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Functional Medicine Infertility

Infertility is a deeply personal and challenging journey for many couples. While conventional medicine has made significant strides in fertility treatments, an increasing number of individuals are turning to functional medicine for a holistic approach to address the root causes of infertility. In this article, we'll explore how functional medicine differs from conventional approaches, delve into the importance of specific nutrients for fertility, and uncover the critical role of gut health.

Functional vs Conventional Medicine

Conventional medicine is the mainstream healthcare system practiced by most medical doctors  and other healthcare professionals. The primary focus of conventional medicine is to address the symptoms of a disease or condition using pharmaceutical drugs, surgeries, and other medical interventions. In the case of infertility, this may include drugs to induce ovulation, like Clomid or Letrozole, or surgeries to remove uterine polyps, fibroids, or endometriosis. In-vitro fertilization (IVF) or intrauterine insemination (IUI) are two other options that many couples  successfully use to start a family. 

However, other couples may not succeed in using conventional medicine in achieving a live birth and may seek alternative options. In fact, nearly 80 percent of couples report using at least one integrative modality, like acupuncture, yoga, meditation, or herbal supplements (1). At Root, we have many members who choose to use a mix of both conventional and functional medicine approaches for their condition.

Functional medicine for infertility aims to identify and address the root causes that may be hindering reproductive health. Learn more about the differences between conventional and functional medicine

Functional Medicine for Infertility

Many people don't realize that infertility affects men and women equally. Studies show that about one third of infertility is due to male factors, one third is due to female factors, and one third is unknown or a combination (2). Most of the methods we use in functional medicine to support reproductive health, like diet and lifestyle, can benefit both men and women.

Our assessment for infertility typically includes a comprehensive blood work panel to evaluate for potential root causes of infertility like anemia, autoimmune diseases, vitamin deficiencies, hormone imbalances, or thyroid disorders. In women, we may ask thorough questions about your menstrual cycle length, symptoms, cervical mucus, ovulation timing, and more. 

These variables are often missed by conventional doctors, yet can make a significant difference in pregnancy rates and outcomes. Some of the conditions we evaluate for that are often missed include:


Depending on your assessment and blood work results, we may suggest further in-depth testing to evaluate gut health, hormone metabolism, or cortisol (stress hormone) rhythms.

Gut Health


Dysbiosis is an imbalance of gut bacteria which can damage the gut lining, cause food sensitivities, and lead to further disease. Many common conditions that impact fertility, like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and Hashimoto’s thyroid disease, are associated with dysbiosis (3, 4, 5). Poor gut health can also disrupt other hormones related to fertility like estrogen and insulin. In some infertility cases, we may recommend functional medicine gut testing to create a personalized treatment plan to address these imbalances. Read more about gut health and hormones

Nutrition

Research largely supports a Mediterranean-inspired diet for optimal fertility. Many aspects of this diet may also improve overall egg and sperm quality. The Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, and lean protein. Our Root dietitians can tailor your diet and meal recommendations to include foods you enjoy with key fertility-boosting nutrients like antioxidants, folate, and omega-3. It’s also important to support blood sugar balance by ensuring you include a protein, fat, and carbohydrate source with each meal and snack. Read more about a fertility diet to support egg quality.

Targeted Supplements

We focus on using food and lifestyle as the primary foundation of health. However, depending on your root cause(s), targeted supplements can support a functional medicine treatment plan for infertility.

Here are a few examples of supplements we may recommend for certain fertility conditions:

male fertility supplements

Male Fertility Supplement Bundle

This dynamic duo provides antioxidant cell protection for better sperm quality.
$106.00
NAC

NAC

NAC is the real MVP for hormone and metabolic health
$44.00
ovasitol

Ovasitol

AKA Magic Period Dust
$80.00

Key Takeaways

Choosing a functional medicine approach offers a unique and comprehensive perspective on reproductive health by investigating and treating the root cause(s) of your infertility. Fortunately, you can also use functional medicine methods to complement conventional approaches. Learn more about our functional medicine membership program.
Free Lab Panel

Free Lab Panel


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Commit to working virtually with our team of expert functional medicine doctors and dietitians for three months and receive a FREE comprehensive wellness lab panel* (valued at over $2,100!). Offer expires on June 18th, 2024 at midnight EDT. 

Panel includes: Ferritin - Iron, Gamma Glutamyl Transferase (GGT) - Liver, Glucose, Hemoglobin A1c - average blood sugar, Insulin (fasting), T4 Free (FT4) - thyroid, T3, Free - thyroid, TSH - thyroid, Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies - thyroid, Vitamin B12, Zinc, Lipid Panel, hs-CRP - Inflammation, Hepatic Function Panel - Liver, Vitamin D, 25-Hydroxy, Coenzyme Q10 - Energy, OmegaCheck(R) - Omega 3/6, Homocysteine.
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