Did you know that according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) as many as 186 million individuals struggle with fertility? We take a look at five quick things to know that we hope can help on your fertility journey….
ONE: Your cycle: the fifth vital sign: easy to get misled however…
This may sound like an obvious point but you’ll be surprised by how many people get caught out and misled by modern tech. However, really understanding your own cycle is hugely powerful in picking up signs and signals of a problem. The trouble is, modern life makes it very easy to get misled and fail to pick up on some subtle signs.
Ovulation (knowing when and if it’s happening) is one major signal to watch out for. In fact, lack of ovulation or issues with it is the number one cause of fertility issues for women. Research shows that many of the modern day tools that we use to detect ovulation are actually not very accurate. Largely either because they use computer based algorithms and are not based on individual information (many period tracking apps), or as a result of undetected hormonal imbalance which can throw off results. This makes LH test kits particularly problematic.
Don’t get caught out…
The pee on a stick ovulation detection kits (LH) are ok if you have a very normal cycle. They are also ok if you use them religiously and to the letter. However, if you have issues like PCOS they can be very misleading and ineffective.
We have found the most useful (99% accuracy regardless of hormonal imbalance) is by OvuSense. Not sponsored. The reason being, this detects core body temperature internally which should start to rise as ovulation begins. This makes it very reliable.
Ultimately – accurately getting to know and picking up if and when you are ovulating is key. Lack of ovulation could signal issues like PCOS. A gap of 9 days or less between ovulation and onset of your period could signal a luteal phase deficiency (lack of progesterone). Which could mean issues with implantation and miscarriage.
TWO: Not just a female thing…
Once again. It may sound like an obvious point, but you’d be surprised how many women think the issue lies only or principally with them. The research shows that this is simply not true. Not only have sperm counts halved in the last few decades on average, but we know that statistically when it comes to infertility the issue is usually 1/3 female side, 1/3 the male and a 1/3 due to the combination.
Sperm cells are particularly vulnerable and are suffering from our modern lifestyles. Lack of sleep, heat, oxidative stress, BMI, hormone imbalance, extremes of exercise are just a few of the culprits.
Once again however these issues can be easy to miss. A simple sperm analysis which is often the only thing examined focuses on motility, count and morphology. It however misses out on a crucial factor: sperm DNA fragmentation. This can lead to infertility and miscarriage. It is not offered as standard and even more crucially a ‘normal’ sperm test can hide it. Something to ask for if you are older/have had issues with miscarriage/unexplained infertility.
THREE: chronic inflammation is a root cause of many potential issues…
Inflammation in the right setting ie. fighting an infection is crucial to survival. It is essentially our body’s defence system. However, our modern lives are increasingly meaning that this defence system is constantly switched ‘on’ at a low level. Even when there is no specific infection. The trouble with this is that it has been linked to damaging the body’s own cells. Particularly vulnerable = the reproductive system and sperm cells.
In fact, research is increasingly linking chronic low level inflammation with a whole host of conditions. From PCOS, to endometriosis, to poor sperm quality to complications with implantation and even miscarriage.
FOUR: egg quality: alas as we get older, this gets tougher…
Modern life means many of us are delaying parenthood. The trouble is that unfortunately age is the number one cause of a decline in egg quality. Lower quality eggs = longer time to conception and greater risk of miscarriage.
Knowing your own picture is always helpful. One way to get an indication (although it is not a definitive measure of fertility) is to test your AMH. This hormone gives an idea of number and quality of remaining eggs.
The good news however is that everyone ages at a slightly different rate. Think CoQu10, melatonin, folate…
FIVE: the reproductive microbiome:
Gut health is all the rage these days. However, the latest pioneering thinking on collections of bacteria is actually around the reproductive microbiome and its role in fertility and pregnancy. Research in fact suggests that a dominance of Lactobacillus is key. Imbalance, has been linked to all sorts of issues from endometriosis, to implantation issues to preterm birth.
Research is still ongoing around this area – however, one easy way to check is to check the vaginal pH (you can buy test strips on Amazon) – ideal is a slightly acidic (pH5) thanks to the Lactic Acid.
Chat to your doctor if in doubt – however a Lactobacillus supplement or even a vaginal suppository (again ask your doctor) could give you more of the good bacteria we need.
This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The information on this website has been developed following years of personal research and from referenced and sourced medical research. Before making any changes we strongly recommend you consult a healthcare professional before you begin.