You want to get pregnant, but it’s just not happening.
It’s one of the most stressful things that can happen to a couple.
- Visiting our Toronto fertility clinic. Usually, women visit the clinic to consult about their condition, which is fine, but ideally, the couple should be together when visiting the doctor because it takes two to make a baby.
- Stress. Stress plays a huge factor in infertility, so relieving that is a big part of the process.
- Naturopathic medicine. Naturopathic doctors provide highly individualized holistic treatments to combat the causes of infertility. This can include herbs and nutrients, dietary changes, regular exercise and stress management.
Dr. Tehseen Meghji, Naturopathic Doctor
- Nutrition. Working on both partners’ nutrition and moving to a whole foods fertility diet is important to regulate the woman’s hormones and increase the sperm quality of the man – avoiding refined sugars, processed foods, favoring organic foods as much as possible, specifically meat and dairy products because those are high in hormones and can cause hormonal imbalances.
- Stress. Stress is highly linked to infertility. Patients are often worried about their condition, which contributes even more to their inability to conceive. Using breathing techniques, meditation, yoga, or just talking to each other and learning to enjoy intimacy together without having to think about conception – these are ways that you can increase your fertility as well.
- Botanical medicine. As a naturopathic doctor, I use a lot of botanical medicine to help regulate hormones, and the side effects of that are not too drastic, so people find that to be much more gentle and beneficial in helping with balancing and regulating the cycles.
- Charting the cycle. I talk to women quite a bit about charting their menstrual cycles, becoming aware of when they’re ovulating, what their basal body temperature is, and finding out how their cycle correlates to their hormones, and that way they become more empowered about knowing when it is that they should be trying to conceive. Sometimes it’s as simple as, you’re not being intimate and trying to conceive on the day that you’re most fertile.
- Acupuncture. Is excellent for in vitro fertilization and for fertility in general – but there are specific protocols for in vitro fertilization to help implantation occur better while the treatment process is going on.
Toronto Fertility Clinic Video Transcriptions
Phil: So, another thing you help people with are fertility issues in men and women?
Tehseen: Yes, usually fertility, it’s best to have both the woman and the man come in. I do it for both separately as well, but generally, it’s usually the women that come in first and I would like to usually see both partners.
Phil: We always blame the women, but it could be both.
Tehseen: It can be both, it generally is a combined effort for sure.
Phil: What do you find yourself telling people they can do at home that might help.
Tehseen: Right, so, decreased fertility there can be many different reasons, so it depends on what the cause is, but generally for all causes of issues with fertility it’s usually something that’s the basis is the diet. So if we’re having a diet that’s causing more inflammation in the body, we’re gonna have more trouble being more fertile, so following a whole foods diet is probably the best advice to help for natural conception, so whole foods means avoiding refined sugars, processed foods, favoring organic foods as much as possible – specifically meat and dairy products because those are high in hormones and can cause hormonal imbalances. So I do a lot of dietary counselling when it comes to fertility because I find that a lot of times taking out specific food groups – and it might not be everything, but a few things once they’re identified – decreases inflammation for both partners and increases their fertility. So that’s probably the best thing that I can say, and generally people with concerns about fertility, they’ve been to fertility specialists and they really want to conceive, and they’ve been trying for a really long time so that’s causing stress for them. Perhaps they might not be feeling very hopeful because they’ve been told that they may not be able to have a child, and they really, really want to have one. So there’s a lot of stress that comes with it and stress itself feeds into being not as fertile. So I work a lot with stress management and doing things yourself to help with coping with stress on a day to day basis, whether that’s breathing techniques, meditation, yoga, or just talking to each other and learning to enjoy intimacy together without having to think about conception, are ways that you can actually increase your fertility as well.
Phil: How do you think you would help them in a way that’s different than another fertility, like a conventional fertility specialist.
Tehseen: So it’s working on many levels – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. As a naturopathic doctor, the benefit for my fertility patients is we use things that are more natural and supportive to the body. So a lot of times, a lot of times with fertility specialists they’ll be giving you things to induce ovulation, or suggesting in vitro fertilization and things like that, which are fine – they can definitely benefit – but there are side effects and risks associated with that. As a naturopathic doctor, I use a lot of botanical medicine to help regulate hormones, and the side effects of that are not too drastic or anything like that, so people find that to be much more gentle and beneficial in helping with balancing and regulating the cycles. As well as, when we’re talking about ovulation, a lot of times it’s just charting the cycle, so I talk to women quite a bit about charting their menstrual cycles, becoming aware of when they’re ovulating, what their basal body temperature is, and finding out how their cycle correlates to their hormones, and that way they become more empowered about knowing when it is that they should be trying to conceive, so it’s a lot of education that way, too. Sometimes it’s as simple as, you’re not being intimate and trying to conceive on the day that you’re most fertile, so a lot of times that is the kickstart for having a natural conception.
Phil: And so sometimes you can make it happen really quickly for couples and sometimes it might take a little longer if you’re helping with like a hormonal imbalance or a sensitivity of some kind to food.
Tehseen: Right, sometimes it’s as simple as cutting out gluten from the diet and charting your cycles to know when you’re fertile, and within 3 months somebody could be pregnant, but sometimes it is more long standing, so there are times when a woman’s ovarian reserve is not high enough so she may not be ovulating enough, or she has a hormonal imbalance, or the partner, he may have low sperm count or the sperm may not be as motile, so it’s working… those things sometimes take longer to have a healthy conception. And then it doesn’t stop there as well, sometimes conception is easy but keeping the fetus is harder, so if you’re miscarrying a lot then we’re also looking at other things and generally that’s a deficiency in the hormone progesterone, so working on keeping those levels up to maintain a healthy pregnancy is also something I look at.
Phil: Okay. And even if people are considering in vitro fertilization it makes sense to prepare themselves for that as well, nutritionally and otherwise with a naturopathic doctor.
Tehseen: You bet, ya. So it’s not one or the other. A lot of times with my fertility patients I’m working with them while they’re working with fertility specialists as well, and I find usually when you do both together you can have greater success. Acupuncture’s excellent for in vitro fertilization, so – even for fertility generally – but there’s specific protocols for in vitro fertilization to help implantation occur better while the treatment process is going on for in vitro fertilization. So that seems to be very complementary if couples are deciding to go that route.
Dr. Jennifer Parsons
Phil: Are couples coming to see you together? Is it more women or men?
Jennifer: It’s a good question. I have yet to have a couple come in together. I find, and that’s really interesting, it’s often women and it’s not always women’s, you know, something going on with the woman. I usually do ask for them to bring their partner, if it is a partnership trying to have a child together.
Jennifer: Yeah I think that that’s an excellent question, because ideally we would love to see both.
Phil: Because the woman isn’t getting pregnant and just is maybe assuming it’s her?
Jennifer: Yeah, it’s often a, and I feel like it’s a, they feel a lot of blame and it can feel sometimes even shameful and difficult and really challenging on a relationship for sure.
Phil: Yeah. If a couple is having problems, before coming to see you, is there anything that you can say can really be helpful to becoming pregnant?
Jennifer: Yeah, there’s a few things that can really help with sperm and egg quality and that’s again, eating a whole diet, lot of antioxidants. Blueberries have been shown to really improve especially sperm quality. Making sure you’re exercising and reducing stress, enjoying each other, I think that’s a really key piece that people sort of become obsessed with getting pregnant and then they forget about their own relationship and that increases stress, which makes it harder to get pregnant.
Phil: If someone is still unsuccessful and they come in to see naturopathic doctor, what kinds of things would you do with them?
Jennifer: Yeah, so we usually find out, again, we get some lab work done to see if there is a hormone imbalance, to check the quality of sperm and the sperm count, quality of eggs and we see if there’s anything that we can do specifically. Again, acupuncture has been shown to be very effective for fertility and works well with IVF. It greatly increases the chance of fertility. We also do lifestyle counseling, food counseling and some emotional counseling. That’s why I like to see both the man and the woman, if it is a man and a woman, or both partners. Just to see, make sure that they’re united as a couple and they can get things off their chests that maybe they can’t at other times.
Phil: What has been your experience treating these issues? Have you had some success?
Jennifer: Yeah, I’ve had some really great success. In fact, I became naturopathic birth doula because I was having a lot of successful pregnancies with my patients and I wanted to be there for the birth of their child too, because I felt so connected with them. One in particular I can think of, there was a patient who came in and she was diagnosed with a hypothyroid condition. She had PCOS and was feeling really low about perhaps not being able to have a child. She came in diligently for six months before even trying to get pregnant, which was great. That’s what I love to see, someone who’s really proactive and within two months of trying they got pregnant with a little girl and I attended the birth and it was just amazing.
Phil: Cool. Amazing. It seems to me with something like this, the amount of time it can take would vary tremendously, wouldn’t it? Depending on what the underlying conditions are?
Jennifer: Yeah, absolutely. With underlying conditions, I usually like to see a patient when they start thinking okay, I want to have a baby, probably six months before and then you can really work with making sure your hormones are all in balance, that your body is as healthy as it can be and really ready physically, emotionally, in every way to have a child. Yeah.
Phil: It’s pretty amazing, because I bet a lot of couples have lost hope and it’s pretty neat to me that you feel that there’s often a good chance that you can help them have a baby.
Phil: That’s a pretty special job.
Jennifer: Yeah, it’s my favorite. It’s amazing.
Phil: Yeah, that’s great.