Updated: Apr 14
Did you know that 11% of women of reproductive age in the United States have experienced fertility problems (1).
What is Functional Medicine, and how can it improve your fertility?
Functional Medicine determines how and why illness occurs, and restores health by addressing each individual's root causes of disease.
Imagine if we approach fertility the same way we prepare for our wedding; the Functional Medicine approach for fertility is like your wedding planner. Functional Medicine will help prepare your body by replenishing nutrients, working on your microbiome, eliminating toxins, balancing hormones, etc.
It's essential to look for nutritional deficiencies; some gut conditions like Celiac disease can cause malabsorption of nutrients making the body unable to support life.
If you have trouble getting pregnant, have your doctor test you for Celiac and other autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto's, a common cause of miscarriage, which is often undiagnosed.
An unbalanced gut microbiome can affect fertility. If you are trying to conceive, I recommend getting a stool test to check your flora. You might be having bacteria overgrowth, candida, parasites, etc.
An unbalanced gut microbiome will affect your fertility and is also related to other health conditions like autoimmunity, cancer, and metabolic diseases.
Did you know that you transfer your microbiome to your baby via the birth canal, breastfeeding, and skin-to-skin contact? The more robust the gut microbiome, the better chances to conceive and ensure the baby's healthier (2).
Decreasing the total toxic load
To give you an idea, the average woman uses 12 beauty and personal products daily, exposing her to 168 chemicals per day. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), one of every 13 women is exposed to a known or suspected carcinogen every day, while one out of every 23 men is (4).
We are bombarded with toxins via air, water, food, and products that we buy for cleaning and personal use. Visit www.ewg.org to learn more about toxins and how they affect our health and disrupt our hormones.
I recommend avoiding toxins such as Bisphenol-A (BPA), parabens, phthalates, herbicides, and pesticides, all linked to infertility, as they disrupt our hormones.
We are spraying our food with glyphosate (Roundup) from Monsanto. During pregnancy, exposure to even low doses of glyphosate-based herbicides impairs fertility, causes intrauterine growth restriction, and induces fetal malformations (5). Stay away from genetically modified foods (GMOs).
Foods high in glyphosate are corn, soybeans, barley, rice, wheat, and oats (6).
Other toxins like mold and heavy metals can also affect fertility.
Balancing Hormones, weight, and insulin levels
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common cause of female infertility. It causes hormone imbalance, which affects ovulation. PCOS is associated with insulin resistance and obesity, abnormal hair growth on the face or body, and acne.
Women with obesity have several reproductive disorders, including problems with ovulation, decreased rates of conception, infertility, early pregnancy loss, congenital disabilities, and reduced assisted reproductive technology success (7).
Ask your doctor to test your insulin levels, an early predictor of metabolic disease and insulin resistance.
Nutrition for fertility
A Mediterranean diet has been shown to improve fertility (8). I recommend focusing on eating fruits and vegetables that span the colors of the rainbow, increasing fiber, adding fermented foods, and increasing protein from good sources.
Decrease sugar intake, avoid gluten, eliminate processed foods, avoid alcohol and stay away from GMO foods (glyphosate).
Vegetable oils like canola, soy, and corn are unstable fats and cause inflammation. Instead, choose oils that lower inflammation, like olive oil, suitable for dressing, and cook with stable oils at higher temperatures like ghee.
Eat good fats that are important for fertility, as we need fat (cholesterol) to make hormones. Eat plenty of nuts, seeds, avocado, grass-fed butter, olive oil, grass-fed beef, and fatty fish like sardines, mackerel, herring, and wild salmon rich in omega-three fats.
I recommend taking a good quality prenatal vitamin with iron and methylfolate, DHA/EPA, Magnesium, and Vitamin D3/K2 (check levels first).
Movement is life. Start by walking if you don't have an exercise routine. Regular exercise can decrease stress hormones and increase your "feel-good" hormones, like endorphins.
Sleep is super important; aim for a minimum of 8 hours of sleep to allow your body to heal and recharge. Lack of sleep disrupts your circadian rhythm, affecting your hormones.
Foster your relationships and spend time with people that bring you joy. Having toxic relationships with family and friends will affect your health. Work with a professional to help you heal past trauma, which can affect your fertility.
Add activities to your daily routine to help you manage stress like meditation, yoga, acupuncture, and chiropractic care to support increased fertility.
Be grateful for what you have now; it will help you have a better outcome in life and move you towards better choices.
Celebrate yourself, be kind to yourself and ask for help.
A Functional Medicine Approach will help you find the Root Cause of Infertility. If you want to find out more, you can reach out to Dr. Rosemarie Rutecki at www.functional-pharmacy.com.
Rosemarie Rutecki, PharmD, IFCMP is a Pharmacist, Board Certified in Functional Medicine by the Institute of Functional Medicine. Dr. Rutecki has always been passionate about health and wellness. Her practice focus on creating health by finding the root cause of unbalances in your body. Dr. Rutecki will analyze nutritional, digestive, detoxification, immune, hormonal and metabolic status to help patients achieve peak performance.