Dr Brian Davies ND BSc  

P: 778-340-1114 - F: 778-340-7702 - Unit 102 – 88 Lonsdale Avenue North Vancouver, BC V7M 2E6


Pregancy Preparation and Infertility

Preparing for pregnancy can be a big job in today’s world. As couples begin family planning later in life than ever before, proper preparations should be made for optimizing fertility and maternal health. One important concern, receiving recent attention, is the role of environmental toxins in both fertility and pregnancy outcomes. Even though risks are shown to exist, one thing that couples can feel secure about is that contrary to popular belief, overall infertility rates have remained relatively stable over the last 40 years. Although fertility rates are stable, there are many known hazards in todays world to be aware of in preparation to start a healthy family.

Healthy pregnancy starts with a healthy menstrual cycle. Whether using a smart phone application or a calendar, tracking the phases of your menstrual cycle can be extremely important when preparing for pregnancy. The female menstrual cycle can be split into two halves or three phases. The estrogen dominated follicular phase, occurs from day one of menstruation until ovulation. As estrogen rises through the follicular phase, lutenizing hormone from the pituitary gland stimulates ovulation to occur. When the egg is released, this provides a one to two day window for conception, optimally at around day fifteen of the menstrual cycle. The progesterone dominated luteal phase, occurring optimally from day fifteen to day twenty eight is essential to establishing a healthy pregnancy.

As hormonal imbalances are one of the major causes of infertility, it is helpful in the months leading up to “the big day” to optimize hormonal health. One important way of improving maternal health and balancing hormones is by reducing the exposure to certain environmental chemicals. As many environmental chemicals (xenoestrogens) can mimic estrogen in the body, these chemicals can potentially impair ovulation and have been associated with other hormonal irregularities. Environmental toxins (or xenobiotics) have also been found to adversely affect fetal growth and development. Alcohol and tobacco avoidance are still essential in pregnancy, but in today’s world, it may also be prudent to limit exposures to pesticides, preserving agents, plastics, fire retardants, nonstick coatings, and environmental mercury to improve fertility and optimize the child health.

Pregnancy preparation should start in the kitchen with a focus on optimizing weight and stabilizing blood sugar. Organically grown produce, grains, healthy fats (including nuts and seeds) and meat all play a role in pregnancy preparation. Lightly steamed green vegetables (with a focus on cruciferous vegetables) and plenty of dietary fibre have been shown to rid the body of environmental toxins and will help to balance hormones. Fermented products, such as yogurt or kefir should be consumed regularly in preparation for pregnancy to improve bowel function and to reduce the risk of vaginal bacterial and yeast overgrowth. All sea foods products should be limited if not avoided due to potential contamination. Mindfulness about stress is also an essential part of pregnancy preparation. Stress hormones can cause problems with blood sugar and decreases in bioavailable progesterone, the hormone essential in all aspects of pregnancy. Engaging in daily deep breathing exercises can help to strengthen the diaphragm (or “pushing” muscle) and reduce the incidence of nausea and vomiting during the first trimester.

Environmental Chemicals

Environmental Toxin

Potential Exposure Risk

Pesticides

Produce, grains, meat

Preservative

Cosmetics, drugs, food and beverages

Plasticizing agents

Adhesives, plastics, detergents, building materials, furniture, personal care products (cosmetics, shampoos, fragrances, etc.), pharmaceuticals, nutritional supplements, toys, food packaging, cleaning material, insecticides

Fire Retardants

Furniture, fabric and carpet protectors, food wrappers, farmed salmon and fish.

Non-stick coatings

Non-stick coatings on cookware, waterproofing, furniture and household items.

Heavy metals

Amalgam fillings, sea foods, florescent lights

 



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