Infertility can be a frustrating and emotionally draining experience. The statistics on infertility are staggering; according to the CDC, about 10% of women in the United States have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant. A variety of factors, including age, lifestyle factors, genetic predisposition, and health conditions, can cause infertility. In this post, we’ll dive into the causes of infertility from a functional medicine approach.
1. Age: Women’s ovaries produce fewer and lower-quality eggs as they age. This makes it more difficult for fertilization and pregnancy to be sustained. Age-related infertility affects more women than any other cause of infertility. The functional medicine approach to age-related infertility is to focus on optimizing ovarian function and hormonal balance through nutrition, stress management, and targeted supplementation.
2. Lifestyle Factors: Lifestyle factors, such as smoking, alcohol use, and poor nutrition, can have a significant impact on fertility. Smoking has been linked to a decrease in fertility and an increased risk of miscarriage. Alcohol use can disrupt ovulation and affect sperm quality. Poor nutrition, such as a diet high in processed foods and refined carbohydrates, can lead to insulin resistance and hormonal imbalances. The functional medicine approach to lifestyle factors focuses on optimizing nutrition, reducing toxic exposure, and promoting stress reduction.
3. Genetic Predisposition: Genetics play a role in infertility, and certain genetic conditions can increase the risk of infertility. For example, Turner syndrome and Fragile X syndrome are genetic conditions that can affect fertility in women. The functional medicine approach to genetic predisposition focuses on optimizing fertility through nutrition, targeted supplementation, and lifestyle modifications.
4. Health Conditions: Certain health conditions can cause infertility in both men and women. For women, conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, and uterine fibroids can affect fertility. For men, conditions such as low sperm count and erectile dysfunction can impact fertility. The functional medicine approach to health conditions focuses on optimizing overall health and addressing underlying health conditions through targeted nutrition, targeted supplementation, and lifestyle modifications.
5. Environmental Toxins: Exposure to toxins in the environment can also have an impact on fertility. Pesticides, plastics, and heavy metals can disrupt hormonal balance and affect fertility. The functional medicine approach to environmental toxins focuses on reducing toxic exposure, optimizing nutrition, and promoting stress reduction.
A variety of factors can cause infertility, and each case is unique. By taking a functional medicine approach, we can address the root causes of infertility and optimize fertility through targeted nutrition, targeted supplementation, and lifestyle modifications. If you are struggling with infertility, working with a functional medicine practitioner can help you to understand the underlying causes and develop a personalized plan to optimize fertility and improve your chances of pregnancy success.