The patient: “Stephanie,” a 24-year-old woman raised in an extremely healthy household.
Why she came to see me: After trying repeatedly to get pregnant—and driving her father, a nationally renowned nutritionist, nuts—this extraordinarily healthy young woman persuaded her dad to reach out to his old friend (me) for help.
How I evaluated her: I reviewed Stephanie’s health and medical treatment history and found no physical or laboratory anomalies. A review of her diet and supplemental information revealed a diet that was low-fat, low-carb, high-fiber and high-protein as well as substantial antioxidant vitamin support.
I explained to her that the steroidal hormones that support the initiation and continuance of pregnancy are made from cholesterol, particularly LDL cholesterol (the one that everyone calls “bad.” But often, a combination of low fat intake and excessive use of fat-binding fibers coupled with excessive use of antioxidant vitamins can produce an insufficient amount of cholesterol fragments leaving the gut going to the liver. It is in the liver that these fragments are reassembled and transported as LDL cholesterol to almost all tissues and organs. It is in the ovaries that the majority of the estrogens and progesterone necessary for conception and a healthy pregnancy are produced.
I had Stephanie chart her first morning basal body temperatures and note the changes in vaginal mucus associated with fertility. (Basal body temperature is the temperature of your body during rest, and is typically lower than your body’s normal temperature once you are up and active.) We also performed an internal exam and collected mucus for a hormonal assessment called a maturation index. The lab confirmed that her hormone production was inadequate.
How we addressed her problem: We added in two eggs every day, decreased her antioxidant and fiber consumption, and added a “methyl donor,” N-acetyl cysteine, to help increase the activity of her hormones.
The patient’s progress: Within three months of trying during peak-fertility times, Stephanie became pregnant and continued under my care co-managing the pregnancy with her ob/gyn. She now has a healthy baby daughter and a little wiser but well-intentioned dad.