Last week I got a DM through instagram…it was so simple and yet asked a BIG question.
“So how do you help couples who are trying to get pregnant?”
Let’s explore that…
1. Get Curious and be the detective
Taking a thorough health intake to gain a better understanding of whether there may be hormone imbalances, autoimmune issues, nutrient deficiencies, gut health issues is the first step in my process. This should take AT LEAST one hour and involve very detailed questions about menstrual cycles as well as overall health for both partners. We will be talking about ALL the bodily fluids here people so let’s just embrace it, ok?
What are some examples of situations that make me go “Ah ha!” during an intake?
- Severe menstrual pain that has never been investigated. She was just told it was “part of being a woman”
- Vaginal dryness, no cervical fluid observed midcycle
- Ongoing dental issues or bad breath
- Being chronically tired
- Having exposures to mold or other toxins
This list could go on for a while…
2. Order the right tests!
After collecting a thorough history, it’s time to run some tests. If you’ve been told “all your labs are normal” it’s possible the labs were incomplete and only telling part of the story. When assessing fertility issues, we often need to go beyond the basic hormones and rule out the following issues:
- Thyroid dysfunction (hypothyroid or autoimmune)
- Insulin resistance & blood sugar issues
- Luteal phase dysfunction
- Nutrient deficiencies (Vitamin D, iron, iodine)
- Inflammation & oxidative stress
- Underlying infection
- Male Factor infertility
3. Create a customized plan
Every situation is unique & the treatment plans should reflect that. A woman with PCOS anovulation shouldn’t have the same treatment as a woman with hypothalamic amenorrhea anovulation. A person with endometriosis won’t have the same treatment as someone with Hashimotos. Nutrition, targeted supplements, herbs & acupuncture are often part of the customized plan, and sometimes medication is indicated as well.
- Nutrition is an important foundation for egg & sperm quality and should be a part of every couple’s plan. Check out the upcoming Fueling Fertility Workshop for more on this!
- Targeted supplements can help replenish nutrient deficiencies & improve anti-oxidant status
- Herbs can help support hormone balance, modulate tie immune system, improve antioxidant status & decrease inflammation
- Acupuncture can help with stress management, improving blood flow to the reproductive organs, and regulating cycles
A lot of the couples I work with didn’t know a thing about infertility before they were given that diagnosis and they’ve had to learn the hard way. Even then, they aren’t often given many answers or education about what’s going on in their bodies during a natural cycle or a medicated cycle. Even if someone isn’t dealing with infertility, I feel strongly that they understand their body and cycles. Sex education in middle school does a huge disservice by making people think that a woman can get pregnant easily at any time…in reality a woman is only fertile 5 days of the month. If you aren’t sure when your fertile window is, read up on how to predict and confirm ovulation in these posts.
A big part of my job is education and I have no reservations teaching people about the reproductive system! It’s totally possible to make something that most people find awkward into a fun and empowering conversation.
5. Providing appropriate referrals
Sometimes it’s important that a couple be referred to a specialist like a reproductive endocrinologist, reproductive immunologist or reproductive urologist. Knowing when to make that call can save couples time, stress and money. Another important role here for me is teaching patients how to advocate for themselves. Going to a new doctor can be nerve wracking and intimidating so if you have a plan for what questions to ask and how to keep the lines of communication open, the experience can go a lot more smoothly.
6. Emotional Support
Disclaimer: I’m not a therapist. But there’s a lot of listening and support involved in my process and I’ll match you with a counselor if you need one. You never have to apologize to me for getting emotional when you talk about your fertility journey. Acknowledging that all emotions are valid is an important part of the journey. Grief, anger, sadness, jealousy and fear are all commonly expressed feelings when dealing with infertility. Much of my work also helps with releasing fears and limiting beliefs related to infertility & pregnancy loss. This is why I developed the Fertility Tapping Circle.
The Big Takeaway Here? There’s never just ONE way to support someone who is trying to get pregnant.
That’s the beauty of holistic care for fertility. We’re able to integrate all the information, investigate the root causes and address the whole person/whole couple.
I love supporting couples on the fertility journey, whether they’re just starting to think about trying or they’ve been at this for a while and need support through IVF.
Naturopathic medicine has so many amazing tools to use when supporting fertility!
If you’re ready for a holistic approach to getting pregnant when you’ve struggled with infertility, please don’t hesitate to reach out for support.
Dr. Rose sees patients in person in Tucson, Arizona and virtually nationwide. Learn more about working with Dr. Rose here.
*This post is for educational purposes only. Please talk to your doctor before making any dietary, supplement or exercise changes.