Dr. JoAnn Yanez, Executive Director of the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (right), joins KCAAs “On the Brink” host, Erin Brinker (left) and Tobin Brinker (middle) to discuss naturopathic approaches to fertility.
Full Transcript of Interview Below.
- Learn more about:
- Natural fertility and infertility help
- The drastic decrease in male sperm count since the 1970’s
- Vitamins and supplements to boost fertility and improve pregnancy outcomes
- And much more…..
Erin: Welcome back. I’m Erin Brinker.
Tobin: I’m Tobin Brinker.
Erin: We are On The Brink, the morning show on KCAA, AM1050, FM106.5 and FM 102.3 and we are so excited to welcome back to the show Dr. JoAnn Yanez. She is the Executive Director for the AANMC which is the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges. She joins us one a month to talk about naturopathic medicine and of course health. Dr. Yanez, welcome to the show.
Dr. Yanez: Good morning. How are you both doing?
Erin: Doing great this morning, although we’re having some technical difficulties.
Tobin: It’s been a funny day.
Erin: With one of our computers. We have one computer here, and I’ll this real quickly before we jump in. We have a computer that runs our spot player that we have, all of the ads, all of the music and all of the everything and it’s a proprietary spot player that’s worked absolutely wonderfully for us, but the computer is running a very, very old operating system, so every now and then we have issues. Today was one of those days.
Dr. Yanez: Breathe, breathe.
Erin: Let’s talk about fertility.
Dr. Yanez: Yes. We just recently released a report on fertility and the naturopathic approaches to fertility. This is an area that impacts so many couples across the country, across the world and it’s one of those things where folks suffer in silence, and so I really wanted to shed some light about fertility, about the naturopathic approaches to helping folks conceive and all of the different things that you can do to hopefully help the process along a little bit better.
Erin: A lot of things can cause infertility. How do you find out, how do you figure out, or how do you get your body ready to have a baby, even if you’re doing this later in life than they would have two generations ago?
Dr. Yanez: It’s really funny you bring up the two generations ago. There was just recently a study released indicating that sperm counts have declined drastically since the 1970’s.
Dr. Yanez: They’re still in levels where pregnancy can occur but they have dropped anywhere from 50-60% since the 1970’s which is kind of startling. You asked about causes and the naturopathic approach to fertility is really addressing the root cause, so we’re not just focusing on getting someone pregnant, we’re really working on what is the root barrier to becoming pregnant. We look at chemicals in the environment, diet, stress levels, for both the man and the woman. Really, it’s a whole person approach to getting pregnant.
Erin: What did the article about sperm count, because I’m just gobsmacked, is it diet? Is it environment? Do they know?
Dr. Yanez: Well correlation is not causative, so I don’t know that they can draw any one specific cause, however there are a number of factors that we do know in the environment that are linked to decreased sperm counts and motility. Alcohol, marijuana use, drug use, environmental chemicals. There are a number of chemicals in the environment. One poll took a look at Mac and Cheese and found endocrine disruptors present in all of them. I think that we need to really just take a hard look at what is in our environment and what are the roles that those chemicals are playing. Many of them are natural endocrine disrupters and so that means they disrupt the natural hormonal balance or they can disrupt the natural hormonal balance in the body. Those are increasing in record numbers in the environment.
Dr. Yanez: They’re found in pesticides. They’re found in natural chemicals. They’re found in plastics and those are pervasive. They’re everywhere. They’re in a our sea water. They’re in our ground, our air and so that is a likely thought here, but again it’s correlation, it’s not causative.
Erin: If you had a patient who was dealing with this, what would you, or a couple. What you advise them.
Dr. Yanez: Well, first thing first. Take a look at their own internal environment to get pregnant. Are they creating the healthiest body to produce baby? Is there stress level down? What are they eating? Are they on a whole foods diet? Are their minimizing their endocrine disrupter chemical exposure as best as they can? I think also it’s really important, in some cultures folks will take a look at this and see it as a woman problem. I think it’s really important that we look at the dynamic with the couple trying to get pregnant and really take a whole view and that it isn’t just a woman problem or a man problem, it’s a couple working together to create the healthiest environment for a baby to thrive.
Erin: Now does, conventional wisdom is that age plays a huge role? Are we seeing a lot of infertility in younger patients?
Dr. Yanez: There isn’t an incline in fertility issues in younger folks, although the ages for conception have been getting older. I was one of those and I will never forget the medical professionals who called me a geriatric maternity case. The last time that anybody I think said that to me.
Erin: You’re a picture of health. You seem like you would not have an issue, but we never know anymore.
Dr. Yanez: It’s really, it’s total load over lifestyle and egg quality for women, hormonal issues, thyroid issues. Excess weight can cause issues for women. There are just so many things and stress. I can’t emphasize enough. It’s kind of this circle, so you’re trying to get pregnant. You don’t get pregnant, that stresses you out. The stress then makes it harder to get pregnant. It’s hard to do without. It’s this cycle and then obviously the unspoken here are folks who try and get pregnant, do succeed in getting pregnant and then the pregnancy doesn’t carry to term. Miscarriage is very common actually and more common than we may think and something that again is one of those taboos, that I think if folks were able to talk about it in a safe way, it would help mitigate some of the issues and the stress around that. It’s a very sensitive topic and nobody likes to think about that, but it can be part of that getting pregnant process for some folks.
Erin: Let’s talk about carrying the babies to term. Obviously there’s things that you can’t control in your own body, whether your body is going to reject the baby for lack of a better word. Nutritionally what can you do before getting pregnant and during pregnancy to optimize the ability to keep that baby in the womb until term?
Dr. Yanez: Well preconception is really important especially from a naturopathic approach. We’re looking at a fertile ground, ha, ha, ha to really lay the groundwork for a solid pregnancy. What that means is limiting or decreasing those endocrine disrupters as much as you can from your environment. Eating pesticide free clean food, a whole foods based diet. Making sure that all of your prenatal supplements and nutrients that are needed to carry a pregnancy to term, your nutrient levels, your Vitamin D levels, your Vitamin D levels, folate etc are all within the optimal range for pregnancy and to maintain a healthy pregnancy. Essential fatty acids is another one that is helpful. I think it’s really just educating folks to start exercising. To start eating cleanly. To start managing their stress, because who’s ever raised a kid knows that kids don’t decrease your stress level.
Erin: No, they don’t. Our daughter right now is in the air flying to Iceland. Of course she should be landing any time now, as I’m thinking, okay is she going to text. She probably won’t because she’s in Iceland and she’s totally excited, but I want to make sure she got there okay.
Dr. Yanez: Of course and that will never go away. I think the managing of stress component, learning how to manage that. Getting that most optimum sleep that you can. They don’t help with that one either. I think all of those things lay the groundwork for optimal health.
Erin: Let’s talk about genetically modified things like corn or soy or GMO corn is almost ubiquitous. It’s almost all corn, maybe all corn in the United States is genetically modified specifically to optimize the use of Roundup. Does that impact the fertility.
Dr. Yanez: As I mentioned some of the chemicals that are found in conventional pesticides either have been linked to cancer, carcinogenic properties or endocrine disrupting properties. As I said earlier in general I’m telling folks and naturopathic doctors are telling people to avoid at best as much as you can anything that is going to have endocrine disrupting or carcinogenic properties.
Erin: I wanted to call out corn in particular, because it’s in everything. When you talk about eating whole foods, for people who don’t know what that means, it means really if it comes in a package, you probably shouldn’t be eating it.
Dr. Yanez: Yes, so a whole foods based diet, I think the easiest way that I always tell folks to shop the perimeter of the grocery store and skip the aisles except for toilet paper.
Erin: Shampoo, you can buy shampoo.
Dr. Yanez: Maybe. Some of those actually have endocrine disrupters in there.
Erin: Oh my goodness. Even those.
Dr. Yanez: Yeah, even those. Again, it’s looking as a naturopathic doctor would be educating people on this whole approach to care that it’s not just about what you eat, it’s the chemicals that you’re cleaning your house with. It’s how are you maintaining your environment in your house. Are you spraying chemicals outside on your lawn? Those things get tracked in on your shoes. It’s really this holistic approach to taking a look and nobody’s perfect. We’re not living in bubbles, but I think again it’s just educating people so that they can make an informed choice.
Erin: Sounds great. Where can people get more information about this topic and anything else related to naturopathic medicine?
Dr. Yanez: On our website aanmc.org.
Erin: Well, Dr. Yanez thank you so much for joining us today. It’s always a treat to have you on the show with us.
Dr. Yanez: Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it. Have a great day.
Erin: You too. It’s time for a break. I’m Erin Brinker.
Tobin: And I’m Tobin Brinker.
Erin: We are On The Brink, the morning show on KCAA AM 1050, FM 106.5 and FM 102.3. We’ll be right back.