Prevalence of infertility in the UK
There has been a dramatic increase in infertility over the last 60 years and various reports have confirmed that infertility rates in the UK are still rising. In fact, the rise in infertility seems to be similar in all developed countries. A report published by the Office for National Statistics in August 2019 shows that from a high point of 20 live births per thousand population in 1947, the 2018 rate has decreased to 11 births. Researchers believe that this remarkable decrease is mainly the result of falling fertility rates.
The most common causes of infertility
Most common male causes of infertility include low sperm count, complete absence of sperm, malformed sperm cells, and sperm cells that die before they reach the egg. Researchers examined over 7,500 studies that dealt with sperm counts between 1973 and 2011. They also conducted a meta-analysis of the 185 studies that included nearly 43,000 men in 50 different countries. The findings were startling as the analysis found there was 60 % decline in the total sperm count in only 40 years!
Female causes of infertility are much more complex and may include the following:
- Hormonal imbalance leading to irregular or abnormal ovulation has been regarded as a frequent cause or contributor to female infertility problems.
- The scar tissue developed in women suffering from endometriosis often leads to infertility. Endometriosis is a process in which the tissue from uterus (endometrium) that lines the inside of the womb, is found outside the uterus.
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal imbalance lading to the lack of ovulation, irregular periods and infertility. It is characterized by the appearance of many small cysts in ovaries. PCOS is often associated with insulin resistance (the same which causes type 2 diabetes).
- Fibroids are non-cancerous, oestrogen-dependent benign tumours growing in the uterus that can cause pelvic pain, heavy menstrual bleeding, infertility and recurrent miscarriages.
- Another cause of female infertility could be inflammatory conditions leading to scar tissue which blocks fallopian tubes.
- Deficiency of vitamin D, which is very common, can contribute to almost all key causes of both male and female infertility. According to a 67-year literature review, published in October 2013, endometriosis is associated with low vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is actually a hormone and its deficiency contributes to frequent causes of infertility such as endometriosis, PCOS, fibroids, and inflammatory conditions. One of the studies associates endometriosis with “an immune-mediated defect”, and suggests that, “since vitamin D is an effective modulator of the immune system, it may have a role in the pathogenesis of endometriosis.” Low vitamin D status has been associated with impaired semen quality. Infertile men with vitamin D deficiency had significantly lower sperm production and motility compared with men having normal vitamin D levels.
- Zinc deficiency contributes to male and female infertility as it is required for normal hormonal balance. Zinc is at its highest concentration in semen compared to any other human tissue. According to the 2018 research article, “zinc is an essential element for male fertility”. Various study results have demonstrated that proper zinc levels in the semen are important for male fertility and that zinc supplementation may significantly increase semen volume, sperm motility, and the percentage of normal sperm morphology.
- Vitamin B12 deficiency (another very common problem today), can lead to infertility in both men and women. It usually improves with a sufficient vitamin B12 supplementation. Lack of B12 contributes to abnormal ovulation, disruption in normal cell division, impaired development of the egg, and difficulty implanting the fertilized ovum in the uttering lining. Vitamin B12 plays a vital role in the generation and maturation of the sperms. Deficiency of this vitamin negatively affects the sperm count, leads to DNA damage in sperm cells, and causes low motility of sperm.
- Magnesium controls follicle-stimulating hormone, or FSH, because estrogen-dependent on magnesium status, and FSH is the hormone that stimulates the ovaries. Low magnesium can also signal to low progesterone levels, which can lead to a short luteal phase and increased miscarriage risk. In number of studies, women with infertility were found to have low levels of magnesium in their blood. In one small trial infertile women who were supplemented with magnesium and selenium became pregnant within 8 months.
- Apart from the already mentioned deficiencies, also lack of selenium, iodine, and all B vitamins (especially B5, B6, and folate) can contribute to infertility in both men and women.
Unhealthy lifestyle and diet
It is not a coincidence that infertility has increased over few decades in a very similar way as diabetes and obesity. In many cases infertility has the same root cause as type 2 diabetes because excess sugar and subsequent belly fat lead to insulin resistance, drive hormonal imbalances and create infertility. In the Women’s Health Study at Harvard, involving 17,000 participants, women with a diet high in refined carbohydrates were more infertile than those that ate fewer sugars. High sugar diet is responsible for increased insulin resistance, which is often seen in women with PCOS (one of the key causes of female infertility).
High consumption of all animal foods including dairy and meat products, especially red and processed meats, such as beef, bacon, hot dogs, and sausage may contribute to both male and female infertility. According to a study conducted by Harvard School of Public Health, ovulatory infertility was 39 per cent more likely in women eating animal protein (especially chicken and red meat) compared to women those who consumed more plant protein foods such as tofu, peas, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds.
According to fertility researcher, Dr Jaime Mendiola, “Men who eat lots of meat and full-fat dairy products have much poorer quality sperm than those who eat lots of fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products.” A study involving 3,000 young men found that those consuming processed meat, pizzas, and burgers had considerably fewer and slower sperm than men eating whole plant foods.
The following lifestyle, nutritional and environmental factors may contribute to various causes of infertility in men and women: Lack of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants caused by poor dietary habits and avoiding good quality nutritional supplements; Diet low in whole unrefined plant foods, raw vegetables, pulses, whole grains; seeds and nuts; Regular consumption of foods high in refined sugar and other refined carbohydrates; Sedentary lifestyle; Insufficient sun exposures; Accumulation of toxins, Chronic stress, anxiety and depression; Regular consumption of proinflammatory fats (refined oils and margarines); Lack probiotic bacteria in the gut leading to the leaky gut syndrome and inflammatory conditions; Yeast (Candida albicans) overgrowth; Artificial sweeteners; High glucose/fructose syrup.
Dietary guidance to increase chances of conception
- Make sure your diet is at least 65% raw for minimum 3-6 months. You can eat as much fresh and raw vegetables (including vegetable juices and smoothies) as you want (especially leafy greens, carrots, beets, cabbage family, etc.), but if you prefer to cook them do it moderately or steam your vegetables. You will achieve much better results if your diet consists of at least 65% of raw (uncooked) and unprocessed plant foods (especially raw vegetables and raw vegetable juices). The human digestive system seems fit for the plant diet as the length of our digestive tract is 12-14 times our shoulder-to-hip trunk length, the same as plant-eating animals.
- Include in your diet well-cooked wholegrain products, especially barley, millet, oats, buckwheat, quinoa, and amaranth. Try avoiding wheat for at 3-6 months.
- Make soaked overnight and well-cooked pulses (beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.) your best source of protein.
- Each day have about a handful of one type of raw unsalted and unroasted soaked overnight in clean filtered water nuts or seeds (almonds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, ground sesame seeds, etc.).
- Have 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed or soaked chia seeds with every breakfast.
- Include a moderate amount of fresh fruits but NOT fruit juices as their effect is not much better than that of sugar.
- Instead of cow’s milk and dairy use plant-based milk substitutes and products such as unsweetened coconut milk, oat milk, almond milk, organic soya milk (make sure it is non-GMO), organic Tofu, etc. The claim according to which soy can negatively impact fertility is not true. People who eat plenty of soy, such as the Chinese, do not have fertility problems. Nevertheless, make sure you eat moderate amounts of soya products and only organic (non-GMO).
- It is better to not eat any sweet and flavoured yoghurts (especially based on cow’s milk) because of fat, animal protein, and often high sugar content. Instead, from time to time have some unsweetened coconut yoghurt or organic soy yoghurt and mix it with sweet fruits, seeds (or nuts), oat bran or another good source of fibre, and add some raisins, dates, or a little bit of raw honey, stevia, erythritol or xylitol.
- Eat fresh fruits and fruit smoothies (avoiding fruit juices due to lack of fibre and high sugar content) but rather do not have fresh fruits with raw vegetables at the same meal as consumed together they may sometimes cause indigestion.
- Use sea salt or pink (Himalayan) salt instead of refined salt.
- Avoid all stimulants. Replace coffee with Barley cup or try Bamboo coffee. Instead of black/green tea you can have Rooibos tea.
- Avoid or significantly reduce consumption of cheese, pizza, meat, bad fats and dairy, all artificial sweeteners, high glucose/fructose syrup (HFCS) and monosodium glutamate (MSG).
Essential nutritional supplements
In order to address the possible causes of infertility, support your improved lifestyle and diet with the following nutritional supplements for 6-12 months:
- A good multi-ingredient formula (such as FemmeVit) for women to help maintain a healthy hormonal balance and libido.
- A good multi-ingredient formula (such as MaleVit) with zinc, selenium, Ginseng and other ingredients for men to support hormonal balance and stamina.
Men and Women:
In addition to the above products, both men and women should to take the following nutritional supplements:
- Vitamin D3: 5000 IU every day after breakfast (requires supplemental magnesium for its conversion into active D4 form in kidneys).
- Magnesium citrate powder (free from additives and more efficient than tablets): 200mg (half teaspoon) twice to three times daily with water, any liquid or food.
- Vitamin B12 in the form of sublingual Methylcobalamin (more effective and beneficial than cyanocobalamin form): 2000 mcg under the tongue every day after breakfast (2000 mcg because only 1% from supplemental B12 is absorbed into bloodstream).
- Good probiotic formula (UltraProbio, DailyProbio, FemProbio, MoodProbio, ImmuProbio) one capsule daily with first meal.
- Ashwagandha: Twice daily to benefit stamina, libido, energy, hormonal balance, and help improve ability to control stress.
- Super Greens powder (HealthAid): One tablespoon twice daily 30 minutes before meals to help detox the body, provide antioxidants and nutrients, and boost energy.
- Standardised Black Seed (Nigella sativa) Oil: 1 teaspoon 2-3 times daily.
- Most beneficial Antioxidants: Alpha lipoic acid and Acetyl l-carnitine.
Lifestyle recommendations to support fertility
- Think positive and learn to control stress.
- Find time to enjoy nature and exercise outside as often as possible to boost circulation, oxygenation, hormonal balance, and serotonin (happy hormone) levels.
- Expose your body to sunlight whenever it is possible.
- Go to sleep as early as possible. Try to sleep at least seven or eight hours a day.
- Avoid water stored in plastic containers. Drink plenty of well-filtered water or even better distilled water with a pinch of sea salt (buy water distiller).
Any information or product suggested on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition. Never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Consult your primary healthcare physician before using any supplements or making any changes to your regime.