Pregnancy

Infertility and health with Elizabeth King

Infertility and health, including sperm health. It’s no longer just about female health and egg health but if we aren’t addressing the mans health then that could be a big missing health piece for improving fertility. The good news it that men can pretty quickly improve the health of their sperm. Take a listen to my conversation about improving fertility with Elizabeth King.

Erica – 00:03

Well, Elizabeth, I’m really excited to welcome you today and to chat with you. I always like to start off with just sharing a little bit about you. And what really sent you down this journey, this path to being a infertility coach. 

Elizabeth – 00:20 

Yeah, thanks for having me. I am an international fertility coach, I help men and women around the world navigate their fertility. Some come to me, prior to even trying it all to get their diet lifestyle, supplements mindset around, you know, just, they may have some limiting beliefs around pregnancy or what that may mean, perhaps they have eating disorders. And so they’re, they have some fear around getting pregnant. So we’ve talked through that sort of stuff, and or people that have already been down this road of, you know, unfortunately, sometimes many years of trying to conceive and have not had any luck in that. So the way that I see success with my clients is we really approach it from the mind body spirit aspect, you can’t do one without the other. And so we definitely take that clients, and when they walk outside the door of that doctor’s office, we help them from there. So we’re not taking the place of a doctor or anything like that, we really build up their fertility team, and that could be nutritionists and acupuncturists and their coach and all of these things.

A little bit about me, personally, I have three boys, I had three under three, from 41 to 44. I had some losses in between. And it really wasn’t until my first loss that I realized having been a life coach since 2008, that there is this huge void of support for couples that were going through this experience, whether it’s infertility or miscarriage loss, and I was laying in the table at the clinic, I’m getting ready to do my DNC, which is basically once you have your miscarriage, that’s one option that you can do to have the tissue removed surgically. And the couple next to us in this, this room, four feet away in between a fabric drape, they were doing their first round of IVF. So it was this, like they were at a high high. And I was sincerely so excited for them. But I was devastated. Like it was such a hard moment for us. And that’s when I realized I really need to start my focus of supporting and serving the men and women that were going through this journey to help them. So that’s how that started. 

Erica – 02:50 

I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. I can’t even imagine, I personally have not gone through. We have women in our audience that I know had miscarriages, and then trying to conceive after that. And, you know, that’s what I’ve heard from women, I’d love you to chime in on this as well. But I feel that what I hear is when women have a loss and there’s this huge increase of hormones in the body, that it’s such an extreme to come down from that with a miscarriage at some point in the pregnancy that it is, you know, typical postpartum. I don’t know if you can speak to that. 

Elizabeth – 03:46 

Yeah, a little bit. It depends on how far along you are in your pregnancy when you have that loss. For the early losses, and your HCG level, which is a hormone that basically when you test, you know, and you pee on a stick, that’s what it’s measuring is your HCG level. And when you have that loss, your body needs to come down to some doctors may say, seven, some may say zero. And depending on how far up your HCG has gone, it may take a little bit longer to get down. And within that you’re still having your estrogen and progesterone and all those other things. Try to regulate to see you know, they were ramping up for something and then all sudden pulling back. It really is a matter of as far as from a hormonal standpoint, getting your HCG level down and starting your cycle again from that and that range. Some people will, it can happen in two weeks where your period starts again and you haven’t bled. And some people, I have one client right now. She’s on week five, she’s not bleeding, but her HCG levels are still in like 20,000, which is really high for being that far along past a loss. 

I think for people who have gone through it, and actually, statistically we know one in four women have had a miscarriage. And that’s only what’s reported. So there are many that people don’t even realize, which would be a chemical pregnancy, let’s say they didn’t even know that they were pregnant, so they don’t report it. Or maybe they’ve had it happen before. So they and it’s happened at home, so they don’t really feel too concerned about it. So my point in saying that is the number they believe is much higher than one in four. But when you look around at your group of friends, or your neighborhood or at a restaurant, keeping that in mind that this is such a common thing. And the hard thing is when you go through it, you feel so alone, so ashamed and guilty, and like you’re broken, and you did something wrong. And that’s the first thing usually the doctor will say to you is, don’t worry, you didn’t do anything wrong. That doesn’t change that, of course, you feel like he did something wrong, like was it, did I go for that walk and I shouldn’t have, did I drink an iced coffee and I shouldn’t have. I mean, your mind just kind of wanders of everything. And realistically, it really isn’t anything that you have done. And it’s actually both the male side and the female side, the egg and the sperm. So we have traditionally always talked about, it’s just maybe the egg was unhealthy. And now that conversation is coming up that perhaps the sperm was unhealthy as well, which I’m so happy to hear that we don’t have to take it all on ourselves as women but that is important, because you know, if a guy has been out drinking, or smoking of any kind, that can affect the sperm quality. So I always say to my couples that are trying to conceive, it’s not all always just on the woman to be taking their supplements and having a healthy lifestyle, it’s important for the men as well. 

When they’re trying to conceive after a loss, just keeping in mind that being gentle on yourself, I really encourage everybody to have some sort of ceremony for that loss, whether it’s early or late, you still write that story. As soon as you get that positive pregnancy test of what your life is going to be like, oh my gosh, when do we go look at car seats? When do we get to do all this fun stuff? And is it going to be a girl or a boy, your mind, of course goes that way, your heart is filled with this excitement. So really honoring that story of sometimes writing it out? How did we find out, were we trying for a long time, really just getting into that emotion of it’s okay to feel sad and grieve this loss because it is a death. And our country and many other countries now are just getting around to saying it’s okay to have bereavement time from work off. 

Whereas even when I had mine, you know, four years ago, three years ago, it was you had your surgery, and then you’re expected to be back at work. Like it’s not a thing that they say, Oh, you can acknowledge the fact that not only physically, are you going through something, but emotionally you’re going through a death where most of the time you don’t get an answer as to why this happened. So that’s another emotion, a very difficult thing to get your head around sometimes is how do you complete this thought in your mind without knowing XYZ happened? And that’s where a coach can really help you heal your heart to move forward before you try to conceive again. 

Erica – 08:38 

I love that you mentioned how alone that woman feel. I hear that a lot. having someone like yourself, or friends to maybe who have gone through it to talk to. I think just encouraging women who have gone through miscarriage to talk about it because we tend to hold on to so much should be like the tough woman and like we got this, but if you don’t process it, it’s like this is like more right? That’s like going to build up and then the stress and everything right to then if you want to try to get pregnant again. So, for women, where does she go after she’s had a miscarriage? What’s like, I know it’s different for everybody. But it’s more like an ideal timeline, that when you’re coaching women you recommend, Okay, give yourself a minimum amount of time just so you give yourself time to really grieve, help to process hormones to come back to whatever that baseline is to then be ready to try to get pregnant again. Is there kind of a standard go to that you recommend? 

Elizabeth – 09:50 

Standard? No. Again, because it’s different with everybody so for now I’ll use myself as an example and my client from yesterday again as an example. 

When you’re older, you feel I don’t have the time to just sit and grieve this process and kind of be in that which is so important to do. But you have this underlying like I got to get back on it, I don’t have the time to just kind of be with this. 

For somebody who might have a little bit more time, I would say, let your body heal, because not only is it again, physically hard, and that some people, it’s really easy. So I will say that it doesn’t have to be hard. But your body has gone through a lot, let’s just that’s a given for anybody. But you want to make sure that you regardless of age, or if you’re trying right away, or you are taking time, you just want to make sure that you mentally feel like you have that support, again, to your point, are you talking to your friends, the more that we normalize this conversation, the less alone people are going to be because they’re going to say, oh, Erica has a friend that I heard about Suzie Q, I can call her or whatever it may be just feeling that conversation to just say, even though your situation may be completely different than that person, just to have a five minute conversation to know somebody else has gone through it, and they’re not alone. And to talk to somebody or see somebody who has gone on to have other children, I think that sign of hope for some people goes a long way.

Some not all have a little bit of PTSD or a lot depending when they get into their next pregnancy. Because you know, even for me, having been a coach and everything it was, it’s hard to go in to say, especially when you’ve had multiple, multiple losses, is there going to be heartbeat every time I got to have an ultrasound, and that causes a lot of anxiety. So when you’re working with a coach, you can speak to them before it’s like a personal trainer. I always said before you go in and after, you know to say what are the tools that are going to help ground me and my husband because, or my spouse because they are just as stressed as you are, they’re usually trying to hold it together for you, they just want you to be happy. So really figuring out the best way to find joy in that pregnancy. Because you do want to be excited, you do want those happy hormones to be flowing in your blood when you have this new pregnancy instead of being in a state of fear until you get to a certain point and that certain points is different for everybody. For some it’s 12 weeks. For some it’s 18 weeks. For some, it’s the anatomy scan. And there’s no judgment to any of that, that fear is real. So we don’t pretend that it’s not there. We just learn how to manage it. And also the importance of again, making sure that we have the right happy hormones going through your blood because that’s what we want to build into the placenta of your new babies. So they don’t feel like they’re coming into a stressful environment, they’re coming to a happy environment. 

Erica – 12:55 

I love that. I talk a lot about that as well with my pregnant moms, de-stressing as best as you can, but don’t stress yourself about the stress. Do things that light you up and make you happy. Do more of that. 

Okay, so I want to talk about infertility in general, regardless of a loss, or not, maybe just women who have had a hard time getting pregnant. And I actually have a question for you, because I recently heard and I love that you’re talking about the sperm and infertility as well. I’m glad really happy to hear that conversation happening. Right? And so it’s like feeling like the woman is all on her. Yeah, but I heard something recently about a stat that men’s sperm count is decreasing, like 40 to 50% of where it was, I don’t know how many years ago but like 30 years or so. Like I can’t, don’t quote me on that stat. But I’m sure you’re well aware of that because of toxicity and all of that. And this is I think a big thing that we need to address with the woman doing what she’s doing. But the man so we thought maybe to start there like what should men be doing? What can the women have their significant other be doing to help with his quality of sperm or sperm count? 

Elizabeth – 14:15 

Yes, yes. And again, it’s of course near and dear to my heart having three boys too. So I definitely jump on everything related to sperm quality and everything around that. However yes, you’re right. So the the numbers are dramatic compared to even the last 50 years is really where this particular study is saying and part of that is yes, the toxicities but the quality of life that you know a man used to have was he generally a nine to five, come home, have dinner on the table. You know, you didn’t take home your work. Generally you weren’t checking your phone or your email and all of that sort of stuff. And it was a very different lifestyle. There’s so much now that both men and women carry, however that, because it’s so dramatic for both men and women, that’s where they’re finally starting to do these numbers of, wow, this is way different than it was before. And people carrying their phones in their front pockets. So I would say if you, you know, your husband, or your spouse, and your children for that matter, and hot tubs really make a difference when they’re continuously in the hot tub every day. I had a client whose husband’s sperm count was really low, and they had just bought a vacation home. And every night he was in the hot tub. So they actually stopped doing that, and three months later went back to have it tested, and his numbers were way different. So taking that away and taking some supplements. So most of the supplements are basically just your general, vitamin C, B12. The one that really helps with the men is the COq10. And I would recommend talking to either a fertility coach or a reproductive urologist for your spouse, they can do a really detailed test on, you know, is it just the quality? Is it the number, is it the mobility, what’s happening, because some of the things you can reverse and change, and the men are able to basically regenerate new sperm every 70 days, essentially. So the women are eggs are every 120 to 150 days, but it’s not quite the same, it’s not new eggs, whereas the men, it’s new sperm. So we are born with eggs that we have, we have the ability to adjust their quality a little bit, if it’s within a certain range, right? If you have, really, I don’t want to say bad eggs, but less than ideal ages. And maybe that’s because of your age or maybe not, you’re really not going to be able to affect too much change, but you can with the men, their lifestyle, their nutrition, their supplements, that will all really make a difference. And you can see that measurably which I love, I’m such a data number person. So if somebody went to the doctor at what point and then goes back again to say check me out and see what it is, it’s there’s nothing better to say I did this. And that was a result. And it’s really an amazing change that they can see. 

So again, making sure that their lifestyles and check if they’re smoking that restricts the the blood vessels down there, like it does in any other blood vessel in your body. So that affects change. Most people don’t realize that something that they think is not really a big deal or drinking or any of those things can that can affect cell growth are going to affect those cells. And in turn, you could have a high quality good egg. But if the sperm that’s coming into it, even if it fertilizes, doesn’t mean that it’s going to be a healthy embryo. So you really want to make sure that both people coming to the table are living a healthy lifestyle. And on the same page of you know, it’s not just the woman who needs to be doing all the things in order to get there. It’s both people involved. 

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Erica – 18:17 

I love hearing too, that for men, it’s a pretty quick turnaround, like you can see a dramatic improvement in a pretty short period of time. And I think that’s hopefully really exciting for women and I think I feel like, you know, men are getting tested more, but then are they taking the action items? Do they even know what to do? Versus like, testing is great. And I’m all with you on data, right? But then what are the action items that need to be improved. So to improve the quality of sperm, which then ultimately can help  women’s, you know, just the entire situation. 

Elizabeth – 18:54 

No laptops on your lap, no cell phones in your pocket, no long bike rides, hot tubs for a shorter amount of time. And kind of basic things if you just kind of think of the area of really letting it breathe and not having things in your body that are constructing it. And it’s a good ego boost to, I say for a lot of my clients when they get back to that doctor and be like, Oh my god, this is amazing. Look at how well I did and, and everybody is happy with a good result. Of course. 

Erica – 19:26 

I love it. Okay, so let’s talk about women. What are there things that women can do to help improve? I know you mentioned, obviously, we are born with the eggs that we have. But I mean, I know there are things that women can do to help improve her fertility chances. So yeah, I’d love to have you talk to that. 

Elizabeth – 19:45 

One of the things that we do first with my clients is take a look at what their bloodwork is. So when was the last time that they had their blood work done their hormone panels? Was it on the correct day? So you want it to be taken on day two or A Theory of your cycle. And if it isn’t, I would certainly go back to your doctor and ask that because that gives you again, the baseline of where your hormone your fertility hormones need to be. And that will then tell you where you need to go. Right. So it’s a good starting point. 

We also look at where you are at health wise. So your doctors, your fertility doctor, generally, and or your regular OB isn’t going to ask you. What’s your bowel movements like? How often are you going to the bathroom? And do you have any allergies> The reason that we go through all of that is because if you’re having some sort of food sensitivity or something else that’s going on, that’s going to affect your fertility as well. Because that visceral system is working so hard on something else, that it kind of takes away energetically from your reproductive systems. So we really tried to get everything in line and as locked down as possible. So we do the food sensitivities, we figure out from the bloodwork and that where you need to be with supplements. So everybody can google online, fertility supplements, but they’re not all created equal. And not everybody needs all the supplements, right. So if you’re taking too many, your body’s working overtime to process and metabolize all these things that it may not need. And or if you’re taking something maybe that has increases testosterone, and you already have a higher level of testosterone, you’re not going to get pregnant with that, you need to make sure that everything’s kind of in line, as well as your TSH and your thyroid. The really two big ones for fertility are your thyroid and your d3. 

So you want to make sure that those are in line as well as other things. But if anybody takes away two things, those were the things that I would recommend that you make sure in check for your fertility, and, and then your eating and your nutrition and things like that. Again, same thing, there’s a lot of different fertility diets online right now. I have a lot of people that come to me, they’re like, I’m on no sugar, no dairy, no gluten, all these things, and I haven’t gotten pregnant. And well, if you don’t have a food sensitivity to some of those things, that’s not really going to matter. So try to let go a little bit, and realize what are the things that are not good for my body. So if I can deal with gluten, then that’s fine. Of course, nobody wants to go overboard on something like that. But it’s like, you can have pizza and cake for most people. And if that’s what’s getting you to kind of not hold on so tight to a fertility diet, so to speak, that’s going to help your chances of getting pregnant, the amount of women that I’ve had get pregnant once they let go of the diet is I can’t even count anymore because it’s so many people. 

Erica – 22:52 

It’s I mean, do you boil it back to stress a little bit, you were so focused on being so dialed in, that it increases the stress and you don’t realize how much added stress it does. But it is you know, so and everyone’s bodies are different, I do have a question on, you know, folic acid versus folate, I would assume you’re probably trying to right away, make sure all of your clients are on, you know, not taking actual folic acid or taking like the methyl folate form just in case they have MTHFR like do kind of go into all of that a little bit as well. 

Elizabeth – 23:29 

100%. And you want to make sure that you know what gene mutation you have on that as well, because that will make a difference also. So you can talk to a coach about that you can talk to a functional medication medicine doctor. Naturopath will tell you information about that. Some obese, but yes, that’s all part of making sure that the supplement list that you have is good for you. And 100%, it comes back to stress. 

So usually when you’re trying to conceive, and for that number, it’s one in eight couples. So again, pretty high in our country, one in six and Canada. And unfortunately, our country is at a six year decline of fertility and that’s not looking like it’s going to change anytime soon. Unfortunately, it’s really unfortunate, which is why getting more fertility coaches and people knowing about this is so important that you want to make sure that you’re working with somebody who can look at all everything that’s going on in your life. So you think that it’s all around fertility, but it could be something at work that’s causing you stress that, you know, everybody I know has heard this before. Oh, just relax or go on vacation, you’re gonna get pregnant. That doesn’t happen for anybody, for everybody I should say. And the reason that doesn’t is because there’s other underlying things that could be happening and that’s again, a coach will help you to unravel that a little bit and figure that out. But it’s really important that you’re able to know what works for your specific body, what you do need to hold on tight to so if you do have a dairy allergy or something like that, then yeah, it is important for you to make sure that you don’t have that inflammation from that. I have clients that have allergies to chicken and eggs, I have mine was eggs, I have some that have bananas as an allergy. So we do want you to hold on tight to those things, but it doesn’t have to be everything. And you have to find that balance of what’s going to bring joy in your life and let you know, like, Okay, we’re gonna go out with our friends tonight. And It’s okay for me to have a glass of wine and whatever. Again, this is pre trying to conceive. And, and knowing that some of those things, it’s not going to be a game changer, like, you’re not going to not get pregnant this month, because you had that glass of wine, or you had that piece of pizza, or whatever it is that is going to make you feel like I’m part of a normal life instead of feeling like you’re putting everything on hold to try to get pregnant. 

Erica – 25:59 

So I have a question to kind of shift gears a little bit from like, age perspective of having babies in the last, I don’t know what the timeframe is, but I mean, I see it, and I’ve worked with pregnant women for a long time that, you know, women are waiting longer to have babies, like, you are a great example. And I know a lot of women who didn’t have their babies until they’re in their 40s. And maybe they needed a little IVF, maybe they needed a little extra fertility help, but they were able to have very healthy babies. But like you were saying with this increase of infertility, and we’re not seeing it decreasing anytime soon. So I feel like a lot of women listening have daughters, right? Obviously not at that age to have babies. But what are some things as a mother that we can think about helping our daughters, so that, when the time comes for them down the road, we’ve set them up to hopefully have better air, I should say, well, I should say, I should say all of our kids, right, because we were talking about his little boys, or we’re talking about men too. So I guess really, for both right? 

For our kids, what are some things that you think about with your boys, and for girls, even when they’re younger, that we’re setting them up for just improved fertility success for down the road? I mean, I know I have a teenage daughter. And you know, one thing I’m always aware of, because I had so many period problems, cyst and all that when I was her age, that I’m always like, you know, like, please let me know, you have to communicate me if you start having cramps and things because that means like, there’s something going on. And we’ve got to do some digging and see because I want to help prevent her from going through what I went through. So anyway, yeah, I don’t know. I think I love this interview so much one. Because I don’t think about like, but one day, a lot of our children are going to want to have babies, and helping to set them up for success. So then, you know, just minimizing struggle as best we can. 

Elizabeth –  28:03 

100% I love this question so much. I’ve never been asked this before I say this to my friends who have teenage daughters, but I’ve never been asked it in this regard. So I actually got goosebumps when you asked me because I’m so happy that you’re bringing this up. And so I will say I’m super passionate about women’s health in general. So whether they want to have children or not just knowing that you have a healthy cycle, some will say that that’s your sixth vital sign because your cycle tells so much about your health and your hormones and everything, even when you’re a teenager. And the great thing is, there’s so many ovulation apps, period apps, things like that. So if I had a daughter, I would say, let’s look up one of these apps that you can use on your own. And you don’t even necessarily have to communicate it with me. But every couple months, say hey, can we look at that together. And she can put in there. I had cramps, they’re mild, they’re heavy, they’re whatever. What’s the ovulation and I know that sounds crazy to talk to a teenager about that. But we weren’t taught that in school. Like how to know. All we knew was like you, your period might be 28 days, it might not. Also letting them know that not everybody’s period is 28 days, not everybody ovulates on day 14. That’s such a myth on and letting them know, this is what happens. 

So really educating them on the whole process when they’re young. That also helps them to realize for better or worse that it’s not like every time you have intercourse, you’re gonna get pregnant, right? Because we kind of think that’s how it goes when you’re younger that this is just kind of automatically going to happen. And so that’s the things that I would say for a young girl is just making sure that they’re aware of their cycle and that any kind of deviation from that. So if they are, you know, having less than 21 day cycles or more than 30 days cycles, something is off. And the other thing that I would just really wish everybody would do is not to let their OB put their babies, their child on a birth control pills. So it’s so easy right now to say I’m going to have acne. So they’re going to go on this or they have cramps. So they’re going to go on this. That’s a bandaid. So why do they have cramps what hormones are off their seed cycling you can do for your children, like put, if they can have a smoothie put see there’s certain seeds have certain times of the month that can help with their hormone levels. That’s good for anybody that is have an age that’s having a cycle to help regulate that that’ll help with their pain and have their cycle and help balance out those hormones, the estrogen and progesterone to help them be aware again of this is why I’m doing that. 

So really just having that open conversation that the cycle is normal, there’s four parts of your cycle. It’s not just the menstruation part of it, and what’s happening because again, in school, or wherever you learn, generally, that’s kind of all they tell you. So that’s what I would do for a female. For the males, again, it’s more of just being aware of, you know, I’m not wearing I’m not carrying the phone in my pocket, I’m not keeping my laptop on my lap directly for very long. And again, it’s not as crucial for young boys, however, because they regenerate new sperm, but just having the awareness from my perspective when they’re young, so when they’re older, it’s a normal conversation. Like, I don’t do that, because it’s not healthy for my, you know, whatever you’re gonna call it for them. Because it’s much easier to start that habit at a young age to say, this isn’t healthy for my body now than it is to all of a sudden when you’re in your 20s or 30s or 40s and wanting to have kids and be like, Oh, okay, I shouldn’t be really sitting on the hot tub for endless hours or on a long bike ride for endless hours without getting up or whatever it may be. So yeah, I would say the apps, the seat cycling, if there’s any sort of issues, avoiding the pill, I mean, we’re so like, quick to make sure our kids are eating everything organic, but then we’re putting them on a synthetic hormone to see have their body not function in a way that it’s meant to function. And to me that’s doing a disservice to their long term health, not not only from a reproductive standpoint, but again, just women’s health in general. The more in tune, we can be with everything, the better. 

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