There are many factors in our environment today that are negatively affecting fertility and reproduction rates, but first I have to start with a disclaimer. Ultimately, the Lord decides when life is created. The Bible says in a few places that He is the one who opens and closes a woman's womb. Here are some of them:
For the Lord had closed all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham's wife. Genesis 20:18
When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. Genesis 29:31
Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and opened her womb. Genesis 30:22
While there are scientific and medical facts proving the detrimental affects on fertility in our food system and environment, I just want everyone to keep in mind that our faith must first be in Him to open our womb. Sometimes, we lose faith in Him when it takes too long, and we subject ourselves to endless hospital tests and procedures, many of which have the capabilities to further decimate our chances of maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Our faith and our trust must remain in Him alone.
That said, here are the things that are putting a sad detriment to the proliferation of our families. These are things that, not coincidentally, are a result of Mankind getting away from God's design. We must get back to God's design for our bodies, our environment, and our food if we are to decrease the rates of infertility.
Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span. (Exodus 23:25-26)
So what are the things that have gotten us away from God's blessings? Here are the most common:
GMO Foods--Genetically Modified Organisms
Have you ever heard of Contraceptive Corn?! This genetically-modified corn was being researched, with a plan of being implemented, a dozen years ago. Since then, not much has been found about it. But we know that scientists have developed many plans, including this one, to reduce their perceived problem of over-population.
Researchers discovered a rare class of human antibodies that develop sperm, causing the body of a woman who consumes the corn to attack the sperm, making fertilization nearly impossible.
For more information on this, read the UK's The Guardian article on it here.
Scroll forward a decade and now farmers are realizing that their livestock are becoming infertile when they consume GMO corn:
Farmers throughout America had already been complaining about GMO corn that caused their livestock to become infertile and also spontaneously abort, wiping out their entire operations, in some cases.
Organic consumers covers an Austrian study that proved the damaging effect GMO corn has on the reproductive system: http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_15588.cfm
This is just a small taste of the latest trends in our food supply regarding Genetically Modified foods, namely corn, canola, and soy (with a few others showing up in our food supply). GMO soy is the other one occurring in a large majority of our food supply, especially in the form of soybean oil. Most people don't even realize they are consuming soybean oil, and have no idea that it's found in things like breads (even whole wheat breads), salad dressings, chips, crackers, canned soups, pretty much all restaurant food, and even some vitamin supplements. A recent study found the following about this detrimental food ingredient:
After feeding hamsters for two years over three generations, those on the GM diet, and especially the group on the maximum GM soy diet, showed devastating results. By the third generation, most GM soy-fed hamsters lost the ability to have babies. They also suffered slower growth, and a high mortality rate among the pups.
And if this isn't shocking enough, some in the third generation even had hair growing inside their mouths--a phenomenon rarely seen, but apparently more prevalent among hamsters eating GM soy.(For more information, go here: Genetically Modified Soy Linked To Sterility
For those dealing with miscarriages, this is definitely one issue to address as a deformation in the very early stages of a baby's growth can cause death of the baby and subsequent miscarriage.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, consumption of trans fats can increase a woman’s chances of infertility by a whopping 70 percent or more. The amount that caused this difference was the equivalent to what is found in one pack of French fries or one doughnut! (Am J Clin Nutr January 2007 vol. 85 no. 1 231-237)
Trans fats can be found by looking on ingredients’ labels for the words “partially hydrogenated…”. In restaurant food, anything fried will likely contain trans fats. It is even found in peanut butter, some bread items like tortillas and bakery items. Another more common and unknown source of trans fats in the diet is found in most coffee creamers.
Unfortunately, food manufacturers have found a little loophole in advertising requirements. Foods that contain .5 grams or less of hydrogenated oils PER SERVING can be labeled on the front of the package (or anywhere else) as “ZERO TRANS FAT.”
The problem with that is they can make the serving size incredibly small in order to say that their product is free of trans fats. Another problem is that even half of one gram has never been found to be safe for human consumption! NO level of trans fat consumption has been deemed safe by the government. Still, they allow it in our food supply. You’re best off avoiding any and all sources of trans fats! So make sure to avoid being deceived and read your food ingredients lists. If the words “partially hydrogenated” appear on that list, reconsider!
Natural News details the results of the study that proved a woman’s infertility risk skyrockets from eating trans fats: http://www.naturalnews.com/021500.html
Soy (and estrogen dominance)
Aside from the reasons stated above regarding genetically-modified soy, soy adds another problem to the issue of infertility. The issue of hormone imbalance is so incredibly common in our society today that we often equate the symptoms of estrogen dominance with normal female life. But it is anything BUT normal!
Soy is one of the biggest sources of estrogen-mimicking compounds in our environment. Birth control pills, soy/soybean oil, meat/dairy from animals given growth hormones, plastics, and other unnatural additions to our environment and food system all contain estrogen-mimicking compounds that cause an overabundance of estrogen hormones in a woman's body, thereby leaving a deficiency of progesterone. Progesterone is the hormone necessary for implantation of an embryo in the beginning weeks of pregnancy. Without adequate progesterone, the embryo will not implant into the lining of the uterus and can result in miscarriage.
Symptoms of estrogen dominance include:
- Breast cancer
- Decreased sex drive
- Depression, irritability, mood swings, etc
- Ovarian cysts/Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
- Weight gain (estrogen hides in fat)
This abnormal and unhealthy increase in estrogen is not just happening in women. The overabundance of soy in our food system, especially with all of the soy-based protein shakes and bars today, are a main cause of low sperm count.
“Estrogens are female hormones. If you’re a woman, you’re flooding your system with a substance it can’t handle in surplus. If you’re a man, you’re suppressing your masculinity and stimulating your ‘female side,’ physically and mentally.” Jim Rutz
According to information from Harvard School of Public Health in Boston:
The researchers looked at 99 men who went to a fertility clinic between 2000 and 2006, and their intake of soy-based foods, including tofu, tempeh, soy sausages, bacon or burgers, soy milk, cheese and yogurt.
The author of the study reported that men in the highest intake category had 41 million sperm-per-milliliter fewer than men who ate no soy foods, prompting him to suggest soy has a “deleterious effect” on the reproductive system.
In fact, monks incorporate soy into their diets specifically to reduce libido.
Check out my Balancing Hormones Naturally class here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MT6OYrpN68c&spfreload=10
Spraying our homes for bugs, dousing our lawns with chemicals to kill weeds and make the grass picturesque, and eating foods from produce grown with chemicals is another problem in our journey of having children.
Studies prove over and over that maternal and paternal exposure to farm and lawn chemicals causes infertility, miscarriage, birth defects, and cancer. These chemicals are absorbed into the body through skin and through the air. Our skin is our largest organ and unlike being filtered through the stomach, chemicals that are absorbed into our skin go immediately into our bloodstream.
Even though the United States was charged with illegal war crimes for using these chemicals in Vietnam during the Agent Orange Operation, the government still allows them to be used on our food and on our lawn. These are the very same chemicals that are still affecting subsequent generations of children from both people in Vietnam and American soldiers who fought in Vietnam, ranging from miscarriage and still birth to birth defects.
Here are some findings from studies:
“Maternal exposures to pesticides used around the home are associated with risk of stillbirth and fetal deaths. Pregnant mice exposed to very low and low doses of an herbicide mixture during the period of preimplantationorganogenesis (gestation days 0-15) resulted in significant reductions in implantation sites and live births.”
A study by Swan et al (2003) showed that men studied in Missouri who had traces of alachlor, atrazine and diazinon in their urine had increased risks of poor sperm quality. This study concluded that “fertility of American women and men is being undermined by today's use of agricultural chemicals.”
And while lawn fertilizers are known to cause the same problems, certain chemicals (such as those listed in Swan’s study) are only allowed for farm use. Living on or by a farm can be extremely detrimental to a couple's dreams of having a family when that farm uses chemical fertilizers, insecticides, etc.
Let's face it--a woman's body knows when it does not have the nutritional reserves necessary to support life. This is part of the intricacy of God's design to protect life. Although you don't hear it much from the ob/gyn field of medicine, it takes a lot of nutrition to create a new life! And if mom does not have enough stored up for both herself and a little one, we run into complications, whether it's miscarriage, prenatal complications such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, or birth defects.
Traditional societies knew (and some still know) the importance of ensuring adequate nutritional reserves for mother before conceiving. For example:
The Maasai only allowed men and women to marry after spending several months consuming milk from the wet season when the grass was especially lush and the milk much denser in nutrients. Maasai milk is higher in fat and cholesterol and lower in sugar than commercial American milk.
The highest quality Maasai milk used for preconception diets, however, is even richer: compared to commercial American milk, it has over twice the cholesterol, nearly three times the fat, and over five times the quantity of phospholipids (see Figure 2).7 The phospholipid content is particularly important. Since most of the choline in milk is contained in phospholipids,8 this means that high-quality Maasai milk is probably about five times richer in choline than the milk you would find in the grocery store.
Compared to grain-fed milk, grass-fed milk is much higher in fat-soluble vitamins, pigments, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and omega-3 fatty acids.9 Price showed that the content of vitamin A, activator X (which we now believe to be vitamin K2), and essential fatty acids markedly increased in butterfat during the rainy lush season.10 As the quality of grass increases, we can presume that the content of other grass-related nutrients—such as pigments, vitamin E and CLA—will also markedly increase in the milk. (Weston A. Price Foundation)
These traditional societies also spaced their children out by around 3 years (by using the natural contraceptive benefits of ecological breastfeeding) in order to allow their nutritional reserves to be built up before subsequent pregnancies.
As you may have noticed, the mention of Vitamin A in the information above is important, because vitamin A is necessary for the production of testosterone. Interestingly, low-fat protein sources such as soy actually deplete vitamin A reserves, which is why men on protein shakes often have to resort to steroids to increase testosterone. (For more really good information on this, read Vitamin A: The Forgotten Body-Building Nutrient from the Weston A. Price Foundation.)
In addition to the lack of nutrients listed in the above example, here are some other deficiencies that, when corrected in both the woman and the man, could have an amazing impact on fertility and prenatal health:
According to many sources, vitamin C is the underplayed vitamin deficiency of the century. In fact, even heart disease is really just a case of chronic scurvy. When it comes to fertility, here's what Dr. Andrew Saul has to say about it:
If you want to conceive, or just play as if you might, try having the man take megadoses of vitamin C for a few weeks prior. At least 6,000 milligrams a day, and as much as 20,000 mg/day guarantees very high sperm production. Divide the dose throughout the day for maximum effect. And that effect is what, exactly? More sperm, stronger sperm, and better swimming sperm all occurred, at even lower daily C doses, in a University of Texas study. Take more C and you'll make vast quantities of super sperm. You think this won't work? Have I shown you my baby pictures? Dr. Andrew Saul, author of Doctor Yourself
Zinc is another deficiency that is affecting fertility, playing a large yet unnoticed role in male impotence. This crucial mineral is found in foods that were a large part of traditional societies' diets but not so much today, including oysters (although I don't recommend this based on Biblical principles), liver, pumpkin and squash seeds, and wheat germ (which is removed from the wheat kernel in the processing of refined flour). Dr. Saul has something to say on this one too:
Listen to this, guys: Zinc and plenty of it nourishes the prostate and increases seminal fluid production. There is a scientific literature a mile long about zinc and male fertility. About five to ten times the RDA will do it. That is approximately 50 to 100 mg of zinc daily. For best absorption and best results, divide the dose into two, or better yet, four doses. Zinc gluconate is well absorbed, and zinc monomethionine better still. These are available at any health food store without a prescription. Dr. Andrew Saul, author of Doctor Yourself
For reasons relating to some of the things mentioned above, plus a society filled with gut-damaging things like antibiotics and chlorine, with the changes in wheat, gluten intolerance is a common factor behind infertility and miscarriages.
I have had many, many women report reduction of problems such as PCOS and endometriosis with the elimination of gluten. Many more women have reported getting pregnant from eliminating gluten after problems with infertility. There are many reasons why, including that for many women (and men), gluten creates a constant source of inflammation, as well as causes the body's adrenal glands to go into overtime, causing the stress hormone cortisol to flood the body constantly. And we can see that stress hormones are a contributing factor to PCOS as well.
For more information on the link between gluten and infertility/miscarriages, go here: http://www.healthnowmedical.com/blog/2013/01/11/infertility-miscarriage-gluten-sensitivity-may-be-your-problem/
For more information on dietary measures to eliminate PCOS including eliminating gluten and sugars, check out Dr. Mercola's very concise article on the topic: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/01/02/pcos.aspx
Some of the other things I rule out with my TTC clients include:
- Autoimmune thyroid disease (ie Hashimoto's)
- Adrenal Insufficiency (aka Adrenal Fatigue)
- Methylation issues, such as MTHFR mutation which can be caused/exacerbated by Birth Control Pills
In summary, it's important to remember that straying away from God's design has detrimental effects on many areas of our health, including our reproductive health. But no matter what, God is sovereign and decides whether to open or close a womb according to His plans and purposes. My prayer for you is that He opens your womb and that you have the blessing of Psalm 115:14-15:
May the Lord cause you to flourish, both you and your children. May you be blessed by the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth
Blessings of good health, ~Sara