Growing up we believe certain things will inherently happen. Or at least that’s what I believed.
I just assumed I would grow up, go to college, get married, then start a family.
That’s how it works, right???
I never imagined a different path. That life wouldn’t work the exact way I had mapped it out in my naive, teenage head.
But then I did find “the guy”.
I did get married.
And…I got busy (If you know what I mean. wink, wink).
But, nothing happened….
Except, stress and worry and heartbreak.
We’d try and try and TRY to get pregnant. Then, we finally would, only to miscarry a little while later.
Rinse and repeat…OVER and OVER.
This is not at all how it was supposed to work! What was I missing???
What I was missing is this….
Infertility and miscarriage is a HECK OF A LOT more common than anyone talks about.
So, what’s behind your infertility and/or miscarriages?
Well, let’s take a look at some of the more common causes.
Problems with physical anatomy, scar tissue, infections, or blockages can all lead to infertility. If you have, or have had, any of the following you may want to talk with your OB/GYN about further diagnosis and testing.
- Chronic yeast and/or bacterial infections
- Sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, or pelvic inflammatory disease
- Blockages of one (or both) fallopian tubes
- Previous D & C
- Uterine fibroids
Weight’s Role in Fertility
Believe it or not, weight plays a big role in fertility. Both being overweight and underweight have big potential for causing problems.
Let’s talk overweight first….
Fat cells produce estrogen. So, if you have excess fat cells, chances are you have excess estrogen. This isn’t good.
Excess estrogen can cause something called estrogen dominance. This is when estrogen levels are high in relation to other sex hormones, such as progesterone.
This causes a whole host of issues such as:
- Irregular periods
- Decreased sex drive
- Weight gain
- Mood swings
- Swollen, sore breasts
- Brain fog
And…you guessed it, INFERTILITY!
Also, being overweight has been shown to lower chances of fertility treatments, including IVF, from working. YIKES!
Now let’s talk underweight…
Underweight, while much less common, is just as bad for fertility.
Our bodies rely on having certain levels of fat. And, if you lose too much fat your body stops producing estrogen. You may even stop having periods.
Since getting pregnant requires ovulating (releasing an egg), a lack of this and a lack of periods is NOT a good thing.
You really only need to worry about this if your BMI (body mass index) falls below healthy levels, typically below 19.
Also known as premature ovarian failure (POF), early menopause can put a serious crimp in your baby-making dreams.
Most women begin transitioning toward menopause (perimenopause) in their mid forties. However, some women can start this transition as early as their mid thirties.
As this transition happens, FSH levels rise (among other hormone changes) and fertility decreases. Some common signs of POF and perimenopause include:
- High FSH
- Low AMH
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
- Loss of sex drive
- Irregular (or even absent) periods
If you suspect you are experiencing POF, your OB/GYN or fertility specialist can run tests to help you understand if this is the case.
*It’s important to note that in some (possibly many) cases POF and early menopause can be triggered by hormone imbalances.*
Hormone imbalance is quite likely the biggest cause of infertility, especially in the western world.
Some of the most common hormone imbalances are:
- Estrogen dominance (an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone)
- Insulin resistance
- Hypo or hyperthyroid (high or low thyroid hormone)
- Hasimoto’s disease (an autoimmune thyroid disorder)
- Low progesterone
- Excess cortisol
- Decreased estrogen levels
- Poor LH and FSH balance
….I could go on.
Bottom line, there are MANY, MANY hormone imbalances that can play a BIG role in fertility.
The good news…
Hormone imbalance can typically be treated naturally, since it’s often a result of food and/or lifestyle.
As we have more and more chemicals, hormones, and additives in our food and beverages and pollutants in our air and water, the rate of hormone imbalance is increasing.
However, this doesn’t mean we are helpless to stop it. It just means we need to be aware and take the necessary actions to stop it.
If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at this article and this one too for some steps you can take right now to help balance your hormones. And, as an added bonus, have your partner take these steps too. Yep, that’s right, men can have hormone imbalance too!
There is A LOT you can do to improve your fertility. If you haven’t already, see your doc and make sure to get a fertility workup, so if nothing else you know where you’re starting and where to focus.