Fertility rates as a whole are said to be in decline. Discussion on this usually involves couples choosing to wait longer prior to starting a family, environmental hormone disruptors affecting female fertility and an overall decline in sperm health. It’s often viewed that men can be fertile for a lifetime but that women’s eggs “get too old” or that they “run out”. While women may not be producing more eggs by the number during a lifetime, the fertile decades prior to menopause are more often influenced by more factors within her control than this finite number.
It is important to understand that while women are born with a set number of eggs, these eggs are more susceptible to the hormone signaling within their environment, rather than the clock actually ticking. This is good news for women intending on supporting their natural fertility and enhancing egg quality.
Most of the research on nutrients, anti-oxidants and even acupuncture has been done on the population struggling with infertility, PCOS and endometriosis. While it is ok to extrapolate helpful nutrients into the global population, it is important to know that specific research on specific nutrients has not been well covered in the healthy groups.
What we do know is that eggs and -more importantly- developing eggs called follicles, are very susceptible and responsive to their environment. More than taking any one amazing vitamin or mineral, will be the importance of improving the wellness of the entire system. Second to improving overall health, will be ensuring good blood flow to the reproductive system for nutrient delivery.
Still hoping for specific tips? Ok, this is what is out there. Vitamin D is known to affect the reproductive system. Decreased levels have been found in women who have polycystic ovarian syndrome & leiomyomas and taking vitamin D is related to better IVF outcomes(1). Melatonin is often considered to be a sleep aid. However, it also plays a role as a powerful anti-oxidant and melatonin receptors are found within the ovaries and other reproductive tissue. It is higher in concentration in the follicular fluid than in the body’s plasma during the pre-ovulation time window. In fact, for women with PCOS, taking melatonin along with myo-inositol helped achieve better IVF outcomes(2)(6). Polyunsaturated fatty acids, better known as fish oils, show marked benefit in women with PCOS(3). (If you haven’t already looked into Original Nutritionals www.originalnutritionals.com and their terrific clean-sourced fish oils, this is the perfect time to do so… ) Electroacupuncture- while not an actual supplement or nutrient- has some lovely research supporting its use. Women using electroacupuncture and medication during IVF produced more healthy embryos than the women using only medication, and required less medication as well! (4) Oxidative stress DOES negatively affect egg health. Oxidative stress being measured as anything that increases cortisol levels or that which alters the hormone levels and proper signaling, such as; increased systemic inflammation, high sugar diets, life stress and exposure to xenoestrogens.(5)
Although the research is primarily reported from women with PCOS, premature ovarian failure (POF) or undergoing IVF, this is most likely due to the fact that they are already being tested, measured and tracked. Certainly it stands to reason that based on what we do know is that poor diet, high stress lifestyles, exposure to excessive synthetic hormones or hormone mimics negatively affect the health of eggs, ovaries and overall reproductive function.
Making an action plan to improve reproductive health should have the following steps. Improve overall diet; increase veggies and clean meats, add healthy fats, reduce sugar and avoid all artificial everything. Drink more water. See a qualified practitioner about adding high quality multi-vitamins and anti-oxidants. Not all supplement companies are the same and shopping OTC for this isn’t the best- or even cheapest sometimes- option. Seek ways to reduce stress; add exercise, meditation and sleep if possible. Schedule a nutritional consult today with www.birthfit.com if you need extra help getting your nutrition on track for better fertility support.
Dr. Gina Sirchio-Lotus, DC, CCN
- Ann Agric Environ Med. 2016 Dec 23;23(4):671-676. doi: 10.5604/12321966.1226865.
The role of vitamin D in reproductive dysfunction in women - a systematic review.
- Fertil Steril. 2009 Jul;92(1):328-43. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2008.05.016. Epub 2008 Sep 18.
Melatonin and the ovary: physiological and pathophysiological implications.
- Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Mar;93(3):652-62. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.110.005538. Epub 2011 Jan 26.
Hormonal and metabolic effects of polyunsaturated fatty acids in young women with polycystic ovary syndrome: results from a cross-sectional analysis and a randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial.
- Zhen Ci Yan Jiu. 2015 Apr;40(2):151-6.
[Effects of electroacupuncture intervention on changes of quality of ovum and pregnancy out- come in patients with polycystic ovarian syndrome].
- Obstet Med. 2016 Sep;9(3):113-6. doi: 10.1177/1753495X16648495. Epub 2016 May 17.
Oxidative stress in pregnancy and reproduction.
- Gynecol Endocrinol. 2016;32(1):69-73. doi: 10.3109/09513590.2015.1101444. Epub 2015 Oct 28.
Effect of myo-inositol and melatonin versus myo-inositol, in a randomized controlled trial, for improving in vitro fertilization of patients with polycystic ovarian syndrome.