In this series of articles, we will be talking about obstacles to fertility, common conditions, and risk factors that can contribute to infertility. We’ll also discuss some of the things that can be done in clinical practice and what you can do at home to help overcome obstacles to fertility.
Fertility is a very complex topic; there are several different compartments and different limbs that contribute to a person’s fertility. In this article series, we’re going to discuss these six major categories:
- Structural Issues
- Hormonal Imbalances
- Environmental Toxicants
- Stress Management
- Male Infertility
Tolle Totum and Tolle Causam
What do these words mean? These are Latin words that mean: treat the total person and treat the root cause. These are two naturopathic principles out of the six principles that guide how we approach clinical practice as naturopathic physicians. This photo represents the human body, where you see this beautiful tree, but you also see its root system. The tree and the leaves are our physical body; that’s how we’re manifesting physical symptoms. Whether it’s infertility or hair loss or irregular periods or maybe just a healthy vital being, that’s what our leaves and our branches look like. But what’s causing how our leaves and our branches grow is what’s happening within the root system. This is important when we talk about complex conditions such as infertility because there’s so many different branches that can contribute to fertility. We have to treat the whole person, and we have to treat the root cause. That’s how we find true healing and how we see true results.
What Does Infertility Mean?
Medically speaking, what does infertility mean? For a woman that’s 35 years old or younger, infertility means trying for a pregnancy and being unsuccessful after 12 months of trying with frequent intercourse and without any contraception or contraceptives. For a woman that’s 35 years old or older, this time frame is six months of frequent intercourse without contraceptives and the inability to get pregnant. One in eight couples in the United States alone are affected by infertility. Around 10 million couples seek infertility services every year. This number is increasing. 40% to 45% of infertility cases come from female cases or causes, and 40% come from male causes.
I like to show these statistics so that we can start to have more of a well-rounded conversation around infertility and begin to change the narrative that we’ve seen over the last decades of years around infertility. 10% of cases are unexplained, and 5% are from really rare causes. Usually, these rare causes are from genetic abnormalities, which we’ll talk a little bit more about in the series.
What History Will Doctor’s Review When Addressing Issues of Infertility?
Here are some of the questions that I want to know when I’m assessing someone for infertility as a medical professional. These are also really helpful for you as a patient to know too because it helps you to begin to tie in or connect dots between things that may have happened to you in your medical history and what you’re experiencing right now in the current time.
Prior Pregnancy History:
- Has this patient ever been pregnant before?
- If they have, did they have a successful pregnancy?
- Do they have a history of miscarriages?
- Have they ever been pregnant before?
Menstrual Cycle History:
- What are their periods like?
- Are their periods regular?
- Are they irregular?
- Are they having a period?
- Do they have heavy bleeding with the period?
- Is it a painful period?
- If they’re on birth control, what method of birth control are they on?
- How long have they been on birth control?
- If they’ve just stopped birth control, how long have they been without it, and what do their cycles look like with and without that influence?
- How often are they having sex?
- Are they enjoying the sex they’re having?
- Is it good sex?
- Are they thinking about becoming pregnant during sex?
- Have they had any surgeries or hospitalizations?
- Have or do they have any chronic illnesses or autoimmunity?
- Any history of sexually transmitted infections?
- What is their pap history?
- What are their current medications?
- What are their past medications?
- Does this person have allergies? And if they do, are they experiencing these allergies every single day? Over time, this can affect our body in its way of performing optimally.
- Are there any congenital birth defects within the family line?
- What are the chronic conditions that we see on the paternal and maternal sides?
- What does reproductive health look like from a family perspective?
- Is this person a smoker?
- What does their alcohol intake look like?
- What does their diet look like?
- What does their stool look like?
- What’s their stress load?
- How are they sleeping?
- What’s their exercise like?
- What is their relationship with their partner?
All of these things are important as we start figuring out why a patient isn’t having a successful pregnancy or able to maintain that pregnancy. These are all things that I’m looking for when a patient is having difficulties with fertility.
Over the article series, we will discuss the common conditions and risk factors associated with infertility and what you can do to help overcome obstacles to fertility. If you’d like to speak to one of our naturopathic doctors about your obstacles to fertility, call 480-588-6856 for a free 10-minute meet and greet.