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Functional Medicine and Fertility

Updated: Apr 11

Infertility is a common issue affecting many couples today. The CDC defines infertility as “not being able to get pregnant after one year (or longer) of unprotected sex”. It can be a frustrating and emotionally challenging experience for those struggling to conceive. While there are many conventional medical treatments available, it is important to remember that the road to parenthood is not a straight line. This is where the functional medicine approach, one that looks through a more holistic lens, may prove to be beneficial. In this blog, we will explore how functional medicine can be used to address the root causes of fertility issues and help couples achieve a healthy pregnancy.


What is Functional Medicine?

Functional medicine is a systems biology-based approach to healthcare that focuses on identifying and addressing the root causes of health issues. It differs from conventional medicine in that conventional medicine often centers on eliminating or decreasing symptoms. Functional medicine practitioners begin by doing a comprehensive evaluation of a patient’s health history, lifestyle, genetics, and environment. Instead of simply treating symptoms, a functional medicine practitioner can create an individualized plan that addresses the underlying imbalances that are contributing to the symptoms. The issues are viewed as part of a whole and practitioner and patient can work together to develop an action plan that includes lifestyle changes, supplements and herbs therapies and nutritional guidance.


How Can Functional Medicine Help with Fertility?

It is important to remember that infertility is not a diagnosis. What is happening for some women who can’t get pregnant right away is not “infertility of unknown etiology,” but possibly a subfertile state due to inflammation and nutritional imbalances. And even if initial lab work comes back normal, it does not necessarily mean that conditions are ideal for conceiving or maintaining a pregnancy. A good example of this is thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). The normal range for women can go up to 4.5 mIU/L, but research shows that that level should be closer to 2 mIU/L to be considered optimal for fertility.


Here are some of the ways that functional medicine can be used to address fertility

issues:


1. Address hormonal imbalances: Evaluate a woman’s hormonal

levels and identify imbalances that may be impacting fertility. Through lifestyle

changes, targeted nutrition, and other natural interventions, functional medicine

can help balance hormones, leading to improved fertility.


2. Identify nutrient deficiencies: By addressing nutrient deficiencies through customized nutrition plans and supplementation, functional medicine can help improve fertility.


3. Reduce stress: Stress can impact fertility by disrupting hormonal balance and

inhibiting ovulation. Functional medicine practitioners can help identify sources of

stress and provide techniques to reduce stress and promote relaxation.


4. Detoxify: Exposure to toxins can negatively affect fertility. Functional medicine

practitioners can help identify sources of toxins and provide strategies to reduce

exposure and support the body’s natural detoxification processes.


5. Diagnose underlying health issues that can impact fertility such as thyroid or autoimmune disorders.


Functional medicine takes these factors into account in order to develop a comprehensive plan to optimize fertility at all stages of your journey whether you are planning a pregnancy, have been trying for a while and haven’t gotten pregnant or beginning treatments with a reproductive endocrinologist.


Benefits of Functional Medicine for Fertility

If you are struggling with fertility issues, consider working with a functional medicine practitioner. One of the main benefits of functional medicine is that it addresses the underlying causes of infertility, rather than just treating the symptoms. Improving your overall health and well-being can set the stage for a healthy journey from conception to pregnancy and delivery. This approach is becoming increasingly popular as more and more people are looking for alternative methods to traditional treatments such as In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).

IVF can be a costly and time-consuming process, and it often comes with a number of

physical and emotional side effects. Functional fertility treatments, on the other hand, are

generally less invasive, less expensive and have fewer side effects. They also involve the use of natural methods, such as herbal supplements and acupuncture, to support the body’s own fertility and conception process. These natural methods can help to balance hormones and improve overall health, making it more conducive to conception. Additionally, functional medicine practitioners often provide couples with counseling and support to help them cope with the emotional and psychologically challenging aspects of infertility.


In conclusion, functional medicine treatments allow you to play a more proactive role in your own fertility journey. Oftentimes, our dream family doesn’t materialize overnight. By allowing yourself the time to go through the steps of optimizing your health and well-being, you can give yourself the best chance of preparing your body and mind for a healthy and successful pregnancy.






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