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Trying to conceive? How to achieve optimal fertility for men and women

Trying to conceive? How to achieve optimal fertility for men and women | Mr Vitamins
One in six Australian couples are having difficulty achieving a pregnancy. For about 40% of these couples the problem lies with the female, 40% with the male, 10% with both partners; and in a further 10% the cause is unknown. A large percentage of “infertile” couples are actually sub-fertile, which means that they do produce eggs and sperm, but have difficulty conceiving due to disorders such as reduced sperm count, sperm abnormalities, hormone imbalances and pathological changes of the reproductive tract.

Hormonal regulation for women

The Chaste Tree fruit extract, Vitex angus-castus (Vitex), is commonly prescribed for menstrual irregularities. Herbal supplements containing Vitex have been reported to more than double the conception rate in “infertile” women when taken for 3 months or longer. If you are experiencing painful periods (dysmenorrhoea), menstrual dysfunction, and symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), talk to your healthcare practitioner about the medicinal uses of Paeonia. Paeonia is often used in combination with Licorice, Dong Quai, and Cinnamon. Paeonia combined with Licorice has been shown to regulate ovarian testosterone production, and induce regular ovulation in patients with PCOS. A combination of Paeonia and Cinnamon is widely used in traditional Japanese herbal medicine for its ovulation-inducing effect.

Addressing male infertility

Male infertility accounts for up to half of all infertility cases and affects approximately 1 in 20 men. Major causes and risk factors that can contribute to male infertility include:
  • sperm production problems (from genetic causes, infections, medicines and chemicals)
  • blockage of sperm transport
  • sperm antibodies
  • ejaculation issues
  • hormonal problems
  • stress
  • structural reproductive disturbances due to trauma
  • varicoceles, mumps
  • hormonal imbalances such as testosterone deficiency or oestrogen excess
  • sperm antibody production
  • an increased toxic load from smoking, excess alcohol, recreational drugs and
  • nutritional deficiencies
Ask our Naturopaths about Zinc supplementation - zinc is involved in virtually every aspect of male reproduction, including hormone metabolism, sperm count, motility and morphology, and normal testicular development. To check your zinc levels you can take our in-store Zinc Tally Test. Additionally, Selenium is essential for healthy sperm. Found in high concentrations in the tail of the sperm, selenium profoundly influences the structure of sperm, with the tail of the sperm reliant on adequate selenium status to maintain its “whip-like” action. Without sufficient selenium, sperm are unable to swim in the right direction or display marked immobility thus preventing fertilisation of the oocyte. A popular herb in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, Tribulus is prescribed as a tonic that increases virility, fertility and sperm production, and used in Eastern European folk medicine for increasing muscle strength and sexual potency.

CoQ10 can help you make a baby!

A good broad-spectrum pregnancy formula is highly recommended for all women trying to conceive. Assure adequate levels of choline bitartrate and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) within this formula. Recent data has shown that low levels of choline during mid-pregnancy are associated with a 2.4-fold higher risk of neural tube defects. Supplementation with CoQ10 reduces the risk of pre-eclampsia in women at risk. Moreover, low maternal levels of CoQ10 have been shown to correlate with spontaneous and threatened abortions.

For men, ubiquinol, the reduced form of CoQ10, could provide hope for infertility.

A recent study tested 228 men with 200mg oral dose of ubiquinol or placebo for six months. At the completion of the trial, improvements were seen in low sperm count, poor sperm movement, and abnormal sperm shape - some of the leading causes of male subfertility! Supplementation with CoQ10 in either ubiquinone or its reduced form ubiquinol may help to improve men’s sperm quality and improve fertility rates by increasing seminal CoQ10 levels, improving antioxidant defences and reducing oxidative stress.

Facts about optimal conception

  • Females - As a woman ages, the quantity and quality of a woman’s eggs significantly decline. Studies show conception is more successful in women aged 26 years and younger, compared to women aged 35-40 years.
  • Males - Oxidative stress is a major contributing factor in 30-80% of male infertility cases. Ask your healthcare practitioner for a good quality antioxidant to combat cellular damage.
  • Females - Overweight women have an 2-5 fold increased rate of fertility problems. They also experience a 2-3 fold increased risk for miscarriage, as well as reduced success with fertility treatment.
  • Males - An increased toxic load from smoking, excess alcohol, recreational drugs and nutritional deficiencies can contribute to male infertility. Maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle to improve your fertility.

Detoxify before attempting pregnancy!

Numerous studies have raised concerns about chemicals and their impact on human reproductive function. Low-level exposure to environmental contaminants such as phthalates, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, pesticides, and other chemicals may be subtly undermining our ability to reproduce. Phthalates, for example, can suppress estradiol production in the ovaries, leading to anovulation, where ovulation does not take place. Another plasticiser, Bisphenol A (BPA) is related to ovarian disease in women. BPA has also been reported to alter plasma LH levels, induce early onset of sexual maturation, and stimulate mammary gland development in female offspring following maternal exposure. In the male, BPA has been linked with reduced sperm production and fertility. BPA has been found in 95% of people tested in the United States; these levels are consistent with findings from other countries. ‘Ask a Naturopath’ at Mr Vitamins about what you need to do to become a parent!

Mr Vitamins Recommends:

UltraClean DHA Omega and InNatal by Bioceuticals

Mr Vitamins Bioceuticals

References

Access – Australia’s National Fertility Network. Viewed 2 Nov 2011. http://www.access.org.au/ McArthur S. Fact file: Infertility. ABC Health & Wellbeing, 2007 May. Viewed 2 Nov 2011. http://www.abc.net.au/health/library/stories/2007/05/30/1919840.htm Anon. Vitex angus-castus monograph. Altern Med Rev 2009;14(1):67-70. Braun L, Cohen M. Herbs & Natural Supplements; An evidence-based guide, 2nd ed. Chruchill Livingstone, 2007. Westphal LM, Polan ML, Trant AS. Double-blind, placebo-controlled study of Fertility blend: a nutritional supplement for improving fertility in women. Clin Exp Obstet Gynecol 2006;33(4):205-8. Bone K. Clinical applications of Ayurvedic and Chinese herbs: Monographs for the western herbal practitioner. Warwick: Phytotherapy Press, 1996. Bone K. A clinical guide to blending liquid herbs. UK: Churchill Livingstone, 2003. Sun WS, Imai A, Tagami K, Sugiyama M, Furui T, Tamaya T. In vitro stimulation of granulosa cells by a combination of different active ingredients of unkei-to. Am J Chin Med 2004;32(4):569-78. Am J Chin Med. 2004;32(4):569-78. Erectile dysfunction. Andrology Australia, 13 August 2013, https://www.andrologyaustralia.org/sexual-difficulties-2/erectile-dysfunction-2/ Male infertility. Andrology Australia, 30 May 2012, https://www.andrologyaustralia.org/reproductive-problems/male-infertility/ Braun L, Cohen M. Herbs and natural supplements: an evidence-based guide, 2nd ed. Sydney: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2010. Hawkes WC, Turek PJ. Effects of dietary selenium on sperm motility in healthy men. J Androl 2001;22(5):764-762. Vezina D, Mauffette F, Roberts KD, et al. Selenium-vitamin E supplementation in infertile men. Effects on semen parameters and micronutrient levels and distribution. Boil Trace Elem Res 1996;53(1-3):65-83. Ursini F, Helm S, Kiess M, et al. Dual function of the selenoprotein PHGPx during sperm maturation. Science 1999;285(5432):1393-1396. Mills S, Bone K. The essential guide to herbal safety. St Louis: Churchill Livingstone, 2005. Tribulus (Tribulus terrestris). Natural professional monograph 2013, www.naturalstandard.com Shaw GM, Finnell RH, Blom HJ, Carmichael SL, Vollset SE, Yang W, et al. Choline and risk of neural tube defects in a folate-fortified population. Epidemiology 2009 Sep;20(5):714-9. Teran E, Hernandez I, Nieto B, Tavara R, Ocampo JE, Calle A. Coenzyme Q10 supplementation during pregnancy reduces the risk of pre-eclampsia. Int J Gynaecol Obstet 2009 Apr;105(1):43-5. Noia G, Littarru GP, De Santis M, Oradei A, Mactromarino C, Trivellini C, et al. Coenzyme Q10 in pregnancy. Fetal Diagn Ther 1996 Jul-Aug;11(4):264-70. 21 Safarinejad MR, Safarinejad S, Shafiei N, Safarinejad S. Effects of the reduced form of coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinol) on semen parameters in men with idiopathic infertility: a double-blind, placebo controlled, randomized study. J Urol 2012 Aug;188(2):526-31. http://www.qfg.com.au/infertility/causes-of-infertility When to see a fertility specialist. Queensland Fertility Group. Viewed 2 Nov 2011. http://www.qfg.com.au/infertility/when-to-see-a-fertility-specialist Clark A. National Fertility Study 2006: Australian’s experience and knowledge of fertility issues. The Fertility Society of Australia. Viewed 2 Nov 2011. http://www.fertilitysociety.com.au/home/news/ Barrett JR. Fertile Grounds of Inquiry: Environmental Effects on Human Reproduction. Environ Health Perspect 2006;114:A644-A649. Saal FS, Hughes C. An extensive new literature concerning low-dose effects of bisphenol A shows the need for a new risk assessment. Environ Health Perspect 2005;113:926-33.

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