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The top lab tests for fertility: part 1

Written by contributing writer Bridgit.

If you are ready to do a fertility check-up, you may be wondering where to start.  Today I’ll start with the best first lab for women, and next month we’ll talk about the guys.

A CBC ‘With Extras’ for Her

I think the best place for women to start is with an easy, peasy blood draw.  When you analyze blood work with a functional medical lens, it can tell you quite a bit about your health.  And when you order those tests with fertility in mind, you get a great base to get started on your fertility journey.

Here’s what to get:

top fertility tests for her

  • CBC with differential
  • vitamin D
  • Fasting glucose (you need to have not eaten)
  • HA1C
  • TSH
  • Free T4
  • Free T3
  • TPO ab
  • TG ab
  • free testosterone

These tests will inform you about anemia, digestion, immune activity, liver, thyroid function, autoimmune hypothyroid and blood sugar/ PCOS.

But here’s the thing; your doctor may not be willing or able to order and/or interpret these tests for you. You can certainly ask your GP or GYN to order these tests, and you may have better luck with your endocrinologist or RE.  But many physicians are not trained to order or interpret blood work from a functional medicine perspective.

There’s no reason to get upset if you can’t get these tests this way.  We can’t ask physicians to suddenly practice in a way they are not trained for, and we can’t ask them to utilize your insurance benefits in a way that they can’t justify.

So what can you do?  You can order through directlabs.com and then set up an appointment with someone trained in functional medicine (either as a virtual/online consult like I do) or through a qualified local naturopath trained in functional and fertility medicine to have the results analyzed.  I think you’ll be quite surprised by what you haven’t learned through your labs thus far!

You can usually use your health savings account (HSA) to pay for these non-covered medical expenses, so that’s something to think about for next year if you don’t already have a HSA.

It’s worth the time and money to get this information so you can create a clear plan, based on fact, with your qualified practitioner.  And then you’re really on your way to making that baby!

What are your questions about labs?  I’m always happy to help!

The decision of trying to conceive during chronic illness

(written by contributing writer Jessica)

All of my life I dreamed having a large family. I must have been sheltered because I never once remember hearing things like ‘miscarriage’, ‘PCOS’, or ‘chronic illness’. I thought if you wanted a baby, you would have one.

My bubble of security was busted after my first miscarriage. My feelings were all over the place, but fear of never having a child ranked high up in my list of worries.

A few years down the road, I also never imagined I’d have to weigh my health into the equation about the decision of trying to conceive.

the decision of trying ton conceive during chronic illness

The decision to wait until I’m healthier has been a heart breaking one, that included a lot of prayer and conversations with my husband. It is a joint decision that we pray is the right one at this time. Our hearts are ready to try but my body is not.

Chronic illness, in many cases is a delicate balance from day-to-day depending on the condition. A delicate balance that pregnancy can completely offset.

How do you decide if it is the right time to try to conceive when you are managing a chronic health condition?

 Here is a brief list that helped me to logically see the answer that was right for us.

Prayer. 

Prayer is the first step that our family uses when making a decision.

What does your doctor say?

While I don’t think your doctor is the end all be all in making this decision, they should have an educated opinion on how your condition is going to effect a pregnancy and your baby. They may also have helpful things to do to get your body ready to try to conceive. The other great thing about doctors in this situation is they do not have the same person feelings invested and can give you a logical look at things.

How would your illness effect a pregnancy?

Some times the chronic illness itself until controlled can negatively impact a pregnancy and the baby. Or, will the supplements or medications you need daily have an effect on the pregnancy or baby while in the uterus? These are two things to heavily factor into the process of deciding if it is the right time to try to conceive.

How do you feel?

If you are in mid flair or experiencing a lot of symptoms, how would a pregnancy effect that? I know in my heart right now that a pregnancy would add a very large burden to my already very taxed body. I would be short-changing a new little life and depleting myself of already scarce resources.

What is your time line for healing?

What if by waiting a few months your body can be more fully loaded and healed to take on the burden of a pregnancy? It’s good to have a goal and then prepare the body for pregnancy.

There are so many things to weigh when making a the decision to try to conceive while you are manage a chronic health issue. It’s even more tough when your heart is already longing for a child. However, taking the time to heal and get your body in shape is only going to help pave the way for a healthier you and pregnancy.

What are some of the things that you had to consider when making the decision of trying to conceive during a chronic illness?

 

 

 

One simple way to raise your BBT (basal body temperature)

(Written by contributing writer Natasha)

One of the first things you’re told to do when you start working on fertility issues is to track your BBT (basal body temperature). Several years ago I started taking mine and immediately I had an issue. The handy little chart the doctor gave me? It didn’t go low enough. With the numbers starting at 97.0 and my temps ranging from 96.3-96.5, I was thoroughly confused.

Eventually I realized that my low BBT was a common aliment amongst those struggling with infertility. But what could I do about it?

one way to raise your basal body temperature    www.naturalfertilityandwellness.com

For seven years I tried numerous “treatments,” including, taking thyroid boosting herbs and supplements (like kelp), exercise, and natural progesterone.

After years of work, I was able to raise my BBT to 96.7-96.9. Better, of course, but still not stellar. However, by this time I was thoroughly sick of looking at unchanging temperatures and left my thermometer to gather dust in my bedside drawer.

Several months ago I went to a seminar about health and wellness. It was excellent and afterward I spoke with the speaker for a brief period of time. I mentioned some of the issues I have with losing weight and he made a suggestion. While I had been told that eating a “good healthy breakfast” would help me lose weight, he suggested pushing my first meal back until later in the morning.

“Our bodies need adequate time to digest our food,” he told me, “and if your body struggles with the normal routine of things, making sure that you have a 13-15 hour ‘fast’ in every 24 hour period can make a huge difference.”

The idea was simple: make sure there are around 14 hours between your last meal in the evening and your first meal in the morning.

It’s not hard to implement and completely flexible. (If, for example, you have late dinner the night before, just push your breakfast back until 10 or 11 the next day.)

It sounded like the easiest diet in the world, so I immediately started. Around this time I decided to begin taking my BBT again. Imagine my complete surprise when my temperatures almost immediately zoomed up! Since I made this one simple switch, making sure there is always a 14 hour break from dinner to breakfast, my BBT has held steady at 97.3-97.5 with an ovulating temp at 98.0-98.3.

When I researched online, I found it has already been documented that this simple change does raise your BBT, but for some reason I had overlooked it.

I feel like I have been handed a lifeline, one that frees me from swallowing handfuls of kelp capsules and remembering which days to apply progesterone.

Do you have a low BBT? What are the tricks and thoughts you’ve learned in the process of trying to raise your temps?

 

For more on raising your BBT:
Naturally Warmed Up, How to Raise Your Basal Body Temperature

 

How to transition from hormone treatments for endometriosis

Natural Treatment for Endometriosis I know when I first found out I had Endometriosis and my doctor recommended I go on hormone treatments for my it, I personally think I made that decision out of fear. Fear that the Endometriosis would spread. Fear that things would get worse! I just didn’t want any of it to affect me anymore than it needed to and if these hormonal treatments were somehow going to slow down the Endometriosis growth, then brilliant!

I went down the path of hormonal treatments for over 12 years. I tried a wonderful selection of things but ultimately my body just rejected them or couldn’t deal with the constant side-effects.

When I eventually decided to try a more natural approach for my Endometriosis, I initially thought I could just stick with the contraceptive pill and adjust my diet etc to kinda “get the best of both worlds” or so I thought. What I didn’t realize was that the contraceptive pill was having effects on all aspects of my body – and not just my hormones. It was affecting my digestion, my liver, and my overall health.

Now, I was nervous but somehow I knew I needed to get off the contraceptive pill. I was so scared all the pain would just come rushing back.

Here are some of the tips I learned to make it easier for you if you wish to do the same:

1. Build your body up a little before you do it

When I say “build up”, what I mean is, giving your body some boosted good nutrition. Get it working well. Give it all those extra minerals and vitamins you can get from a good healthy diet. Get into juicing and green smoothies to help your liver detoxify and get ready for the freedom of being synthetic hormone free!

2. Flush out the excess Xenoestrogens

*Only do this once you have decided to go off the pill or synthetic treatment.

Xenoestrogens are basically all those synthetic hormones that you have been taking. The trouble with them is that they cause an overflow of estrogenic activity within the body, which is not a good thing -especially with endo! You want to make sure you get your body to flush them out. Calcium D Glucarate is a great solution for this, along with taking some powerful liver tonics like Bupleurum or any of the bitters.

3. Support your liver

The liver is the one that gets rid of all the hormones and regulates all that is going on with endo too. (in terms of hormone production and toxin release). You want to support your liver as much as you can. You can try drinking Dandelion Root Tea daily, take Milk Thistle, or get onto a powerful daily liver tonic or supplement. The liver will love you for it.

4. Really consider your diet

Your diet could be loaded with triggers that make your endo grow more! Sugar is a big one. There are also foods which inhibit mineral and vitamin absorption and you definitely want to make sure you eliminate those! Your diet is the grounding to healing and you need to optimize it to make sure endo doesn’t come back fast and furiously.

5. Sweat it out

All those synthetic hormones are like toxins within the body. You want to get them out of the body! One of the best ways to do that is to take up some exercise. Testosterone building exercise is fabulous – like using weights. Yoga and walking are also fabulous to help flush out those toxins.

6. Support your digestive tract

Many women experience a condition called Candida Overgrowth after being on synthetic hormones or the contraceptive pill for many years. Make sure you control this one quickly with a low glycemic diet, fermented foods and the right herbs. It can play havoc with your digestive system and really hamper so many aspects of your natural healing journey.

hormone treatments and endometriosis

I honestly believe that using synthetic hormones for Endometriosis does more harm than good for the body. The sooner you can flush that stuff out of your body, the better you will feel! Trust in your journey and build your body.

Having been on the pill for over 9 years and having experienced all those side-effects and issues, I can promise you that since going off it, my journey has dramatically increased. I also don’t experience any pain with Endometriosis and have healed so many other aspects of my body.

 Have you made the move to go off hormone treatments for your endometriosis?

Fragile X Gene and Fertility

shutterstock_176896946

I recently had a fertility client who, after successfully becoming pregnant, found out through genetic testing that she is a carrier of the Fragile X gene.

She told me a bit about this gene mutation and how it can also effect fertility.

This prompted me to do more research and pass on this information to you!

What is Fragile X Syndrome?

Fragile X Syndrome is a condition caused by a genetic mutation that can cause learning disabilities, cognitive impairment, ADD, autism spectrum disorder and, rarely, seizures.  It can also cause some distinctive physical attributes such as long face and  large ears.

It occurs in 1 out of 4,000 males and 1 in 8,000 females, according to the Genetics Home Reference, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

This syndrome is caused by a mutation in the FMR1 gene.  This mutation causes less of a needed protein to develop nerve synapses.  If this mutation is repeated more than 200 times, Fragile X syndrome develops.

What Other Conditions are Related to This Gene Mutation?

Some people are carriers of the FMR1 gene mutation, but with less repeats.  This is called a FMR1 pre-mutation.  This may cause some milder learning disabilities or emotional issues, or it can lead to these conditions:

  • Fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome
  • Fragile X-associated primary ovarian insufficiency

Fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome (FXTAS) occurs later if life, after 50 years, and progresses with age.  It involves trembling and loss of balance.

Fragile X-associated primary ovarian insufficiency (FXPOI) involves reduced function of the ovaries.  It can result in irregular or absent cycles, high FSH and infertility.

Again according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s website, 1 in 200 have this pre-mutation, but only a quarter of that group will actually develop FXPOI (1 in 800.) The odds of developing FXPOI depend on the number of repeats in the mutation.  The mutation lies on the X chromosome and is classified as a X-linked dominant pattern, inherited through the mother.  To read more about it, please visit this link:  http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/fragile-x-associated-primary-ovarian-insufficiency

How Can I Find Out if I Have a FMR1 Mutation?

I did find one than one source for genetic testing of this nature online.  One option I found was through Labcorp, which I feel has a good reputation.

If you have Fragile X, autism, or mental retardation in your family you may consider testing.  If you have early high FSH, or premature ovarian failure you may consider being tested.  Here is a LINK to Labcorp’s page on the topic.

This can be a scary topic while trying to conceive, but it may be better to know than not know.

Have you undergone any genetic testing while trying to conceive? Was it helpful? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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