By Dr. Aumatma Shah, ND
Infertility is increasing at every age, from adolescence to mid-life. However, doctors have been ignoring the “toxic soup” which evidence suggests is at the cause behind so much “unexplained” infertility. By addressing the underlying causal factors, programs and treatments that restore vibrant reproductive health may be a pro-active response to increasing fertility in couples that want to start families.
Infertility studies by the Center for Disease Control in 2005 showed that 1 in about 8 women were unable to carry a child to term, a large decline from past surveys. One of the concerning discoveries of the study was the observation that the decline in fertility for women 15-24 of age was very similar to the decline for women aged 25 years and over. Ages 15-24 are normally very fertile years—thus a decline in the youngest category of fertility that closely matches that decline in older women indicates the existence of a developmental threat that is fundamentally affecting adolescents’ natural development into fertile young women.
Another study noted that the rate of unexplained fertility 20 years ago was 20%. Today, it is 40%, double the rate, reinforcing the case for an unseen yet highly prominent threat to fertility at all ages. More so, infertility—though a topic that is intensely important to patients struggling to have a child—remains a taboo topic in social settings. Women (and men) frequently do not talk about their infertility issues, out of shame that something is wrong with them, and perhaps the feeling that no one else will understand. And yet, fertility clinics have waiting lists months long.
Medical procedures now available include in-vitro fertilization (IVF), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), and a vast array of drugs that help to increase the number of ovulated eggs per cycle. Certain statistics, ignoring other variables of women’s health, do seem to show that these procedures can be effective in helping some couples conceive, though success rates are considerably low.
From the Naturopathic perspective, procedurally inducing what the body is unwilling to do spontaneously indicates an underlying root problem that we would be ignoring or covering up if we opt into what modern science has to offer. Please do not misunderstand, there is a place for these technologies and they have helped a significant number of couples have children. However, pushing the body and overpowering the body with high doses of medications, can have its share of consequences.
From the holistic, integrative, and naturopathic medicine perspective, the reproductive system is one of the first body systems to be compromised when the rest of the body is struggling for optimal function. Though important from an evolutionary perspective, the reproductive system is not required for day-to-day functioning of the body and hence, likely to be compromised if the body is under high amounts of stress, or has other issues that take priority.
From the holistic perspective, what are some of the root causes of infertility? From my experience, I have summarized the root causes down to three major factors: Environmental Toxin Exposure, Stress, and Nutritional Deficiencies.
Any integrative fertility program that incorporates and addresses all three of these components, along with discovering and treating any hormonal imbalances is likely to be successful. And, not only that, a program such as this should leave couples feeling healthier, more energized, and with greater balance in their lives.
It is a very personal choice if and when to conceive a child. However, as a Fertility Specialist, I know that reproductive health is the first to decline when the body has too much to handle (stress, toxins, etc). The decreasing rates in fertility, including in adolescents, is a call to action. We, society-at-large, need to take action to have our reproductive health back to the level it should be, even if some never want to get pregnant, because fertility is a significant indicator of the overall health of the body conducive to better quality of life. Declining fertility is a problem not only for couples wanting to start families, it is a global problem—indicating simply that our environment has become toxic for an increasing population of the human race, and we need to take global action against things like GMO foods, toxins in our water, and other compromises to fertility and overall health.
Dr. Aumatma Shah, ND, is a graduate of University of Bridgeport, College of Naturopathic Medicine (2006) with a dual Master’s degree in Nutrition. Dr. Aumatma Shah, ND, MS is the developer of the Fertility Success ProgramTM and she currently practices in Silicon Valley and the East Bay and works virtually with long-distance clients. Her practice is focused on working with couples who want to start a family, whether they want to use only the natural approach or they want to work in an integrative setting. Dr. Aum is also a sought out speaker in Holistic Fertility Care. In her past notables, Dr. Aum founded the Karma Clinic Network- a service based, volunteer network for gift-economy health practitioners. More info about her and her services can be found at www.conceivenaturallynow.com.
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This article appears in:
2014 Catalyst, Issue 2: Winter of Wellness