New Fertility Supplement

Have you been trying to conceive and told there may be a concern with your egg quality? Have you been diagnosed with PCOS? Do you experience menstrual irregularities or anovulation? If you have answered yes to any of the above, read on….

There is emerging evidence showing that a supplement called Myo-inositol can assist with several fertility concerns. Myo-inositol is produced by the human body from glucose, and therefore it is not an essential nutrient. This nutritional supplement, which used to be considered part of the B vitamin group, has been steadily gaining interest by fertility experts. Myo-inositol has been shown to improve quality of embryos, assist in restoring normal ovarian function (re-establishing menstrual cyclicity and ovulation) and increase clinical pregnancy rates in women undergoing ovulation induction for ICSI or IVF.

In our practice, we previously limited Myo-inositol to patients with PCOS but with recent studies, we have begun incorporating this supplement in many treatment plans and have added it to our prenatal supplement regime. With promising research in the area of assisted reproduction treatments, we are eager to see further research on the benefits of inositol in natural fertility treatments. This gap in research has not limited our use of Myo-inositol as it appears to be a promising treatment in cases of ‘unexplained fertility’.

If you or any of your friends have been told they have ‘unexplained fertility’, this supplement may be worth trying. Before this can be prescribed by our Naturopathic Doctors, a thorough health history must be performed. If appropriate, women may be prescribed this at either their first or second visit. Bloodwork and ultrasound reports are helpful if available to bring to initial consults. Any fertility patients would have these tests performed prior to cycle monitoring. This information is not essential but can be helpful. For more information about fertility support, feel free to book a complimentary 15-minute session. Initial visits are 1 hour in length.

It is our wish to guide women with as many natural tools as possible. Besides fertility acupuncture, the addition of nutritional supplementation is very beneficial. We look forward to working with you.

References:

Zheng X, Lin D, Zhang Y, et al. Inositol supplement improves clinical pregnancy rate in infertile women undergoing ovulation induction for ICSI or IVF-ET. Medicine (Baltimore). 2017;96(49):e8842. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000008842

Fertility Lessons: A Shift in Perspective

Over the years, working with couples to improve their fertility has taught me many lessons. The most important lessons are ones that cannot be found in research articles, textbooks or Dr. Google. Having a positive mindset is more beneficial than any acupuncture treatment or prescription that I can provide.

Every woman on this journey knows quite well all the ups and downs associated with the fertility process. There is hope felt during an embryo transfer, insemination, or a natural timed cycle, and then a feeling of defeat if the attempt is unsuccessful. One woman I work with explained that she felt as if she were experiencing a ‘mini death’ where parts of her had given up and she was mourning the loss of a potential life. I get it. It is devastating, exhausting, and painful. No one else understands this more than other women going through this process. Many self-proclaimed Type-A women often describe this aspect of their life as a ‘repeated failure’ and they take it quite personally! Here is a goal, unlike everything else in their lives, that they are unable to attain.AShiftinPerspectiveDrGill

Is there a magic pill, diet, hormone that can address it all? No, of course not. What I have seen in many successful cases is a belief that pregnancy is possible, even against all odds. I have seen women with low AMH scores, 4.0 and below, conceive naturally. I have witnessed women aged 41 plus who were told IVF was their only chance to get pregnant take a month break and then conceive naturally. Other women have been told that surrogacy or adoption was their only option and these women too had conceived on their own. I have seen couples in the adoption process have a child of their own. I have also seen couples down to their last frozen embryo transfer, be successful! What did these women have in common? I believe they allowed themselves to ‘let go.’ There was a shift in their thoughts from ‘this can’t happen’, ‘why is my body failing me?’, ‘why am I the only one not pregnant?’ to ‘This will happen, when it is the right time’, ‘I love my body and know it can get pregnant’, ‘I am not alone!’

I believe all women are fertile. I believe our bodies possess this wonderful, amazing capacity to bring forth new life. Some women require a little assistance and others need a lot more. Whether it’s the body or the mind that needs balancing, the two must be addressed. I believe this journey can teach us much more about ourselves. When you are at a ‘low’, dig deep and find strength. You are stronger than you know. Have faith and have courage. It is only a matter of time. Be resilient and never, ever give up hope.

7 Tips to for Optimize Fertility:

– Seek support. Feel supported by a comforting friend or therapist.
– Find an outlet. Dance or sing or run out your stress.
– Record your thoughts. Create a journal and let your thoughts find peace.
– Take a break. Don’t hesitate on booking that trip! A quick escape to Niagara-on- the-lake can do wonders for changing perspective.
– Avoid Dr. Google (limit yourself to 1 search on fertility sites per week!)
– Remain positive. Seek the company of others who share your positive thoughts and words.

Good-luck on your fertility journey!

 

 

When To Seek Fertility Care By Erin Enns

Learning and understanding when to seek care for conception health can be a grey area for women. Naturopathic Doctors focus on identifying potential physical, emotional and environmental risk factors for adverse pregnancy outcomes early in order to optimizing health outcomes for mom and baby. Through education and counseling, Naturopathic Doctors help you get to know your body and prepare it so that when the time comes, you can optimize your chances of conceiving naturally.

Biological clock, family planning

(1) Are you thinking about conceiving within the next year?

If you and your partner are ready to conceive in the near future it is important to make sure that your body is ready to support itself and baby. Cleansing your body allows for restoration of health and preparation for conception. Look to remove dietary allergens through IgG Testing or an Elimination Diet to reduce inflammation in the body that could negatively impact fertility. Manage your stress. Not all stress can be avoided, however focus on eliminating the stressors in your life that you can. By doing this, you will create space in your life for you to have fun and relax. Implementing these early will give your body to have the time and support it needs for healthy conception.

(2) Have you discontinued oral contraception?

When discontinuing any oral contraceptive pill (OCP), many nutritional deficiencies are often seen. This is a result of long-term use of the OCP. Deficiencies of these vitamins and minerals can lead to fertility issues, among many others. A Prenatal Vitamin is advised for women who are looking to conceive as they contain a number of vitamin and minerals that are protective against birth defects. Naturopathic Doctors recommend taking a Prenatal Vitamin a minimum of 6 months before trying to conceive. Additional testing and supplementation may be required for women to re-fill their levels.

(3) Do you have irregular or absent periods?

Absent or irregular periods can be due to a number of different factors. Naturopathic Doctors offer support to promote healthy monthly menstrual cycles. They have numerous tools in their toolbox that they can access, including herbal medicine and acupuncture, to assist your body in supporting a natural menstrual cycle. Work with a Naturopathic Doctor to regulate your menstrual cycle and enhance your chance of conceiving naturally.

(4) Do you have a known reproductive issue?

There are different endocrine disorders that can affect ones chances of conceiving. A diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Endometriosis, Premature Ovarian Failure, to name a few, may lead to troubles conceiving. This is often a result of hormonal imbalances or deficiencies, along with a dysregulation in the immune system. Naturopathic Doctors can provide treatment to optimize the body’s ability to process hormones, as well as support the immune system. Dependent on the condition, implementation of dietary and lifestyle approaches are done to best support the individual.

(5) Do you have a thyroid condition?

Thyroid Disorders are one of the most common conditions affecting pregnancy. Both an under-functioning or over-functioning thyroid can impact fertility. Naturopathic Doctors can request more extensive thyroid lab tests, which may not be done by your family doctor. The thyroid panel investigates TSH, T3, T4, and anti-TPO levels, which gives more information about thyroid health. It is recommended women have their thyroid assessed 6 months prior to conceiving.

Seek the care that you need! Naturopathic doctors work in collaboration with your health practitioner to improve maternal and fetal outcomes by offering preconception care when you need it.

New Beginnings: Starting the Fertility New Year Right

Fertility Naturopathic Doctor

The Fertility Journey is often faced with many challenges. Here are my top 5 Fertility Lifestyle tips for keeping motivated in 2017:

 

  • New perspective. If you have been working with a fertility doctor for a lengthy period of time you may want to consider a second opinion. Each fertility doctor has their own unique approach to treatment protocols. Many patients have often shared their stories where a fresh start with a new doctor has made all the difference.

 

  • Rally your support. The fertility journey can be very isolating. Oftentimes it may seem like everyone around you is getting pregnant, and easily! One woman shared her experience where her sister, sister-in-law, best friend and even hairdresser became pregnant in the same month. She felt badly that she harboured resentment to people she liked and cared for but could no longer talk to on a regular basis. I encouraged her to release her emotions in our sessions and to confide in a good friend about her recent failed IVF attempt. After sharing her feelings with a trusted confidante, she was able to let go and concentrate on improving her own general health. She also discovered that she was not alone. Her friend with two young children had also experienced problems with conception. The message here is to allow yourself the comfort and support of those who care for you and who can also act as your champions along the way.

 

  • Eat well. To eat well, not only do we consider what we eat, but how we eat. If lunch is consumed hurriedly at your desk while answering emails, you are likely not properly absorbing the nutrients from that delicious salad. Likewise, when eating dinner at home in front of the TV or while on the phone with a friend, digestion can be compromised. For proper absorption of your prenatal vitamin, CoQ10 and other supplements, optimal digestion is required. Avoid consuming large amounts of liquid before and during meals which dilutes important enzymes that assist in the digestion process. Conscious eating involves conscious planning of creating mealtimes that foster a relaxed atmosphere and mindset.

 

  • Sleep well. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the hours between 9 to 11pm are the best times to promote a healthy sleep. This means turning off your cell phone, TV, laptop and any other electrical device before 9pm. In TCM there is an organ clock that represents when each organ is functioning optimally. The ‘TCM kidney’ is responsible for reproduction. Acupuncture is often used to strengthen these organ meridians. Good quality sleep is essential for any fertility protocol and often does not get addressed. Seek support if you struggle with insomnia or unrefreshed sleep. It could be impacting your fertility. Sleep is often compromised during the 3rd trimester and definitely after baby is born, so bank your sleep now!

 

  • Relax well. In my practice, I often focus on stress reduction when addressing fertility concerns. This can be supported by acupuncture and some nutritional supplements like a B-complex and a magnesium. Relaxing well actually requires planning. In our busy lives filled with endless tasks, relaxation is not seen as a priority. I recommend adding relaxation to your schedule. This may involve attending a yoga class or listening to a fertility meditation or reading a book. It may seem indulgent at first but it is necessary to recharge. Give to yourself and you will find you will have more to give to others. Giving to yourself also creates the right environment for conception. Nourish your body, your mind and spirit.

 

Good-luck on your fertility journey in 2017.

 

5 Signs to Predict Ovulation

One of the most important conversations I have with women is about ovulation. Since this is rarely taught in schools, and many patients refer to Dr. Google, there are several misconceptions. Here are 5 signs that can help predict ovulation:

1) Mittelschmerz – This term is German for ‘middle pain’ and refers to the cramping sensation that some women feel around ovulation. If you are paying close attention to the body, you may feel this twinge of discomfort and welcome it if you are wanting to conceive!

2) BBT – Basal Body Temperature or charting your temperature. Over the years I have seen women become frustrated by this process, so it is one method I often don’t recommend. Although, in some instances, I have found many women to use this as an effective way to mark ovulation. Basically this method requires that you check your temperature as soon as you awake, before even getting out of bed. BBT changes throughout the cycle. As soon as ovulation occurs, we see a dramatic rise in temperature. After months of charting, a pattern may emerge from cycles that can help to pinpoint ovulation.

3) Cervical mucous – A change that is seen with the appearance, increase in quantity and change in consistency can all give us information about timing of ovulation. Ideally, the ‘fertile’ mucous that is able to hold on to sperm should be of egg-white consistency and often of stretchy or elastic quality. Charting the appearance and absence of this cervical mucous can also assist with tracking ovulation.
SelfReliance-Dr.OdessaGillND
4) Ovulation Predictor Kits – When the signs for ovulation are not as apparent, ovulation test kits (sold online and in pharmacies) can be useful. The kits are able to predict the hormonal surge that is seen with ovulation by urinating on a predictor stick.

5) Libido – Ever wonder why your partner may look more attractive at certain times of the month? These emotions may also be a prediction of ovulation. So, if you are planning to conceive, pay close attention to how you feel about yourself and mate. When you are in the mood, it may be your body’s way of telling you it’s time for conception!

Even with all of this information, it can still be difficult for some women to determine the timing of ovulation. I often recommend seeking a healthcare provider that can help understand the body cues (or absence of them) to help piece together the unique signs for each woman. Paying close attention to these cyclical signs can help women become more in tune with their bodies and respect the ever changing hormonal status that plays a role with our moods, energy levels and much more of course.

Fertility – A Second Perspective

I believe every woman is fertile.

Fertility Acupuncture
Fertility Acupuncture

My goal as a Naturopathic Doctor is to help the body achieve a state of Optimal Health. When addressing fertility, this is the approach I take.  I look for any interfering factors that affect this goal. Hormonal health, gynecological health, advanced age, diet, environmental toxin burden, genetic factors, stress levels, etc.  When the list can be so long and where many factors may play a role, I cannot help but wonder how any women get pregnant at all. Knowing all of these potential causal agents, I marvel at the reality that some women conceive right away and others do not. What makes these two groups of women different is not always so apparent. Sometimes age is a factor but then I get reminded when I witness a mom at 44 have a healthy baby naturally, that it is not the determining factor. Similarly, I see many women with low AMH (anti-mullerian hormone) scores, achieve pregnancy, despite what statistics suggest or fertility doctors advise. Sometimes pregnancy occurs with very little intervention at all.

I often remind women that sometimes they can conceive naturally without even my assistance.  I enjoy helping couples put the faith back into their bodies. I encourage them to be persistent and to not give up hope. I do my best to help bring the body into balance – mind, body and spirit. It does not work all the time, but it does work a lot of the time.

Woman receiving acupuncture --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis
Woman receiving acupuncture — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

By far, I have found bimonthly acupuncture treatments (timed to ovulation and 2 weeks later), to work very well. This is my formula. In addition to acupuncture, if indicated, nutritional support, food sensitivity testing and fertility psychotherapy, may also be beneficial. I work with a team of dedicated health professionals who also assist with this journey. Our holistic nutritionist, Linda Heredia, provides detailed menus based on the results obtained through food sensitivity testing (IgG). When there are digestion issues such as constipation, bloating, heartburn, individualized testing is often encouraged. Our psychotherapist, Melissa Moore, supports and counsels women undergoing fertility treatments. She helps women find their way. We often encounter women who lose themselves in the pursuit of pregnancy. They feel isolated, fearful and emotionally drained.  A change in perspective, a shift to nourish and to love one’s body is needed.  And we need to encourage each other in the belief that every woman is fertile.