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Healthy Gut Microbiome Increases Fertility In Men And Women

One out of six adults suffer from infertility globally. World Health Organization’s recent report on infertility highlights its increasing prevalence in regions across the world and affects countries at all income levels. 

Infertility can cause significant distress, stigma, and financial hardship to those who suffer from it. Although infertility treatments are available, they come at a price and are mostly inaccessible, especially in areas with low-income levels. 

But the issue may be more and easier to treat, as most doctors fail to consider the gut as a potential cause of infertility. 

In this article, we will delve into infertility, its factors, causes, and treatment, and explore how interventions in the gut microbiome offer a less expensive yet effective method for increasing fertility.

Infertility explained: Risk factors, causes, and conventional treatment

Infertility is a disease of the male or female reproductive system defined as the inability to conceive after twelve months of regular unprotected intercourse. Infertility can be primary or secondary. 

Primary infertility is when someone who’s never conceived a child in the past has difficulty conceiving, and secondary infertility is when someone has had one or more pregnancies in the past but is having difficulty conceiving again.

Risk factors and causes of infertility

There are varying causes as to why infertility happens and is often related to various factors. 

In men, infertility is often caused by: 

  1. Obstruction of the reproductive tract: Blockages in the ejaculatory ducts and seminal vesicles are typically caused by injuries or infections in the genital tract. These blockages can disrupt the ejection of semen and cause infertility. 
  2. Hormonal disorders: Hormones like testosterone are crucial for sperm production. When there are irregularities in the organs responsible for hormone production, such as the pituitary gland or testes, it can lead to infertility.
  3. Testicular failure: Some cases of male infertility come from the testicles’ inability to produce sperm. Varicoceles (enlarged veins in the scrotum) or medical treatments like chemotherapy can impair the function of sperm-producing cells, leading to infertility.
  4. Abnormal sperm function and quality: Conditions or situations that affect the shape (morphology) and movement (motility) of sperm can negatively impact fertility. For example, taking anabolic steroids can result in low sperm count and abnormal shape.

In women, infertility is commonly caused by the following:

  1. Tubal disorders: Blocked fallopian tubes can be a cause of infertility in women. These blockages may result from untreated sexually transmitted infections (STIs), complications of unsafe abortions, postpartum sepsis, or abdominal/pelvic surgeries.
  2. Uterine disorders: Infertility in women can be linked to uterine disorders, which can be categorized into inflammatory conditions like endometriosis, congenital issues such as a septate uterus, or benign conditions like fibroids.
  3. Ovarian disorders: Conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and other follicular disorders can affect the ovaries, potentially leading to infertility by disrupting normal ovulation.
  4. Endocrine system disorders: Imbalances in reproductive hormones can arise from disorders within the endocrine system, including the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. Common disorders may include pituitary cancers and hypopituitarism.

Lifestyle choices also play a significant role in determining the risk of infertility in both men and women. 

Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and the use of marijuana are associated with decreased fertility. These substances can negatively affect sperm quality in men and menstrual cycle regularity in women. 

Additionally, weight management and physical activity levels contribute to the risk of infertility. Being either underweight or overweight can disrupt hormonal balance and interfere with women’s menstrual cycle.

Conventional treatments for infertility

Conventional infertility treatments include in vitro fertilization (IVF), intrauterine insemination (IUI), and hormone therapy. These treatments are typically sought out by individuals facing infertility challenges. 

These treatments can be financially challenging since they involve multiple procedures and medications. They may not guarantee success, and the emotional toll of infertility and its treatments can weigh down couples.

How does the gut affect infertility in men and women

The silver lining is that recent research discovered that the gut acts as a key helper in fertility by regulating hormones, controlling inflammation, aiding in nutrient absorption, supporting immune function, and influencing metabolism and weight management.

This means that a healthy and balanced microbiome successfully increases fertility rates, providing a natural, holistic, and less expensive approach to infertility treatment. 

Help regulate the production and metabolism of female reproductive hormones

There are four main hormones crucial for successful fertilization and maintaining a healthy menstrual cycle. These are the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), estrogen, and progesterone. 

The gut microbiome is a key factor in the production and metabolism of these hormones. The gut microbiome metabolizes estrogen through the estrobolome, a group of bacteria that maintains optimal levels of estrogen in the body. 

Estrobolome produces beta-glucuronidase that aids in the breakdown and reabsorption of estrogen from the gut which helps regulate the overall levels of estrogen, ensuring they are neither too high nor too low.

Additionally, stress affects the gut’s job of balancing hormones like cortisol, which can affect fertility. When stress levels are high, it can mess up how the gut works and throw off important hormones like FSH, LH, estrogen, and progesterone. Stress messes with the gut’s ability to control inflammation and keep things in balance, which really matters for fertility.

The gut’s role in immune function and inflammation also impacts hormonal balance. Chronic inflammation can disrupt hormonal signals, thereby affecting the production and effectiveness of these female reproductive hormones.

Support a healthy uterine environment by immune regulation

A balanced gut microbiota helps maintain an appropriate immune environment, which is needed for the uterine setting, especially during pregnancy. The immune system must be balanced to allow for the acceptance and nurturing of the developing embryo. 

Imbalances in the gut microbiome, known as dysbiosis, can lead to a disrupted immune response, potentially resulting in inflammation or autoimmune reactions that could negatively affect the uterine environment and impair successful implantation or pregnancy.

Enhance sperm production and motility

A well-balanced and healthy gut plays a pivotal role in enhancing sperm quality, primarily by reducing inflammation, improving nutrient absorption, and preventing endotoxemia. 

A balanced gut microbiota mitigates systemic and local inflammation within the reproductive tract. This reduction in inflammation helps maintain sperm health, as excessive inflammation can adversely affect sperm function and motility.

The gut microbiome is also directly linked to the body’s ability to absorb nutrients efficiently. Optimal nutrient absorption is essential for maintaining overall reproductive health and sperm quality. Nutrients such as zinc, folic acid, and omega-3 fatty acids, which are absorbed through the gut, enhance sperm quality and vitality. 

Zinc is crucial for sperm production and testosterone synthesis, folic acid is key for DNA synthesis and repair in sperm cells, and omega-3 fatty acids maintain the structural integrity of sperm cell membranes. These nutrients, efficiently absorbed in a healthy gut, directly contribute to various aspects of sperm development,

Lastly, robust and healthy gut microbiota plays a critical role in preventing leakage of endotoxins into the bloodstream. Endotoxins can trigger systemic inflammatory responses that negatively impact the health and quality of sperm. This prevention reduces the risk of metabolic endotoxemia, a condition that has been linked to poor sperm quality.

Gut-nourishing practices to increase your fertility

To fully maximize the gut’s connection to fertility, it is best to adapt gut-nourishing practices to support its balance and diversity. 

Improve your current diet 

The standard diet of highly processed food, high sugar, and high fat aggravates the gut microbiome imbalance. To support the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut, it is recommended to take at least five portions (80 grams per portion) of fruits and vegetables per day. 

These healthy foods contain beneficial bacteria that can increase the diversity of your microbiome and prebiotics that serve as food for the existing good bacteria in your gut. Eating them consistently and in recommended quantities can help reset your gut and improve diversity. 

Fruits and vegetable portions can be added to your meals, smoothies, and snacks. You may find it challenging, but it’s easier once you get into the habit of eating better. For more ideas on incorporating healthy food into your diet, download our FREE guide on Easy Ways to Eat More Fruits and Veggies Every Day.

Adapt a more active lifestyle

Where are you right now when it comes to exercise and movement? Whatever your physical level is, you can start from there. You don’t need to go overboard. A simple 10-15 minute walk or two rounds of jogging around your neighborhood is already a step towards an active lifestyle. 

Exercise and movement promote a healthy gut by improving gut motility and transit time, which helps prevent constipation and ensures regular bowel movement. It also increases the diversity of bacteria present, which is needed to combat pathogens and improve immunity.

Prioritize adequate sleep and rest 

Lack of adequate sleep can lead to an imbalance in gut bacteria, adversely affecting digestive health and, in turn, fertility. Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night to allow your body to rest and rejuvenate. 

Sleep influences the balance of gut microbiota, as fluctuations in circadian rhythms can affect the composition and function of these microbes. Proper sleep helps in maintaining a balanced and diverse gut microbiota, contributing to overall gut health.

Create a calm and peaceful environment

Stress is proven to negatively impact gut health, potentially leading to imbalances in the gut microbiome. 

Mindfulness, meditation, yoga, or simply spending time in nature can be effective in reducing stress levels. Creating a peaceful environment isn’t just about your physical surroundings but also about cultivating a positive mindset and taking time for activities that bring relaxation and joy.

By managing stress, you can help maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria, essential for good digestion, immune function, and hormonal balance.

Exponentially increase your fertility by enrolling in a gut reset program

No two guts are ever the same. That’s why gut-healing methods are unique for everyone. To truly maximize the gut’s connection to fertility and overall health, we recommend enrolling in a gut reset program to receive personal and proper care. 

A gut reset program allows you to get to know the pathogens and beneficial bacteria in your microbiome while following a custom regimen to help you rebalance and diversify your gut. Dr. Charlie Ware’s gut reset program offers all these and more. 

Dr. Ware follows a holistic approach that encompasses the four pillars of health which are nutrition, environment, lifestyle, and rest. When you enroll, you will get reacquainted with your body and receive personalized treatments and plans based on your gut status.

Aside from healing, you will receive invaluable gut care methods that you can take home and share with your family so they, too, can experience a healthy and balanced gut. 

Conclusion

Infertility is considered a primary reproductive issue worldwide. Fertility care remains to be a challenge because of its high cost and low success rates. However, new research sheds light on a less expensive yet effective intervention that involves the gut microbiome. 

A balanced and diverse gut microbiome enhances fertility by regulating hormones, reducing inflammation, and supporting reproductive health. The best way to take advantage of this connection is by enrolling in a personalized gut reset program. 

Dr. Charlie Ware specializes in this area, offering custom-made treatments and long-term solutions that go beyond gut healing. His patients walk away renewed and with expert knowledge on improving their overall quality of life. 

Book a 45-minute consultation with Dr. Ware today and discover how a gut reset can increase your fertility success and wellness. 

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