Understanding our own reproductive system can be challenging. Do you know what to look for when determining the health of your reproductive system or the steps to take to improve fertility? Many people tend not to focus on fertility until they are actively trying to get pregnant with their partner. The reality is that fertility is a lifelong ebb and flow of hormonal changes, fluctuations, and adjustments. Just like anything, if it is neglected up until when it’s needed, it could already be damaged or weakened.
However, there’s good news. One study titled “Diet and lifestyle in the prevention of ovulatory disorder infertility” has shown that moderate tweaks to less-than-optimal lifestyle habits can have a big impact on fertility. Although this study is specific to women, the same lifestyle changes impact the fertility of men as well. As patients increased their adherence to a “fertility diet” pattern, their risk of ovulatory disorder infertility fell. The study states “A combination of five or more low-risk lifestyle factors, including diet, weight control, and physical activity was associated with a 69% lower risk of ovulatory disorder infertility”.
What can be done to prevent or reverse infertility?
The first step in understanding signs of a reproductive syndrome and how cannabis may be able to help, start with an online visit with a doctor through the Heally platform. Heally partners with holistic doctors to get to the root causes of fertility issues and can help to create a plan to correct them. A doctor’s opinion is always better than a self-diagnosis. The next step is to educate yourself on what to look for.
What are the Underlying Causes of Infertility or Reproductive Syndromes?
- Genetic makeup (family history) or gene mutations
- Prolonged exposure to stress hormones (cortisol)
- Imbalance in reproductive hormones
- Poor organ function due to the lack of nutrients in the body (poor diet)
- Tumors in the pituitary gland
- Adrenal malfunction
- Overuse of corticosteroids
What are common Reproductive Syndromes and their Symptoms
It’s important to remember when we talk about syndromes and dysfunction, that we don’t assign personal value to those words. Essentially, just because we suffer from a sexual dysfunction doesn’t mean that we, as people, are dysfunctional, broken, or are faulty. These are common syndromes that humans from all corners of the world suffer from, and in no way should one adopt shame or guilt for having a syndrome or dysfunction.
Although there may be more conversation around women’s reproductive syndrome’s, both women and men face challenges that come with warning signs. Let’s discuss some of the common reproductive syndromes for both men and women.
Common Reproductive Syndromes for Women are:
- PCOS (or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is a condition where a hormonal imbalance and metabolism problems may cause the growth of cysts, and prevent the ovaries from producing healthy eggs.
- Endometriosis is a disorder in which tissue called the endometrium (that normally lines the inside of your uterus) grows outside your uterus. It is often extremely painful and may require Laparoscopic Surgery.
- Familial Breast Cancer is a cluster of breast cancer within a family. About 15-20% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a significant family history of breast cancer but have no identifiable mutation in a gene known to cause a hereditary predisposition to breast cancer. These clusters of breast cancer are likely due to a combination of gene(s) and other shared factors such as environment and lifestyle.
Some common Reproductive Syndromes for Men are:
- Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is a common type of male sexual dysfunction when a man has trouble getting or keeping an erection. Although ED becomes more common as men age, it’s not a natural part of aging.
- Peyronie Syndrome is a connective tissue disorder characterized by a hard lump, or plaque, that forms within the penis, potentially causing painful or curved erections which can make normal sexual intercourse extremely uncomfortable. Symptoms may develop over time or appear suddenly.
- Cushings Syndrome is an endocrine disorder caused by prolonged exposure of the body’s tissues to high levels of cortisol (a hormone produced by the adrenal gland). Men may have decreased fertility, diminished sexual desire, and/or erectile dysfunction.
Symptoms of a reproductive disorder include:
- Irregular menstrual cycle, short, long, or frequent menstrual cycles
- Imbalance in reproductive hormones
- Painful menstruation
- Vaginal dryness
- Issues with sexual performance
- Severe Acne
- More hair than normal in unwanted areas
- Irregular metabolism
- Upper body obesity
- Severe fatigue
- Muscle weakness
- High blood pressure
- A backache
- Elevated blood sugar
- Neurological issues
- Mood Swings
- Low sex drive
What foods and holistic supplements can be utilized to support reproductive health and fertility?
Dr. Jesse N. Mills, MD from UCLA Health consults with men about their fertility. Aside from this list for men and women, his suggestion is for men is to eat dark, leafy vegetables, colorful fruits & veggies, high protein diet, and nuts (polyunsaturated fats).
- Cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and bok choy:
They contain a phytonutrient called diindolylmethane (DIM), which can help women metabolize estrogen better
- Therapeutic fats & Omega 3s: avocado, fats from fish, coconut oil:
They balance hormones, benefit female reproduce organs, and are a wonderful source of therapeutic fats
- Nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables: Figs
Wonderful for treating male reproductive system and boosting semen quality
- Green tea:
It cleanses and increases fertility by benefiting fertile mucus hypoxanthine, which is found in many teas, is believed to “be necessary for the follicular fluid that helps eggs mature and get ready for fertilization”.
- Cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and bok choy:
- Folic Acid
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B12
- Folic Acid
- Black Cumin
Remember that vitamins and supplements cannot replace good nutrition practices. In addition, your health care provider might suggest higher doses of certain nutrients depending on your specific needs.
What lifestyle changes can you make at home to improve fertility?
- Stop drinking alcohol (this is an important change)
- Create a sleep schedule for better, more restful sleep – it recharges the pituitary gland which controls sperm production (need 7+ hours of sleep minimum)
- Work toward a healthy weight (obesity lowers sperm count)
- Reduce stressful situations and practice self-care (stress taxes our brains and affects hormones)
- Exercise – but don’t overdo it (for men, this improves blood flow, heart rate, and metabolism which can translate to better sperm production)
- Eat a larger breakfast to fuel body and support proper hormone function
- Avoid toxins to keep your system clean and functioning optimally
- Replace some meat proteins with vegetable proteins – One study found that a higher protein intake from meat was linked to a 32% higher chance of developing ovulatory infertility
How to utilize CBD & THC for reproductive health and pain management
Cannabis has been known for its healing properties for centuries, but questions still remain on the impact of cannabis on sexual health. Cannabinoid receptors are located throughout the body, including reproductive organs. For women, these receptors are the densest in the uterus but are also found throughout the ovaries, vagina, vulva, fallopian tubes and more. This is why THC suppositories have shown to be extremely effective in combating menstrual and other vaginal pain.
Although CBD doesn’t stimulate cannabinoid receptors, its effect on other receptors in the genitals could produce a similar effect to that of THC, though this hasn’t been a major focus of clinical research yet. Cannabinoids address pain in two ways — not only do they desensitize pain-perceiving nerves, but they also limit a major contributor to pain. Inflammation.
According to Foria, research indicates that cannabinoids could treat endometriosis by stopping cell proliferation (an increase in the number of cells as a result of cell growth and cell division) and aiding in the prevention of cell migration. Women who suffer from endometriosis become extremely sensitive to toxins that cause inflammation. Thankfully, THC has anti-inflammatory properties due to the way it activates CB2 receptors. This can help to control inflammation caused by an overactive immune system.
Past studies on the impact of cannabis on male fertility have not been as positive as the results for female fertility – that is until very recently. In contrast to previous research suggesting long-term cannabis use may have a negative effect on male fertility by reducing sperm production and sperm count, a new Harvard study is claiming quite the opposite.
The study, conducted with 662 men, found that those who had ever smoked marijuana had higher sperm concentration and count and lower serum FSH concentrations than men who had never smoked marijuana. The men who had consumed cannabis also carried higher levels of testosterone. The study could not prove cannabis was the cause of the heightened levels of testosterone, but cannabis-use may instead be a result of habits (risk-taking) associated with heightened levels of testosterone. When it comes down to it, these findings may be positive overall, but much more research will need to be conducted to draw more conclusive findings.
Remember, you are not alone
In closing, the most important thing to remember while tapping into the health of your reproductive system and improving fertility is that you are not alone. Speaking to a doctor is extremely important to ensure you have the right information to base your lifestyle changes on. Tune into the signals your body is giving you by keeping a journal or using an app like Eve. to record your symptoms and hormone changes. Whether you suffer from a reproductive syndrome or are looking to improve your fertility to prepare for parenthood, your journey starts with the decision to make it a priority.
By Bri Smith
This website is informational and cannot diagnose or treat illness or disease. Medical marijuana aka cannabis should be used under the direction of a licensed healthcare provider. This site is intended for adults and legal medical marijuana patients. This site contains links to products we sell on our marketplace.
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