As a father, I can tell you that, despite the days I want to kill them, having children was a very important decision my life. But this isn’t always an option when infertility in women and men is an issue.
Fertility problems can create stress and disappointment in a relationship and can lead to sexual problems, anxiety and divorce. Heartbreak on top of heartbreak.
I have certainly covered the topic of infertility (both infertility in women AND in men) many times in the past, always looking at it from a natural standpoint (these prior blog posts can be read by clicking here). “Fertility specialists” have an agenda and really don’t seem to care why you can’t get pregnant. They are going to do what they do and to heck with what your underlying problem might be. They are going to used Clomid first and IVF second, moving on to more expensive procedures if that fails.
The expression, “when all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail,” fits here. Few “fertility specialists” will have the important discussion with you on thyroid function, achieving an optimal weight, chemical exposures (BPA, phthaltes, flame retardants, etc…), exercise, pulling back from being on a diabetic pathway, exercise and stress management. All of these are very real factors in a successful pregnancy, but they will require a sincere commitment from you and your partner (YES–both partners need to get on board).
Some of these changes, like managing stress, may involve a complete overhaul of the way you view life. It’s a major factor in infertility and then feeds back into the problem when stress levels rise from the fertility issue itself. This is probably one of the reasons why there are always stories about couples who adopt a child and then get pregnant shortly afterwards. In these cases stress was probably the major player.
While this sounds overwhelming and “not important” in getting pregnant when you could just run down to the nearest “fertility specialist” for a prescription, the stakes are far higher than most couples realize. If your stress levels are high enough to affect your ability to get pregnant, if you do get pregnant (regardless of how), your stress levels are absolutely going to pre-program your little one for a lifetime of stress-related issues. THIS is what is at stake.
Of course, some of the changes do not require life-altering approaches. A simple, good quality prenatal is one of them. Do NOT do any of the pharmaceutical / prescription ones. They are all junk and I have yet to see one that is worth more money than a Centrum from Walmart. A good quality prenatal is going to cost you at least $20 per month and will not be covered by your insurance.
Another simple approach to helping infertility in women is making sure you are getting enough vitamin D. Yup. The simple, seems-to-help-with-everything vitamin D. Same stuff. Usually not more than $20 per year for the high quality stuff we offer our patients here in the office. But just how much can it help?
This particular study looked at just this question. In it, researchers looked at a group of 335 women undergoing IVF treatment to see how much vitamin D levels had an impact on a successful outcome. The cutoff was 20 ng/ml as deficient. Here’s what they found:
- 20% of the women with low vitamin D got pregnant while a much higher 31% achieved pregnancy with higher vitamin D levels.
- Overall, women with vitamin D levels above 20 ng/mL were 215% more likely to become pregnant.
- Even better, the women who had higher vitamin D levels (30 ng/mL) had the highest chances of pregnancy.
These are pretty good odds for just a simple, safe and inexpensive intervention. Keep in mind that most vitamin D experts (myself included) still consider 30 ng/dl too low and that more optimal levels should be closer to 60-100 ng/dl. So how much better would pregnancy rates be if we looked at the highest levels?
It is also important to note that this was not an intervention trial. These women were not given vitamin D to see if it could improve pregnancy success, but clearly there is an association between vitamin D levels and fertility. It’s a strong enough argument for me to recommend at least 2,000-4,000 IU of vitamin D daily to couples (yes–both partners!) who are considering getting pregnant.