The Functional Approach to Preconception Care
Metabolix Health loves working with couples planning a first baby or perhaps returning to optimize their health before expanding their family to a second or third child. Sometimes, partners have been trying for a family for several months or even longer than a year when they consult us. They have often been referred to us by friends who successfully implemented functional medicine strategies that led to a healthy pregnancy and conception.
Are you planning to start a family? Working on your fertility health before conception can help reduce the risks associated with pregnancy and childbirth. The functional approach to preconception care involves lifestyle, diet, and environmental changes to optimize fertility. Here are some tips to get you started.
Understand Your Fertility Story
Do you know your fertility story? Understanding your menstrual cycle, hormonal imbalances, ovulation patterns, and other factors that can affect fertility is essential.
Working with a functional medicine practitioner to uncover the underlying causes of any reproductive health issues, such as endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), or unexplained infertility, can help create an individualized plan for optimized fertility.
Identify your Hormones and Rebalancing Strategies
Using blood tests (day three and day twenty-one for women) and hormone urine testing, as your functional medicine practitioner, we will help you identify any hormonal imbalances and develop a plan for balancing them. We also recommend a sperm test for men to review the male partner’s profile. General blood work is also helpful in examining inflammation levels, immunity, and other biomarkers. We use this blood work as an initial workup to determine further functional medicine testing we recommend.
A hormone-balancing strategy includes lifestyle changes and dietary modifications to reduce stressors, such as sugar, and processed and refined foods. Implementing nutrient-dense whole foods, natural supplements, herbs, and teas can support the body’s natural cycle of ovarian follicular growth, ovulation, and the luteal phase cycle. Detoxification protocols may also be recommended to support fertility health and optimize egg quality.
Metabolix Health recommends at least a 2-week detox program to improve the liver, hormones, and gut. The type of detox program recommended varies by your individual situation.
When I wanted to start a family, I found myself unable to conceive for almost a decade. Thanks to functional medicine principles, lifestyle changes, and homeopathy, I became a mom naturally 3 times over.
This work is very personal and powerfully rewarding to me.
Contraception and Fertility planning
When you are ready to start trying for a family, you may be stopping birth control. Please know that we always recommend using other forms of contraception for at least 90 days after stopping birth control to give your body time to adjust back to its normal rhythms. This is also the time period that we wait before running hormonal lab testing to allow your reproductive hormones to rebalance. Now they may not bounce back and that is part of the program that we will work with you on. But you need to know that you can also fall pregnant immediately upon stopping birth control, hence recommending using alternative forms of contraception. During the 90-day window, that you are waiting for your hormones to rebalance, we can work on digestive health and metabolism for both you and your partner.
Biohack with Fertility Supplements and Herbal Remedies
Natural supplements and herbal remedies can support the body’s hormonal system, improve ovulation and enhance egg quality. For example, Coenzyme Q10 is a powerful antioxidant that helps optimize mitochondria in the egg to help maintain fertility potential and reduce DNA damage. Evening primrose oil contains gamma linoleic acid and has anti-inflammatory effects, which could be immensely valuable in some female fertility health issues. Other beneficial herbs include Vitex Agnus Castus, Maca, Tribulus Terrestris, and Green Tea Extract, just to name a few. Nutrient support takes at least six months to improve egg quality. For the guys, it takes about 90 days to improve sperm quality, etc so it is key that you give yourselves time to do this work and set time aside to focus on this project.
Several nutrients are particularly helpful for male sperm quality, volume, and motility. As you may be aware, more fertility issues with couples today are male-driven fertility problems.
Follow an Optimized Nutrition and Lifestyle Plan
While herbs and supplements can benefit fertility health, an optimized nutrition and lifestyle plan is a vital part of the functional approach to preconception care. Eating plenty of fresh, whole foods and avoiding processed foods is fundamental. To support good sugar regulation, fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and quality proteins should be combined with complex carbohydrates like organic whole grains. Reducing the amount of caffeine and alcohol intake is vital, as these can interfere with hormones. Exercise also helps, although you should do moderate rather than intensive physical activities. The long-term strenuous activity could further impair fertility health in some cases.
Practice Mind-Body and Stress Reduction Techniques
Stress levels often play a role in fertility health. Our bodies are designed to automatically respond to stress through the autonomic nervous system’s fight-or-flight response. When this response is activated, it affects hormones and immunity, slowing or halting the reproductive process. Therefore, incorporating regular relaxation and mind-body practices (e.g., tai chi or yoga) can help to support reproductive health by addressing stress management needs and increasing positive hormones, such as serotonin and oxytocin. Visualization techniques can be helpful, too – opening your imagination to create positive images of your intended result gives you something tangible to strive for.
As your functional medicine provider, I am your guide and teacher during this process. Every physical journey, such as preconception care, has a beginning, middle, and end, and I am here to support you through each part of the journey. We provide the tools and the know-how, but you, as the client, do the work. Sometimes it requires me to impart tough love when making significant changes in your life. But if I can help you facilitate the initial changes, it will be incredible to see how you can achieve your goals and dreams. Even when your conventional medical doctors have given you a very bleak outlook.
Our approach to pre-conception care makes our work rewarding to our clients and us. If you are interested in learning more, we recommend you schedule a complimentary call with a member of our team to what is required to get started toward your dreams of a family or expanding your existing family.