Addressing Root Causes of Reproductive Issues Using Functional Genomic Fertility
Holistic approaches to fertility before you venture to assisted, reproductive technologies (ART) could save you time, money, and heartache.
Most people spend more time preparing a nursery for their baby than they do preparing their bodies for creating and/or growing a baby.
Recently, achieving or sustaining pregnancy has become increasingly difficult for many women.
Beginning to optimize our bodies even just a few months before trying to conceive will greatly improve our chances of not only getting pregnant, but also of having robust, smart children, smoother pregnancies, and an easier postpartum period. However, what we do to our bodies years before we get pregnant – what we put in them, on them, or put them through – can play a huge part in the betterment or detriment of our own health, the health of our offspring, and the health of the earth.
Fertility issues like repeat miscarriage and unexplained infertility are on the rise. So are autism, learning disorders, autoimmunity, and allergies. These challenges are the result of nutrient deficiencies, toxins all around us, and oxidative stress.
Thousands of peer-reviewed journal articles discuss the relationship between oxidative stress and impaired reproductive outcomes., Yet, most fertility specialists only focus on forcing hormones into specific ranges to achieve pregnancy. This is a major reason why assisted reproductive technologies are often unsuccessful or increase the potential for having children with special needs.
Simply put, oxidative stress is created when there are not enough antioxidants in the body to neutralize free radicals that are harmful to cells. Our bodies produce their own antioxidants, as well as getting them through nourishing foods and quality supplements. Oxidative stress not only damages the structure of the cell, but the information it contains and its ability to properly function. Our eggs and sperm are the cells that are the most vulnerable to oxidative stress.
What causes oxidative stress?
Anything that stresses the body such as toxins like pesticides, heavy metals, radiation, mold exposure, and the slew of chemicals that bombard us in our modern society are widely known causes of free radicals and oxidative stress. And yes, physical and emotional stressors create it as well.
Instead of forcing hormones into specific ranges to achieve pregnancy, we must ask why our hormones are imbalanced in the first place. Again, nutrient deficiencies, toxins, and oxidative stress sling wrenches in all the systems in our bodies, including those that control energy production and hormonal balance (i.e., stress/thyroid/reproductive).
Our bodies require nutritional resources to procreate. If Mama has nutrient deficiencies, where will her growing fetus get them from?, Nutrient deficiencies can occur even if someone is eating a balanced diet. Since our soils are not as abundant in nutrients as they used to be, the food grown in them is not either. The processing of food strips it of nutrients. The vast array of common gut issues also impact the body’s ability to absorb and assimilate nutrients. Some people are more genetically prone to not transport or utilize specific nutrients as well as others.
Our bodies also require energy to procreate (and nutrients are needed to make that energy!). When there are stressors signaling an alarm in your body, the body uses energy to maintain the “fight or flight” response, and the message is sent to the reproductive system that it is not a good time to make a baby. Our bodies need to be in the “rest, digest, and repair” state to feel like it is a safe time to procreate. If the body feels that there is danger or stress, it will shut down mating capability in order to preserve energy and resources.
Because our bodies have an innate ability to heal themselves and procreate, it is totally possible to overcome reproductive challenges from menstrual problems to infertility; How this is achieved is different for each individual person, so functional and genetic testing is a good place to identify what they are.
For a foundational start to better health and fertility, I recommend eating organic and avoiding exposure to toxins such as hair dyes, synthetic body care products, and gardening chemicals. For those who can afford to find the specific reason why they may be struggling with infertility, I suggest seeking out a fertility expert who can perform Functional Genomic Fertility (FGF) testing and counseling.
FGF gets to the root causes of reproductive issues using genetic interpretation, functional lab testing and a meticulous intake session that covers past and present conditions in all areas of diet, lifestyle and environment. It will help you to identify nutrient deficiencies, sources of oxidative stress, and which toxins are burdening the body as well as which detoxification pathways may need some assistance.
There are even functional lab tests that can assess how well mitochondria are making energy (ATP). Oxidative stress damages mitochondria. Mitochondrial efficiency is essential for creating offspring. Fun fact: it is only the mother that passes on mitochondrial DNA to the child. We want to make sure it is in good working order!
A few of the functional labs that I often run are a Urine Organic Acids Test, a Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones (DUTCH), and routine blood work that is looked at within optimal functioning levels (as opposed to the broad “normal” levels).
Because Functional Genomic Nutrition is so personalized, you’ll never feel like a number or like someone is trying to fit their fertility protocol on you just because it worked for other folks.
The process of FGF exposes what’s causing your alarm to sound. This could be, for instance, an “unwelcome guest” flying under the radar in your body (viruses, fungal overgrowth, parasites, etc), blood sugar issues (which is very common, even in those without any symptoms), or exposure to xenoestrogens (hormone mimickers) found in plastics, pesticides, and other commonplace items. Your genetic report can shine a bright light on genetic predispositions that can cause said stressors, while functional lab testing can allow us to know if those genetic variants are expressing and if so, to what degree.
When we address root causes of fertility issues the body can shift from survival mode into procreation mode.
Time is a critically important factor for people that want to achieve a successful pregnancy. FGF can help save time and money by cutting through much of the guesswork. Even if clients got all the lab tests necessary to get a full picture of what the root cause/s could be, it would cost far less than one cycle of IVF, all while getting their body more nourished, improving its detoxification abilities and energy production, turning off the chronic fight-or-flight response and improving the potential of having healthy children.
BIO: Jaclyn is a Functional Genomic Nutrition Consultant that has a passion for fertility optimization and reproductive wellness. She works with her clients to determine why hormones are imbalanced to begin with and to create personalized plans of action based on genetics, health history, diet/lifestyle, and biochemistry. Jaclyn has a BS in Psychology from Drexel University. She is a researcher and practitioner with the NutriGenetic Research Institute. She can be contacted through her website, JaclynDowns.com.