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Why can’t I get Pregnant? July 1, 2010

Posted by Dr. Jacqueline E. Campbell in Health, Vitamins and Supplements.
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The desire to have children and be parents is one of the most fundamental aspects of being human. Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system that impairs one of the body’s most basic functions – the conception of children. It is defined as the inability to achieve pregnancy after one year of regular unprotected intercourse. In the United States it is estimated that as many as 15% of all couples have difficulty conceiving. About 1/3 of the difficulty is due to men, 1/3 is due to both men and women, and 1/3 is due to women. There is a worldwide increase in the number of infertile persons especially men.

There are a number of factors that can contribute to infertility.

The most common male infertility factors include azoospermia (no sperm) and oligospermia (low sperm count). At other times sperm cells are malformed or they die before they can reach the egg. Many infertile men have underlying medical diseases such as pituitary tumours, testicular cancer, liver and renal failure, diabetes, sickle cell disease and a history of mumps.

Damage to the fallopian tubes (which carry the eggs from the ovaries to the uterus) can prevent contact between the sperm and egg . Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), fibroids, endometriosis, and multiple pelvic surgeries may lead to scar formation and fallopian tube damage. Birth defects involving the structure of the uterus and uterine fibroids are associated with repeated miscarriages.

Some women have problems with ovulation. Ovulation depends on synchronized hormonal changes. These hormones cause the release of an egg from the ovary and the thickening of the endometrium (lining of the uterus) in preparation for the fertilized egg. When the hormonal changes are not synchronized , ovulation will not occur.

A small group of women may have a cervical condition in which the sperm cannot pass through the cervical canal. Other factors contributing to infertility include obesity, sexually transmitted disease, poor diet and toxic chemicals. These chemicals can damage the DNA, genetic makeup of the cell. This damage is also epigenetic, that is , it passes on the expression of the DNA to the next generation. This idea is expounded on by scientists such as Dr. Bruce Lipton, author of The Biology of Belief, who explain how gene expression is carried from one generation to the next, and exposure to toxic chemicals causes trans-generational genetic damage.

Couples are generally advised to seek medical help if they are unable to achieve pregnancy after a year of unprotected intercourse. The doctor will conduct a physical examination of both partners to determine their general state of health and to evaluate physical disorders that may be causing infertility. Conventionally infertility can be treated in a number of ways – medication, surgery, artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization.

Natural therapies also play a role .


The hormone oestrogen can have a negative effect on the development of the male reproductive tract, semen volume, and sperm count. Therefore, it is important to reduce or eliminate excess estrogen or estrogen-like chemicals in the body. This can be done by avoiding dairy products produced from hormone fed cows. Avoid the use of toxic substances such as fertilizers, and cleaners as they contain chemicals that are weakly estrogenic and “hang around” for years in our environment.


We all know the benefits of a healthy diet but it is imperative that both partners eat the right foods when trying to become pregnant. A high fibre diet helps to remove oestrogens by preventing their reabsorbtion during digestion. Legumes such as beans and peas are a great source of “isoflavones”, plant chemicals that act to block oestrogen receptor sites and prevent the stronger oestrogens from having an impact.


Both can impair female fertility. Caffeinated soft drinks can also reduce the

chance of conception.


Weighing too much or too little is associated with primary infertility in about 6% of women


There has been a decline in quality and quantity of sperm. This situation can be improved by:

1)  keeping the scrotal sac cool. The temperature of the scrotal sac is higher in infertile men. As temperatures climb above 96 degrees, sperm production can be inhibited or stopped.

2) wearing breathable and loose fitting underwear

3)  avoiding synthetic and tight fitting material

4 )  avoid taking too many hot baths or saunas.


There is much evidence to suggest a connection between heavy metal toxicity and infertility. Mercury, lead and cadmium and aluminium are particularly related to conception issues in addition to miscarriage, pre-maturity and low birth weight. Cigarette smoke (first hand and passive), unfiltered water, tinned tuna, and old paint contribute to heavy metal toxicity.


Free radicals ( unstable oxygen in our bodies) can cause cancer, heart disease, and increase the aging process. They also damage sperm. A common source of free radicals is cigarette smoke.

Anti oxidant vitamins- beta carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and selenium- counter free radical damage


Zinc aids in sperm formation and motility. Zinc is found in whole grains, pumpkin seeds, nuts, and legumes. Zinc supplements are readily available Vitamins B12, arginine, and carnitine are also recommended for men

Deficiencies of folic acid, vitamin B12 and iron may contribute to infertility in women.


Acupuncture and reflexology have gained recognition for assisting many couples in conceiving. These therapies work on the energy systems of the body to create harmony and allow the body to heal itself. Other useful energy therapies are reiki, and bowen technique, which fight stress and bring the body back into balance, increasing the chances of conception.


The radiation from mobile phones has been linked to low-sperm count and other infertility issues, especially in men. Keep mobiles away from trouser pockets and switched off when possible.


Herbal remedies have long been used to address problems with fertility

Common herbs for female fertility include dong quoi , chasteberry , red raspberry leaf , red clover and black cohosh.

Astralagus , panax ginseng ,sarsaparilla and saw palmetto have been used to target male fertility issues. Herbs are potent and should be used under the supervision of a knowledgeable health care professional.

DR. JACQUELINE E. CAMPBELL B.Sc. (Hons) M.Phil. (Pharmacology) M.B., B.S.

Dr. Jacqueline Elaine Campbell is a family physician whose special interests are Pharmacology, and the use of Alternative/Complementary Medicine in the treatment of diabetes and other diseases that are common in Jamaica.

She is the author of A Patient’s Guide to the Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus.