Naturopathy’s Role in Supporting In Vitro Fertilisation
Can Naturopathy support the IVF process?
Assisted reproductive technologies, like IVF, assist the physical interaction between a viable egg and sperm and then introduce the fertilised embryo into the uterus with the hope of a resulting pregnancy. It is usually a lengthy, emotional, and costly last resort for couples who are struggling to conceive. Naturopathy can be incredibly valuable to support the IVF process and improve success rates. Here is an overview of specific ways that naturopathy can achieve this:
Balance hormones and improve egg quality
Healthy, balanced hormones are required for fertility, conception, and pregnancy. For the embryo to implant and develop, the body needs to produce and adjust these hormones properly, in correct ratios. This alone can be the cause of infertility.
Working with a naturopath prior to IVF can prepare the body, ensuring these hormones are healthy and balanced. Specifically, a naturopath will support the 2 phases of reproduction; the follicular phase (to optimise egg development), and the luteal phase (to optimise the uterine lining for implantation). This also improves the health of the egg’s cell membrane, its receptors, its ability to accept sperm, and allows it the energy required to begin division once fertilised.
Improve sperm quality
Naturopathy isn’t just for women; the male needs to be able to produce good quality sperm to fertilise the egg. Naturopathic treatment can improve sperm count, motility, morphology (the sperm’s shape), and the integrity of its DNA. DNA integrity is of extreme importance in minimising the risk of miscarriage as once the egg is fertilised, the DNA contained in the sperm provide important information about how the embryo develops. If this DNA is damaged (by oxidative stress, for example), and the egg cannot compensate for this, miscarriage can result.
Semen analysis alone cannot provide much insight into the status of the sperm’s DNA, and further testing is required. A naturopath can identify when to refer you for such testing, and also provide treatment to reduce the level of oxidative stress.
Support during the IVF process
There are many other benefits to naturopathic support throughout the IVF process, including:
- Liver support to improve response to IVF drugs and reduce negative side effects
- Nervous system and adrenal support to manage stress before, during and after procedures
- Immune system support to reduce the risk of embryo rejection, infection, and inflammation following IVF procedures
- Supporting general health (e.g. healthy weight, nutritional and antioxidant status, microbiome status), all of which are essential for healthy fertility, conception and pregnancy
- Specific dietary and lifestyle support, including how to avoid endocrine disruptors and other toxic chemicals that wreak havoc on our reproductive system (and our bodies in general)
- Integrative medical testing (e.g. specific hormone levels, including thyroid hormones, genetic methylation defects, such as MTHFR polymorphisms, etc.), especially for those with a family history of miscarriage. No stone is left unturned!
Infertility is a complex and individual problem. Naturopathy seeks to determine the root cause of this and remove any obstacles to healing so the body can be truly prepared for conception and a healthy pregnancy, including via IVF. If you would like further information please contact our Naturopath Kathleen for a comprehensive naturopathic plan to support you and your partner through your IVF journey.
- Robinson L, Gallos ID, Conner SJ, et al. The effect of sperm DNA fragmentation on miscarriage rates: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Hum Reprod. 2012 Oct;27(10):2908-17.