There are so many factors that come into play with fertility that I thought I would share with you some of my insights after working with many couples over the years. As you know DNA replication is so important in fertility because you don’t have a viable foetus without it. Your DNA is mostly controlled by your folate levels. And your folate levels are controlled mostly by your MTHFR gene, so it makes sense doesn’t it that we should check your ability to create active folate, if you are having issues with fertility.
The most obvious place to start then, is the gene that affects your folate pathway and that’s the MTHFR gene. This gene affects how you make your active folate. That’s crucial! Because your active folate helps you create what we call methyl groups. And its methyl groups that support your DNA synthesis. The MTHFR Gene has been linked with elevated homocysteine and this may contribute to Neural Tube Defects, cleft lip, cleft palate, multiple miscarriages and Spina Bifida. Not to mention the inability to fall pregnant in the first place.
It’s so simple to check if you have this mutation – and by the way, up to 65% of the population might! (just a quick blood test or you can get the kit online at www.mthfrsupport.com.au). A hint that might alert you to whether you have this gene mutation is your family history.
Is there anyone in the family that has had a miscarriage?
Has anyone had high blood pressure?
Has anyone had a stroke?
Has anyone had bowel cancer ?
Has anyone had anxiety or depression?
Have you had chronic fatigue at an early age?
All these could be a side effect of low folate. So check before you start to think about having a baby. Because to increase your folate levels with the right sort of folate is not a difficult thing to do. Its just basics.
Second thing is to check our Vitamin B12- If you are vegetarian or vegan or have ever had to have a B12 injection, then you are at risk because you will not be able to use these really important methyl groups. If you have gut issues, then your B12 is probably low. Because B12 absorption relies solely on your gut breaking it down from your food and absorbing it. Unfortunately there is an issue with low B12 not being discovered, because our reference ranges are just way too low. What is considered to be acceptable or at the lower end of the reference range may be low enough to give you irreversible neurological damage. If in doubt check B12. Levels should be 400+
Third is that if your methyl groups are low, this will affect your hormones and that can affect your fertility. Methyl groups control how your oestrogen is broken down. So if you have oestrogen dependent conditions like fibrocystic breasts, fibrocystic ovaries, endometriosis, weight gain around the middle, sleep disturbances and bad PMT, chances are your body is not eliminating toxic oestrogens and this is going to affect your good oestrogen levels and progesterone. This is a big factor in fertility as the endometrium will not be ideal for implantation and will not be able to support a growing foetus.
The other role these methyl groups have is to help you create phosphatidylcholine. Phosphatidylcholine is a membrane fat which helps the integrity of your cells. It gives you energy, stops viruses and bacteria penetrating the cell and helps the absorption of your fat soluble nutrients, like Vitamin A, D, E and K. It helps your brain work. Do you forget where you left your car keys? Do you forget where you parked your car or what you had for breakfast? Then this might be a clue that your methyl groups are low.
Diet is also key. I kid you not, I had a young girl that came to see me one day who skipped breakfast every day, had take away for lunch and fast food for dinner most nights. She then asked me why she couldn’t fall pregnant. Pregnancy is probably the most demanding time of your life as far as nutrients are concerned. So your diet has to be fantastic. As much as possible you should be cooking your own meals, eating regularly and eating whole foods. That goes for the men as well. Don’t forget that his sperm contributes 50% of the DNA. So he needs good folate levels as well and he needs to be checked for the MTHFR gene too.
So much research is being done around the MTHFR gene, why? Because scientists are beginning to understand that the genes that affect folate (of which MTHFR is one) may cause pregnancy complications and recurrent pregnancy loss. There seems to be a growing consensus that future research should investigate not only individual genes, but possible interactions between mutations in different genes that affect the folate pathway. So check for the MTHFR gene before you start with preconception. If you’d like to know more then check out my free 10 day email course.