The health of our babies is intricately linked to the health of both biological parents, particularly in the months leading up to conception. Preconception care is an opportunity to optimize the health of both parents to ultimately promote healthy sperm development, improve egg quality and provide the healthiest possible environment for a developing baby.
Preconception care looks at every aspect of your health which can impact your fertility, egg quality, semen quality and development which includes our gastrointestinal health, genetic predispositions, nutrient status, mental health, exposure to toxins, exposure to heavy metals, sources of stress, lifestyle, etc.
Preconception care involves both health promotion and disease reduction. To optimize fertility outcomes and reduce miscarriage risk, we utilize blood and functional testing alongside comprehensive health history to determine underlying imbalances and deficits to address prior to trying to conceive, as this is the time DNA in egg and semen is formed which impacts your future child’s development. From this we can determine dietary and lifestyle modifications and herbal and nutraceutical support customized to your unique biochemistry and genetic history.
Factors that may affect fertility include:
· High stress levels and cortisol dysregulation
· Poor diet and nutritional deficiencies
· Obesity and body composition
· Heavy metal toxicity
· Reproductive conditions (PCOS, endometriosis)
· Environmental pollution
· Some autoimmune or genetic conditions
· Thyroid imbalances
· Drug use (including alcohol, tobacco and caffeine)
· Previous contraceptive use
· STIs, STDs and genitourinary conditions (chlamydia, PID, mycoplasma)
· MTHFR gene mutations
The list above can result in primary or secondary infertility which can involve problems with the production or quality of sperm and eggs, the structure or function of the reproductive system, hormone balance, sexual function, ovulation or sperm motility and morphology.
During your time at Balanced Beings we investigate causative factors to infertility to find the underlying cause. Some common preconception investigations and tools we use include:
General health assessments – full blood count, electrolytes and liver function, glucose, cholesterol, BMI – to determine biochemistry and eliminate other abnormalities.
Essential nutrients and minerals – iron studies, vitamin D, zinc and copper, B12, magnesium, folate, active B12 - to determine nutrient status and uncover any deficiencies which can impact semen and oocyte/egg health.
Vaginal Microbiome Map – to determine microbial balance within the vagina, rule out STIs and stealth infections. These vaginal imbalances impact sperm travel and fertility health.
Basal body temperature and cervical fluid charting – to confirm ovulation and fertile window.
Thyroid panel – TSH, T3, T4, antibodies, reverse T3, urinary iodine – thyroid function is incredibly important to reduce miscarriage risk. For the first 18 weeks of pregnancy the fetus relies on mum’s thyroid function for growth and development, therefore abnormal results can increase infertility and miscarriage risk.
Semen analysis – to assess motility, morphology, concentration, volume, appearance.
Adrenocortex Stress Profile - to investigate the role of stress in hormone imbalances and infertility.
Female Hormone Profile – estrogen, progresterone, testosterone, DHEA – to determine underlying hormonal imbalances contributing infertility and decreased implantation success.
MTHFR genetic testing – to determine mutations to the MTHFR gene which can lead to high levels of homocysteine implicated in infertility and miscarriage risk.
Hair mineral testing - heavy metals can impact the quality of semen and egg by impacting the ability of nutrients required for adequate development.
After we have investigated causative factors we often look at supplementation and herbal medicine to fix the underlying cause which can look like;
A good quality prenatal for both mum and dad, such as naturobest is paramount in improving DNA normalisation of semen and egg’s during the development stages.
DHA & choline – supports cognitive function and brain health in mum and supports healthy growth and development of baby. We often recommend taking DHA + choline right through until cessation of breastfeeding.
Selenium – to support thyroid function. As mentioned above the fetus relies on mum’s thyroid function for the first 18 weeks of pregnancy therefore without adequate selenium growth and development can be significantly impaired and there is an increased risk of miscarriage.
Activated folate and B12 – many people cannot convert folic acid into usable folate due to MTHFR gene mutations. When folic acid is left circulating in the blood is can cause a deficiency, quite the opposite to what we are trying to achieve. Deficiency can contribute to miscarriages, tongue ties, cleft palate, issues with neurological development to name a few. It’s best to opt for activated B’s to ensure optimal folate and B12 levels.
Vitamin D – essential for hormone synthesis and gene regulation as well as calcium absorption and homeostasis for the developing fetus.
Probiotics, and or anti-microbial's prior to preconception. Our microbiome plays a role in the risk and prevention of infertility and miscarriage by assisting in regulating the immune function, liver and hormonal health.
There are many different reasons why couples may experience sub or infertility. We recommend seeking assistance from a qualified practitioner to gain an understanding of the underlying causes unique to you and to determine the best way of addressing those!