As Institute for Functional Medicine Certified Physicians, we applaud you for considering a functional medicine approach to your fertility challenges. Not only is functional medicine a smart way to achieve long-term health and avoid disease, but it also supports the optimization of your fertility and the health of your future baby.
The functional medicine approach to fertility has the power to increase your chances of getting pregnant, staying pregnant, and having a healthy baby.
Let’s first explain what the functional medicine approach entails so you can see how it’s different from anything you’ve tried before.
The above image is what we call the functional medicine tree. The roots of this tree have to do with the underlying lifestyle factors and foundational factors that impact your health and fertility.
When we take a functional medicine approach to fertility, we work on all of the core clinical imbalances that contribute to signs and symptoms that you may be experiencing, some of which may not be obvious to you. Note that this will take the participation of both partners to best optimize both partners’ health, including egg and sperm health, and increase your chances of becoming pregnant and carrying a healthy baby to term.
Although infertility is a complex issue, we have created the proprietary “4 R Fertility Formula” approach based on our combined decades of traditional (allopathic) and functional medicine experience. This approach combines the best of both the traditional and functional approaches to fertility to make it easier for you to optimize all of the systems in your body to give you the best chance for success.
When you work with us, we provide the tools, insight, as well as access to testing and pharmaceutical grade supplements to support your success. That said, our goal today is to give you an overview of our 4 step approach so you can understand what we do to help our clients prepare for a natural pregnancy and carry a healthy baby to term.
Step 1: Reveal
During the Reveal stage, we focus on the root cause of infertility issues and help you understand the most common problems that could be going on under the surface so we can optimize your chances of conceiving. You will come to better understand your body, develop more awareness of how your metabolism is affected by food, your sleep needs,, stressors (some of which may be hidden), and other factors in your environment you were unaware of which may be inhibiting a natural pregnancy.
3 Tools we Use in Reveal
Basal Body Temperature Charting
It is really important to get used to being consistent with Basal Body Temperature (BBT) charting because it can give us valuable information about egg quality and help determine how likely you are to get pregnant on any given cycle. As your temperature starts to align with a “normal” BBT chart, you will likely begin feeling better because your hormones are balancing out. Your BBT chart will also give us valuable insight into your thyroid, adrenal hormones, gut, and more that could affect your fertility. Most of our clients are shocked by the amount of information we glean from their BBT charts!
Daily Fertility Score
We recommend our clients work towards exhibiting 12 habits each day, and we list those out on a daily fertility score sheet. It’s a tool to quickly assess how conscious you are any given day if you’re showing up in a way that aligns with your fertility goals. Hint – we give 10x the points if you trust the journey because mindset is so important when trying to get pregnant!
Lab testing is an important part of our work with clients. The labs we ask for are more extensive and consider the whole body and not just hormones. We look at fertility indicators in every body system and help you understand the information your labs may be telling you despite looking “normal” according to the standard interpretations.
Spoiler Alert: The lab ranges your doctor uses are based on a middle age white male and are not optimized for fertility, but we know what to look for when it comes to fertility.
When we interpret your results, we lean on our traditional AND functional medicine medical knowledge to customize your plan. This is what makes working with us truly unique – we embrace both approaches to health and take the most scientifically robust evidence to drive our protocols.
Step 2: Release
During the Release stage, we dive deep into detoxification, which is key for your overall health and fertility. Toxins are literally everywhere in our modern world, and you won’t be able to avoid them. As such, the only way we can ensure toxins don’t impede the function of your body’s processes, including fertility, is by supporting your body’s detox organs.
Phase 1 – Oxidation
Phase 1 is when the liver breaks down fat-soluble toxins into water-soluble intermediates. This process temporarily makes compounds more harmful, and there is a possibility of free radicals being produced, which can contribute to infertility.
We recommend supporting Phase 1 with a diet rich in antioxidants and cruciferous vegetables. Antioxidant supplements like Vitamin C, Fish Oil, Green Tea, Garlic, ALAs, N-Acetyl Cysteine, Zinc, Curcumin, and Resveratrol can also help.
Phase 2 – Conjugation
Phase 2 is the liver’s elimination stage which comes after toxins have gone through the process of becoming water-soluble through phase 1 and can be eliminated through the bile and urine.
We recommend supporting Phase 2 by ensuring you have adequate protein in your diet, alongside alliums (onions & scallions) and cruciferous vegetables. Supplements like milk thistle, curcumin, glutathione, and SAMe can also help.
Phase 3 – Transportation
Phase 3 is when the conjugates of Phase 2 either get sent to your kidneys for more filtration before exiting via your bladder as urine or as bile into your intestines and through your GI tract to be eliminated as stool.
If Phase 3 is working well, you should be producing 1 or more healthy stools a day. If that’s not the case, it could be due to gut dysbiosis, lack of fiber, magnesium deficiency, or food intolerance. We need to support Phase 3 first before we detox the other 2 phases.
When we work with our clients, we guide them through a safe and effective detox based on their individual needs and simplify the entire process!
Step 3: Rebalance
In the Rebalance phase, we address other lifestyle aspects and underlying conditions that can impact your fertility, as well as focus on optimizing sperm and egg health. This involves personalized protocols based on your individual imbalances. Your labs, cycle, genetics, lifestyle, and daily routines affect your fertility. We tease it all apart and use the proprietary process we have to unpack it all to elevate you to your most fertile state. Here is a sneak peek of the simplest lifestyle factors you can address right away to get started:
We recommend you drink half your body weight in ounces. And we give you specific guidance on how to offset the dehydration coffee and tea can cause.
Getting 7-9 hours of solid sleep is very important during your fertility journey and also for optimal health. Luckily we have several strategies we can employ to help us get a good night of sleep. (Hint – your sleep stages matter! We help you optimize these!)
Seed Cycling is a methodical way to intake seeds to balance the delicate cycling ratio between estrogen and progesterone in women. For men, this strategy supports testosterone production and sperm health.
Step 4: Receive
The last step has a lot to do with cultivating a fertile mindset that can now overlap with your body being in a more fertile state after the work you’ve done within the first 3 Rs. This final phase is where we tie it all together. We continue to address egg and sperm health, roll out any final personalized tweaks needed based on your body’s response to your protocol thus far, as well as outline a sustainable plan that will prolong your fertile state indefinitely while continuing to optimize your health.
Here’s a small taste of what we cover in this step:
“Did you know that women who reported negative emotions at the beginning of a cycle were 93% less likely to conceive? It has also been shown that women with higher stress levels ovulate 20% fewer eggs than those not stressed.”
Stress and Fertility
In a world full of stress and demands, having a stress management plan is absolutely key in preventing that stress from negatively impacting our health. Stress does cause physiologic abnormalities in the systems of our body that can negatively impact fertility. Incorporating a stress management practice into our everyday life will help the way we actually RESPOND to that stress and keep our body from having an adverse reaction to it. Our PERCEPTION of stress is actually what drives our biochemical response. Best part? We have control over that!
Being mindful of what you eat, how you think, and how you interact with your partner is so important during your fertility journey. We recommend our clients adopt a habit of gratitude journaling at the start or end of each day to put them into a positive state of mind.
This Last Recommendation May Surprise You
Lastly, we recommend our clients do not try to get pregnant while working through these our 4R Fertility Protocol. I know that may seem counterintuitive on the surface since we’re working on fertility and conception. However, in order to have the best chance for success in getting pregnant, having optimal implantation, AND carrying a healthy baby to term it’s best to not get pregnant during this time.
Would you build a house without laying a proper foundation? No, right? Attempting to get pregnant without taking the proper steps to prepare your body may create new obstacles.
Here’s the thing, by optimizing all the contributing factors to fertility, you will not only get pregnant easily and naturally, but the scientific evidence reveals that you will also have a healthier baby with more favorable genetics! Yes, you can shift DNA expression in your future super baby! Stay tuned and follow along…we will be sharing more about this powerful concept in a few weeks.
Now, we’ve just given you a surface overview of our signature Functional Medicine Approach to Fertility. We know it’s a lot of information, and that is why we offer a 12-week Fertility Kickstart Program to walk you through each of these 4 Rs step-by-step, with tools, templates, cheat sheets, and personalized coaching provided by us on live group Q&A calls. We hold your hand throughout the process and facilitate your access to labs, genetics panels, and 1:1 support if needed. If you’re interested in working with us to get pregnant naturally (without medications, or expensive, invasive, time-consuming procedures) then click here to unlock your access to the Fertility Kickstart Program, and we’ll be in touch!
Infertility can be a lonely journey. There is no reason to go at it alone. We’re here for you whenever you’re ready.