Basic's of Fertility - 4 Considerations for Sperm to Egg Success
Conception can be a complex process that relies on several different events all happening within specific time frames. If it isn't working, many different things may be at play, however there are some ways to help maximise success just by getting to know your body and how it works.
Lets start with the basic 4 key things that need to take place for pregnancy to occur:
Ovulation is when a mature egg is released from an ovary. Each time you ovulate a special egg is chosen to be released from the follicle, the egg with the best grades. This is driven by female hormones, more specifically a surge in luteinising hormone (LH) which happens as a result of increased oestrogen. Post LH peak progesterone begins to rise due to formation of corpus luteum which is a fancy name for the left over follicle from which the lucky chosen egg was released from. Tracking ovulation is best done by monitoring your cervical mucus. When you have an egg white, stringy consistency then you know that an egg has burst out of the follicle and is making its way down the fallopian tubes.
2. TUBAL TRANSPORT
Fallopian tubes provide a pathway for the egg to travel - they need to be healthy for this process to take place. We want a nice fun water slide ride for our mature egg, with no road blocks. Ideally we want the egg to make contact with the sperm - AKA fertilisation. Once fertilised the egg (now called a zygote) will move into the endometrial cavity and will literally implant itself into the wall for a wee little rest.
3. SPERM FERTILISATION
We all know sperm and egg make contact and bam a baby is produced but for this to happen we need healthy little swimmers - we want olympic athlete freestylers going for gold (the egg). This is were we get the men to do some work. This is the section I call SMM - Sperm count, Motility, Morphology.
A high sperm count will increase chances of conception.
Good motility will get them sperm to where they are going without any detours and sideways swimming.
Virtuous Morphology will make sure our sperm look just like the basic sperm tadpole image we all know and love.
Now several things can impinge on this, many of which are modifiable. Things like smoking, heat exposure, obesity, radiation and stress can all play a role in stuffing up the sperm.
Women will commonly do preconception work (whole food diet, exercise, de-stressing etc.) to increase their fertility but it VERY important to remember that this is a 50/50 equation and a team effort - so boys - its time to give up the bad habits and maybe put the bike and lycra away for a little bit.
Once an egg has been fertilised it will move to implant itself inside the uterus so the embryo can begin to grow. This is where your baby will live for the next 9 months. Think of all the lush soft blankets and natural fibre clothing you want to swaddle your child in post birth - we also want to achieve this throughout the whole growing process. The endometrium (the tissue lining of the uterus) needs to be healthy to help the baby grow and thrive. Looking after ourselves from the inside out is important and eating a balanced diet with a major emphasis for whole foods will help set you up for success
The above seems pretty simple but many things can impinge on fertility and it can be at times a very complicated beast. Common causes of infertility include:
• ageing • smoking • Diminished ovarian reserve • Endocrine disorders - cushing's, addison's, hyperthyroid, hypothyroid • Endometriosis • Heavy metal and environmental toxin exposure • Infections • Obesity • PCOS • Premature ovarian failure • Stress • Tubal Factors
If you are experiencing infertility as the result of these conditions, you may require a more in-depth approach with both doctors and naturopaths.
About the Author
Chloe is a Naturopath practicing in the Inner West of Sydney as well as the wider online community. She has a passion for empowering her client's to regain control over their health and is enjoys working with her client's to get to the bottom of why they may be experiencing fertility problems. Her approach focuses on incorporating a nutritious diet and lifestyle changes along with nutritional and herbal medicine.
To get yourself feeling your best again book an appointment with Chloe at her Sydney clinic here.