There are many factors that affect fertility. Some of them are: venereal diseases causing scarring of the reproductive tract; genetic abnormalities caused increasingly by environmental poisons whilst the child is still a foetus; a diet deficient in the necessary vitamins and minerals; stress; low sperm counts or abnormal sperm and hormonal imbalances to name a few. The Pill can cause a temporary infertility after stopping it. It is vital for a woman to keep her body fat above 20% of her weight, otherwise she will stop menstruating, as happens with anorexics, ballet dancers and marathon runners. One of the least known but commonest causes is a lack of progesterone during the second half of the month, known as a defective luteal phase. For pregnancy to be successful oestrogen first builds the lining of the uterus, then after ovulation the role of progesterone is to thicken that lining ready for the fertilized egg. Recent research has shown how often conception occurs in a fertile woman to be followed by failure of the egg to embed itself in the lining. Progesterone is vital for pregnancy, hence it’s name, but if the interval between ovulation and menstruation is too short (less than 12 days) it means there has not been enough progesterone produced which could result in a miscarriage as early as the next menstruation. The only sign would possibly be a heavier period and/or pain. The reason for this is that the egg takes about 14 days to reach the uterus, and unless the ovaries maintain a high level of progesterone during this time menstruation will occur before the egg is embedded. Another reason for infertility is the anovulatory cycle, in which a woman does not ovulate. This has always been common in women from their mid-thirties, but research has found that increasingly younger women are also suffering from them. Too much oestrogen during the luteal phase, particularly the xeno-oestrogens such as DDT, can cause miscarriages.
Optimum health is essential. Avoid all environmental poisons, particularly if oestrogenic. Vit C increases sperm counts and mobility; a lack of Vit E, Omega 3 and 6 causes damage to the reproductive tract; some vaginal secretions act as spermicides, this has been linked to a lack of Omega 3 and 6; Vit A is essential for the development of the male sex hormones; Omega 3 and zinc are vital to the development of the sperm; a zinc deficiency causes infertility, small sex organs and late sexual maturation in men. A high level of zinc is found in the male sex organs and the sperm itself. Omega 3 is known to increase libido as is progesterone. To overcome a defective luteal phase extra progesterone is needed. Progesterone can often stimulate ovulation or correct irregular cycles. Progesterone must be used from ovulation or if this is not known from not more than 14 days before the next menstruation. It must be continued until pregnancy is assured and up until the fourth month, when the placenta will have taken over the manufacture of progesterone. On no account must the progesterone be stopped suddenly as a miscarriage might occur. A normal cycle can be from 21 to 36 days, varying up to 4 days each month, with ovulation coming approx. 14 days before the start of menstruation in each case.
There are many causes of irregular periods, but severe or prolonged stress of any kind can be the worse culprit. This is mostly due to the high cortisol levels blocking progesterone from working properly as they both compete for the same receptor sites. In such cases, it is vitally important to bring stress levels down. This can be achieved with the help of using progesterone as a supplement and, if necessary, some appropriate herbal formulas and therapies for the short term until progesterone becomes fully effective in regulating periods to a more normal cycle.
Other conditions which can create an imbalance of progesterone and oestrogen are:
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
- Extreme weight loss
- Excessive exercise
- The contraceptive pill
- Thyroid problems (rare)