper, lead, and mercury can directly impact fertility by interfering with the endocrine function and damaging sperm.
Toxic heavy metals cannot be degraded or destroyed and are dangerous because they tend to bioaccumulate. Bioaccumulation means an increase in the concentration of a chemical in the body over time, compared to the chemical’s concentration in the environment.
They are immediately absorbed and due to their highly toxic potential are quickly and deeply stored away in tissues such as the brain, liver, kidneys and bones to prevent immediate harm as they are not easily broken down, metabolized or excreted by the body.
The problem is that due to their inability to be easily metabolized and excreted they tend to accumulate further causing metabolic disruptions which can quickly lead to infertility, poor sperm production, and miscarriages.
Heavy metal testing and removing metals from the body is a complex task. It should ONLY be performed with the help of an experienced practitioner. If you are interested in detoxing your body (and your partners) prior to conceiving (which will not only increase your chances of conceiving easily but will also drastically improve the health of your child), please book a FREE 30 minute call with me to discuss my functional detox coaching program.
3. Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth
Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) is a condition where healthy and normal bacteria of the large intestine travel up the intestine into the small intestine where they don’t belong.
The large intestine is meant to contain a significant amount of organisms, about 100 billion organisms for every ml of fluid. The small intestine, conversely, is meant to be relatively sterile, only containing 100,000 organisms for every ml of fluid.
Intestinal nerve damage, abdominal adhesions from injury or ileocecal valve dysfunction (the valve that connects the large intestine to the small intestine) can result in the ability of bacteria from the large intestine to travel upwards into the small intestine where they don’t belong.
Once in the small intestine, these bacteria end up consuming and fermenting all the food that you eat. This causes a buildup of methane and hydrogen gas levels which often leads to bloating, gas, burping, abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhea. It can also cause skin issues, fatigue, and brain fog.
The overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine means that you can no longer digest, absorb and assimilate much of the food you consume.
The elevated gas levels also cause inflammation and leaky gut. Leaky gut is a condition where the gut lining becomes increasingly permeable and toxins, pathogens, and metals can easily leak into the bloodstream and negatively affect all your cells, organs and tissues.
How does SIBO affect your fertility levels?
Mineral deficiency, as a result of bacterial malabsorption, is a main cause of the inability to get pregnant. Since minerals are needed to make hormones, mineral deficiency can block production and make it impossible to conceive. When SIBO is blocking your ability to use the food that you eat, mineral deficiency can easily develop.
SIBO has also been implicated in almost 80% of cases of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). IBS is a condition that results in chronic digestive issues. There is no treatment for IBS and sufferers are often left to deal with it on their own.
Several studies have shown that IBS greatly increases the change of miscarriage in the first trimester. For that reason, SIBO is a huge risk factor for early miscarriage. If you have dealt with several early miscarriages, SIBO might be your problem.
If you are dealing with chronic IBS or ongoing digestive issues (like gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation or belly pain), you should consider running a test for SIBO. To learn more about SIBO testing, please book a FREE 30 minute call with me.
Achieving great reproductive health isn’t an impossible goal. I have seen many women reverse their infertility in my clinical practice simply by adopting better diet and lifestyle practices and uncovering hidden fertility blocking factors, like toxic metals and infections, with the help of functional lab testing.
If you are interested in learning how functional lab testing can improve your fertility and help you achieve a healthy, sustainable pregnancy, please book a FREE call with me.