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While there are many different, complex reasons people may be struggling to conceive, these five things should be avoided by all couples.
1. Heavy Metals
Heavy metals are more commonplace than you might think, and their effect on fertility is profoundly destructive. Often, many of our clients who have been tested for heavy metals and found to have toxic chemicals in their system have been surprised about it and not had any idea of when they might have been exposed.
Where Are They Found?
Don’t think that heavy metal exposure is a problem only for people who directly work with them. All of us are widely exposed to heavy metals in our daily lives, such as Aluminium, Arsenic, Cadmium, Copper, Lead, Mercury and Nickel. Cosmetics, deodorants, dental amalgams, newsprint, paint, birth control pills, aluminum foil, antiseptics, body powders, cheese, toothpaste, milk products, nasal sprays – all of them are sources of heavy metals.
How Do They Affect Fertility?
Heavy metals displace vital nutritional minerals from where they should be in the body to provide biological function. For example, enzymes are catalysts for virtually every biochemical reaction in all life-sustaining processes of metabolism. But instead of calcium being present in an enzyme reaction, lead or cadmium may be there in its place. Toxic metals can’t fulfill the same role as the nutritional minerals, thus their presence becomes critically disruptive to enzyme activity.
FOR EXAMPLE: Lead has been found to affect calcium, iron, manganese, selenium and zinc leading to reproductive failure, slow infant development, and damage to sperm, sterility and impotence.
Clearing Heavy Metals
Clients can get help in testing for and clearing heavy metals, and we always encourage prospective mothers to address the possibility of heavy metal accumulation as a source of infertility. We also encourage the minimizing of exposure to heavy metals to ensure the safest pregnancy and healthiest baby possible.
Either hair analysis or urine analysis can be an excellent way to determine whether heavy metals have accumulated in your body, and these tests can be arranged at our clinic. There are a range of herbal products and vitamins and minerals that can then clear or significantly reduce heavy metal accumulation and ensure your body is in peak optimal health for conception.
2. BPA Exposure
Surely we’ve all now heard of BPA and that it is something we should generally avoid. And we should, especially if we are trying to conceive. WHY? We’re surrounded by hormone-dysrupting chemicals these days, of particular interest are xeno-estrogens, i.e. estrogen-mimicking chemicals.
In adults, xeno-estrogens have been linked to decreased sperm quality, stimulation of mammary gland development in men, disrupted reproductive cycles and ovarian dysfunction, obesity, cancer and heart disease, among numerous other health problems. Estogen is a very important hormone in the body and is essential for both men and women, but in modern diets there are high levels of toxic estrogens in alot of the foods we eat and even in the packaging it comes in. This can cause unhealthy and high estrogen levels which in turn affect fertility.
Where Are They Found?
Xeno-eostrogens are found in a high amount of daily-life products, many of which are plasticizers. Bisphenol A (BPA) for example, is an industrial petrochemical that acts as a synthetic estrogen, and can be found plastics and tin can linings, in dental sealants, and on cash-register receipts. Three years ago, laboratory tests commissioned by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) detected BPA in the umbilical cord blood of 90 percent of newborn infants tested — along with more than 230 other chemicals.
Many leading brands of canned foods contain BPA — a toxic chemical linked to reproductive abnormalities, neurological effects, heightened risk of breast and prostate cancers, diabetes, heart disease and other serious health problems. According to Consumer Reports’ testing, just a couple of servings of canned food can exceed the safety limits for daily BPA exposure for children.
Reduce your BPA (and other xeno-estrogen) exposure by following these guidelines:
- Avoid commercially grown produce (most are grown with pesticides)
- Eat organic, grass fed meat and wild caught fish (factory farmed meats contain estogenic compounds)
- Avoid drinking or eating out of plastic
- Eat mostly raw, fresh foods. Processed, prepackaged foods (of all kinds) are a major source of soy and chemicals such as BPA and phthalates
- Store your food and beverages in glass rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap and canned foods (which are often lined with BPA-containing liners).
Stress is known as a key driver of both male and female infertility for numerous reasons. Stress can interfere with the hypothalamic- pituitary axis that controls the delicate balance of hormones released to support conception. Women exposed to continual un-managed stress can have inhibited ovarian estrogen and progesterone biosynthesis. Conception occurs when the body is under the control of the parasympathetic nervous system, when we feel relaxed and void of stress. Stress on the other hand is felt when the sympathetic nervous system is in control.
A 2010 study noted stress decreased sperm concentration, total sperm count and percentage of motile sperm to concentrations below that of which constitutes ‘normal’ by the World Health Organization.
Reducing stress not only improves the pregnancy outcomes for natural conception but also for those couples using assisted fertility technology. A 2006 study demonstrated that reducing stress may diminish the number of IVF treatment cycles needed before a pregnancy is obtained.
Check out ten top ways to reduce stress naturally here.
4. Diet high in red meats, trans fatty acids and grains.
In a recent study, it was found that diets rich in red meat and processed grains seem to impair the ability of sperm to move about, and diets high in trans fats appear to lower the amount of sperm found in semen.
“The main overall finding of our work is that a healthy diet seems to be beneficial for semen quality,” said Audrey J. Gaskins, lead author of the first study. ”Specifically, a healthy diet composed of a higher intake of fish, fresh fruit, whole grains, legumes and vegetables seems to improve sperm motility,” Gaskins explained, “which means a higher number of sperm actually move around, rather than sit still.”
Fructose directly increases the amount of circulating testosterone in women. More testosterone directly impairs a woman’s ability to conceive. Therefore, it is most important that for a woman to increase her chances of having a baby, she needs to stop eating fructose. Other things to note:
*Avoid drinking alcohol particularly beer (hops has been linked to increased estrogen)
*Detox the liver (all estrogen compounds need to pass through the liver)
You can find out more about our detox programs here.