Lifestyle factors, especially in the case of multiple miscarriages or still births is an fertility consideration that we commonly help couples to address, it may seem minor but it absolutely can and does make the difference for so many of our clients.
In my experience with patients who have had pregnancy losses and then obviously completed their treatment with us and went on to have healthy babies, the successful outcomes can generally not be pinpointed just to one aspect or one or two single areas because literally when we are doing treatment we are addressing so many different aspects and so many different areas that they will all have an cumulative impact on fertility outcomes. To try and convey the complexity and impact of multiple minor factors here is a case study of a couple I worked with (names changes for privacy).
After her third consecutive miscarriage Susan, a thirty year old, oil painter with a BMI of 21 came to see me. She was understandably discouraged and very upset by this as her most recent miscarriage had only happened 5 days prior.
- 1st Miscarriage – 1990 – 6-7 weeks – no D&C required
- 2nd Miscarriage – 2002 – 8 weeks, blighted ovum – D&C
- 3rd Miscarriage – 2003 – 9 weeks, blighted ovum – D&C
Susan had regular periods that ranged from 32-35 days, normally would bleed for 5 days and considered her bleeding light, varying from bright to dark blood, with no clots. Ovulation was occurring in most cycles between days 17 and 18.
She had been on the oral contraceptive pill from the ages 18-25yrs old and experienced an absence of periods for some time post cessation. Susan usually experience moderate to severe pre-menstrual symptoms such as fluid retention, PMT, fatigue and food cravings (sweets).
Other general symptoms she complained about included: palpitations, sinus congestion, numbness and tingling of extremities, occasional migraines (which had been particularly bad on the pill), skin rashes and hives (particularly following neurofen). In the previous year, she had had two elevated Gamma GT results (GGT – liver enzyme).
Susan had many investigations following her third miscarriage. I asked her to bring in those results with her next time. I also asked her to make an appointment with one of the doctor’s at the centre as we would need to do some further investigations for heavy metals and genito-urinary tract infections.
Recommended Lifestyle Changes
We discussed the need to avoid
- radiation and electrical appliances in the bedroom,
- chemicals, especially cleaning products – included a break from painting for at least 4 months
- flying (this would be more difficult for her husband as it was part of his job)
- alcohol and caffeine completely
- dairy and gluten
- processed, refined, fermented and sugary foods
She was already exercising and sleeping well so I further recommended detoxifying
- low allergenic, dairy and gluten free
- organic diet, particularly meats.
- meals based on on vegetables and good quality protein
- drinking plenty of filtered water, at least 2L daily
- customised supplementation regime
- customised herbal medicine prescription
- charting cycle
Between consultations Susan called me to let me know she had thrush. I dispensed herbs for her to taken internally and do sitzbaths/douches daily, followed by local yoghurt and acidophilous applications.
At our next meeting Susan brought in her husband and all results from previous investigations. She reported that she was starting to feel better now, having felt unwell in the first two to three weeks after her first visit. She was able to implement all the lifestyle changes, her temperatures were good, mucus changes were undetectable and she was not ovulating.
On analysis of her test results the relevant findings for Susan highlighted:
- Normal chromosomal assessment of parents and products of conception post D&C
- High positive IgA + IgG for Candida.
- Positive IgM for Cardiolipin antibodies
- Positive Antinuclear antibodies (ANA)
- Very high prolactin levels (1886 mIU/L)
- Decreased haemoglobin
- Elevated globulins (GGT had gone back to normal) (liver function test)
- Low B12
- Low day 21 progesterone
- Positive Gliadin Antibodies (EIA) (gluten intolerance)
- High fasting blood mercury levels (later established mercury and lead—heavy metal toxicity)
Peter, a thirty one year old General Manager in Retail with a BMI of 30 was able to bring his blood results as well as sperm analysis and completed questionnaire.
On analysis of his test results the relevant findings for Peter highlighted:
- Nutritional deficiency symptoms
- High cholesterol
- High insulin levels (pre-diabetic state)
- Elevated liver enzymes
- TSH low end of the range
- Sperm analysis surprisingly good, despite some sperm clumping and low levels of sperm antibodies being detected.
Peter needed to detoxify, exercise, implement some stress management techniques, which were discussed and lose some weight. He was able to decrease the amount of interstate flying every month.
Susan and Peter needed to undertake some further heavy metal diagnostic tests — and Susan’s integrative medicine doctor already started her on oral chelation therapy to detoxify from heavy metals. Both Susan and Peter were to follow the dietary recommendations from the initial consultation.
Practitioner Quality Supplements and Herbal Formulations
Susan was prescribed and individualised, therapeutic nutrients including and not limited to a good multi vitamin, fish oils, antioxidants, probiotics and more. To combat multiple immune system related issues, Susan was given another customised herbal formula and also prescribed another hormonal balancing mix focusing on liver health and eradicating high levels of candida from her system.
Peter’s supplements were also individualised nutrients focusing on overall metabolic health to optimise fertility including and not limited to vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, magnesium and chromium—these will also help to normalise his weight and blood sugar level issues. Peter’s customised herbal medicines were primarily focused on optimising liver health, prostate and sperm function, general wellbeing, energy levels and decrease stress.
4 week later – Susan and Peter were going well with everything, except Peter had issues taking herbs and did not want to continue (taste problem). He was taking all nutrients and following the diet as recommended. All other lifestyle factors had also been addressed and he was not drinking any alcohol. Susan’s temperatures were not too low or too high in general, mucus changes were more apparent this month. She ovulated on day 16, however in her luteal phase there were frequent down spikes, often indicative of poor progesterone uptake or levels. Susan was still on chelation therapy and experiencing some constipation due to it, I discussed extra dietary changes with her to assist bowel motions.
Fourth Visit ( 3 weeks later) – Susan spent a night in hospital almost 2 weeks prior, after arriving at the hospital’s emergency department presenting with abdominal pain, which was initially thought to be ovarian (cyst) related but later diagnosed as constipation. She was still experiencing some constipation, and still needed to be on chelation treatment for another 2 weeks. She felt under the weather when on chelation, but when off DMSA, felt “brilliant”! I changed herbs to support bowel elimination until treatment finishes.
12 weeks later – Susan was glowing! Her mercury levels were still higher than they should be, had 2 courses of DMSA, which did not change mercury levels, she was no longer responding to treatment and was wanting to stop chelation. Wanted to try to conceive with her current levels, which had decreased substantially, however were still seven times higher than normal and could still be a problem with her history of recurrent miscarriages. I explained this to her.
She agreed to have some far-infrared sauna sessions, which had aided in the decrease of heavy metal levels for other patients. In addition to this I encouraged her to have hot baths (Peter was no allowed these) with bicarb soda and Epsom salts – to increase sweating and eat even more coriander and garlic and increase her levels of multi-mineral intake as well as selenium.
Her cycles had shortened to 30 days (before it was never before 32 days – sometimes longer), ovulation was happening consistently at days 14 and 15, her temperature and mucus changes were ‘textbook’ by this time, she had no more down spikes in her luteal phase with a nice and strong temperature rise immediately following ovulation. She had no PMT and was feeling really good.
Peter was feeling energetic, less stressed; digestion was good, had lost weight and was taking all his nutrients. He didn’t want to repeat blood tests or sperm analysis. On today’s account, the review of recent blood test results were as follows:
- IgA + IgG for Candida were now normal
- Positive IgM for Cardiolipin antibodies went from high positive to undetected.
- Antinuclear antibodies (ANA) went from positive to undetected
- Prolactin was normal.
- Haemoglobin levels were back to normal.
- All liver enzymes were normal
- B12 normal
- Day 21 progesterone normal
- Gliadin Antibodies (EIA) undetected.
- Mercury levels went from 50 times higher than normal to 7 times higher than normal.
8 weeks later – Susan had discussed things with Peter and they decided they wanted to start trying to conceive. The mercury had not decreased any further, she didn’t’ undertake the far-infrared sauna treatments, but had been doing the baths. She was feeling positive that most things had been resolved over the past few months and they wanted to try. She had decided if she was to miscarry one more time, then she would seek further treatment for the mercury levels.
I reviewed her supplementation, changed her herbs, which she was to take up to about 14 weeks to with the aim to maintain her progesterone levels nice and high and prevent miscarriages. And I discussed conception timing with her.
One week later Susan conceived. The challenge to change had paid off, and we needed to ensure treatment focused on keeping the pregnancy to term.
She continued on her supplements and anti-miscarriages herbs until 14 weeks and had a non-remarkable pregnancy, which in other words was totally remarkable! She experienced no problems apart from blocked nose and ears early on. Throughout Susan’s pregnancy she was one of the most glowing pregnant women!
At 34 weeks she was started on a ‘partus prep’ mix and after a four-hour labour she gave birth to a healthy baby boy! In 2008 Susan has given birth to her 3rd healthy child and Peter and Susan now feel their family is complete, although they contemplate a 4th!
For information on the seven main areas of preconception and pregnancy health that are important factors to rule out, follow this link to read my article on Multiple Miscarriages & Stillbirths