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World Infertility Awareness Month: Holistic Support & Treatments

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June is recognized as World Infertility Awareness Month to bring attention to the challenges both women and men can have with their reproductive health. It is a common misconception that difficulties with fertility only impact a few individuals. The truth is that it is estimated that about 1 in 8 couples in the United States struggle with fertility.

According to the World Health Organization, infertility is described as not being able to conceive after actively trying for at least one year. Fertility issues can be caused by a variety of reasons, from problems with how your body functions to hormone levels to outside impacts such as your environment, nutrition, and lifestyle. And sometimes it can be a combination of factors for a couple. Depending on your unique challenges, there are an array of possible treatment options available, including traditional Chinese herbal remedies and holistic treatments for fertility.

herbs on a table

Herbal Remedies for Fertility Support

Herbal medicines, tonics, and mixtures have been used for thousands of years. For instance, the Chinese approach to herbal remedies is a complex, highly developed approach that considers the properties of herbs, how they interact together, and how they can positively affect the body, which can be traced back to over 2,500 years of practice. While herbs can aid and improve fertility in both men and women, it is always important to consult an experienced healthcare provider with knowledge of your health history and goals, such as a functional medicine doctor, doctor of Chinese medicine, licensed Acupuncturist, or other qualified professional.

There are many ways herbs can be integrated into a fertility treatment plan for male and female issues, and may include:

  • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera). For males, it supports the nervous and reproductive systems to improve fertility.
  • Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemose). Usually used to treat muscle aches and menstrual side effects like cramping and headaches, studies have found that it can be helpful in fertility treatment when combined with other remedies.
  • Chaste berry (Vitex agnus-castus). Part of the mint family, it can help strengthen hormones in women, particularly progesterone, to help trigger ovulation and improve hormone balance to promote fertility.
  • Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicumon). Cinnamon bark has long been used in Chinese medicine to improve fertility in men and women. Recent studies have found a positive effect on sperm function in men, and another study found that it can support women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and other conditions.
  • Damiana (Tunera diffusa). Typically used to support reproductive health, it can help balance men’s testosterone levels, as well as low estrogen levels in women.
  • Gokshura (Tribulus terrestris). Part of Chinese medicine to aid male and female fertility, it can support women with irregular ovulation, especially those with PCOS, and studies have found that it can enhance sperm function in men.
  • Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris). Commonly used for various menstrual conditions, it can help increase progesterone levels and strengthen uterine tissues to support conception.
  • Maca (Lepidium meyenii). Utilized for thousands of years as a fertility and libido remedy, it can help the body cope with stress and affect testosterone levels for both men and women.
  • Red Clover (Trifolium pratense). In the legume family, it supports follicle and egg production in women, as well as support the immune system and lymphatic function.
  • Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens). Part of the palm family with large berries resembling olives, it can enhance prostate function in men, impacting fertility and overall reproductive health.
  • Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus). Used to support healthy fertility, in men, it can be used to improve sperm function, and in women, it may be used to reduce uterine contractions and other menstrual concerns to prevent early miscarriage.

There are thousands of herbs and even more combinations that can be used to restore hormonal balance and target infertility, and often, it may be part of a treatment plan that includes additional holistic techniques.

Holistic Treatments for Fertility Support

In a medical approach that considers the whole person, holistic treatments care for your body, mind, and spirit to restore balance and support your overall well-being. When treating fertility issues for both men and women, there are a myriad of holistic treatment options that may be included in a personalized care plan:

  • Acupuncture can help balance hormones, improve blood flow, and reduce stress, enhancing ovarian function in women and sperm function in men.
  • Chiropractic care can be safe and effective during pregnancy. It can address misalignments in the spine that may impact nerve function in the reproductive organs for both men and women. In addition to helping with pain in the back, hips, and joints, chiropractic care can also help establish pelvic balance. This can give the baby more space during the pregnancy, which may lead to faster and easier labor. Some say that chiropractic care can reduce the length of labor by 25–31%.
  • Functional medicine can identify and address underlying hormonal imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, and other conditions that may impact the reproductive health of both men and women.
  • Nutritional IV Therapy delivers vital nutrients through the bloodstream to address any deficiencies and optimize reproductive health, such as ovarian function and sperm production.
  • Ozone IV Therapy can help reduce inflammation throughout the reproductive system, benefitting women with endometriosis or other conditions impacting fertility and sperm quality in men.
  • Physiotherapy may alleviate pelvic pain or discomfort, helping women who suffer from endometriosis or PCOS and men with erectile dysfunction.
  • Regenerative medicine uses innovative therapies to restore optimal reproductive conditions, such as tissues or linings in the uterus, or address erectile issues in men. Therapies may be able to rejuvenate damaged ovarian tissue or address other concerns to improve ovarian function in women and support testicular health in men to improve fertility.

Seeking guidance and advice from a healthcare professional who knows your health history and fertility goals can help you create a personalized treatment plan that integrates holistic therapies and herbal remedies. Furthermore, your integrated fertility care plan may include suggested lifestyle changes.

two patients being helped by their doctor

Dietary Changes to Support Fertility in Women & Men

There have been multiple scientific studies that have found a correlation between lifestyle patterns, dietary choices, and infertility. When combined with fertility, essential changes to your lifestyle and diet can have a significant, positive impact on your reproductive health and increase your chances to conceive. These changes include:

  • Reducing your intake of animal proteins and increasing your consumption of plant-based foods. These can include whole fruits rich in fiber and vitamins, like citrus fruits, tomatoes, and pineapples, and seasonal vegetables, especially leafy greens.
  • Eating more omega-3 fatty acids. Found in fatty fish, like salmon and herring, oysters, and flax seed.
  • Keeping it whole grain with brown rice, oatmeal, and whole wheat bread and pasta.
  • Snacking on raw nuts with key antioxidants like almonds, brazil nuts, and cashews.
  • Adding legumes like chickpeas and beans to your diet.
  • Cooking with olive oil, which has monounsaturated fat, helps control blood sugar and supports nutrient absorption.
  • When eating meat or dairy products, reach for organic products and full-fat dairy options.
  • Drink red raspberry leaf tea to give your body an antioxidant boost to reduce inflammation.
  • Avoiding alcohol, smoking (including vaping), high levels of caffeine, red meat, and highly processed foods with refined sugar and carbohydrates like baked goods, candy, and soft drinks.

Finding Fertility Support at Family Integrative Medicine

While exploring treatment options for fertility challenges, it’s important to acknowledge that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Each individual’s journey is multifaceted, often requiring a combination of approaches to address your unique health condition and body function. Our team of experts at Family Integrative Medicine offers a comprehensive, personalized approach that goes beyond symptom management to addressing the root causes of fertility issues. Consulting with our compassionate healthcare professionals who specialize in integrating herbal remedies and holistic treatments with conventional medicine ensures that your fertility treatment plan is tailored to you and your partner to support your reproductive health and optimize chances for conception.

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