Are you too sick to get pregnant? Intestinal health and its relationship with infertility
Whether you are having trouble getting pregnant or have had one or more miscarriages, you are not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 10 percent of women (6.1 million) in the United States between the ages of 15 and 44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant. Currently, to treat infertility, drugs are used to stimulate ovulation or adjust hormone levels. There is intrauterine insemination, commonly known as artificial insemination, where the woman is injected with specially prepared sperm. There is also assisted reproductive technology (ART). ART works by removing eggs from a woman’s body and then mixing them with sperm to form embryos. The embryos are then put back into the woman’s body.
Now, I would like to talk about an alternative approach. Let’s not just focus on hard get pregnant but get the body healthy enough to become pregnant. It’s one thing to get pregnant. Another is to achieve a healthy pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby. Standard treatments do not address the mother’s overall health. This information also applies to women who plan to have a child in the future or want to achieve general good health and weight loss goals.
Before becoming pregnant, you must first address and restore the integrity and functioning of your health and immune system. This seems to be lacking in standard care. When a woman becomes pregnant and also suffers from leaky gut, sugar balance problems, multiple allergies or food intolerances or toxicity, she is putting her baby at risk for developing autism, eczema, asthma, and food allergies. Pregnancy is stressful enough on the body and if you don’t start the process in optimal conditions, it will affect your health and that of your baby. In my practice, my main goal is to address the overall health of the woman and determine if she is healthy enough to get pregnant. If a mother has health problems, it is likely that she will pass them on to her child.
There are several conditions that can decrease a woman’s ability to get pregnant, including digestive problems, immune disorders, adrenal fatigue, blood sugar problems, food allergies, chronic inflammation, hormonal imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, and toxicity.
The first place I like to start, before tackling anything else, is the digestive system. In simple terms, the digestive system works in the following way: we eat (good or bad diet), we digest (complete or incomplete), then we eliminate (good or bad evacuation) or we assimilate (good absorption or bad absorption). The gut is commonly known as the “second brain” because the enteric nervous system is a collection of neurons in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract that makes up the “gut brain” and can function independently of the nervous system. This system controls motility, exocrine and endocrine secretions, and microcirculation of the GI tract. It also intervenes in the regulation of immune and inflammatory processes. Hippocrates has also said that all diseases begin in the intestine. About 70 to 80 percent of the body’s immune system is located in the digestive tract.
Poor digestive health involving acid reflux, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or constipation is an extremely common and overlooked condition in this country that affects around 70 million Americans. This represents billions of dollars in annual sales of over-the-counter digestive aids that only provide temporary relief. Unresolved or ignored digestive issues lead to worse problems later in life. With any health problem, including pregnancy, it is important to restore intestinal health.
When it comes to getting pregnant, the focus cannot be solely on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or other parts of the reproductive system. Because “every system affects all others”, the body must be considered as a whole. Infertility is often a side effect of something else. For example, poor gut health leads to blood sugar problems and that leads to constipation. With constipation, the body cannot get rid of unnecessary hormones and estrogen builds up. Food that is not digested properly due to a lack of hydrochloric acid (HCL) results in fermented and rotten foods that go rancid in the stomach. A low HCL results in a reduced ability of the gallbladder to secrete bile for fat emulsification. Low gallbladder function causes a sluggish liver and cannot efficiently detoxify the body of hormones, toxins, and other metabolites. When the gallbladder is not working properly, the pancreas does not receive any signals to secrete digestive enzymes. Therefore, poorly digested food moves into the intestines. Rotten food in the intestines causes inflammation, infection, and intestinal permeability, also known as “leaky gut.” This prolonged stress depletes the adrenal glands, and weak adrenal glands negatively affect the thyroid. This progression continues until the underlying problem is corrected.
A healthy gastrointestinal tract does not allow the absorption of bacteria, harmful foods, or undigested food particles into the bloodstream. Chronic inflammation caused by poor diet, poor blood sugar control, and chronic stress lead to harmful substances and undigested food being released into the bloodstream. Again, this is leaky gut. These harmful particles are mistakenly identified as foreign invaders or antigens that are attacked by the immune system. A stressed immune system leads to other health problems that in turn can result in infertility.
Proper bowel care requires the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional. To repair the gut, the first step is the elimination of foods that create chronic immune responses. These are most commonly gluten, dairy, eggs, corn, soy, and yeast.
A health professional would help determine which foods to eliminate from the diet. Other nutritional strategies include: the elimination of inappropriate organisms such as bacteria, parasites, fungi and yeast, replacement of digestive enzymes, HCL, bile and fiber, to fully digest proteins, fats and essential nutrients, repopulating with abundant probiotics to replace an overabundance of bacteria bad with good bacteria, and favors the regeneration and healing of the gastrointestinal mucosa.
Repairing a damaged intestine is not easy and takes time. But it is well worth the effort. It is important to restore bowel function, whether a pregnancy is planned or not.
For those women planning to get pregnant or trying to get pregnant, just remember that improving your overall health will benefit your child’s health. Other organs of the body may still need evaluation, such as the liver, kidneys, thyroid, and adrenal glands, but many of these problems cannot be resolved until the intestine is examined for the first time.