Preparing for IVF or IUI with Naturopathic Medicine I Blog I Waterloo

We know that taking the next step on your fertility journey can be a hard decision to make. It may feel scary, frustrating, tiresome, never-ending and any other number of emotions – but you’ve overcome them and are moving forward. And we’re here to support you every step.

If you’re heading into IUI or IVF treatment, you probably want to make sure you’re doing everything you can for it to be effective. Whether you’re scheduled for treatment in one-month or in six, there are steps we can take to help.

Why Naturopathic Care?

IUI and IVF help your sperm and egg to meet, but they do not address egg quality, DNA quality, endometrial lining, nutritional deficiencies, etc., which are all needed for proper fertilization and implantation. Naturopathic medicine goes even further: we’re aiming to make sure the implantation holds, and that you carry to term.

Thorough Workup

We’re health detectives. We feel that a diagnosis of “unexplained infertility” just means the right questions haven’t been asked yet.

Our first visit is one-hour, and follow-ups are half an hour. We’re spending more time with you to unearth clues in your health history, your menstrual history, and other signs of good health such as sleep, digestion, energy, stress, skin concerns, and lifestyle.

Based on what we find, we put together a personalized plan to correct underlying root causes and deficiencies.

Key Tests

  • Anti TPO antibodies / TG antibodies
  • Additional testing on top of what the fertility clinic is doing, to catch all the possible factors that play into a healthy body: Vit D (this is the one I think is most significant), B12, iron, autoimmunity, insulin resistance, body composition, inflammation
  • This testing has the added benefit of helping you feel better when going through this time too. Better energy, level mood, better sleep, etc.

Key Nutrients

One of the most crucial parts of your health and fertility is your nutrition. Here is the approach we take to making sure you’re getting what you need to conceive and have a health pregnancy:

  • We start with looking over your test results (listed above)
  • We boost your colourful fruits and vegetables intake. I ask patients to aim for 6-10 servings of vegetables per day – any fruit is a bonus on top of that. One serving is half a cup, or if it’s a leafy green it’s 1 cup.
  • I like to have patients fill out a diet diary, so that I can see what your nutrient baseline is. Maybe you’re already doing a great job, maybe we can tweak a few things, maybe we add in more nutrients. The goal is usually not restricting food, or a huge diet overhaul. We’re making your meals work harder for your health.
  • Maybe you’ve heard that pomegranate juice, beets, pineapple, and various other things are good for fertility. There is some truth to it! Those bright beautiful colours are full of antioxidants and phytonutrients that help with blood flow (ie, to our reproductive organs). That’s what we want. Your ND will be able to prioritize which changes are going to be the most impactful for your case, and which ones you don’t have to worry about. Sometimes we need to simplify the protocol to prevent overwhelm.

Key Lifestyle Changes

Fertility hormones can amplify a lot of existing stresses and issues. The most common question is if there is a way to minimize side effects.  These are all things we can and should work on to get the body and mind in order for an upcoming cycle:

  • Addressing stress: stress will always be there, but we can change how we respond to it. How much it takes over, how much it can pass over us.
  • Adopting anti-inflammatory habits – from food to household items, we want to lower your overall inflammation.
  • Gut health: this becomes important when we talk about nutrient absorption, the immune system, and certain hormones.
  • Think about habits that mask anxiety: sometimes we don’t *feel* anxious. But if we look at certain habits, we may see below the surface. Needing things just so, meticulous habits, nail biting, sore/stiff shoulders, headaches, procrastination, decision paralysis. Let’s talk about addressing that anxiety so that we can lower it’s burden on your body.
  • Movement – we want to boost your blood flow! Even hitting 10,000 steps per day is a great goal. We don’t insist patients get a gym membership. The goal is movement that you actually *enjoy* and will commit to on a consistent basis.
  • Bowel movements – yes, we’re talking about it. It’s so important to have a daily bowel movement for proper elimination of hormones.

Key Treatment

Acupuncture!

Maybe you’ve heard people suggest it, or read about it on social media. It can be AMAZING for supporting fertility. In fact, studies show that acupuncture before and after an embryo transfer in IVF can improve pregnancy rates from 26% to 43% (Paulus et al, 2002).

The Conceive Health Naturopathic Doctors that work with TRIO Fertility doctors often receive feedback that their patients are more relaxed, the transfer process is easier, and they have a better endometrial lining.

We also recommend that patients get acupuncture once a week during the entire cycle. It absolutely helps with the stress response. Do this if you:

  • Feel anxious
  • Need stress reduction
  • Your endometrial lining could use support
  • Need improved response to medicated cycles
  • Need help with PMS, irregular cycles, PCOS, endometriosis.

Plan Ahead

After your IUI or IVF, you’ll be facing another two-week-wait to do a pregnancy test (called a beta HCG test in the fertility clinic. It is a blood draw, and is the most accurate way of testing).

That 2-week wait can be challenging. We want to make sure your body AND mind are taken care of. What helps you the most during this time?

Planning activities with friends or your significant other? Laying low and having cozy movie nights or working on a puzzle? Planning to do yoga nightly?

Sometimes supporting others or volunteering feels good. Or maybe you don’t want to schedule anything at all and be free to decide as things come up.

Any way you go about it is fine, but you know yourself best.

For more information or to book an appointment with Dr. Krause in Kitchener-Waterloo, click here.

Dr. Camille Krause, Naturopathic Doctor, works collaboratively with your fertility physician to provide safe, complementary, and effective care. By using evidence-based treatments that improve the health of the intended parents, we increase positive clinical outcomes in fertility. After all, healthy eggs and sperm provide the best chances at having healthy babies. In addition to the workup done by your Reproductive Endocrinologist, Dr Krause uses additional specialized testing to select nutrients, botanical medicine, lifestyle, and acupuncture to complement your fertility treatment. Visit her at the Conceive Health Kitchener-Waterloo clinic!

Works Cited:

Paulus WE, Zhang M, Strehler E, El-Danasouri I, Sterzik K. Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy. Fertil Steril. 2002 Apr;77(4):721-4.

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