top of page
  • Writer's pictureDr Katarine ND RAc

Infertility: A Naturopathic Approach with Dr. K Holewa, ND

Warning - this is a long one!


Infertility - a growing concern
Infertility - a growing concern

The prevalence of infertility in Canada is increasing significantly. Roughly 1 in 6 couples in Canada experience infertility. It affects both men and women with twenty percent of the time being a mix of both male and female. Ten percent of the time there is no explanation. The causes of infertility in women or in men and the dramatic increase can be complex with statistics driving more couples and individuals to looking at ways not only for a positive pregnancy outcome but one that is as healthy as possible. 


Over the past decade VitaCare doctors have been helping patients with successful and healthy pregnancies. It’s one of the most rewarding parts of what our naturopathic doctors do, especially when babies are brought in for their Healthy Baby, Happy Mom visits!  


I was recently interviewed on this topic - here is the transcript:


Q: THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO ANSWER MY QUESTIONS ON FERTILITY. IT IS A BIG TOPIC AND ONE THAT I KNOW MANY COUPLES FEEL VERY STRONGLY ABOUT. CAN YOU TELL US EXACTLY WHAT INFERTILITY IS?

A: Of course, it is a very emotionally charged topic and having a clear understanding of it is a good place to start. Infertility is defined as the inability of a couple to conceive (become pregnant) after 1 year of actively trying to do so. There can be many reasons for infertility, on either/both the mother or the father’s side, including age, hormone balance/health, inflammation, environmental factors (exposures, toxins), diet, stress levels, etc. 


Q: HAVE YOU FOUND NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE EFFECTIVE IN IMPROVING A COUPLE’S CHANCES OF A HEALTHY PREGNANCY? 

A: Naturopathic and Traditional Oriental Medicine are exceptionally helpful in improving, not only fertility and chances of conception, but also a healthy pregnancy for the mother, that includes carrying to term and then having a healthy birth. There are so many avenues that as NDs we investigate and help with. Many of which are not looked at from a conventional medicine perspective and they can make a world of difference. I’ve worked with many couples who’d been diagnosed with infertility to a successful end! 


Q: COULD YOU SHARE A SUCCESS STORY WITH US? 

A: I could tell many stories, but one that stands out is of a couple who had been trying for over a year to conceive. Her medical doctors were unhelpful and wanted to send the woman directly for fertility treatments but the couple wanted to try other routes first. We worked together for 6 months on diet, stress levels, and balancing hormones,  and she successfully became pregnant and delivered a healthy baby girl! This case went on in that 3 years later they encountered the same obstacles. The couple reached out to me again, we worked together for 3 months and again, they became pregnant and she delivered her second little girl. I hear from them occasionally and they are a very happy healthy family!

Another story I’d like to highlight briefly is a recent case where a couple in their 20’s had been trying to conceive for 2 years. They’d undergone 2 rounds of fertility treatments and were looking to do more. The woman initially approached me for seemingly unrelated health concerns, but after we resolved those, we started to work on fertility. I inquired about her partner's health and it turned out that he hadn’t been properly assessed. After investigation and labs, it turned out the cause of infertility was on his side – it had never been properly addressed! We then focused our work on the husband, and using nutritional interventions, supplements and acupuncture, were able to help improve the imbalance, allowing them to become pregnant. They are expecting their first child in the coming months!


Canada is classified as a low fertility country and has seen fertility rates declining since 2008. www.150.stacan.gc.ca


Q: WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND TO BE THE MOST COMMON CAUSES OF INFERTILITY IN MEN AND WOMEN?

A: Infertility has many potential causes, but in general, it is approximately 50:50 Male to Female. It had been long assumed that women were the only cause of infertility, but this has been proven to be completely false.  For both parties, causes can include hormone imbalance, nutritional deficiencies, stress, inflammation, blockages, infection/immune system history and sometimes genetics.  Other causes that are not specifically related to the couple might include environmental stressors/exposures (lead, pesticides, gliadin), certain medications. In addition, there is also a smaller portion of infertility that remains unexplained.


Q: DO YOU RUN DIFFERENT TESTS FROM WHAT A MEDICAL DOCTOR WOULD? WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?

A: It of course depends on the couple, but I typically run tests for:

o   Hormone balances (estrogen, progesterone, LH, FSH, testosterone, etc) to look at deficiencies, excesses, imbalances

o   Thyroid Panel to rule in/out hypothyroidism

o   Blood sugars to identify hyper or hypoglycemia, diabetes, metabolic syndrome

o   Inflammatory markers

o   Cholesterol Panel to identify levels (remember, many hormones are MADE from cholesterol!)

o   Genetic alterations

o   Nutritional Deficiencies, including Iron, B vitamins, Vitamin D

o   Environmental toxins for exposures to iron, lead, mercury, etc

o   Food Sensitivities, which helps identify causes of inflammation

 

Q: I UNDERSTAND THAT TREATMENTS MUST VARY A GREAT DEAL BETWEEN PATIENTS, BUT WHAT IS THE OVERALL FOUNDATION OF YOUR FERTILITY PROGRAMS? 

A: Treatments vary exceptionally. That’s why I take at least an hour with my patients in initial intakes to assess what areas need immediate attention. We discuss what testing might be necessary and then move on from there.

Each treatment is individualized but will definitely include an assessment of diet, digestive health and nutritional status, and a determination of whether there would be benefits from a gentle detoxification process. There may also be dietary changes, the addition of specific nutrients in supplement form or through IV therapies, etc. I cannot emphasize enough how important diet and nutrition is and unfortunately, we as a society are often lacking in many essential components for healthy hormones and pregnancy. 

In any fertility program I also delve deeply into hormone balance as well as stress levels. These are what I find to be the second most out-of-balance areas. Supplements, acupuncture, and lifestyle counseling/modifications are critical factors in resolving any imbalances here, and we work very diligently on these

Once we have a complete picture of the couple’s health status, what follows is a highly individualized program specific to their needs and choices. As you’ve likely realized, these can be numerous and complex for some people! 


Q: IT MUST BE VERY EXCITING FOR YOU TO HELP A COUPLE SUCCESSFULLY CONCEIVE AND THEN SEE THE BABY BACK IN THE OFFICE HEALTHY AND HAPPY

A: I LOVE working with couples and fertility. It is so rewarding and an area that I believe isn’t addressed adequately in most settings. Seeing couples from the stages of frustration and worry through hope and then joy and excitement is an amazing process and I’m so happy to have the skills and ability to help people in this area of health!


In Health

Dr Katarine Holewa, ND RAc


Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page