As I was walking down the street one day, a lady approached my wife and I, hugged me and exclaimed, “Thank you for helping me get pregnant!” What followed next wasn’t an awkward silence or a slap in the face, but a moment of great celebration and joy. So why did this lady thank me for helping her conceive? Well that’s what were talking about today, infertility.
This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. Infertility is a larger issue today with young couples trying to conceive than it ever has been, and according to March of Dimes research, more than 500,000 pregnancies a year in the United States end in miscarriages (before the 20th week). Infertility and inability to carry a pregnancy to term are two huge issues in the current health landscape of our country, and due to the pain and heartbreak that accompany them, these subjects are not easy to talk about. Over the past several years, I have encountered multiple families dealing with this pain. They have come to me looking for answers and searching for something in the realm of natural medicine and supplementation that can help them. Fortunately, as a compounding pharmacist, I was trained in the knowledge of hormone therapy, and I work with a lab that provides hormone testing.
Studies show that a high percentage of infertility cases and miscarriages are caused by low levels of progesterone, a hormone necessary to conceive and maintain the pregnancy. We all have three major sex hormones, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. All of these hormones need to be properly balanced at all times for optimum health, but it is progesterone that is vital for conception and maintaining a pregnancy. When the progesterone levels are too low, it makes it difficult for either one of those things to happen. When couples come to me for help, I always have them do the lab tests first to determine exactly what their hormone levels are. In all the cases I have worked with so far, the hormones have been out of balance, and the progesterone has been extremely low.
You might be wondering, “Why? Why would the progesterone be so low?” and the answer is one word, stress. The amount of stress in our lives and how we handle that stress can have a direct effect on the production of hormones in our body, especially progesterone. In light of that information, I also have my patients undergo another lab test, called an adrenal stress index. This test provides several answers as to how stress is effecting the function of the adrenal glands, along with other functions in the body. With the findings and recommendations of the labs, I am able to work with these couples and help them develop a plan to restore balance to the hormones and adrenal glands and to better manage stress as well. This can all be done naturally with supplementation and stress relieving techniques and exercises. Over the years I have had several young women who were unable to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term try these natural protocols and they have been successful. Some of these women had been trying for years, wondering why and what the problem was. Now they have the blessing of a child, and in my next blog I will share one of those success stories with you!