Pre-Conception and Fertility Care with a Naturopathic Doctor
Written By: Jennifer Kurinsky, ND
Making a baby requires a beautifully complex orchestration of hormones and body systems in both the male and female. A LOT has to go right, and it seems like a pretty miraculous process when it does. Naturopathic medicine has a tremendous amount to offer people wanting to plan for a healthy pregnancy or enhance fertility.
Preconception care is incredibly important and if possible, I recommend getting serious with this 3-4 months prior to conception to ensure that eggs and sperm have adequate nutrients for proper development. Preconception care includes a thorough health evaluation and suggestions for correcting any obvious and underlying health concerns. In the naturopathic model, these suggestions include nutrition, lifestyle changes as well as specific supplements. We also look at toxic-burden, hormone balance, body weight and composition, stress levels, and emotions. Parent’s health prior to conception not only enhances your ability to become pregnant but also has lifelong health implications for your children.
The ways fertility can be negatively impacted is so broad and extensive and each end every case is specific to the individual and couple. I love helping to put together the puzzle pieces and come up with a plan that is easy to follow and effective. I utilize a variety of techniques to investigate – general labs, functional medicine labs, reviewing past medical history, and most important are the meetings with clients. While each treatment is specific, here are some things that I recommend to almost everyone:
1) Enhance your nutrient and antioxidant status through eating 2-3 fruits and 5-7+ veggies per day. Aim to eat as many natural colors as possible throughout your day! Enjoy different anti-oxidant rich herbal teas. Cook with a variety of spices.
2) Avoid toxins and enhance your detox pathways:
- Eat 30 grams of fiber a day (to bind toxins and pull them out)
- Drink plenty of water (approximately half your body weight in ounces).
- Check your local water quality reports and filter your water with a filter to take out those pollutants
- Drink from glass or stainless steel water bottles – avoid disposable plastic water bottles!
- Do not microwave food in plastic!
- Try to eat local and organic food whenever possible to avoid exposure to pesticides!
- Check out Environmental Working Groups Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen for tips on which fruits and veggies are most important to purchase organic.
- Make your own eco-friendly homemade cleaning products or look for nontoxic cleaning products.
- Use a HEPA filter in your home, take your shoes off at the door, keep surfaces as dust free as possible, vacuum frequently.
- Women - Avoid changing the kitty litter and avoid contact with rodents (even pet rodents), as they can carry viruses that can be harmful to unborn baby.
- Avoid air fresheners.
- Add plants to filter your air.
- Avoid using pesticides on your lawn or garden.
- Look at what is in your products – check them out on EWG’s Skin Deep database to look for safety. I’ve definitely been surprised at products marketed as safe and nontoxic that are actually loaded with harmful chemicals!
- Eliminate (or reduce) nonessential personal care products – perfumes, hair sprays, nail polish, etc. Try to choose fragrance-free with least number of ingredients possible.
3) Sleep - Sleeping is so important for both our overall health as well as specifically our reproductive system. We need a break from daily stressors and our brains are able to reset while we sleep. If we’re not getting enough sleep, then our stress hormones and reproductive hormones get out of balance.
4) Movement – walking in nature can help reduce stress hormones and balance reproductive hormones. Yoga is one of my favorite ways to intentionally move my body for relaxation. I’m also a big fan of turning the music up and dancing and singing. It’s important to move our body for detox, circulation to our reproductive organs, and for lowering cortisol.
5) Stress Management – this topic alone deserves more attention than I can give it here, but I’ll say that stress has such a huge impact on fertility at every step along the way. There are many ways to manage stress effectively, and we all might need something different. It’s my hope to help you find what works for you.
I have 2 babies of my own, and neither came about in the time frame I thought at the time would have been perfect. I couldn’t be happier with how it all worked out, but I look back at when I was struggling with fertility and see now how simple changes could have made an impact. It can feel scary and lonely and shameful. I’m passionate about working with people through their pre-conception and fertility challenges because I think there is a huge need for finding a doctor to really listen and be open-minded and look at your individual situation and make recommendations based on YOU. This can be such an amazing and beautiful journey and I’d love to be here to help guide you along your way.