Sunday, July 19, 2015

Body weight and fertility

Disclaimer: As if you didn't already know this, I am reminding you that I am not a doctor or medical professional. I am sharing what I have learned in hopes of helping someone who struggles with infertility. 



As the mother of a large family, and married to a pastor who preaches against birth control, sometimes people get the idea that I am surrounded by nothing but ladies having one baby after another. And while it is true that many of my Christian friends and acquaintances likewise welcome all children as a blessing, and consequently have large families, there are almost just as many ladies who wish they had a(nother) child,  but struggle with infertility.

You see, trusting God with your family size does not equal having a large family. It simply means that you put God in charge of your fertility, whether that means not preventing children by way of birth control,  or likewise also not using assisted reproductive technology to artificially grow your family.

Modern technology and medicine can be a blessing, but it can also be used as a tool to play God. How can we tell where to draw the line of what is acceptable, and what is not? In regard to infertility, our test has always been: does this measure simply restore health, or does it go beyond that? Does it save, or does it destroy life? If a lady has medical issues that can be fixed, which prevent her from becoming pregnant, then by all means, address the underlying problems in hopes of becoming pregnant. Examples could be: hormone balances are off, the body is not producing enough progesterone, there are cysts/fibroids etc.  All these issues, when addressed, restore a normal state of health. Whereas if we think of other options out there today, such as IVF, using a surrogate, sperm/egg donation, etc., these all go beyond restoring natural health, and fall into the "playing God" category. 

To recap so far, I am not a stranger to counseling ladies regarding infertility, and I believe measures that restore normal health are morally acceptable.

With all that being said, I believe the vast majority of ladies struggling with infertility fall into two categories: they either weigh too much (BMI greater than 30), or they weigh too little (BMI less than 20). Both seem to be equally prevalent. 

That is the quick assessment. The BMI thresholds are not necessarily accurate for every individual. On a deeper level, it really is not so much body weight, as the underlying diet that is to blame, but for most of us diet/health and weight go hand in hand, so using body weight is a good indicator for most. I mention this because there are some people within normal weight ranges who struggle with infertility due to their diet, while others eat too much healthy food and are very overweight but fertile. However, the majority of people struggling with infertility tends to be either over- or underweight. 

For those on the underweight end of the spectrum, a lack of consuming healthy fats in adequate quantities is a huge part of the problem. The right kinds of fats are absolutely vital to proper hormone production, which in turn control every process in our body, including reproduction. However, skinny people often believe the once prevalent but false notion that fats are unhealthy, when the truth is that natural fats are very healthy, whereas man-made fats are what is destructive. 

Also, simply not eating enough will not provide the body with enough nutrients to grow another human, which is why the rates of miscarriage are much higher in severely underweight and anorexic ladies. 

For those on the overweight end of the spectrum, either an over-consumption of bad fats, and/or of sugar and simple carbs, will wreak havoc on health and reproduction. While fats often get the bad rap for being destructive to health, this blame should really be placed on sugar and simple carbs. These simple sugars, when consumed regularly even in moderate quantities, are stored by the body as fat, and in the long run cause insulin resistance. Ultimately, this can lead to type II (acquired) diabetes, which simply means that the body is no longer able to produce enough insulin to even convert this excess sugar into fat. In the case of uncontrolled diabetes, excess sugar remains in the blood stream, where it can lead to diabetic shock, coma, and death.

Simple carbs that should be all but eliminated include sugar, white flour and other simple grains, starchy foods like potatoes, sodas, other high-glycemic index foods such as fruit juice, and for those struggling with insulin resistance, even sweet fruits like grapes, melons, and the like.

Healthy fats that should be consumed daily to the tune of at least 2 tablespoons per day include butter, tallow/lard from pasture-fed animals free of hormones, antibiotics, or GMO feed, and some naturally saturated plant fat like palm and coconut oil, as well as unheated olive and avocado oils. Some foods that are naturally high in healthy fats are fatty fish like salmon, nuts, eggs, whole milk products, and avocados. People struggling with infertility would do well to consume these daily.

Fats to be avoided at all cost, even in small amounts, are: vegetable oils such as corn, canola, or soy etc, man-made fats like margarine, store-bought "lard" or shortening, or any other hydrogenated fats. This also includes any ready-made foods and snacks that contain these, which includes virtually all conventional, packaged goods (e.g. cookies, chips, cakes, fast food, anything fried, etc.)

Further avoided should be simple sugars and carbs, especially in liquid form. These will destroy your metabolism and hormone balance, in turn preventing you from being able to become pregnant.



In a nut shell, my advice to those struggling with infertility is: If you are underweight, seek to gain weight and achieve a BMI of over 20 by daily consuming healthy fats, in combination with complex carbs. If you are overweight, switch to only consuming healthy fats, and drastically reduce your intake of sugar and simple carbs, while aiming to lose about 5-10% of your body weight. If there is no known underlying cause of your infertility, this will almost certainly allow you to become pregnant.


16 comments:

  1. Great advice! I struggled with infertility due to too low progesterone, and I was relieved to fix the issue which ended up allowing me to get pregnant easily. I have come to really desire changing my diet, which includes way too many of the sugars and simple carbs you mention. I'd love to read a blog post about favorite meals or maybe even a day in your kitchen. I struggle with figuring out delicious and healthy options

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  2. Great Post Zsuzsanna! I needed to hear it. Although I have have may fallopian tubes reconnected surgically so we can trust God with our family size, I admit I am beating myself up daily. Just last night I cried myself to sleep and praying. Again today. I have PCOS or insulin resistance. I am not overweight or underweight so its kinda strange that I have it. I have been wanting to get the HSG test to see if my tubes are open or if its my PCOS causing us not to get pregnant. I am currently doing a low carb diet to help with ovarian cysts that I get. As far as the HSG test, my husband is afraid that doing it will interfere with God's will. I have wondered myself if getting my tubes checked or using clomid would be interferring but this post makes sense and sheds some light in a big way for me. I beat myself up because I wish I knew what was causing my secondary infertility. I want to make sure that its not ME who is preventing children by being unhealthy. Thank you!!!

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  3. This is just yes across the board. Good stuff here. :)

    The fertility doctor with whom I occasionally correspond has done (as you know!) groundbreaking work in using diet changes to achieve fertility in infertile women, rather than charging straight through to IVF. In his experience, a huge number of infertile women are able to restore their bodies' fertility just by dietary changes alone (which lead to hormonal changes, which help fertility issues).

    Another story: A fertility counselor told me that her first line of defense with fertility issues is to tell women to do three things: (1) eat an avocado every day, (2) take a top-quality fish oil supplement every day, and (3) not exercise more than one hour a day. She said that a huge majority of her fertility clients were able to achieve pregnancy with those tips alone.

    Thanks for sharing. :)

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    1. Oh no I hate avocado haha! But I will do the fish oil :)

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  4. You fail to consider male infertility. This accounts for 40 percent of all infertility cases. You can lose or gain weight all you want, but if your partner has no sperm you will l not get pregnant.

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    1. Perhaps Mrs. Anderson meant that husbands could consider changing their diet, as well, in hopes of fathering God's future blessings upon their homes.

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    2. Male diet plays into the game also for fertility. Cut down the sugar and grain carbs and replace with healthy oils and meat and see if that doesn't make a diff in about 2-3 years

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  5. A very religious man was once caught in rising floodwaters. He climbed onto the roof of his house and trusted God to rescue him. A neighbour came by in a canoe and said, “The waters will soon be above your house. Hop in and we’ll paddle to safety.”

    “No thanks” replied the religious man. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me”

    A short time later the police came by in a boat. “The waters will soon be above your house. Hop in and we’ll take you to safety.”

    “No thanks” replied the religious man. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me”

    A little time later a rescue services helicopter hovered overhead, let down a rope ladder and said. “The waters will soon be above your house. Climb the ladder and we’ll fly you to safety.”

    “No thanks” replied the religious man. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me”

    All this time the floodwaters continued to rise, until soon they reached above the roof and the religious man drowned. When he arrived at heaven he demanded an audience with God. Ushered into God’s throne room he said, “Lord, why am I here in heaven? I prayed for you to save me, I trusted you to save me from that flood.”

    “Yes you did my child” replied the Lord. “And I sent you a canoe, a boat and a helicopter. But you never got in.”

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    1. That's not scripture

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  6. Here's a link to what the Mayo Clinic states are the main causes of infertility in both men and women. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/infertility/basics/causes/CON-20034770

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    1. I followed the link, and after reading there, I have to say that Mrs. Anderson's dietary recommendations are highly likely to alleviate many of the medical concerns mentioned. For example, I have personal experience with polycystic ovarian syndrome, which disappeared completely with a major overhaul of my diet...and now, I have the beautiful babies I was unable to have for years.

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  7. What forms of Birth control ok to use in the light of the bible?

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    1. If you listen to pastor Anderson's sermons I think you'll understand the answer is none.

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  8. Hmmm...
    I'm here on your blog (and enjoying :>) because my husband loves to listen your husband's sermons. My DH, based on the sermon on infertility and the part about doctors or gynecologist (I'm not sure - don't remember if it was the same sermon or the other) discourages me from seeking medical attention (not to mention doesn't care about providing for it). I have hormonal issues diagnosed. And I feel like between a rock and a hard place. I feel guilty going to the doctor and taking medicine which he displeases and on the other hand when I tried to obey him I felt guilty of not being responsible about my health.

    Didn't my DH took a little to far what was your husband preaching?
    Isn't knowing your body and observing the cycle for woman a good thing? Isn't every few years check up with a dentist, oculist or ginecologist a responsible thing to do, or treating diagnosed condition for that matter? Or is it trusting doctors/science over God for your body?

    Blah, I admit I had put those thoughts somewhere, so sorry for bothering :) Congratulations of another baby coming!

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    1. Going to the doctor for a regular check up is not invasive or denying God's will in your life. The Anderson's do not think that medical professionals should be completely avoided. They are not "faith healers"

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    2. Thank you Elizabeth for the answer, I believe the same you wrote. The thing is what my husband is taking from pastor Anderson'a teachings. Anyway things improved over last half a year :) I'm not talking too much about my health issues and don't bother him with expenses and he is not scolding me anymore about this... Maybe soon we could have normal, open conversations about it. Hopefully.

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