Your immune system works hard to defend your body against harmful enemies. These can come in the form of: parasites, viruses and bacteria, it’s your immune system’s job to ensure these enemies don’t get out of hand and cause disease.
For some people however the immune system sees its host (the person) as the enemy.
This is called autoimmunity.
There are now over one hundred autoimmune diseases and the list is growing at a rapid rate. It also appears that the number of cases is growing, particularly when it comes to rheumatic diseases, endocrine and gastrointestinal. (1)
In some cases of autoimmunity the person’s body can identify parts of their reproductive function as an enemy and send Natural Killer (NK) cells to attack.
This is particularly common if there is any kind of inflammation in the uterus such as in cases of endometriosis or PCOS.
Immunological recurrent miscarriage and anti-sperm antibodies are two of the most prevalent immunological fertility problems. Fortunately, there are a number of natural ways to address these issues as we’ll discuss below.
Firstly let’s talk about the two most common causes of immune related infertility:
Antibodies can be triggered during an immune response; they then work to kill off the sperm. If someone produces lots of sperm antibodies the journey the sperm has to take to reach the egg can be hampered. These antibodies can also affect how robust the surviving sperm is. This then can increase the chances of a miscarriage.
There can be numerous reasons why this happens. Thrombophilia is a problem with blood clotting. This can lead to vessels in the placenta starving from a lack of oxygen. This is just one possible cause.
Natural Killer (NK) cell activity is also known to be a major cause of miscarriage. Addressing inflammatory reproductive conditions such as endometriosis, PCOS and tubule inflammation can help to reduce the chances of a miscarriage.
Natural ways to address immunological fertility issues can include dietary adjustments, supplementation and lifestyle changes.
Let’s start with diet. It’s best to make dietary changes for four months before conception and continue these changes throughout your pregnancy.
There is a connection between antisperm antibodies and food sensitivities so it is always worth excluding the most common problematic foods namely dairy and gluten.
Avoid caffeine, alcohol and smoking, these are all pro inflammatory. Green Tea is the only form of caffeine advised during preconception and pregnancy. It helps the liver to detoxify and it contains many antioxidants. Green tea also has a minimal amount of caffeine depending on the source.
Other natural ways to address immune related fertility issues include using the following herbs:
If you have an autoimmune disease ensuring your condition is under control before you fall pregnant is an important part of the process.
If your disease has been less active for a 3-6 month time period then this will give you a better chance of getting pregnant and having a problem free pregnancy.
If you are on any medication always check with your specialist before supplementing with herbs.
Cody Kennedy has been working in the natural health industry for over 12 years and works predominantly with clients who have Lupus and other autoimmune diseases. Cody has a Graduate Diploma in Evidence Based Medicine and is completing an Honours Degree in Complimentary Medicines Management. You can rest assured that everything she recommends has been researched, tested and researched again! When she's not consulting in her Australian clinic, Cody loves dreaming of her next travel adventure and playing frisbee with her energetic four-year-old son.