Unexplained Infertility: is the Answer in the Gut Microbiome?
Updated: Sep 11, 2020
One of the most frustrating things patients deal with is the diagnosis of “Unexplained Infertility.” When you have been experiencing an extended period of trying to conceive without success the fact that you go for fertility testing and everything comes back as ‘normal and healthy’ implies that there is no reason for why you are unable to conceive. So what gives? Did the tests miss something? Are there additional tests that weren’t done?
My experience with unexplained infertility has been that it is most often the result of a combination of smaller factors that are often missed on the basic fertility testing. Over the last decade we have seen large amounts of research observing a decline in fertility and a decrease in pregnancy rates related to elevated sperm DNA fragmentation, dietary and lifestyle choices, environmental exposures, stress and psychological wellbeing, elevated inflammation, poor glucose control and insulin sensitivity, irregular hormone levels, auto-immune conditions, and the microbiome (reproductive and gut).
This is why many couples end up getting pregnant or seeing improved outcomes with their next assisted reproductive treatment after addressing the factors listed above among others. The brilliant thing is that we have the option of testing to screen for some of the above mentioned factors that can contribute to infertility.
The gut microbiome is one one of those factors which appears to impact reproductive outcomes with IVF. A recently published study looked at how patients with infertility tend to have higher populations of phylum Verrucomicrobia, and how having higher populations of bifidobacterium in the digestive tract is a predictor for elevated chances for pregnancy with IVF. While this study establishes correlation, not causation, it highlights a very valuable connection between the gut microbiome and fertility outcomes. One of the main drivers for a healthy gut microbiome is your diet, and the microbiome seems to have a significant impact on the immune system, hormone levels, inflammation, blood sugar control, and insulin sensitivity (all of these factors appear to impact fertility). See the video above to learn how a partially hydrolyzed guar gum prebiotic soluble fibre supplement shifted the microbiome in patients and improved fertility outcomes during IVF.
This article is in no way a replacement for medical advice or medical care, it is advised that anyone concerned about their Health should speak with their Naturopathic Doctor. Please discuss with your healtcare provider and only make changes to your medications regimen if recommended by your doctor and under their guidance.
1. Komiya, S., Naito, Y., Okada, H., Matsuo, Y., Hirota, K., Takagi, T., Morimoto, Y. (2020). Characterizing the gut microbiota in females with infertility and preliminary results of a water-soluble dietary fiber intervention study.Â Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition,Â 67(1), 105-111.