How Can Basal Body Temperature Charting Support Fertility?

The timing of intercourse is very important when it comes to becoming pregnant. By doing so at the right time, you can save your time and energy being spent on trying. Because the timing is important for successful conception, monitoring the days of fertility is also becoming important. If you can find out the days you are more fertile, then you can plan it very well. In this line, one must remember that each and every month, our body would give us the signs that we are ovulating. All we have to do is to identify those.

The Importance of Basal Body Temperature:

As you might be already aware, there are various methods to determine whether you are fertile. One among these is your basal body temperature charting. The method of basal body temperature charting would help determine when you are likely to ovulate. So, how to use this method? Let’s see here now:

While using this method, you will be tracking your body’s basal temperature. In simple terms, the basal body temperature can be defined as the lowest temperature that the body would experience in a 24-hour period. In order to note down your basal body temperature, you need to take the readings when your body is completely idle. This is why it’s advisable to track the basal body temperature immediately after waking up from your sleep.

It’s to be noted here that your basal body temperature will be more or less stable with just some minor fluctuations. While this is the case during all the days of a menstrual cycle, you would see a slight, as well as steady rise in the basal body temperature during the ovulation window. You could see an obvious increase of 0.1 to 1.0 degree during the fertile window. Although this is a minor change, it’s an important sign of ovulation. Therefore, the women who are trying to conceive are recommended to chart down the basal body temperature to determine whether you are ovulating.

Understanding the Changes in Basal Body Temperature:

So, why is there a change in basal body temperature during ovulation? Let’s try to understand this here. During the menstrual cycle, two hormones will reach their peak levels. As such, during the first half of the cycle, estrogen will be at highest levels. If you do not know about estrogen, understand that this would help your ovaries to produce an egg to be released during ovulation. On the other half part of the cycle, the hormone “progesterone” will be at its peak. Note that this hormone will be dominating until it decreases in expectation of your periods.

Now, the theory can be easily explained because estrogen is a cooler hormone, while progesterone is a warmer hormone. Thus, before ovulation, when estrogen is higher, the basal body temperature will be low, whereas, after ovulation, when progesterone is dominant, the basal body temperature will be high.

Thus, tracking your basal body temperature will help determine if you are fertile or not. Although this method has its own set of pros and cons, this is still considered to be one of the common methods to track ovulation.

References:

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/evaluation-of-the-menstrual-cycle-and-timing-of-ovulation

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12468181

http://www.contraceptionjournal.org/article/S0010-7824(02)00288-3/fulltext

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24845657

We always talk about egg quality but what about uterine quality?

Whether you are trying to conceive naturally, undergoing IVF, or considering an egg donor (like my patient I was talking to today), you need a healthy uterus to support the growth and development of an embryo into a child. There are some key things you can look for to determine the health of your uterus.

One of major factors that your doctor can test for you is your uterine lining. Optimal thickness of the endometrium is greater than 8mm for implantation. The endometrial lining is primed by healthy estrogen levels through the follicular phase. If the lining of the uterus is not thick enough, there can be multiple factors affecting it.

First, of course, the estrogen’s affect on the uterus to support the development of the endometrium. Beyond that however, the optimal blood flow and nutrients to the uterus are crucial. In my practice we support the uterus with two different treatments: Mercier Therapy and Low Level Laser Therapy. Those are the two most effective treatments that I have found for the uterine health. Also, we want to ensure proper nutrient levels. At our clinic, we like to do that through functional nutritional analysis and support the body to have the nutrients that it needs.

Last but not least, the uterus, implantation, and embryo development are affected by something a little more difficult to analyze– how the immune system affects the uterus. To this affect, there are many expensive tests that can determine which exact immune cells are out of balance in the body (CD+, NK, or T – Cells. But, at our clinic, we prefer to test general immune and auto-immune factors. If any of those are elevated, we really ought to consider finding a resolution for bringing the immune system into balance. First and foremost, that usually involves healing the gut. A non-inflammatory diet may be recommended, in addition to supplements that will support immune balance. Then, we proceed to monitoring the previously out of balance immune cells to see if they have changed. Usually, they will resolve in 2-3 months, which has a promising affect on uterine quality.

The three treatments I have talked about here are crucial to uterine quality:

  1. Mercier Therapy
  2. Low Level Laser Therapy
  3. Immune re-balance through gut healing

I have seen a decrease in miscarriages because of this holistic approach, as well as better implantation and pregnancy rates in women undergoing IVF and Egg Donors. If you have had frequent miscarriages, are undergoing another IVF cycle and want to increase your chances for success, or are using an egg donor for your next cycle, I highly suggest calling us first. We can greatly improve your chances within just 6-8 weeks of treatment.

 

Taking Progesterone is Not The Solution to Your Fertility

Progesterone Levels and Egg Quality

Most of you might be aware that progesterone is playing a significant role when it comes to infertility treatments today. It’s also known to play an important role in pregnancy and miscarriage. But, several people ask us what progesterone does with the egg quality. Is there any relationship between these two entities? Let’s try to understand this here now…

Understanding about Progesterone Synthesis:

Now, let’s try to understand about the progesterone synthesis here. There is a common misconception that progesterone is being produced by the ovary. But, it’s not so. The primary producer of this hormone is the corpus luteum, which is formed after the fertilization of your egg. The hormone will be released from the dominant follicle of the corpus luteum for the first 6 to 8 weeks of pregnancy.

The Relationship between Egg Quality and Progesterone Synthesis:

Now, understand that the ovary will produce a dominant follicle every month, which will be carrying the egg. Upon ovulation, this egg will be released from this dominant follicle and thereafter the remaining cyst would become the corpus luteum. So, the relationship between the egg quality and progesterone levels is quite obvious now. If the egg that is being produced is not very healthy, then the resulting corpus luteum would tend to produce less amount of progesterone. Thus, there is a strong relationship between progesterone levels and quality of the egg. Also, remember that the corpus luteum is present within the ovary, but it is not ovary that produces required levels of progesterone when there is no ovulation and fertilization of the healthy egg.

Testing of Progesterone Levels:

As mentioned earlier, progesterone is produced by a healthy corpus luteum and hence, the levels of the hormone are measured on “Day 21” of the menstrual cycle. To be more accurate, it will be recorded on “Day 7” after your ovulation. For a fertile cycle, the levels will be 30 ng/ml or above.

So, how can this interrelationship be used to improve the egg quality and hence, fertility? Well, you can increase the likelihood of the good quality egg in the next cycle by regulating the hormones in the current cycle. This method is becoming popular now and is called “estrogen priming”.

References:

  1. http://attainfertility.com/2013/08/dr-estil-strawn-egg-quality-progesterone
  2. http://fertility.ca/eggs/menstrual-cycle-reflect-quality-eggs/

Reversing Ovarian Age: Is it possible?

Low Level Laser Therapy for Infertility Treatment

Low Level Laser Therapy is widely used for anti-aging treatments today. This clinically proven method has been around in the anti-aging services for over three decades now. The way, in which these light works is by mimicking how the cells communicate with each other and thereby, boosting the ability to produce ATP. It’s to be noted that ATP is the vital energy source that has to be given to each cell to carry out the regenerative and repair functions. By administering the low level laser light, the ATP is found to be increased by up to 150%.

As LLLT is found to be effective in anti-aging treatments, various researchers across the world took it forward for treating infertility. Surprisingly, the anti-aging concept with a low level laser is also effective in reversing ovarian age. Thus, this therapy can be used as an adjunctive therapy to holistic methods or in-vitro fertilization. This treatment, which can be otherwise called as laser acupuncture has a strong potential to help attain their highest fertility potential while trying to conceive naturally or artificially.

How does LLLT work?

As mentioned earlier, the LLLT would help optimize the fertility in women by activating mitochondrial function and thereby, stimulating the production of ATP in the cells. In addition to this vital function, this could also help promote the circulation of blood, control inflammation (ovarian aging), and soften scar tissues. Note that these are the major causes of infertility today.

Ovarian Aging and Anti-Mullerian Hormone:

This, which is otherwise called AMH, is a substance that is being produced by the granulose cells in the follicles of ovaries. Anti-Mullerian Hormone is the credible barometer to measure the state of ovarian reserve in women. When these levels are low, then it would suggest that the particular woman’s ovarian reserve is greatly decreasing and hence, needs immediate attention. It’s to be noted that production declines and then stops when these ovarian follicles grow. There will be no AMH in the follicles of size more than 8 mm.

What does the Study say about LLLT for Infertility?

Now, coming back to LLLT for infertility, as mentioned about, ovarian reserve and AMH levels are intimately tied to optimizing fertility. Now, let’s see the scientific proof for the effectiveness of LLLT in treating infertility. A study that was performed in an IVF center in Japan that used LLLT in women with low or undetectable AMH levels. Out of 188 patients treated, almost 56% reported pregnancy and 38% reported live births. This study was conducted from April 2010 to November 2015 and the patients with low or undetectable AMH levels. They were administered with low-level laser light for the neck and the abdominal-lumbar regions. For better understanding, among 13 patients with 0.1 AMH level, five patients were found to achieve a clinical pregnancy and six patients gave births.

Although there are only a few studies on the effectiveness of LLLT, several case studies have been reported that the LLLT is effective is ovarian age reversal and thus, can be used effectively to treat infertility, especially in the patients with low AMH levels.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4126803/
  2. http://www.acubalance.ca/blog/how-laser-can-improve-your-fertility-four-fold
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3944482/
  4. http://www.acubalance.ca/resources/publications/low-level-laser-therapy-lllt-our-infertility-clinic
  5. http://acubalance.ca/laser/laser-lllt-for-fertility
  6. http://www.acubalance.ca/blog/laser-acupuncture-for-fertility-and-ivf-questions-and-answers
  7. http://www.acubalance.ca/ivf-acupuncture-for-embryo-transfer
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3944668/
  9. http://photobiology.info/Sawhney.html

What not to do when you have the flu

Here are the Top 3 things you SHOULDN’T do if you have the flu… and the three things you can do instead


Antibiotics kill your gut microbiome:
When you take antibiotics for an infection, they not only fight against that bacteria, but they also kill ALL the good bacteria in your gut. The long term effects of that are gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and IBS. And, these affects can last not only a few weeks or months but years!! Also, antibiotics don’t really help you fight the influenza virus. Scientifically, influenza is a virus not a bacteria. So, taking antibiotics (that fight bacteria not viruses) are a little bit useless.

Don’t take tylenol. Most people with the flu run for tylenol which helps to decrease the fever. However, the fever is the body’s natural response to a bacterial or viral infection that it is trying to fight off! So, decreasing your fever actually decreases your immune function and will lengthen your recovery time.  Also, a big down-side to tylenol is decreased ovulation and hence, decreased fertility in women.

Don’t drink orange juice, grapefruit juice, or any other juice. Why? When your immune system is under attack, it needs to be functioning optimally. And, sugar, of any kind decreases immune function. Fruit juices are concentrated sugar and will lower immune function further.

What to do instead?

  1. Get your immune function up with Elderberry. Elderberry extract has been shown to reduce the flu virus time from 7-10 days to 3-4 days. I would recommend either tea or extract – taken in high doses. For tea, drink 1-1.5 cups every 3 hours. For extract, take a teaspoon every 3-4 hours. You can read more about the benefits of elderberry in my last post.
  2. Wellness Formula: This is one of my favorites! You can find it at Whole Foods or a Health Store near you. I generally recommend 2-3 tablets every 3 hours. It has herbs that are anti-viral and anti-bacterial, as well as herbs that will help boost your immune system.
    Then continue at 2 tabs 3x a day for 3 days after your symptoms are completely resolved.
  3. Magic Socks. This is my favorite treatments of all time. It sounds a little funny but trust me, it works!

    How to do it: Take the cotton socks, run them under cold water. Wring the socks out well. Put them on your feet just before going to sleep for the night. Put the wool socks on over them. Yes, they have to be pure wool (SmartWool likely will not work)

    What should you expect? The socks should be dry in the morning. And, you should be feeling better (vibrant, energetic, etc).

    Continue doing magic socks for a day or two after full recovery. This will ensure you’re a 100% back to health!

  4. Optional: increase daily Vitamin C to 1000 mgs 3-4x/day. And, add in 5 drops of super potent oregano oil to your Vitamin C.

Don’t take the flu shot

What you should know about taking the flu shot before you get in line… 

The flu vaccine is often the norm. Between October and December, I got about 15 calls from my doctor’s office requesting that I come in for the flu shot. Ridiculous! The flu shot is a vaccine created from last year’s winning flu virus strain. However, there are many strains of influenza, and it’s unlikely that the most popular last year will be the one that most people will get this year. Quite the opposite actually! Rarely do flu strains stay consistent from year to year, so the flu vaccine is unlikely to protect you. More likely than not, it will do some damage because most flu vaccines contain mercury — which as you know is a harmful heavy metal, which if accumulated in your body can wreak havoc on your immune system and your hormonal system.

What to do instead? Drink elderberry tea. Research shows that elderberries have the ability to protect you from the flu better than a flu shot.

How does it work? It’s pretty cool! Elderberries create a coating on healthy cells to prevent the flu virus from invading healthy cell membranes. And, elderberries have been found to have anti-viral properties against at least 10 strains of influenza (not just one!).

You have options:

  1. Tea: make with 1 tablespoon of elderberries in 1.5 cups of hot water, steep for 20 minutes. Drink daily for prevention.
  2. Elderberry extract: 1 tsp daily, dilute in water or drink straight (it’s delicious!)

Other things to do to prevent getting the flu this year:

  • Make sure your Vitamin D levels are up to par. And if not, you can take a little Vit D (about 5000 IUs per day should do it). If you need to get your levels tested, you can order your own test here.
  • Take some extra Vitamin C. About 1000 mg per day is usually adequate.

 

How taking birth control pills as an adolescent reduces fertility later in life.

This shouldn’t come as news, and yet, it is commonly believed that young women on the pill are not affected later in life in regards to their fertility. Contrarily, research has shown that there is actually an affect of reduced fertility with long-term birth control use. Is it any surprise that infertility is on the rise?

One of the many problems: The pill is no longer just used for contraception. The main reason to use the pill for birth control was only 46% of the time.

Rather, evidence suggests a larger portion of the female population is put on the pill to treat:

crampingHeavy flow

Cramps

PMS

PCOS

Irregular periods

Acne

“Funny” cycles

Depression

The problem for using OCPs as treatment for any of the above is that they don’t treat the root cause. The above list has very little to do with oral contraception. Yes, some of these problems do have to do with hormonal irregularities—but usually those too have a deeper root cause. So, oral contraceptives just give the appearance of having resolved the real problem and instead the problem reappears or worsens with time, and will inevitably make is more challenging to conceive children later in life.

What can teens do instead?

  1. Detox estrogens and xenoestrogens from your body – did you know that tons of the beauty products that you use for your skin, to cover up acne and make you feel more beautiful actually make your acne worse? There are xenoestrogens in all kinds of beauty products- avoid the products with phthalates for starters. There are also xenoestrogens in plastics, canned foods that are lined with BPA, and even receipts you get at the store have BPA. Last but not least, plastic water bottles… I can go on and on about plastic water bottles but the short skinny version is avoid ALL of them! Even the ones that say they are BPA-free are using similar compounds which are actually just as toxic for your hormones as BPA.
  2. Stop eating sugar – the glow of your skin will be worth it!
  3. Wheat what?! – You don’t have to cut it out but at least limit it to a couple times a week. Your hormones will thank you.
  4. Avoid Dairy – yes, completely avoid dairy. The hormones in dairy throw your hormones out of whack.
  5. The deal with meat: it’s probably better to have a more plant-centric diet but if you want to eat meat, eat it in small amounts and make sure it’s organic & free-range!
  6. Eat more greens to alkalinize the body– or, get super-greens in the form of a tasty powder that you can drink.

What if you were a teen who was given birth control, who wants to have a baby now?

  1. If you have been off of the pill for more than 2 months and your cycle has still not become regular, it’s important to regulate your cycle first. Herbs used cyclically here can be great to help regulate your cycle.
  2. Detox your hormones. Yes, this is actually do-able. The hormones you have taken into your body for years have an energetic imprint on your hormones and a sequence of specific homeopathic remedies can help to detox the effects of those hormones from your body—often significantly improving your fertility.
  3. Know that it will take time. The effects of birth control are long lasting so give it time, patience, and get the support of a specialist.

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Why didn’t clomid work?

To stimulate ovulation, many women are given clomid as the first line of therapy. Usually, you don’t need to see a reproductive endocrinologist but rather, your OB/GYN can prescribe clomid for you. However, it’s often not the magic bullet. It doesn’t work for many women who have underlying problems that haven’t been diagnosed.

– PCOS is a condition that is often under-diagnosed and has many poor responders. Although clomid is a recommended treatment for PCOS women, studies actually show that it performs poorly compared to many natural agents such as myo-inositol.

In addition, there are women with thyroid antibodies which makes them clomiphene resistant and has been connected to treatment failure and higher miscarriage rates.

Women with low ovarian reserve are not great candidates for clomid. Trying to release egg follicles from ovaries that are general low on follicles is like pushing a weak horse into the desert. I suggest seeking guidance from a specialist if you have low ovarian reserves. Please don’t deplete the reserve more by taking ovarian stimulants.

Side effects of clomiphene include digestive upset, dizziness, HAs, and visual disturbance. It can also increase risk of ovarian cancer. Last but not least, greater than 6 months of use has been shown to impair fertility.

Other pharmaceutical options for ovulation:

HCG injections are used to stimulate the ovaries to release a mature egg follicle. The problem is that HCG can over stimulate the ovaries and lead to cyst formation

Bromocriptine is a medication used to decrease prolactin levels that could support ovulation. This might be an option for some women, though there are natural ways to potentially support ovulation.

Herbs that can help increase ovulation naturally:

Vitex

vitex

Lemon balm

lemon_balm-2

Licorice

licorice-plant

Shatavari

shatavari

 

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That stubborn weight and how it affects your fertility…

Your body weight is an indicator of your health – and is affected by so much more than your caloric intake and exercise. The women I see in my office are generally the ones that have been on so many different diets and exercise regularly. Yet, they are still heavier than they would like to be (or are overweight).

What could be causing that stubborn weight?
1. High levels of testosterone or androgens can lead to other imbalances that make it hard to lose weight.
2. Thyroid hormones play a huge role in weight management (but thyroid needs to be fairly tightly regulated, and unfortunately, most medical doctors don’t test your thyroid hormones completely so it’s hard to diagnose)
3. Insulin resistance – meaning the insulin that should be released by your pancreas in response to sugar consumption is actually released but has stopped having an affect on your cells processing sugar. This is why sugar and things that raise blood sugar causes a double whammy on your weight

What can you do about it?

** Get your hormones tested. I have created a specialty panel that you can order yourself if you don’t have a doctor that will order the tests for you. Thyroid problems or PCOS will make it harder to lose the weight. So, knowing where your hormones stand will go a long ways in helping you lose the excess weight.

** Eliminate sugar – believe it or not, sugar is a common ingredient in everything, including pasta sauce. And, honey is also a form of sugar. As is ‘evaporated cane juice.’ Nutra-sweet, splenda, and equal are even worst because the condition your taste buds to crave more sugar. Eliminate all sweets from your life for 3 weeks… you may actually change your taste buds away from cravings.

** Eat complex carbs like beans that actually help rebalance insulin resistance and increase the ability for your body to be less sensitive to sugar. Grains and beans actually fall into different categories. You don’t have to eat grains to get your complex carbs (their health benefits are less obvious) but eating beans can be quite beneficial.
If you have trouble digesting beans, this blog post can help you.

Three ways to a healthy, happy uterus

Is your uterus on fire?

If you are one of the many women who have experienced IVF failure, implantation failures, or frequent miscarriages — you may have an inflamed uterus.

Inflammation has been connected to almost every dis-ease from heart disease to cancer to diabetes. Would it be any surprise that inflammation has an affect on your reproductive health and your ability to get pregnant? Decreasing inflammation in your body and your reproductive tract can go a long way to ensuring sustained fertility.

What can you do to decrease inflammation in your body? Here are my top 3 ways to make your uterus happy:
1. Eat a non-inflammatory diet FOR YOU. All people are not made equal. So, you really have to figure out the foods that are inflaming your body and cut them out. There are a few common ones for everyone though: sugar, processed foods, and toxic oils (meaning oils heated past their optimal and safe temperatures).
2. Vitamin E with mixed tocopherols. I have my own personal favorite brands… but, you can find a good mixed tocopherol formula that does not have a long list of “other ingredients.” That would be a great place to start. And, there are many studies that have been done on Vitamin E and inflammation; Vitamin E and heart disease; etc. Taking Vitamin E is essential for decreasing inflammation. Not only that, Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant so it can help preserve your fertility and optimize your egg health as well.
3. Increase your Omega 3 to 6 ratio. Supplementing with high grade, purified fish oils is a good way to increase your Omega 3s. And, you can also eat a more plant-centric diet, and reduce your intake of meat which is primarily high in Omega 6.

If you’re interested in getting personalized fertility support, you can schedule a Fertility Discovery Session with me here OR fill out my “How Fertile Are You Quiz” to get personalized insights about your fertility and learn about ways to work with me one on one.