Pregnant woman holding her belly

Healthy conception, healthy pregnancy, healthy child: Part 1

Are you actively trying to conceive, or planning to conceive in the next few years? If so, you’re probably overwhelmed by the plethora of information relating to fertility. 

Don't worry, you don’t need to be the expert, that is what we are here for. Our patients aiming to conceive have three common goals, healthy conception, healthy pregnancy and healthy child.

In this three-part series, we will address the three essential pre-conception steps that address and support each one of those goals. This is what you need to know and how we can help.

Step One - Clear stored toxins

It’s critical to support our body’s natural detoxification pathways when trying to conceive, due to the thousands of chemicals that float through our environment and migrate into our bodies daily. Whether you plan to conceive naturally or through IVF, effective detoxification will optimize your fertility and support the growth and development of your child throughout your pregnancy. There are over 85,000 synthetic chemicals registered for use in the US, and 1,000-2,000 more are added to the list every year. Most of these chemicals are never tested for health effects of reproductive toxicity, and as a result there are thousands of common metals and chemicals present in our air, water, food, household cleaning supplies, and health-and-beauty products that damage fertility.

Women with the highest levels of PCBs in their blood have on average a 50% decrease in their ability to get pregnant and are more likely to miscarry if they do happen to conceive. Although PCBs were banned in the 1970s, they’re still prolific in our water, soil, and air. This is just one example of a highly carcinogenic chemical that harms our reproductive health.

Some chemicals, such as PBCs, are hard to avoid since they’re so ubiquitous in our environment. However, there are other chemicals, such as endocrine disruptors, to which you can limit your exposure. Endocrine disruptors are synthetic chemicals that mimic estrogen and/or androgen hormone actions. They promote unwarranted activation, synthesis, and secretion of endogenous hormones, which triggers a downstream impact on hormonal and metabolic processes. Recent research has also shown that they alter the gut microbiome and cause dysbiosis. One study found that BPAs (plastics) alter the ratio between Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes spp. (a defining sign of dysbiosis) and reduce lactobacillus species specifically. Avoid household products and foods with solvents and lubricants (e.g., polychlorinated biphenyls and dioxins), plastics (bisphenol A), and pesticides/ fungicides to reduce the burden of endocrine disruptors.

10 steps to reduce exposure to chemicals associated with infertility:

  1. Filter your drinking water. Some options include home filters, faucet filters, and pitchers.
  2. Reduce your consumption of fish species that contain high levels of mercury, dioxin, and PBCs, such as swordfish and tuna fish.
  3. Buy organic food, if possible. Otherwise, wash all produce and peel when you can to remove chemicals
  4. Avoid pesticides and herbicides for home, lawn, and garden care.
  5. Avoid polycarbonate plastic products, such as sports water bottles
  6. Reduce your use of canned goods and plastic storage containers
  7. Use non-toxic home cleaning products
  8. Avoid synthetic air fresheners, fabric softeners, and fragrances
  9. Keep your space well ventilated when vacuuming, cleaning, painting, etc.

In addition to limiting your exposure to chemicals, certain nutrition and lifestyle practices can enhance your liver’s capacity to detoxify and remove harmful substances from your body. By increasing your liver’s supply of the nutrients needed for phase I, phase II, intermediate pathways, and elimination you will prevent toxins from lying dormant and causing harm in your body. It’s important to consume the key nutrients needed to produce glutathione, sulfotransferases, and methylating agents. Some whole foods that are particularly good at supporting these pathways include:

Cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts), beets, eggs, citrus fruits, leafy greens, garlic, berries, bitter herbs (milk thistle, cilantro, ginger, mint, radish, turmeric, watercress), avocados, green tea, fatty fish, nuts, spirulina, olive oil, and liver (grass-fed beef liver, fish liver, wild-game liver, or pasture-raised chicken liver).

Be on the lookout for the next steps in preparing your body for healthy fertility.  In the meantime, if you want a deeper dive into your unique fertility factors, reach out to our experts at BioLounge. We're here to help.

Learn more in part 2 by clicking here