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Pre-Conceptual Care & Functional Medicine

Looking for help to increase your chances of conception? Read below how Functional Medicine may be able to help you.

Pre-Conceptual Care & Functional Medicine

Pre-conceptual care is all about maximising the health of both partners before pregnancy. The aim is to optimise fertility and ensure a healthy pregnancy.

The main aims of a functional medicine pre-conceptual plan include:

Supporting any pre-existing health conditions so you’re in the best health possible for your pregnancy journey.

Identifying any problems that could affect your fertility or pregnancy. This includes working alongside your medical team to checkfor conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, low thyroid function, anaemia, and high blood pressure. These can then be supported if needed.

Working on reducing toxins to provide the best environment in the womb for the baby. This includes making lifestyle changes to reduce toxin exposure as well as a specific protocol to help shift stored toxins in your body. It’s important that this is done before trying to conceive as you do not want to mobilise toxins during the pregnancy. 1
Maximising nutrient status with a healthy balanced diet rich in all the vitamins and minerals needed to support a healthy pregnancy. 2 3

Ensuring digestive health is optimal. This is to maximise nutrient absorption but also to ensure you have the healthiest possible microflora. This is important as your microflora influences the baby’s microflora during birth and via breastfeeding. Beneficial microflora is a key way to positively influence your baby’s immunity. 4 5

Working on stress and sleep. Stress hormones and disordered sleep habits can make it more difficult to get pregnant. Effective stress management and optimal sleep will also better prepare you for the challenges of looking after a newborn! 6 7

For men, sperm take two and a half to three months to mature. Here the main focus is to optimise sperm quality to increase the chances of conceiving a healthy baby. Sperm quality can be influenced by many diet and lifestyle factors. A functional medicine approach to male pre-conceptual care includes:

  • A detoxification protocol to minimise toxin exposure and to assist the body in removing chemicals, pesticides and heavy metals which can negatively affect sperm quality. 8
  • A full dietary assessment. This looks at vitamin and mineral levels as well as diet quality. A personalised plan can then be put together to top up nutrient levels, maximise intake of sperm protective antioxidants, and minimise exposure to things that have been shown to decrease sperm production and negatively affect reproductive health. 9 10
  • Stress and sleep support – research shows that stress reduces the health of sperm so stress management is just as important for dads-to-be and mums-to-be.

As with any functional medicine consultation, we start by going over both partners’ health history and diet. We also go over your lifestyle habits such as sleep, stress levels and exercise. Specific tests will then be recommended to check for underlying imbalances that may impact fertility and pregnancy – this will include tests for hormone balance, nutrient levels and digestive health.

Each stage of the process is personalised. Once we have the relevant test results we can agree on a step-by-step plan for each partner that optimises your health and fertility.

References

  1. Yao X, Liu W, Xie Y, Xi M, Xiao L. Fertility loss: negative effects of environmental toxicants on oogenesis. Front Physiol. 2023 Aug 4;14:1219045. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2023.1219045. PMID: 37601637; PMCID: PMC10436557.
  2. Sher N, Mubaraki MA, Zafar H, Nazli R, Zafar M, Fatima S, Fozia F. Effect of Lipid-Based Multiple Micronutrients Supplementation in Underweight Primigravida Pre-Eclamptic Women on Maternal and Pregnancy Outcomes: Randomized Clinical Trial. Medicina (Kaunas). 2022 Nov 30;58(12):1772. doi: 10.3390/medicina58121772. PMID: 36556974; PMCID: PMC9783323.
  3. Santander Ballestín S, Giménez Campos MI, Ballestín Ballestín J, Luesma Bartolomé MJ. Is Supplementation with Micronutrients Still Necessary during Pregnancy? A Review. Nutrients. 2021 Sep 8;13(9):3134. doi: 10.3390/nu13093134. PMID: 34579011; PMCID: PMC8469293.
  4. Sajdel-Sulkowska EM. The Impact of Maternal Gut Microbiota during Pregnancy on Fetal Gut-Brain Axis Development and Life-Long Health Outcomes. Microorganisms. 2023 Aug 31;11(9):2199. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms11092199. PMID: 37764043; PMCID: PMC10538154.
  5. Gao Y, O’Hely M, Quinn TP, Ponsonby AL, Harrison LC, Frøkiær H, Tang MLK, Brix S, Kristiansen K, Burgner D, Saffery R, Ranganathan S, Collier F, Vuillermin P. Maternal gut microbiota during pregnancy and the composition of immune cells in infancy. Front Immunol. 2022 Sep 21;13:986340. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2022.986340. PMID: 36211431; PMCID: PMC9535361.
  6. Kocevska D, Schuurmans IK, Cecil CAM, Jansen PW, van Someren EJW, Luik AI. A Longitudinal Study of Stress During Pregnancy, Children’s Sleep and Polygenic Risk for Poor Sleep in the General Pediatric Population. Res Child Adolesc Psychopathol. 2023 Dec;51(12):1909-1918. doi: 10.1007/s10802-023-01097-2. Epub 2023 Jul 13. PMID: 37439941; PMCID: PMC10661881.
  7. Palagini L, Gemignani A, Banti S, Manconi M, Mauri M, Riemann D. Chronic sleep loss during pregnancy as a determinant of stress: impact on pregnancy outcome. Sleep Med. 2014 Aug;15(8):853-9. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2014.02.013. Epub 2014 May 27. PMID: 24994566.
  8. Krzastek SC, Farhi J, Gray M, Smith RP. Impact of environmental toxin exposure on male fertility potential. Transl Androl Urol. 2020 Dec;9(6):2797-2813. doi: 10.21037/tau-20-685. PMID: 33457251; PMCID: PMC7807371.
  9. Salas-Huetos A, James ER, Aston KI, Jenkins TG, Carrell DT. Diet and sperm quality: Nutrients, foods and dietary patterns. Reprod Biol. 2019 Sep;19(3):219-224. doi: 10.1016/j.repbio.2019.07.005. Epub 2019 Jul 30. PMID: 31375368.
  10. Su L, Qu H, Cao Y, Zhu J, Zhang SZ, Wu J, Jiao YZ. Effect of Antioxidants on Sperm Quality Parameters in Subfertile Men: A Systematic Review and Network Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Adv Nutr. 2022 Mar;13(2):586-594. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmab127. Epub 2023 Feb 10. PMID: 34694345; PMCID: PMC8970840.

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