What role can a Naturopathic Doctor serve in your fertility journey?
As a naturopathic physician with a practice focus in women’s health and fertility, I wanted to provide a brief overview on how I support my fertility patients and how having a naturopathic perspective can contribute to your fertility journey.
To start, I will be evaluating your foundations of health. I’ll be asking you all about the foods you are eating and how we can maximize nutrients and make sure we’re covering all of you and future baby’s nutritional needs, how much water you’re drinking (probably not enough! Go drink some water right now!), what you’re doing for exercise, how your digestion is moving along, the quality of your sleep and an incredibly important factor for our overall health and hormone health is what your stress levels look like. Yes, I know you’re in for fertility support, but as a naturopathic doctor I treat the WHOLE person. I want to make sure your body as a sum of its systems is functioning as well as it can be before I start digging into the nitty gritty of your hormone + reproductive health and targeting treatment towards your reproductive system.
For example: if we were to start a targeted hormone treatment towards boosting up your estrogen production so you can build an adequate uterine lining, but you’re not sleeping well and your stress is through the roof with work/life/health concerns, cortisol – our stress hormone is going to be negatively feeding back to the brain and inhibiting LH and FSH secretion (hormones from the pituitary that signal to the ovaries to produce estrogen + progesterone) ultimately decreasing or completely inhibiting what we’re trying to work towards! My point being – targeted treatment is important, but I also consider the foundations of your overall health too!
One of the naturopathic principles that this branch of medicine is built off of is “find and treat the root cause”. I am constantly looking for the “why” your fertility journey is going the way it is and when the “why” is narrowed down, the treatment can be that much more targeted towards your unique case and get the results we want. No treatment algorithm here, only individualized evidence-based medicine. By looking at specific lab work, your menstrual cycle trends, and I’ll probably get you to start tracking your basal body temperature (BBT) for more information on BBT, check out my “Fertile Window” post – I can filter through that information, figure out what may be going on with respect with your hormones, and then find an intervention that is going to best support your body and hormones.
One aspect that drew me towards practicing naturopathic medicine (with respect to all treatments, not just for fertility) is the goal of supporting the body’s natural processes and restoring the rhythms of the body. I employ supportive therapies to encourage the body’s own production of hormones and help guide the rhythm of hormone production without suppressing it or taking over. For me, that’s where the beauty of naturopathic medicine is.
That being said, there are some stubborn cases where suppressive therapies (pharmaceuticals) are required initially to kick things into gear, or if we’re racing the clock. I take each fertility patient case by case, with the needs and wants of the patients front and center, and we decide how best to proceed.
For fertility cases where more intensive treatment is required (IUI, IVF etc.) there is still a role for naturopathic care. I believe in cooperative and collaborative medicine where the patient has the best team of healthcare professionals all working towards the same goal – to help the patient achieve pregnancy. While the reproductive endocrinologist is managing the technicalities of IVF (it truly is amazing what they can do!) I can help support the foundations of health so your body is as prepared as it can be heading into an IVF cycle to maximize your chances of pregnancy.
I’ll wrap it up here with one more thing I wanted to touch on in this post as to what a naturopathic doctor can do for you in your fertility journey. I’m here to help you navigate all the information that is available at your finger-tips on the internet these days. A big one being supplements. What supplements you should actually be taking, and which ones are not necessary or are not well researched. I spend a lot of my time reviewing research on prenatal supplements, which supplements best support egg quality, which supplements are almost, if not more effective than pharmaceuticals in treating “X” condition. I applaud you for digging into the world wide web to take charge of your health, but I’m here for you – you can bring the information you’ve gathered over the months/years to me during your appointment and I can help you sift through it so we can get you on only the medically necessary, well researched and safe supplements.
I could honestly go on and on. Fertility is a topic I am extremely passionate about. I love untangling the web to find the “why” and then supporting the foundations of health, implementing targeted and supportive therapies, as well as co-managing cases with other medical healthcare professionals (OBGYN’s, REI’s, acupuncturists, Family doctors etc!).
I am here to serve you on your fertility journey.