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Naturopathic Treatment for Infertility

In this article:

If you and your partner are struggling to have a baby, you are not alone. One in eight couples in the United States has difficulty getting or staying pregnant.1Rooney KL, Domar AD. The relationship between stress and infertility. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2018;20(1):41-47. https://doi.org/10.31887/DCNS.2018.20.1/klrooney Fertility challenges often take substantial physical, emotional, and financial tolls. Between endless doctor visits, prescription medications, hormone injections, and constant lab tests, trying to have a baby can feel like an exhausting, mechanical process.

Infertility is defined as trying to conceive for one year (or six months after age 35) with no success, and it affects both men and women. Some data2The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Significant ongoing decline in sperm counts of Western men. ScienceDaily. Published July 26, 2017. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170726110954.htm suggests that infertility is on the rise.

Some couples will consider assisted reproductive technology (ART), such as artificial insemination, intrauterine insemination, and in-vitro fertilization (IVF). While these approaches can be effective, they are financially out of reach for many families. Treatment success for procedures like IVF ranges between 13 percent and 36 percent for women over 35.3Tan TY, Lau SK, Loh SF, Tan HH. Female ageing and reproductive outcome in assisted reproduction cycles. Singapore Med J. 2014;55(6):305-309. https://doi.org/10.11622/smedj.2014081

Couples and individuals trying to conceive may also be concerned about the long-term risks4Lu YH, Wang N, Jin F. Long-term follow-up of children conceived through assisted reproductive technology. J Zhejiang Univ Sci B. 2013;14(5):359-371. https://doi.org/10.1631/jzus.B1200348 of ART for the baby’s health. With so many variables, some patients choose to explore other options.

Why Some Women Struggle to Get Pregnant

Although some couples receive a diagnosis from conventional doctors, many have “unexplained infertility.” Fertility challenges can be caused by poor sperm health, poor egg quality, hormonal imbalances (including cycle abnormalities), obesity, and more. A number of root causes are linked to lifestyle and environmental factors, and NDs are trained to look for and uncover these underlying issues.

Safe, natural, and effective lifestyle modifications and therapies can address these problems, strengthen your overall health, and improve your chances of getting pregnant. Because of their rigorous training in clinical nutrition, lifestyle counseling, botanical medicine, and more, naturopathic doctors are experts at engaging and empowering patients to make lifestyle changes proven to improve health outcomes.

Naturopathic Doctors Help Patients Conceive Naturally

Many couples prioritize their health before starting fertility treatments for the best chance of having a baby. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) are trained to optimize patients’ health for and beyond conception. They have helped countless men and women resolve fertility challenges to conceive easily, safely, and cost effectively. Avoiding invasive interventions when possible, NDs guide couples in enhancing fertility and maintaining a healthy, happy pregnancy.

Identifying Underlying Causes of Infertility

Naturopathic doctors begin by assessing the couple’s overall health and well-being. Initial appointments include a detailed family history and medical history, as well as a discussion on diet, physical activity, environmental exposures, sleep patterns, and psychoemotional stressors for both partners. Women can expect a conversation about their menstrual cycle and any strategies they’ve tried in attempts to conceive. An ND may order bloodwork, imaging tests, and nutritional labs. They will dig deeper if tests uncover red flags.

Pre-Conception Care

Proper preconception care has been shown to enhance fertility and lead to healthier outcomes, both for couples conceiving naturally and those using ART. NDs encourage couples to spend a few months preparing for conception. During this time, NDs work with patients to optimize health, focusing on these primary aspects:

  • Underlying health conditions, such as obesity in both men5Sermondade N, Faure C, Fezeu L, Lévy R, Czernichow S; Obesity-Fertility Collaborative Group. Obesity and increased risk for oligozoospermia and azoospermia. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(5):440-442. https://doi.org/10.1001/archinternmed.2011.1382 and women6Boots C, Stephenson MD. Does obesity increase the risk of miscarriage in spontaneous conception: a systematic review. Semin Reprod Med. 2011;29(6):507-513. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0031-1293204
  • Optimize diet and nutrition
  • Manage stress
  • Incorporate comprehensive micronutrient support
  • Optimize intercourse timing through education about the menstrual cycle

Improving Egg Quality

Doctor examines couple at fertility check-up

Poor egg quality is a common underlying cause of fertility obstacles. Egg quality declines naturally with age, and sometimes prematurely. In both cases, it’s essential to understand the reason for the decline. Causes can be nutritional, hormonal, or both. For nutritional cases, supplementation with antioxidants such as melatonin,7Batıoğlu AS, Sahin U, Gürlek B, Oztürk N, Unsal E. The efficacy of melatonin administration on oocyte quality. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2012;28(2):91-93. https://doi.org/10.3109/09513590.2011.589925 vitamins such as DHEA,8Gleicher N, Barad DH. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) supplementation in diminished ovarian reserve (DOR). Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2011;9:67. Published 2011 May 17. https://doi.org/10.1186/1477-7827-9-67 and other plant-based antioxidants9Roychoudhury S, Agarwal A, Virk G, Cho CL. Potential role of green tea catechins in the management of oxidative stress-associated infertility. Reprod Biomed Online. 2017;34(5):487-498. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rbmo.2017.02.006 can help improve egg quality. Hormonal irregularities affecting egg quality and ovulation include endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome. Naturopathic medicine has many different remedies to help women address these imbalances, including the use of botanical therapies.

Better Sperm Health

Sperm production, quality, and motility are often at the heart of male fertility challenges. While individual recommendations are tailored, naturopathic doctors help support sperm health through lifestyle changes such as smoking cessation and limited alcohol consumption. NDs will recommend specific changes to a patient’s diet and nutrition, including supplementation with micronutrients such as zinc10Atig F, Raffa M, Habib BA, Kerkeni A, Saad A, Ajina M. Impact of seminal trace element and glutathione levels on semen quality of Tunisian infertile men. BMC Urol. 2012;12:6. Published 2012 Mar 19. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2490-12-6, L-carnitine,11Balercia G, Regoli F, Armeni T, Koverech A, Mantero F, Boscaro M. Placebo-controlled double-blind randomized trial on the use of L-carnitine, L-acetylcarnitine, or combined L-carnitine and L-acetylcarnitine in men with idiopathic asthenozoospermia. Fertil Steril. 2005;84(3):662-671. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fertnstert.2005.03.064 CoQ1012Balercia G, Mancini A, Paggi F, et al. Coenzyme Q10 and male infertility. J Endocrinol Invest. 2009;32(7):626-632. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03346521, and antioxidants such as selenium, when necessary.13Safarinejad MR, Safarinejad S. Efficacy of selenium and/or N-acetyl-cysteine for improving semen parameters in infertile men: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study. J Urol. 2009;181(2):741-751. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.juro.2008.10.015

Enhancing Clinical Care with Tender Loving Care

The journey to pregnancy can feel like a physical and emotional rollercoaster. Naturopathic doctors support patients with counseling throughout the process. Psychological support and sympathetic counseling are elements of clinical care shown to improve pregnancy success rates.14Maleki-Saghooni N, Amirian M, Sadeghi R, Latifnejad Roudsari R. Effectiveness of infertility counseling on pregnancy rate in infertile patients undergoing assisted reproductive technologies: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Reprod Biomed. 2017;15(7):391-402.

The AANP and the INM would like to acknowledge Jaclyn Chasse, ND, for contributing to this article.

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Experience the benefits of personalized natural healthcare with a trusted, licensed naturopathic doctor in your area.
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Footnotes

  • 1
    Rooney KL, Domar AD. The relationship between stress and infertility. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2018;20(1):41-47. https://doi.org/10.31887/DCNS.2018.20.1/klrooney
  • 2
    The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Significant ongoing decline in sperm counts of Western men. ScienceDaily. Published July 26, 2017. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170726110954.htm
  • 3
    Tan TY, Lau SK, Loh SF, Tan HH. Female ageing and reproductive outcome in assisted reproduction cycles. Singapore Med J. 2014;55(6):305-309. https://doi.org/10.11622/smedj.2014081
  • 4
    Lu YH, Wang N, Jin F. Long-term follow-up of children conceived through assisted reproductive technology. J Zhejiang Univ Sci B. 2013;14(5):359-371. https://doi.org/10.1631/jzus.B1200348
  • 5
    Sermondade N, Faure C, Fezeu L, Lévy R, Czernichow S; Obesity-Fertility Collaborative Group. Obesity and increased risk for oligozoospermia and azoospermia. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(5):440-442. https://doi.org/10.1001/archinternmed.2011.1382
  • 6
    Boots C, Stephenson MD. Does obesity increase the risk of miscarriage in spontaneous conception: a systematic review. Semin Reprod Med. 2011;29(6):507-513. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0031-1293204
  • 7
    Batıoğlu AS, Sahin U, Gürlek B, Oztürk N, Unsal E. The efficacy of melatonin administration on oocyte quality. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2012;28(2):91-93. https://doi.org/10.3109/09513590.2011.589925
  • 8
    Gleicher N, Barad DH. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) supplementation in diminished ovarian reserve (DOR). Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2011;9:67. Published 2011 May 17. https://doi.org/10.1186/1477-7827-9-67
  • 9
    Roychoudhury S, Agarwal A, Virk G, Cho CL. Potential role of green tea catechins in the management of oxidative stress-associated infertility. Reprod Biomed Online. 2017;34(5):487-498. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rbmo.2017.02.006
  • 10
    Atig F, Raffa M, Habib BA, Kerkeni A, Saad A, Ajina M. Impact of seminal trace element and glutathione levels on semen quality of Tunisian infertile men. BMC Urol. 2012;12:6. Published 2012 Mar 19. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2490-12-6
  • 11
    Balercia G, Regoli F, Armeni T, Koverech A, Mantero F, Boscaro M. Placebo-controlled double-blind randomized trial on the use of L-carnitine, L-acetylcarnitine, or combined L-carnitine and L-acetylcarnitine in men with idiopathic asthenozoospermia. Fertil Steril. 2005;84(3):662-671. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fertnstert.2005.03.064
  • 12
    Balercia G, Mancini A, Paggi F, et al. Coenzyme Q10 and male infertility. J Endocrinol Invest. 2009;32(7):626-632. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03346521
  • 13
    Safarinejad MR, Safarinejad S. Efficacy of selenium and/or N-acetyl-cysteine for improving semen parameters in infertile men: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study. J Urol. 2009;181(2):741-751. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.juro.2008.10.015
  • 14
    Maleki-Saghooni N, Amirian M, Sadeghi R, Latifnejad Roudsari R. Effectiveness of infertility counseling on pregnancy rate in infertile patients undergoing assisted reproductive technologies: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Reprod Biomed. 2017;15(7):391-402.

This article is provided by

The Institute for Natural Medicine, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. INM’s mission is to transform health care in the United States by increasing public awareness of natural medicine and access to naturopathic doctors. Naturopathic medicine, with its person-centered principles and practices, has the potential to reverse the tide of chronic illness overwhelming healthcare systems and to empower people to achieve and maintain optimal lifelong health. INM strives to fulfil this mission through the following initiatives:

  • Education – Reveal the unique benefits and outcomes of evidence-based natural medicine
  • Access – Connect patients to licensed naturopathic doctors
  • Research – Expand quality research on this complex and comprehensive system of medicine

About The Author(s)

Author

Institute for Natural Medicine Staff

Our dedicated content team of professional staff writers represents decades of experience covering essential natural health topics in an accessible, evidence-based, and engaging way. Guided by a shared passion for holistic well-being, each and every one of our writers strives to empower our readers to take charge of their health.

Supported by a rigorous fact-checking and medical editing process from licensed naturopathic doctors that examines the latest in peer-reviewed research, our team brings their in-depth knowledge of natural health practices into every piece of content we produce. We strive to be the gold standard for evidence-based natural medicine, providing trustworthy information and inspiring narratives to help you live your best health, naturally.

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