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The Role of Inflammation in Infertility

The Role of Inflammation in Infertility

fresh veggie saladResearch finds inflammation is a common thread in health concerns like cardiovascular disease, arthritis and immune disorders. New evidence points to inflammation as a factor in infertility, too.

Inflammation and Your Fertility

Fertility challenges like PCOS, endometriosis, and immunological infertility can all be tied back in part to chronic inflammation. If this sounds like you, inflammation could be holding back the success of your fertility program. This article shares what you can do about it.

What is Inflammation?

Inflammation is how the immune system responds to stressors like injury or infection. The acute inflammatory response is important for your health, allowing wounds to heal and helping the body to overcome infections.

If inflammation is chronic, however, it disturbs and imbalances normal physiological processes. Over time, immune system imbalance from chronic inflammation can lead to early aging, degenerative disease and fertility problems. In fact, many fertility concerns are tied to inflammatory processes and immune system imbalance.

Here are just a few examples of inflammation and its link to infertility

  • A recent study finds women with PCOS have more low-grade oxidative stress, increased C reactive protein, and advanced glycation end products (AGE’s)- all signs of premature aging and inflammation. (Fertility & Sterility, 2012).
  • Women with high insulin levels, another PCOS marker, have more inflammation in their bodies. (Biomed Research International, 2013).
  • Women with endometriosis experience increased immune cell activity (cytokines and chemokines), elevated Cox 2 enzymes, and high prostaglandins, all indicators of inflammation. (Gynecology and Minimally Invasive Surgery, 2015).
  • Women with immune-related fertility problems often have increased NK (natural killer) cells, another sign of inflammation.

Truly, any reproductive concerns where there is a lot of pain like PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) or scar tissue development suggests the body is experiencing a state of high inflammation.

For some, it may be difficult to pinpoint inflammation as an infertility factor. Here are other common signs of inflammation to look for: skin issues like acne, rosacea, or eczema; allergies or chronic congestion; redness or swelling on the body; heartburn or Irritable Bowel symptoms; migraines or tension headaches; chronically swollen lymph nodes.

How To Calm Inflammation Naturally

Natural therapies are ideal to help calm and soothe chronic inflammation. Inflammation is both triggered and worsened by the wrong diet and lifestyle choices. Here are a few tips to get started…

Follow an anti-inflammatory Diet. Eat the Fertility Diet!

  • Consume more fresh, uncooked fruits and vegetables. Fresh fruit and veggies are high in antioxidants and food enzymes, which act as natural anti-inflammatories. Fresh foods are alkalizing and detoxifying, helping to eliminate body chemicals like uric acid that contribute to pain and inflammation.
  • Increase high-fiber foods: unprocessed whole grains, legumes, and beans help to metabolize excess estrogen, normalize insulin levels and move inflammation toxins out of the body.
  • Consider eliminating gluten. If your body is sensitive, eliminate foods like wheat, barley and rye for 1-2 months to see if your overall health and digestion improves. Similar to dairy products, gluten can be a congesting, inflammatory food for many people.
  • Avoid these whenever possible: processed foods; high sugar foods; excess caffeine or alcohol; refined carbohydrates; GMO foods; and non-organic animal/dairy products or foods on the list of the “Dirty Dozen“. These foods increase inflammation and stress the immune system. They also contribute to imbalances like estrogen dominance, high testosterone and insulin resistance.
  • Eat healthy fats! Inflammation can be quelled with the right types of fats. Include more Omega 3 rich foods like cold water fish; seafood; flax or chia seeds; greens like arugula, spinach and purslane. Increase intake of monounsaturated fats from plant foods like avocado, fresh nuts and seeds, and olive oil regularly which also fight inflammation and nourish the reproductive system.

Try herbs for the win. If you like a little spice, use herbs like:

  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale) and Turmeric (Curcuma longa)- both strong natural anti-inflammatories. You can use them in teas, capsules, extracts, or enjoy a delicious warming Turmeric latte.
  • Women’s Best Friend is an anti-inflammatory herbal formula for reproductive health that contains herbs like Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) and Ginger (Zingiber officinale), and acts as a gentle cleanser for the uterus.

Employ Systemic Enzymes. Systemic enzymes are excellent to decrease inflammation, normalize tissue and encourage balanced immune response. Learn more: How To Use Systemic Enzymes To Increase Your Fertility.

Relax! Chronic stress stimulates the inflammatory response. Working to keep your stress levels low is as important as eating the right foods to reduce inflammation. Choose from therapies like fertility massage, meditation, mind-body programs, EFT, aromatherapy, journaling or anything that resonates with you.

Keep Inflammation In Check for Optimum Fertility

We all experience inflammation in our bodies from time to time. While acute inflammation helps your body to heal faster, chronic inflammation sets the stage for major health and fertility problems.

You can undo the damaging effects of inflammation on the reproductive system just by making better choices. Focus on a Fertility Diet. Watch overuse of caffeine, alcohol, drugs or smoking. People often turn to these substances for relaxation, but they ignite inflammation. Further, over time, they worsen stress reactions.

If you’re working on improving your fertility, make a conscious effort to keep inflammation in check. Not only will this help your reproductive system, it will help promote a healthier body for all your years to come.


Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN
Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN

Dr. Traxler is a University-trained obstetrician/gynecologist, working with patients in Minnesota for over 20 years. She is a professional medical writer; having authored multiple books on pregnancy and childbirth; textbooks and coursework for medical students and other healthcare providers; and has written over 1000 articles on medical, health, and wellness topics.  Dr. Traxler attended the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences and University of Minnesota Medical School,  earning a degree in biochemistry with summa cum laude honors in 1981,  and receiving her Medical Doctorate degree (MD) in 1986.

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    good blog thanks