When it comes to fertility, many factors come into play. Did you know that your gut health could be one of them?
The gut microbiome, a collection of microorganisms in your digestive tract, has been found to have a significant impact on fertility. Understanding how it affects reproductive health is crucial for anyone trying to conceive.
Let’s break down the gut microbiome and why it’s such a big deal when it comes to getting pregnant. Plus, we’ll share tips on getting your gut into tip-top shape for a growing baby to thrive.
What is the gut microbiome?
The average person likely doesn’t know much about their gut microbiome, and we don’t blame them! We like to think of it as friendly bacteria living in your tummy. Your body has trillions of microorganisms that are so small you can’t see them without a microscope.
The gut microbiome is like a bustling city of microbes working around the clock inside your body, and each plays a significant role in keeping everything running smoothly. They help you digest food, keep your immune system strong, and affect important parts of your life, like cognition, weight, mood, and energy levels.
Why is gut health important for fertility?
Your gut health and baby-making abilities go hand in hand, but some providers don't connect the dots. Instead, they treat them as two different things. “Traditional medicine focuses on numbers with hormone levels,” says hormone and gut expert Dr. Sarah Mathis.
Gut health is necessary for many body functions, from hormone regulation to having a healthy period. An imbalanced gut microbiome can lead to inflammation in either the uterus lining or the ovaries.
Mathis says that an inflamed gut can elevate the enzymes your body needs for digestion, potentially causing a recirculation of estrogen and possibly an increased amount of estrogen in the body.
Inappropriate estrogen levels can lead to PMS, heavy periods, fibroids, conditions like PCOS and endometriosis, and even some types of cancers.
Gut health and thyroid health: What's the connection?
Your gut health can affect your thyroid, too. It’s a butterfly-shaped gland at the front of your neck responsible for making hormones that affect every cell in your body. These hormones control the rate at which your body uses fats and carbohydrates for energy production and can also control your body temperature.
Additionally, your thyroid is an integral part of your ovulation, and if it’s not working right, it can lead to severe issues like bacterial overgrowth and worsening thyroid function.
Your hormones are like messengers that tell your body parts what to do. Your gut influences how those signals work. An unhealthy gut can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb the proper nutrients to create those hormones.
When your gut microbiome works as it should, everything in your body runs smoothly. But when something is off, your signals can get all mixed up, sending the wrong ones or not sending any at all.
Having balanced hormones is extremely important for fertility. They make sure everything is ready for a baby to start growing. An unhealthy gut can make it more challenging for your body to produce the hormones necessary to help you achieve a healthy pregnancy.
The benefits of a healthy gut for fertility
It’s hard to know if your gut health is responsible for any fertility issues you’re experiencing. But there are ways to boost your gut health before, during, and after pregnancy.
Your diet has strong ties to your gut. Try eating foods high in nutrients like selenium, zinc, magnesium, iodine, and iron, suggests Mathis.
She says the best fertility food is liver as it’s full of necessary vitamins for fertility. “You can either take grass-fed capsules or eat 3-4 oz 1-2 times per week,” she advises. However, be careful of your consumption. “Too much can lead to vitamin A toxicity, which is fatal to early pregnancy,” Mathis says.
Additionally, collagen is an excellent option for repairing your gut and adds the protein needed for fertility. Mathis also suggests adding spirulina to your daily smoothie or drink for added micronutrients.
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Mathis advises to limit your processed food consumption and avoid using plastic containers to store your food. “Make sure you're eating a whole food diet with lots of varied plant foods to help improve the gut microbiome, as well as protein and whole grain carbohydrates and healthy fats,” she says.
Proper gut health while taking birth control is essential, too, Mathis says. “Birth control has a reputation for causing gut dysbiosis, and then when women come off of it to get pregnant, they find themselves not having good periods and having gut symptoms and not knowing what is going on in their bodies.”
Additionally, aim to have a regular self-care practice. Do activities that bring you joy and spend time with people you enjoy being around, remove the negativity, and focus on making yourself happy.
Remember the simple things, too, as they can often make a big difference, like getting proper rest and daily body movement.
What about probiotics?
While nutrition and lifestyle are foundational to building a healthy gut, you can nurture your body’s “good bacteria” and support a healthy gut microbiome with a scientifically validated probiotic.
We love Seed’s DS-01® Daily Synbiotic. As a 2-in-1 prebiotic and probiotic providing whole-body benefits in and beyond the gut, DS-01® promotes healthy gut function, supports the gut-immune axis, reinforces your skin and heart health, and supports the synthesis of key micronutrients like folate and vitamin B12. The best part? It does not require refrigeration and it can be sustainably delivered to your door: Visit seed.com and use our code RESCRIPTED for 25% off your first month!
*We advise consulting a healthcare practitioner when addressing the health conditions discussed in this article. It is important to note that dietary supplements, such as probiotics, are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Blair Sharp is a freelance writer who lives in Minnesota with her husband and son. Her words have been published in various publications, including Parents, SheKnows, The Bump, and Insider. Find her writing daily on LinkedIn and check out her weekly newsletter, The Relatable Creator, for motivation to show up and stand out online. Head to her website www.blairsharp.com for more.