Springing Into Fertility: The Female Factor
It takes two to tango and in last weeks article we focused in on male fertility. Today we’ll be discussing the other side of the equation; the female factor. I am very excited about today’s topic because while interning at the Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic I received extra training in reproductive health and fertility as a speciality focus shift.
Fertility and Age
Age has a huge impact on your optimal fertility. Between the ages of 20-24 our likelihood of getting pregnant sits around 86% and declines to 52% when between 35-39. Along those same lines, the older you are the longer it takes to conceive. On average, those in their early 20s take about 4-5 months, whereas those in their late 30s take about 10-15 months. Although age does play a big role in your fertility, we can’t always plan our lives out perfectly. The above are just guidelines of what to expect when attempting to have a baby at each age.
When a couple is struggling to conceive after a year of frequent intercourse without contraception in women under 35 or after 6 months in women older than 35, we can consider this infertility. This is usually found in 1 in 6 couples. In this case, a thorough investigation of both the female and male partner is required to determine the cause.
In females, common causes of infertility to consider are ovulation disorders (including PCOS), tubal disorders (i.e. blockages or damage), and endometriosis. Luckily, naturopathic medicine has many tools in it's tool box to improve your chances of baby making.
So You Are Ready to Have a Baby
Here are a few questions you should ask yourself when actively trying to conceive! This list is not extensive but is meant to help you identify areas of your reproductive journey that can be optimized.
Do I have a normal menstrual cycle? Having a regular menstrual cycle is a good indicator that you are actually ovulating. However, along with your cycle, it is best to track your Basal Body Temperature and Cervical Mucous as per the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM).
Do I have frequent sex? This is a trick question. It’s most important to have unprotected sex the 3 days leading up to ovulation so that the sperm is patiently waiting for the egg once released. Special note – those who have partners with low sperm counts should change this rule to every other day.
Do I regularly use vaginal lubricants? Vaginal lubricants, chemicals, and saliva can inhibit sperm motility and/or alter the pH of the vagina (3.8 to 4.5). Look for lubricants that are fertility safe like Pre-Seed and Yes Baby.
Do I use plastic containers, coffee cups, cutting boards, etc.? Plastic contains endocrine disrupting chemicals that imitate your body’s estrogen and worsen hormonal imbalances while also increasing toxic load on your liver. Try switching from plastic to glass containers.
Do I live a stressful life? This can look like pressure from in-laws to have grandchildren, failed IVF attempts, deadlines at work, over exercising, constant traveling, poor diet, etc. In any case, during stress the body puts itself in a fight and flight mode and all remaining resources are allocated to surviving, not reproducing. That is why, as impossible as it may seem at times, it is important to prioritize rest and rejuvenation. What have you been missing out on giving yourself that you need?
This article is not meant to replace medical advise. Please see your health care provider for an individualized assessment and treatment plan. If you are currently looking for an ND to help with your reproductive health, I am accepting patients at Clarkson Family Naturopathic. Please contact 416-651-6602 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book :)