Can a Naturopath Help with Fertility?

Naturopath for Fertility

Embarking on the journey to parenthood is an incredible and sometimes challenging chapter in many people’s lives. While conventional medical approaches play a vital role in fertility treatments, an increasing number of people are exploring complementary therapies like naturopathy for fertility, to enhance their chances of conception.

Naturopathy is a holistic approach to health and wellness that emphasises the body’s ability to heal itself through natural medicine. It incorporates various therapies, including nutrition, herbal medicine, and lifestyle counselling. Naturopaths view fertility holistically, considering physical, emotional, and environmental factors. At Fertile Ground, our naturopathic practitioners work towards identifying and addressing underlying issues that may impact fertility, such as hormonal imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, environmental disruptors and stress.

In fact, we’ve written a free ebook guide all about strategies you can start to put into place immediately to begin enhancing your fertility. It’s called ’12 Steps to Create Your Fertile Life’ and you can get it here:

Download Our Free 12 Step Fertility Guide

Balancing Hormones Naturally

Hormonal imbalances, often silent disruptors within the intricate dance of the human body, can wield substantial influence over fertility. Understanding this intricate interplay, naturopaths adopt a multifaceted approach to rebalance hormones, fostering an environment conducive to fertility. Let’s delve deeper into the nuanced strategies employed by our naturopathic practitioners for fertility:

Lifestyle Modifications for Hormonal Harmony: Our fertility naturopaths recognise the profound impact of lifestyle choices on hormonal equilibrium. Through personalised assessments, individuals are guided towards lifestyle modifications tailored to their unique needs. This encompasses recommendations for adequate sleep, stress management techniques, regular exercise, food choices, weight management and a multitude of nutritional nuances. All of these things are pivotal in promoting hormonal balance.

Nutritional Support as a Foundation: A cornerstone of naturopathic intervention lies in the power of nutrition. Nourishing the body with the right balance of nutrients is crucial for hormonal health. Naturopaths, therefore, curate dietary plans rich in essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This nutritional support aims to fortify the endocrine system and create an optimal hormonal milieu for fertility. Fertile Ground naturopathic practitioners analyse specific dietary and nutritional requirements and prescribe supplements where necessary for optimising fertility.

Herbal Medicine: Nature’s Balancers: Harnessing the potency of botanical allies, naturopaths may prescribe specific herbs renowned for their hormonal balancing properties. Herbs such as Vitex, known for its impact on the menstrual cycle, or adaptogenic herbs like Ashwagandha, revered for their stress-modulating effects, are carefully chosen to address hormonal imbalances. These natural remedies act synergistically with the body, gently nudging it towards hormonal equilibrium. (It’s very important to know that any herb suggested on the internet or by well meaning friends may not be right for you – always consult with an expert naturopath/herbalist before taking anything).

Fertile Ground practitioners use the prescription services of The Melbourne Apothecary for dispensing both nutritional and herbal supplements. The Melbourne Apothecary is one of Australia’s largest fertility specific prescription only naturopathic dispensaries, located in Collingwood, Melbourne. You can collect or arrange to have your prescription posted to you.

Mind-Body Techniques: The Art of Hormonal Harmony: Stress, a ubiquitous companion in modern life, can exert a profound influence on hormonal balance. Naturopaths recognise the intricate mind-body connection and often incorporate stress management techniques into their approach. Mindfulness practices, breath coaching for nervous system regulation, relaxation exercises, and techniques like yoga and meditation are woven into the fabric of naturopathic care and many of these are often recommended by Fertile Ground naturopaths, all with the aim to  help you reduce stress hormones and promote hormonal harmony.

Individualised Treatment Plans: A Tailored Approach

Naturopaths champion the uniqueness of each individual, acknowledging that hormonal imbalances are diverse and multifaceted. Consequently, treatment plans are meticulously crafted, considering a person’s medical history, lifestyle, and specific hormonal and fertility challenges. This bespoke approach ensures that interventions are precisely aligned with the individual’s needs, optimising the chances of restoring hormonal balance and optimising fertility.

Education and Empowerment: Equipping Individuals for Hormonal Health: Beyond prescribed interventions, naturopaths embrace an educative role. Understanding that empowered individuals are better equipped to navigate their health journey, naturopaths provide insights into the intricate dance of hormones. This education empowers individuals to make informed lifestyle choices, reinforcing the principles of hormonal balance in their daily lives.

Holistic Monitoring and Adjustments: A Dynamic Process: Naturopathic care is an ongoing, dynamic process. Fertile Ground naturopaths monitor progress closely, adapting treatment plans as needed and working closely and collaboratively with your healthcare team. Regular check-ins allow for adjustments, ensuring that the approach remains responsive to your evolving needs. This holistic monitoring contributes to the sustainability of hormonal balance and promotes enduring fertility.

By addressing hormonal imbalances through this comprehensive and holistic lens, naturopathy emerges as a supportive and integrative ally in the journey towards enhanced fertility. Through lifestyle adjustments, nutritional fortification, herbal medicine, mind-body techniques, individualised care, and ongoing monitoring, naturopaths seek not only to balance hormones but to cultivate an environment where fertility can flourish. In the realm of naturopathy, hormonal harmony becomes a key orchestrator in the symphony of reproductive wellness.

Fertility Naturopath Services in Melbourne

In the pursuit of parenthood, an increasing number of individuals are seeking holistic solutions to complement conventional fertility treatments. Naturopathy, prioritising natural medicine and holistic well-being, has emerged as a invaluable ally in the journey towards conception. With over two decades of providing fertility naturopath services in Melbourne, Fertile Ground has witnessed the integration of our natural approaches yield exceptional outcomes. Collaboration between naturopaths and fertility specialists is becoming more common and we are proud to know that we have paved the way for this as it has always been our highest value at Fertile Ground since the practice began back in 2001.

If you’re captivated by the potential benefits of fertility naturopathy, we invite you to connect with Fertile Ground’s expert practitioners in Melbourne. Schedule a free 10 minute consultation with one of our fertility naturopaths to discover how naturopathy can be intricately tailored to your unique needs, providing a holistic and supportive approach throughout your fertility journey.

Book your naturopathic appointment

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Eggs with kale & walnut pesto

Kale and Walnut Pesto

Cooking up a hearty breakfast of poached eggs with kale and walnut pesto is a great way to stabilise your blood sugar and fuel up with nutrient dense delicious veggies in the morning. It’s a super easy, quick and convenient option.

Important note – if making this dish in pregnancy be sure to poach the eggs until hard, as a soft yolk increases the risk of salmonella poisoning.

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS: Poached eggs, Mushies and Toms

  • 2 eggs
  • 4-8 cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • ½ cup raw mushrooms (sliced)
  • 1 tablespoon butter

METHOD:

  1. Boil water in a small saucepan for the eggs.
  2. Once the water has boiled, poached eggs for 4 minutes or until yolk is hard (in pregnancy).
  3. Pan fry cherry tomatoes and mushrooms in some butter with salt and pepper.

INGREDIENTS: Kale and walnut pesto (1 serve = 1-2 tablespoons)

  • 1 cup raw kale
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • ½ cup walnuts (toasted)
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C. Spread walnuts evenly on a baking tray lined with baking paper and cook for 5 minutes or until golden.
  2. Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender and blitz until smooth. Season as required.
  3. Store in the fridge.

Drizzle the kale and walnut pesto over the top of your delicious eggs, mushies and cherry toms for a breakfast that gives you a great supportive start to the day.

This Poached Eggs with Kale and Walnut Pesto recipe is brought to you by senior fertility naturopath and nutritionist, Georgia Marrion. Keen to get some dietary support in your fertility, pregnancy or postpartum journey? Book in with Georgia for a free 10 minute telehealth consult to find out what’s possible for you > navigate to heading Naturopathy – Fertile Ground > 10 minute Free Naturopathic Introduction

Springtime Raspberry Lime Smoothie Bowl

Raspberry Lime Smoothie Bowl

As we launch ourselves into Spring, let’s let our cells and microbiomes sing with dietary delight and variation – and what better way to do that than putting your feet up with a Springtime Raspberry Lime Smoothie Bowl and bringing the essence of beachside Bali to your living room. Organic frozen berries are a beneficial and nutritious addition to your plate, bowl and drink all year round. Spring heralds the bonus of using fresh berries, with fresh raspberries starting to hit the shop shelves in the third month of Spring in Australia (early November). This recipe is safe and delicious at all stages of your fertility journey, whether you are trying to conceive, pregnant, or have already birthed your bub.

(1 serve = 250mL)

INGREDIENTS – Springtime Raspberry Lime Smoothie Bowl

  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • ½ frozen banana
  • ¼ raw zucchini
  • ½ cup raw almonds
  • 1-2 tablespoons protein powder
  • ½ cup Greek, natural or coconut full-fat yoghurt
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • To serve: ¼ cup each of toasted nut, seed and coconut mix and fresh berries

METHOD: 

  • Add all ingredients to blender and blitz until well-blended.
  • Serve with yoghurt and toasted nut, seed and coconut mix and fresh berries sprinkled on top.

NOTE: 

If you’re in the postpartum stage, add in 1 serve of collagen powder along with your protein powder for tissue healing support.

This Springtime Raspberry Lime Smoothie Bowl recipe is brought to you by senior fertility naturopath and nutritionist, Georgia Marrion. Keen to get some dietary support in your fertility, pregnancy or postpartum journey? Book in with Georgia for a free 10 minute telehealth consult to find out what’s possible for you > navigate to heading Naturopathy – Fertile Ground > 10 minute Free Naturopathic Introduction

Find Help for Recurrent Miscarriage

recurrent miscarriage

Miscarriage is a difficult yet (unfortunately) very commonly experience during pregnancy where a loss occurs prior to 20 weeks’ gestation. Recurrent miscarriage, where 3 consecutive miscarriages occur, while less prevalent, is still common and a condition we see and help manage in our patients frequently at Fertile Ground.

While in some cases the cause is unknown, there are many reasons associated with an increased risk and incidence of miscarriage including: anatomical, age, genetic, autoimmune, infectious, endocrine, chromosomal abnormalities, lifestyle and environmental factors. (1,2)

Following a thorough investigation to assess potential causes in each individual case, we usually recommend a broad range dietary, lifestyle, nutritional and herbal strategies to ameliorate the specific risk factors that may be contributing to miscarriage specific to each person/couple.

Dietary strategies we frequently recommend include reducing your consumption of refined sugars, processed, fried and vegetable fats, ‘junk’ proteins and processed foods and increasing your intake of vegetables, fruits, beneficial fats and whole food protein foods.

Why? Because such a dietary pattern will support both egg and sperm quality and many aspects of hormonal health (we know that this along with other therapeutic strategies is effective based on the many couples we have helped become parents).

Recently, a study has come out confirming what we see clinically in regards to diet quality and miscarriage – so let’s review what the investigators looked at and what they found:(Chung 2023)

What was the study asking?

The study was a systematic review and meta-analysis (which is an analysis of the findings of multiple studies) to summarise the association between preconception dietary intake and miscarriage risk in women of reproductive age.

What did they find?

It was found that eating a wholefood-based, seasonal, antioxidant-rich diet comprising increased consumption of vegetables, fruit, wholegrains and protein foods (eggs, seafood, dairy, meat) reduced the risk of miscarriage and was associated with good pregnancy outcomes.

They also found an association between a high intake of processed foods and increased miscarriage risk.

So quality matters – but so does timing and duration, as they also found that such benefits for miscarriage and pregnancy outcome involved following such a dietary pattern for between 1-4 years prior to conception.

Take-home message

If you have experienced miscarriage, or are starting out on your journey to conceive, preconception health for both females and males can make all the difference to your fertility and pregnancy outcomes. If you feel you need some help improving your dietary intake for fertility or general reproductive health, reach out and book an appointment today so we can help!

Written by Senior Fertility Naturopath & Nutritionist, Georgia Marrion

MHNut, BHsci (Comp Med), Adv.Dip HSci (Nat)

MNSA, MANPA, MFSA

Georgia is available for naturopathic & nutrition appointments at Fertile Ground Health Group, click here to book online.

REFERENCES

1. Hecthman L. Advanced clinical naturopathic medicine. Elsevier: Chatswood, 2020.

2. Chung Y et al. The association between dietary patterns and risk of miscarriage: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Fert Ster 2023 Apr; S0015-0282 (23) 00296-0. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37061157/

Trying To Conceive

Trying To Conceive

We know that around 80-84% of couples with healthy and fully functioning reproductive systems will be pregnant within 12 months, and 93% within two years. These couples have a 20% chance of conceiving on any one cycle and the chance is not cumulative ‒ it is a 20% chance each time. We also know that a variety of factors can affect your chance of conceiving, including your age, diet, lifestyle, fitness and stress levels. We will get to all of that, but let’s focus on sex first!

A fertility equation

If 100 couples try to get pregnant in January, about 20 will conceive, leaving 80 to try again in February. If another 20 per cent (or 16 couples) conceive, then 64 will be trying again in March. Continuing the one-in-five success rate, by the end of April roughly half will have successfully conceived. At this rate, after seven months 78 couples would have conceived (leaving 22 not yet pregnant).

 

Trying to conceive (TTC) takes time – it is like predicting the weather really. It can look like rain, feel like rain, even have lightning and thunder and yet still hold off. It will rain eventually in most cases, but we can’t say exactly when. When you start TTC, if you can, try to keep hold of the understanding that you would like to conceive sometime over the course of the year. This will help avoid what many couples experience as the roller-coaster ride of TTC – the highs and lows that come with expectation and disappointment if you don’t have a positive pregnancy test; feelings that are often compounded by PMT!

Having said that though, research shows that if you can interpret your body’s signs of ovulation and time your sex and conception attempts to the fertile window, your chances of conceiving on any one cycle are significantly higher.

 

When is the best time to have sex?

Every pregnancy truly is a miracle of its own. When it comes to getting pregnant, it seems that many couples aren’t doing it right. A recent Australian study of women trying to conceive found that although more than half (68.2%) thought they were timing it right for conception, only 13% accurately estimated their day of ovulation.

Understanding the most fertile time of the female cycle is critical for conception to occur and it is so important to get good education and advice about this. An inaccurate understanding may contribute to delayed conception and many cases of ‘unexplained’ infertility. Women only have a small window in each reproductive cycle to conceive so it is important to get the timing right. While you can feel like you have been trying for months and months, if you are not focusing your efforts on this optimal window of time, the likelihood of conceiving is slim.

 

Jane’s Story

Jane had been trying to conceive based on when her app told her she was ‘flowering’. Sure enough, as her cycle was irregular (31-45 days), it was way off, saying that she was ovulating a lot earlier than she was and hence missing the fertile window for healthy conception. This couple tried the next month at the right time, and low and behold it worked! Jane also made diet changes and had started herbal medicine, but the timing was an important factor. 

 

The Fertile Window

We know that eggs only live for 12-24 hours while sperm may be viable for up to five days (although most have very little vitality left after three). For optimal chances and the healthiest conception, ideally sperm will be ready and waiting in the fallopian tubes for when the egg is released by the ovary (ovulation). The best chances of conceiving occur with intercourse within the two days before ovulation and the day of ovulation. These three days are called your ‘Fertile Window’.

Technically, you do have a small chance of conception from five days prior to ovulation but you have the highest probability during this three-day window. This is also the best time for insemination for same sex couples or single women who are planning to time insemination at home. In most cases you don’t need to rely on technology or your doctor to tell you when this is occurring. Happily, there are signs to indicate the fertile window and that the egg is about to be released.

When is my fertile window?

To improve your chances of conception, have sex during the two days prior to ovulation and the day of ovulation. e.g if you ovulate on Day 14 of your cycle, your most fertile days (and also the best to have sex) are likely to be days 12, 13 and 14.

 

Having said that, ovulation can be affected by many factors – stress, weight (over and under), excessive exercise, excitement, travel, thyroid problems, polycystic ovarian syndrome and anaemia (as well as all the various types of infertility). Read on for more information on how you can understand how to determine your fertile window, but it is important to seek guidance with a qualified and experienced fertility professional if you are confused. 

Where time permits, it is useful to check and record the signs and symptoms of your reproductive cycle for a few cycles before you try to conceive

Knowing your signs of ovulation and timing your sex with understanding of your cycle will give you an increased sense of confidence in your conscious conception. Marking secondary symptoms like headaches or fluid retention will give your fertility practitioner team very useful information about your cycle and hormones to assist with providing the best treatment for your individual needs. 

Make sure you scan and email or bring your charts to every fertility related appointment where possible. Your practitioner will help you to understand and interpret your chart with ease. It may seem confusing at first, but within a few cycles it will become clear – a free and easy method to understand your cycle for your reproductive life. 

 

For more information or to get help on your fertility or pregnancy journey, book in with a Fertile Ground Naturopath

 

References:

Crosignani P, Rubin B, The ESHRE Capri Workshop Group. Optimal use of infertility diagnostic tests and treatments. Hum Reprod. 2000;15(3):723-732. doi:10.1093/humrep/15.3.723.

Fritz MA, Speroff L. Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility. 8th edn. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2011.

Gnoth C, Godehardt D, Godehardt E, Frank-Herrmann P, Freundl G. Time to pregnancy: Results of the German prospective study and impact on the management of infertility. Hum Reprod. 2003;18(9):1959-1966. doi:10.1093/humrep/deg366.

Hampton K, Mazza D. Fertility-awareness knowledge, attitudes and practices of women attending general practice. Aust Fam Physician. 2015;44(11):840-845.

Jansen RPS. Elusive fertility: fecundability and assisted conception in perspective. Fertil Steril. 1995;64(2):252-254. doi:10.1016/S0015- 0282(16)57718-8.

Manders M, McLindon L, Schulze B, Beckmann MM, Kremer JAM, Farquhar C. Timed intercourse for couples trying to conceive. Cochrane database Syst Rev. 2015;3(3):CD011345. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD011345. pub2.

Sharma R, Biedenharn KR, Fedor JM, Agarwal A. Lifestyle factors and reproductive health: taking control of your fertility. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2013;11(1):66. doi:10.1186/1477-7827-11-66.

Te Velde ER, Eijkemans R, Habbema H. Variation in couple fecundity and time to pregnancy, an essential concept in human reproduction. Lancet. 2000;355(June):1928-1929. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(00)03202-5.

How To Create A More Fertile Life

fertility naturopath melbourne

Are you looking to create a more fertile life, grow your family or begin trying to conceive? The irony is that for many of us and for most of our lives, having a baby seems as simple as falling off a log – in fact, it seems so easy that most people spend the majority of their adult lifetime trying to avoid falling pregnant! It is a bitter pill indeed when it turns out that fulfilling that dream perhaps doesn’t necessarily happen so easily, and is something that our fertility naturopath, Melbourne team, work with people daily to support.

Addressing Infertility in the General Population

If you are reading this, you probably already know many of the facts around the increasing rates of infertility in the general population, which is around one in six couples experiencing fertility issues: 35% due to women’s reproductive issues, 21% due to male factors, 12% combined male and female, and 28% of infertility cases have unknown causes.1–3 Infertility is a challenge for couples (as well as single people or same sex couples trying to conceive), regardless of who has the diagnosed issue, and especially if the fertility problem is unclear.

There is no doubt that trying to conceive is an incredibly emotional and stressful journey for couples to whom it does not come easily. Family-making seems like a birth right and it feels unjust when this right appears to be denied. And the worst thing is that if you are having trouble conceiving, it appears that absolutely everyone around you is pregnant – older women, young women, women who weren’t trying, women finally achieving their miracle baby … it can be unbearably frustrating, even devastating for some to celebrate another’s joy when they are facing a future without children. Many couples end up feeling isolated, alone in their grief, trauma, struggle and stress and ultimately, helpless. Seeking the one magical answer that will provide the solution becomes an obsession for some, as they spend hours online with others in similar circumstances looking for answers. Our fertility naturopath, melbourne team, understand this deeply, having worked with thousands of people in this space for decades and having supported so many to successfully birth their babies and grow their families.

All crisis has the potential to transform

One of our favourite sayings is: “all crisis leads to transformation”. You may see this as another useless platitude, or it could be a mantra that leverages you out of helplessness and into a shift of perspective to identify what this opportunity means to you, and how to make the most of it. If you’re currently experiencing a struggle to conceive, you can choose to go through it and remain unchanged, or you could allow it to be your greatest teacher, giving insight into what makes you feel good, what a truly healthy lifestyle is, what is damaging your health, well-being and fertility and, most importantly, how to make lasting change that will affect not just your health, but that of your whole family – for generations to come.

Are you healthy enough to conceive – for your body?

When they first start trying, many people think they are ‘healthy enough’ to conceive, but sadly in some cases good enough is not enough to get across the line. Each person is unique and responds to all that life throws at them differently. While one couple seems to have a poor lifestyle and are able to conceive, another feels they are much healthier yet still struggle. It doesn’t seem to make sense and it certainly doesn’t seem fair.

How can you improve your fertility even when doctors say you can’t?

If you have undergone IVF treatments, you will know just how important creating a quality embryo is to achieving a pregnancy. If you are trying to conceive naturally, this still stands. It is estimated that over 90% of genetically normal embryos will result in a live birth, whereas at least half of all miscarriages are due to chromosomally abnormal embryos.4 Therefore, achieving that quality embryo is the first step in every successful parenting journey. Get started on your way to optimising your fertility with this free 12 step guide from our expert fertility naturopath, melbourne team.

Download Our Free 12 Step Fertility Guide

When achieving quality starting ingredients (eggs and sperm) is understood, the reasons for preconception care are more obvious. Both the sperm and egg take around three months to develop/mature, and in this time they are both vulnerable to damage, creating interruptions to normal, healthy development and even chromosomal abnormalities. The embryo and developing baby are significantly influenced by their environment and their genetic development is profoundly altered by outside influences. So we focus on reducing risk factors, optimising the environment in which they develop and hopefully creating the most positive outcome possible: a sweet, healthy baby. 

Access preconception care with our Fertility Naturopath, Melbourne team

Our lifestyles, diet, toxic load and life stages play a significant role in influencing the expression of our genetic code as new cells are made. It seems it is not such a lottery after all. Healthy choices can strongly impact your chances of conceiving a healthy baby – and even your baby’s chances of healthy fertility! There are many well-known and medically-researched factors that impact directly on your fertility and outcomes, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, being overweight or underweight, advancing age, certain environmental and home chemical endocrine disruptor exposure and other factors you will learn about in consultation with Fertile Ground Fertility Naturopaths.

There are also many factors that, while not directly affecting your fertility, can have an indirect effect. Things like chronic health problems and complaints (digestive problems, periodontal health, asthma, sleep issues, stress, nutritional factors, even emotional considerations) may add up to an unhealthy load that compromises the whole organism and puts fertility right at the bottom of your bodily priorities – even in so called healthy individuals. Certainly, starting your pregnancy from a basis of optimal health will help to ensure minimal pregnancy discomforts and disease as well as positively impacting on the health of your developing baby at every crucial stage. 

Are you ready to get started with improving your fertility?

Download Our Free 12 Step Fertility Guide

Kylie’s Story

Kylie came to see us after 9 months of trying to conceive. She complained of weight gain (her BMI indicated she was 10-12 kilos overweight), sugar cravings and recent blood tests indicated she was pre-diabetic. In addition, Kylie also had food intolerances to dairy and wheat. Due to her regular consumption of these foods, she experienced multiple digestive symptoms including constipation, indigestion, and heart burn. Her energy was low, and she struggled to get out of bed in the mornings.

Kylie experienced long menstrual cycles (36 days) with cervical fertile mucus apparent around Day 19 as well as PMS symptoms including tearfulness and irritability

Her naturopath designed a diet high in protein, vegetables, and good fats with some additional whole grains to help shift Kylie’s excess kilos and improve her energy levels and fertility. She also removed dairy and wheat to ensure her digestion was functioning properly, resulting in an almost immediate improvement in her digestive symptoms. Kylie was advised to always carry healthy snacks (with a list of ideas provided to her) and looked at healthy meal options when she was very busy at work. As Kylie needed extra support to help balance her blood-sugar levels, herbs and supplements were prescribed that helped reduce her sugar cravings and supported her nervous system during times of stress. Kylie also began a regular exercise routine and enlisted the help of a personal trainer to help achieve her weight-loss goals.

Within a month Kylie had mastered her diet and was finding she had far less sugar cravings than before. Within six weeks she felt she could avoid processed sugar almost completely. Kylie had also started to lose weight and felt she had more energy every day. By the two-month mark, Kylie’s menstrual cycle had reduced in length to her first ever 29 day cycle and this was maintained for the following three months, indicating an improved hormonal balance. During this time Kylie had also lost seven kilos. She fell pregnant the following month and went on to have a healthy baby boy.

How to book with our Fertility Naturopath, Melbourne team

For more information or to get help on your fertility and / or pregnancy journey, book in with one of our highly experienced Fertility Naturopath, Melbourne practitioners.

Book your Fertile Ground Naturopath

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Excerpt adapted from our book, Create A Fertile Life, written by Gina Fox, Charmaine Dennis, Rhiannon Hardingham, Tina Jenkins, Milly Dabrowski.

References

  1. Fritz MA, Speroff L. Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility. 8th edn. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams
    & Wilkins; 2011.
  2. Thoma ME, McLain AC, Louis JF, et al. Prevalence of infertility in the United States as estimated by the current duration approach and a traditional constructed approach. Fertil Steril. 2013;99(5):1324-1331. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2012.11.037.
  3. Loxton D, Lucke J. Reproductive Health: Findings from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health.; 2010. http://www.alswh.org.au/ images/content/pdf/major_reports/2009_major_report_d_r149.pdf.
  4. Rai R, Regan L. Recurrent miscarriage. Lancet. 2006;368(9535):601-611. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(06)69204-0.

The Two Week Wait

the two week wait with Naturopath Tess Doig, Fertile Ground Health Group

It’s important to explore your options for mind and body support during the two week wait, as this is the time between ovulation or transfer of an embryo during IVF,  to when you find out the outcome of your pregnancy test. It can be a time of great anguish, as you wait (for about 2 weeks) to find out if you are pregnant. 

Many women that have been on a fertility journey for a while often say they are living their life in 2 week increments. The 2 weeks leading up to their ovulation are filled with planning, and lots of sex in the days before ovulation, which then moves into stress and anxiety post ovulation, followed by a depressed few days when their period comes, to be repeated over and over. 

Seek Support

To help support you in this time, here are a few tips to help optimise your body in lowering stress, improving your mood and as well as optimising your body to hopefully lead to a positive pregnancy test. 

  • Reward yourself with a massage, a shopping trip or a delicious meal out with your partner (no wine though please). There is some evidence that supporting dopamine can help support implantation. Dopamine is produced when we feel a ‘reward’, so no better excuse to treat yourself than this. It doesn’t need to cost money either, it could be running a bath for yourself with some candles, chatting with an old friend on the phone or anything else that feels good. As well as supporting dopamine, it can also help as a point of distraction during the two week wait.
Sex for everyone
  • Commonly, when couples have been trying to conceive for a long time, sex can become a little mechanical and left for just the fertile window.  However, studies show that a woman being exposed to a male partner’s semen post ovulation or transfer can actually help implantation. When an embryo implants into a woman’s uterus, her body has to perform a miraculous feat of down-regulating her immune system to allow the foreign cells from the embryo to join into her body and allow her blood supply to continue to nourish and grow the embryo. In no other time does this happen, think of how many immunosuppressive drugs a person must take in an organ transplant. It is believed that a woman continuing to be exposed to a male partner’s cells through contact with semen, this supports that down-regulation of her immune system to support the embryo’s implantation. Sex can also be a wonderful way to boost dopamine, see above, as well as to strengthen the connection between a couple.
  • When going through the fertility journey, allowing sex to be for pleasure and not just baby making, can be a wonderful way to maintain your connection in any context you choose – be it to yourself, to your partner or otherwise. Sex can be supportive whether you’re conceiving naturally, through IVF or in a heterosexual or same-sex couple. For single women, self-pleasure can be just as beneficial. 
When is sex not recommended?

The only time I may consider sex may possibly not be safe during the two week wait, is if you have a significant vaginal infection such as Bacterial Vaginosis. Hopefully this has been looked into and treated prior to conception but if you are unsure, speak to your naturopath practitioner. 

Nutritional & Medicinal Support
  • Eat nitric oxide rich foods such as berries, beetroot, dark chocolate, pomegranate and leafy greens. Nitric oxide is a chemical in the body that helps to open blood vessels and promote blood flow. Increasing blood flow is important for implantation to help nourish the uterine wall and embryo. Some examples of how to include these foods could be a berry choc smoothie with cocoa and organic raspberries, or a roasted cauliflower and beetroot salad with a yogurt dressing and pomegranate sprinkled on top. The other benefit of these foods is they are often feel-good foods, boosting your mood. Another fantastic way to support blood flow can be getting acupuncture, and many studies support acupuncture for not only improving implantation but also relieving stress and anxiety.  
  • Take your progesterone or progesterone supportive herbal medicines. Progesterone is produced in a natural cycle post-ovulation from the corpus luteum, the temporary gland that is produced once an egg leaves the ovarian follicle. Progesterone supports implantation by down-regulating the immune system, lowering inflammation and maintaining the uterine wall for implantation. If during your preconception work up, your naturopath has found you have low progesterone, they may have implemented strategies through nutritional supplementation or herbal medicine to increase progesterone levels. If this is the case, please remember to take your medicines in this time as it is important to continue to work on your progesterone. During an IVF cycle, progesterone pessaries are very commonly prescribed, and please continue taking these as prescribed by your fertility team. There are other benefits too – low progesterone can increase anxiety and insomnia, so by supporting healthy levels of this hormone you can also support a happy mood. 
  • Take your probiotics: some strains of probiotics can support progesterone production which helps with implantation as well as supporting good bacteria that support implantation as well. Bifidobacterium strains, in particular, have some research they can increase progesterone, while the lactobacillus species are the beneficial species in the vaginal microbiome. As mentioned above, vaginal infections can possibly affect the implantation process, by increasing inflammation, and triggering the immune system, so support a healthy vaginal flora while helping to boost your progesterone levels. Speak to your naturopath about which probiotics are right for you, as different species have different roles in the body. 

These strategies can be really helpful in supporting your body to increase the chances of falling pregnant and lowering your stress and anxiety during the two week wait, but the real work comes in preparing your body BEFORE conception. Working with your naturopath for at least 4 months prior to conceiving, can increase your chances of pregnancy through natural conception or IVF by improving egg and sperm quality, supporting healthy nutrient levels, looking at microbiome issues and addressing hormone imbalances (just to name a few). There is a myriad of things we look at improving for people who are struggling to conceive. 

If you would like to find out more how I can help you, please book a free 10 minute consult and we can have a chat about your current fertility struggles and make a plan to move forward.

Yours in wellness

Tess Doig

Tess Doig is a highly skilled degree qualified naturopath with over 9 years of practice specialising in the areas of fertility, pregnancy, women’s health and mental health. She is skilled in complex infertility cases, helping support many women and couples through unexplained infertility, recurrent miscarriage, IVF, male factor infertility and more. 

Along with supporting singles and couples with fertility, she also has a passion for all areas of women’s health including hormone imbalance, gynaecological disorders, vaginal infections, autoimmune conditions and mental health.

Read more about Tess and make a booking to get started on your journey together.

Weight loss and PCOS

PCOS and weight loss with Josephine Cabrall from Fertile Ground Health Group

Weight loss improves just about every aspect of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Whilst it is often more difficult to lose weight when you have PCOS, even modest weight reductions can have a significant impact on PCOS symptoms plus reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

How do I know if I need to lose weight?

Being overweight, especially around the waist, causes insulin resistance (even if you don’t have PCOS) because fat cells release substances that mess with insulin sensitivity. This means that being overweight increases insulin levels even more, worsening PCOS signs and symptoms. In short, being overweight is bad news for PCOS.

Body mass index (BMI) is a good guide to determine if you are in the overweight range or the healthy weight range. You can calculate your BMI using a simple online calculator and plugging in your height and weight (there are many available).

How to get started on weight loss

It’s not so simple to just lose weight and if you have PCOS with insulin resistance, this can be even more difficult because insulin is a hormone that promotes fat storage. Both diet and exercise matter when it comes to weight loss but if you need to make changes in both areas, start with diet and once that is a routine for you work on your exercise routine – changing everything overnight is hard and you don’t want to set yourself up to fail.

When it comes to diet, head over here and get your copy of my free PCOS & Diet eBook. It outlines the dietary changes that have the most impact on weight loss for people with PCOS. If you check out the eBook but still need more help or have questions, you might need to work with a naturopath to work out the best diet for you as an individual.

What’s the best type of exercise for weight loss and PCOS?

There are two types of exercise that have been shown to be effective for PCOS and weight loss:

  1. Resistance training

Resistance training means moving your body against a resistance. The resistance can be your own body weight (e.g. push ups, planking or yoga) or equipment such as bands or weights. You can do resistance training at home if you’ve already got some experience with how to do it safely. If not, get help from a professional PT to ensure you adopt the correct posture and alignment, avoiding injury.

If you can’t afford a personal trainer, join a gym and ask the staff for assistance in getting your posture and alignment right on their equipment. If the gym is not your thing, join a strength yoga class such as Iyengar, Ashtanga or Vinyasa.

Resistance training is designed to build muscle mass. Increasing muscle mass has a positive effect on insulin resistance and boosts metabolism, meaning your resting metabolic rate is faster; you burn fat while at rest.

Research has shown resistance training can reduce androgens, waist circumference, body fat percentage and fasting blood glucose: all good things for PCOS. However, the best results come with doing a combination of resistance and aerobic exercise.

  1. Aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise is also known as ‘cardio’ exercise and refers to any exercise that gets your heart and lungs to work faster. You breathe harder, your heart pumps faster and you work up a sweat. There are many ways to do this and lots of them are actually fun! Dancing, swimming, sex, aqua aerobics, team sports, cycling, HIIT, circuit training and jogging are just a few of them.

Beyond improving insulin resistance, aerobic exercise has many benefits. Aerobic exercise improves circulation, increases energy levels, increases endurance, reduces risk of heart disease and diabetes, reduces body fat, maintains a healthy weight, improves mood and improves sleep.

How much exercise do I need to do?

Based on the research you should do 1hr of resistance training three times weekly but you should start slowly and build up to this. On alternate days you should do 30 minutes of aerobic exercise. Have one day off per week to give your body a rest.

More is not better

If you push yourself beyond the above guidelines you run the risk of pushing your stress hormones too high, which inhibits weight loss and increases insulin.

My top 4 tips for success
  1. Get friends and family in on it

Making a time to exercise with friends or family increases your motivation and makes exercise more enjoyable. It makes you accountable for showing up. Likewise, a healthy diet, such as outlined in my PCOS & Diet eBook, is something that can be done as a family or with friends. It is a health choice that is beneficial for everyone, not just those with PCOS (if you have children they can eat the same as you, just let them eat freely of healthy carbohydrates rather than limiting their intake).

  1. Any type of exercise is better than no exercise

If all you can do today is just go for a walk then it’s better than nothing – you are still having a beneficial impact on your hormones when you exercise, even if weight loss is not achieved.

  1. Set realistic goals

If you can’t stick to a strict regime as outlined in the exercise section above, just do what you can. Any sort of increase in physical activity is better than none.

Set a goal of something you can do that is easily achievable. Once you can stick to that for 3 weeks, set a higher goal. For example, if you currently walk for 10 minutes per day, increase this to 15 minutes. Or get a pedometer and increase your daily steps by 2000 each week.

  1. Prioritise it

One of the excuses you might give yourself is that you simply don’t have time exercise and prepare food. This is when you need to sit down and make a list of all of the things that take up time in your life and prioritise which ones are going to make you the happiest. Chances are that being healthy is going to be near the top of your list.

Other things might have to take a back seat in preference of your health.
You might find that some things can be combined. For example, seeing friends and exercising could be rolled into one on some days. Preparing food and family time are other things that could be done together. How you shape your life is up to you but one thing is for sure: if you don’t prioritise time for weight loss, it won’t happen.

Need more help?

Losing weight can be really tough, so don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you need it. Some great choices are personal trainer or exercise physiologist, naturopath, nutritionist, osteopath, acupuncturist and psychologist or counsellor. All of these professionals can help you tailor a plan that is most effective for you as an individual and help keep you accountable and motivated along the way.

Josephine is currently offering free 10 minute consults to everyone. These sessions give both practitioner and patient the chance to see if the therapeutic relationship is a great fit, as well as to get you started on the path to feeling better, whether that be prescriptions on the day, referral for testing, or simple extras that you can incorporate to support yourself even more. 

Book in with Josephine to get started > bookings > Naturopathy > Free 10 min consult

What’s Your Fertility Plan?

Your Fertility Plan with Sage King from Fertile Ground Health Group

It can be quite overwhelming for any individual or couple to decide if their family plan includes children, let alone go one step further and reach out for support to optimise or facilitate fertility. These decisions can be even more complex for those who fall outside of the mainstream heteronormative, coupled, gender binary. 

Fertility plan – where to start?

Knowing when you want to have children is key to where you can choose to start on this journey. Does your family plan include children within the next 3-12 months? Did you know that preconception care takes a minimum of three months to positively influence reproductive health,  including egg quality? 

One of our expert fertility naturopaths, Sage King, has written a 6-part series to help individuals and couples of all gender identities and sexual orientations confidently navigate their fertility journey and create their own fertility plan. This series is inclusive of everything from preconception pathology screening, naturopathic preconception considerations, how to enhance your fertility naturally, to egg freezing, intrauterine insemination (IU) and In vitro fertilisation (IVF). Sage will be taking a deep-dive in how you can optimise your fertility outcomes.

What you’ll learn in this free 6-part article series

Part One: Identify Your Unique & Individual Needs

  • Individual considerations
  • Couple considerations
  • Sperm donor considerations

Part Two: Do You Need Preconception Screening?

  • Understanding your optimal preconception window
  • GP preconception screening
  • Your functional preconception assessment options
  • Naturopathic preconception considerations
  • PCOS, Endometriosis and the impacts on fertility

Part Three: Enhance Your Fertility Naturally

  • Eating for your fertility
  • Exercising for your fertility
  • Stress management
  • Enhancing sleep quality for your fertility
  • Endocrine disrupting chemicals and why you should avoid them

Part Four: Is Egg Freezing for You?

  • Age and egg freezing – what’s the go?
  • Understanding the egg freezing process
  • How to access Naturopathic support for egg freezing

Part Five: What is IUI & do I qualify?

  • What is intrauterine insemination?
  • Is IUI for you?
  • Natural vs. medicated cycle
  • Importance of collaborative care
  • Naturopathic support options for IUI

Part Six: Your Guide to IVF

  • What is IVF?
  • Is IVF for you?
  • Importance of collaborative care
  • Naturopathic support options for IVF

Are you single? In a couple? Do you wish to use your own eggs, or do you want to carry using your partner’s eggs, or vice versa? Do you have a known sperm donor, or will you use clinic-recruited donor sperm? Perhaps a child is not in your short-term plans but you wish to freeze your eggs for peace of mind down the track – there is great information here for you too. 

Register to receive notification as each article in this 6 part series is released. Sage is dedicated to helping you identify your unique and individual needs, as well as to provide you with the information you need to feel more informed, more confident on how to best navigate your situation, and most importantly helping you feel fully supported on your fertility journey.

Bonus Preconception Q&As with Sage online

Get your questions answered by joining our closed Create a Fertile Life Facebook group. Submit your questions in this group and Sage will answer.

Identify your Unique Fertility Needs

Sage King Unique Fertility Needs Fertile Ground Health Group

What’s your Fertility Plan and do you know how to identify your unique fertility needs?

Welcome to this free 6-part article series designed to help you determine your fertility plan and understand the steps you can take to optimise your fertility outcomes. 

Over these 6 weeks we are going to discuss all potential options for those of you who are:

  • single, 
  • in same-sex relationships, 
  • are gender non-conforming, 
  • or are in a heterosexual relationship.

In these articles I will address information around:

  • trying to conceive, 
  • options if you have been struggling to conceive, 
  • considerations for those of you thinking about IVF, 
  • considerations for those of you currently undergoing IVF treatment,
  • how beneficial naturopathy can be in optimising your fertility outcomes.

Opportunity to Ask Me Questions – LIVE

After each article release, you have the option to submit any questions you may have by 7pm Monday evening to the Create A Fertile Life Facebook group. If you’ve not yet joined that private group you are welcome to go there and request to join.

If you wish to submit your questions anonymously, you can private message the Fertile Ground Health Group Facebook page and admin will forward them to me. 

Each Tuesday, I will be answering your questions live in this Create a Fertile Life Facebook group at 7pm AEDT, so we can all learn from each other.

Your Fertility Plan

Now, some of you may know exactly what your plan is, others may not have thought about it so concisely yet. Whatever stage you are at, I want you to provide you with the tools to determine what your fertility plan can look like and how you can optimise your outcomes with Naturopathy. Grab a pen and a piece of paper, or type in to a document on your phone/computer so that you can create the skeleton of the items that relate to YOUR individual journey and we will build on this each week over the next 6 weeks. 

I am excited to embark on this journey with you. Let’s get started!

Part One: Identify Your Unique Fertility Needs

In the same way that we are all our own unique individuals, no two fertility journeys nor pregnancies are the same.  It is important for you to identify what your family plan looks like, taking into consideration your age, who your fertility plan involves – who is providing the egg (you or your partner?), who is providing the sperm (you or your partner? Sperm donor – known? Clinic recruited?), who will be carrying the pregnancy and in which timeframe you wish to try to conceive. 

Age & egg quality

For individual’s trying to conceive, age is something that is spoken about regularly. I see frustration in many of my patients when age is spoken about and I understand that frustration because, well, you know the impacts of age on fertility. While age is something we cannot change, thorough preconception care can positively influence your egg quality and reduce the impacts of biological age as much as is possible. 

Statistics show a decline in fertility from 35 years of age, with a further decrease after 40-42 years of age. (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Gynecologic Practice, 2014; Fertility Society of Australia, 2018) Individuals assigned female at birth are born with all their eggs and research now shows that egg quality can be positively influenced in the 100 days before ovulation. (Fertility Society of Australia, 2018)

If you’re 34 years old or younger, you’re fortunate enough to have at least 12 months to undertake a thorough preconception screening and treatment protocol. 

If you’re 35 years or older, your time to conceive considerations are a little different. If you’re wanting to try to conceive within the next 3, 6, 9, 12 months, it is essential you undergo a thorough preconception screening for your individualised preconception care as soon as possible to maximise your time to influence your biology in a positive way. The more time, the better! In some cases, the best opportunity to conceive involves using donor eggs, however this is something that is determined on a case by case scenario and takes many factors into account.

Timeframe of starting your fertility journey

Have you considered the time in which you want to start trying to conceive? Considerations include your age, sourcing a sperm donor and individualised preconception recommendations. It is good to start with an estimated time frame. The time required to optimise your health for conception will become clearer once you’ve undertaken a thorough preconception screening. 

The minimum recommendation for your optimal preconception screening is 3 months. However, some of my patients have more time-sensitive scenarios where we will tailor their treatment protocols to support where they’re at in their fertility journey, whilst closely monitoring their pathology and working alongside their fertility specialist.

Questions you might want to consider
  • What does your timeframe of trying to conceive look like? 
  • Do you have an age in mind of when you want to start your fertility journey or have children? 
  • Given the information you know now, has this changed or become clearer? 
  • Will you need support in trying to improve your cellular health and egg quality due to your biological age? 

Maybe you’ve already started your fertility journey and unfortunately are yet to achieve conception. No matter what your circumstances, preconception screening and care is the best way to optimise your…

Want to keep reading? Sign up to get instant free access to Sage’s preconception article series and find out about the intricacies of your menstrual cycle, sperm donor considerations, intercourse, conception, egg quality, egg carrying considerations, assisted reproductive technology, home insemination, the answers to your questions and more.

Written by Fertile Ground fertility Naturopath, Sage King.