At a glance:
- Imbalanced hormone and poor overall health can lead to infertility
- Bio Identical Hormone Therapy (BHRT) can be used as treatment for imbalanced hormones
- Functional medicine helps to address poor overall health that could lead to infertility
- BHRT and Functional medicine helps couples conceive, without being heavily dependant on laboratory made medicine but on a less aggressive, more holistic strategies.
How Infertility Is Treated Currently
It can be very challenging and frustrating for couples when they’re trying to have a child together. Often this process requires plenty of patience and determination. The good news is, in this day and age the options for fertility treatments have increased and medical technology has improved the way we approach this issue.
An increasing number of couples are turning to more natural and holistic treatment approaches to help them conceive. In these recent decades, assisted reproductive technology has introduced the world to concepts like fertility medication, cryopreservation and in-vitro fertilization.
These strategies have shown various levels of success with different couples depending on what their problems are. Couples who struggle to conceive may face issues that affect the husband, wife or both spouses. Mainstream treatments usually try and diagnose the issue as a single problem and treat only that one health problem.
However, there are alternative approaches that can treat infertility as a manifestation of several interlinking health issues, and not just the symptom of one organ. These approaches are known as BHRT and Functional Medicine.
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT)
BHRT is a form of treatment that attempts to bring imbalanced hormone levels to their healthy levels. This therapy is often used for women who suffer from a myriad of reproductive ailments such as irregular periods and severe pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS).
However, we also know that hormone imbalances can lead to infertility as the whole reproductive cycle is affected. A woman’s ability to release her ovum during the reproductive cycle depends of the correct sequence of hormones being released and in the correct amounts. In women with hormonal imbalances, this process is often imperfect, causing difficulties in the ovulation process and poor pregnancy outcome.
Important reproductive hormones in a woman’s body includes Progesterone, Estrogen, Luteinizing Hormone (LH), Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). To a certain degree, the reproductive system is also dependent on a hormone called Cortisol that increases blood sugar and regulates the fats and proteins in the blood. Cortisol is usually released during stress, which explains why some women experience irregular periods and ovulation problems when they are under tremendous stress.
In addition to women, men can also benefit from BHRT when it comes to increasing their fertility. Men depend very much on one hormone in their body, namely Testosterone. A lack of this hormone can cause many functional reproductive issues in men too.
How BHRT is Implemented to Increase Fertility
To begin, a baseline blood test will be conducted to determine whether all the hormones(not just sexual hormones) are at their optimal levels. BHRT will then be prescribed in order to bring decreased hormones up to their healthy and balanced levels. This is done via pills, injections, creams or a suppository.
Optimal hormonal levels aren’t just important for getting pregnant, but equally important for staying pregnant and carrying a child to full term. This is also where the next strategy called functional medicine comes in.
Sometimes, infertility is caused by problems that are beyond the reproductive system. The reproductive system is tied to almost all the other systems in the body including the endocrine system, the digestive system, the cardiovascular and circulation system as well as the lymphatic system.
If any one or more of these systems are unhealthy, they may affect the reproductive system as well. Functional medicine relies of a series of tests on various parts of the body’s functions to determine whether or not there is an issue anywhere else. For this reason, a full blood test is usually done to access the functions of all the important organs like the liver, blood, pancreas and more.
How Functional Medicine Can Improve Fertility
Although functional medicine is very much a natural lifestyle approach, it is rooted deep in science. In functional medicine, no heavy drugs are prescribed. Instead, changes to diet and lifestyle are adhered to. For example, an elimination diet is done where foods that tend to increase inflammation are systematically eliminated from daily meals for 30 days at a time to see whether the patient improves or not. These foods include eggs, dairy, soybeans, gluten products and more.
Apart from that, a detoxification program is prescribed whereby the patient is told to refrain from smoking and alcohol consumption, with increased intake of vegetables and grains in every meal. It also involves the reduction of stress and cultivating a more positive outlook on life through exercise and encouraging activities.
One example of how functional medicine can be used to help couples conceive is to manage insulin levels and diabetes. A constantly elevated sugar level can be extremely detrimental to ovulation as well as successful pregnancy outcomes. So controlling the future mother’s sugar level by minimizing carbohydrate and sugar consumption will improve her overall health, thereby helping to bring the reproductive cycle back to normal and better pregnancy outcomes.
Looking at Reproductive Health Differently
Both BHRT and Functional Medicine are rather novel ways to help couples conceive. For one, it does not depend heavily on laboratory made medicine but on more holistic strategies. It relies on the fact that our health as a whole depends on how we live our lives.
It is therefore completely reasonable that BHRT and Functional Medicine be considered as viable treatment options, especially when more conventional ways have not worked as well as expected. Functional medicine and BHRT attempts to fill in the gaps which conventional fertility treatments have not covered, which is treating it as an chronic condition rather than an acute one.