Today many women have difficulty with infertility. While there are many causes, nutrition plays a definite role in the ability to become pregnant. The nutrition-fertility connection is widely recognized in animal breeding, but sadly, it is often ignored in humans.
Steps To Pregnancy
Many factors must come together to create a new life. A viable egg must be released from one of the ovaries. This process depends upon healthy ovaries and upon hormonal regulation. The egg must enter and travel down a fallopian tube, where it must encounter a viable sperm cell in order for fertilization to occur. The fertilized egg must implant itself in the wall of the uterus and must have adequate nourishment and the proper environment for its growth.
This process is complex and quite miraculous. A textbook of gynecology lists hundreds of dysfunctions, abnormalities and possible problems that prevent ovulation, fertilization or implantation of the egg. Hormonal balance, tissue acidity, bacterial flora, composition of cervical mucus and uterine secretions and other factors must all be correct for pregnancy to occur. While doctors tend to focus on the reproductive organs, in fact the condition of the entire body affects one's ability to become pregnant.
The Role Of Nutrition
Nutrition influences pregnancy in systemic as well as specific ways. Systemic effects include the overall nutritional status of a person and the oxidation rate. These affect all tissues, organs, glands and hormones.
Very slow oxidizers, for example, generally have low levels of female hormones and secretions tend to be more alkaline. Slow oxidizers are more prone to certain alterations of mucosal flora, such as overgrowth of candida albicans. This is especially true of women who use birth control pills, steroids or antibiotic medication.
Low hormone levels often result in menstrual abnormalities. Alteration of the pH and mucosal flora can affect transport of the egg, fertilization and implantation.
Let us now focus on a few specific nutrients that powerfully affect fertility.
Copper - The Fertility Mineral
Copper is called the fertility mineral because it is so essential for pregnancy. For pregnancy to occur, the level of copper must rise along with the level of estrogen. Copper and estrogen must stay elevated for pregnancy to continue. Copper imbalance is related to some of the common symptoms of pregnancy including nausea, appetite changes, breast swelling and even changes in personality. Some women feel ill during pregnancy. Others feel much better and experience depression when copper levels fall after delivery of the child.
Copper may be too high, too low or biologically unavailable. Any copper imbalance can affect fertility, because of the intimate connection between copper and the sex hormones. Copper imbalance is also associated with scarring and adhesions, both common causes of infertility. Copper imbalance also increases the risk of infections such as pelvic inflammatory disease, another cause of infertility.
Fears can raise the copper level. This may explain one psychological cause of infertility. Other factors that affect copper balance are stress of any kind, weak adrenal glands and the level of vitamin C, manganese, zinc, B vitamins, sulfur and molybdenum.
Zinc is a balancing element for copper. Zinc deficiency is one cause of a copper imbalance. Zinc is also essential for RNA transferase, an enzyme involved in protein synthesis. Zinc deficiency has been shown to produce birth defects. A very defective ovum will not be able to implant, or a miscarriage will occur. It is probably no accident that the infertility rate is higher today in America and zinc levels in the population are lower.
Zinc is depleted by stress. Also, many diets are deficient in zinc. The soil is zinc deficient around the world. Refining flour and sugar removes the zinc. The move away from meat-eating may also lower zinc levels, as meats are an excellent source of zinc. Vegetarian proteins, in contrast, are lower in zinc and higher in copper.
Seminal fluid, high in zinc, nourishes the sperm for up to several days until fertilization occurs. Zinc deficiency in the father may contribute to a reduced number of viable sperm and reduced sperm motility. Zinc is also needed for the woman's immune system, to protect against pelvic infections that can impair fertility. It may require a year or more to replenish zinc in the body.
An excess of toxic metals in a woman is related to infertility, still births, miscarriages and other reproductive problems. Reproductive difficulty is often the first sign of chronic poisoning in animal experiments. While all the mechanisms are not known, toxic metals often act by displacing vital minerals in tissues and in enzyme binding sites. They may affect fertility by diminishing organ function, impairing tissue integrity, creating adhesions, or altering the normal flora and pH of the vagina, uterus and fallopian tubes.
Several years may be required to remove toxic metals. For this reason, balancing body chemistry should begin long before one wishes to become pregnant.
In summary, scientific nutrition can play an important role in enhancing human reproductive function. Not only may it enhance fertility, but the imbalances of the parents will not be passed on to the children, thus creating a healthier new generation.
The preceding statements have not been evaluated by the
Food and Drug Administration
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.