It is estimated that genetics are a contributing factor in up to 10 percent of couples who experience infertility or recurrent pregnancy loss, so it stands to reason that genetic testing has the potential to help many of those couples in their quest to have a family.
Genetic testing examines DNA, which has been called the “chemical database” that carries instructions for the body’s functions. It can reveal gene changes or variants that have been inherited that may cause illness or disease, including infertility. Since both men and women can have fertility issues, they can all benefit from genetic testing.
Identifying a genetic cause for your infertility can help you make the right decision on how to proceed by choosing the treatments that are most likely to help.
I am a naturopath who specialises in fertility and offers preconception care programmes for those struggling with their fertility or for those without issues but understand the importance of preconception health when preparing for a healthy conception, pregnancy,,birth and child.
I find genetic testing an invaluable tool for understanding the possible causes especially for ‘unexplained infertility’ or recurrent miscarriages. It is for these cases that you need to dig deeper in order to support couples who have no ‘medical’ explanation for their fertility problems.
When you are able to identify which genetic variants they have inherited and understand the biochemical roadblocks that ensue from these – we are able to try and either bypass these pathways or help build up the cofactors that they need to allow the genes to express themselves in a healthier way which can support their fertility and ultimately help to create healthy embryos. We do this by giving specific lifestyle, dietary and nutrient guidelines that are specific to their genetic profile. This allows for positive epigenetic changes that can result is healthier genetic manifestations which will also be inherited by their children.
An example of this is a couple who had come to me after 11 miscarriages. They had gone to many specialists over the years to try to understand the cause of their miscarriages and had had no answers. They were understandably quite traumatised by their fertility experience. I felt that it would be important to understand their combined genetics so offered them the testing. We discovered that they both had significant methylating issues which means that their ability to utilise folic acid was compromised by up to 70%, along with some of the other B vitamins B2, B6, B12 - although this is an oversimplification of the issue as a whole, it led me to give them specific activated B vitamins to bypass this genetic issue and this allowed them to create a healthy embryo which lead to the wonderful outcome of giving birth to a healthy little girl.
I find it a profound way to address fertility issues. These couples have the opportunity to stand at a pivotal point when trying to conceive a child, and look backwards to their ancestors in order to understand what they have inherited and then be able to adjust their lifestyle, eat specific diets and take certain nutrients to enhance the genetic expression so they have the opportunity to look at the future and pass on healthier variations of their genes to their child and to future generations.