5 Questions About Fertility You’re Too Afraid to Ask

Questions About Fertility to Ask

It’s common to become concerned about the state of our fertility when we start planning to have a baby. If you’re making the transition from preventing pregnancy to starting a family, you may be wondering about the following questions about fertility. Let us help answer them.

Top 5 Questions About Fertility

1. Can I increase the number of eggs in my body?

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to increase the number of eggs you have. According to our current scientific understanding, women are born with all the eggs they’ll have throughout their lifetime, and the body doesn’t produce new ones.

Girls are born with around 1 million eggs, and lose eggs as they grow older. Surprisingly, by the time young women get to puberty, only about 300,000 eggs remain.

The good news?

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine may be able to help improve the quality of your eggs, even as you age. We can work with you to make sure that every egg you ovulate has the best chance of producing a baby.  In this way, the number of eggs you have can be less important than the quality of each egg at ovulation.

Acupuncture, herbs, supplements and lifestyle factors can all affect your egg quality. An experienced fertility acupuncturist can help you determine the treatments that may help you improve egg quality.

2. How does the use of contraceptive pills affect my fertility?

In most cases, taking the birth control pill shouldn’t affect your fertility. However, the concern may be the reason you started taking the Pill. If you took oral contraceptives to treat irregular or heavy periods, or to reduce menstrual pain, chances are you have been masking an underlying condition.

For many women, taking the Pill is a great solution to prevent unwanted pregnancy and unwanted period symptoms. However, when we stop taking the Pill, period symptoms often return, and this may suggest conditions that could impair fertility, such as PCOS, endometriosis, fibroids, or hormonal imbalances.

If you stop the Pill in your late 20’s, there may be enough time to treat these conditions before fertility declines. However, if you take the Pill into your mid- or late 30’s, sometimes you end up needing treatment for hormonal or structural issues, as well as an age-related decline in fertility.

If you’re thinking of getting pregnant in the next year, and you started taking the Pill for a medical reason (in addition to preventing pregnancy), seek help from both conventional and complementary medical providers to support your body before you start to try. That way, when you’re ready, your body will be well supported, so hopefully there will be no delays to your family building.

 3. Can IUDs make me infertile?

Unlike IUDs of the previous generation, modern IUDs are birth control methods that generally don’t affect your fertility. All things being equal, once you remove the IUD, it is likely you’ll be able to conceive normally.

A study done with women who had their IUDs removed showed that their fertility after IUD removal was not impaired.

However, similar to taking the Pill above, if you use the IUD to control unwanted menstrual symptoms, you may find that conditions are still there when you remove your IUD.

Again, if you started the IUD because your periods were heavy or painful, seek out holistic support for your body prior to removal, so that when you start trying, your body is ready.

4. Will tobacco or cannabis use affect my fertility?

Nicotine use is known to affect fertility not just among men but also in women. Smoking has an adverse effect on ovarian function, and may reduce chances of getting pregnant.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has released patient education materials stating that women who smoke take longer to get pregnant, and that smoking damages both eggs and sperm, leading infertility rates in both men and women smokers twice that of non-smokers.

Even IVF may not help smokers conceive. Female IVF patients who smoke have a 30% lower pregnancy rate than non-smoking female IVF patients. In addition, miscarriage and birth-defect rates are higher in smokers than in non-smokers.

There are many reasons not to smoke.  These sobering statistics about fertility and birth outcomes are just the tip of the iceberg. If you smoke, please find help to quit for your own health, and the health of your family. There are acupuncture clinics specializing in helping people quit. Ask us for referrals.

Think cannabis is a safe alternative to nicotine? When it comes to fertility, think again!

A recent long-term study from Brazil demonstrated a link between marijuana use in men and degraded sperm and decreased testicular function. Cannabis users’ sperm also had more difficulty penetrating eggs, which is required for fertilization. When tested, sperm of cannabis users looked worse than cigarette smokers’ sperm, and very similar to infertile men’s sperm.

Bottom line, guys: Skip the nicotine and the pot if you want to have a baby soon!

The research on cannabis and female fertility is still controversial and inconclusive.  One paper reported that THC was found in the vaginal fluid of female cannabis users, potentially acting to overstimulate sperm. Cannabinoids found in females are thought to possibly have harmful effects on implantation and pregnancy outcomes.

The fact is, Ladies, we aren’t sure yet. But, better safe than sorry. If you’re having difficulty conceiving, it’s always best to remove any factors that may possibly interfere with your fertility. Now could be a great time to start finding other ways to relax, like partner massage, dance or other aerobic exercise, and/or mindfulness practices, so that your fertility isn’t in question.

5. Can weight gain affect the chances of pregnancy?

Maybe. Plenty of women of all sizes conceive without difficulty, and weight gain itself may not be an obstacle to getting pregnant. However, studies show that obese women are more likely to experience menstrual irregularities, which might affect the ability to conceive.

One common cause of infertility among women is PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. In this condition, disruptions in insulin metabolism may cause weight gain in women, and can negatively affect fertility. A condition called insulin resistance, associated with PCOS, increases androgens, or ‘male hormones,’ and can prevent healthy ovulation, and prevent conception.

In addition, weight gain, especially in the presence of regular exercise and healthy diet, can indicate a possible thyroid disorder, which can increase risk of both infertility and miscarriage. If you’re having difficulty conceiving and find that weight gain, or the inability to lose weight, is an issue for you, check in with a health care provider to be tested for conditions that may impair your fertility, like PCOS or hypothyroid.

Being underweight can interfere with fertility as well, so it’s best not to diet or over exercise when trying to conceive.  Moderation is the key!

Contact us with more questions ABOUT FERTILITY!

With these questions about fertility answered, hopefully you’re more comfortable talking about fertility. There are many health care providers in our office who can provide you with more guidance on your road to building your family.

At Portland Acupuncture Studio, we are eager to help answer any and all of your questions without judgment. We can address many reproductive health issues with compassion and open-mindedness, helping you increase your quality of life, and your chances of conceiving.  Let us know how we can help!

Established patients can schedule online, patients who haven’t seen us at Kwan Yin Healing Center call (503) 701-8766, or email us to schedule your appointment.


About Lisa Tongel

We are practitioners of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine specializing in fertility, IVF support, pregnancy care, reproductive health, and pelvic pain.