Fertility is obviously a very complex issue and there are multiple reasons why someone may struggle to conceive. Whether that be due to the female or the male (e.g. sperm count), physical issues such as fallopian tube damage (e.g. by ectopic pregnancies and undiagnosed chlamydia) or many others.
Fertility is becoming increasingly difficult with 1 in 8 couples struggling to conceive. There are sadly some causes that cannot be rectified, but there are also many that can. The first step is identifying where the problem may lie through the relevant medical checks and tests. Once we know the cause of the problem, we can get to work on finding a resolution.
As we get older, our fertility naturally reduces. Men over the age of 30 lose their sperm count quicker than when they were in their 20’s. Not only does age impact sperm count, but diet and lifestyle factors play a role, such as high or regular alcohol consumption, smoking and refined foods.
In addition, over the years we all accumulate more toxins in our bodies, from diet and lifestyle. The world is becoming more and more toxic and as a result, so are we. What we have to remember is, in order to fall pregnant we must be healthy enough to conceive, carry the baby and birth the baby. If our body is not healthy, our body will not allow us to fall pregnant. It’s to protect you. Otherwise, this may lead to birth defects, miscarriage or even putting you at risk of death. It’s a risk your body isn’t willing to take.
If there isn’t any physical damage present, making it physically impossible to conceive, then there is a good chance of becoming fertile. New evidence reveals that our digestive health can play a significant role in our fertility and like I say, many of our conditions today all start in the gut.
If you’re having trouble conceiving, you likely know that so many factors may be at the root, and sometimes multiple issues are involved—making it extremely challenging to understand and resolve. The good news is that prioritising your microbial health can positively impact a variety of common fertility roadblocks to encourage a happy outcome.
Let’s look at what science can tell us about the fertility-gut microbiome connection;
In your gut is your microbiome (which as you know, I don’t stop going on about!) and this is made up of both good and bad bacteria. Our good bacteria works with our immune system to keep us healthy, including our fertility.
Unwanted bacterial strains, including yeasts, moulds and parasites, can affect a woman’s ability to have a baby, whether couples are trying the old fashioned way or through IVF. Not only do these undesirable microbes negatively impact sperm, they can also make a woman’s body less hospitable to her newly conceived child. Balancing the gut microbiome helps crowd out harmful microbes throughout the body, including those that may impact fertility.
Introducing probiotics directly to the vaginal area may also be helpful. An IVF study involving healthy women showed promising results after vaginal colonisation with L. crispatus. And research with mice found that intravaginal application of L. plantarum improved the chances of successful reproduction, even when certain troublesome strains were also added to the mix. That’s very promising for those of you who may be having problems, particularly if you currently suffer from UTI’s, BV or yeast infections as these can be telltale signs.
This is another link to our gut health as you may have heard me mention before. When inflammation occurs as a result of poor gut health (and thus leaky gut syndrome), it may affect a woman’s cycle and immune system. Hormone imbalances, irregular periods, bodily inflammation and a low immune system, can all contribute to fertility issues.
Research involving 33,000 Norwegian women found that supplementing with probiotics reduced temporary inflammation and some associated pregnancy issues. However, depending on your level of inflammation, a complete gut restoration programme may be more successful in order for the good bacteria to survive long-term. Often when we only supplement with probiotics and don’t tackle the bad guys, eventually they regain dominance.
The more densely populated with sperm a man’s semen is, the faster those little guys can swim and the better his odds of contributing his DNA to a brand new life. It turns out the composition of semen microbiome actually affects sperm vitality.
One study involving couples who had been unable to conceive revealed that when friendly Lactobacillus dominates the semen microbiome, the sperm is much more likely to be healthy and normal. Additional research with mice found that taking the probiotic L. reuteri orally increased sperm count and testicular mass, as well as kept ageing reproductive organs healthy. Again, really promising results for anyone concerned with fertility or who may have tried other options with no success.
Finally, carrying more than your optimal weight can compromise your health in many ways. For example, this can have an impact on your hormonal health which when imbalanced, can impact on your monthly cycle and thus your fertility. If you have stubborn weight and you’ve tried various diets and exercise regimes, it could be poor digestive health that’s preventing you from losing the weight.
When all is right with your microbiome, your entire mind and body will benefit, which in turn helps create the best possible conditions for conceiving. Your gut health is the key to your overall health. The added bonus is that your gut microbiome will be passed on to your new born baby, so the healthier you can be, the healthier your baby’s start in life will be.
For more information on gut health or to join the wellness programme, contact me on;