"Gail really helped me to identify areas of my diet that needed improving and educated me on all the key nutrients needed to boost egg health and improve my chances of conception via IVF. I'm now 7 months pregnant!!"
What were her symptoms?
When I started working with Natasha she had already been through an extensive fertility journey that had left her feeling exhausted, confused and ultimately disappointed with the multiple unsuccessful attempts to get pregnant both naturally and via IVF. This gruelling process was affecting her physical and mental health, leading to extensive periods of stress and poor diet and lifestyle choices.
Her key symptoms included:
Inability to conceive for over 5 years
7 rounds of unsuccessful IVF due to both male factors, and her own poor egg health
Recurring bacterial vaginosis
Weight gain & high cholesterol
Low energy, brain fog and low mood
Extremely high levels of stress
Natasha had a very high pressure and stressful job, which was causing her anxiety on a daily basis. She had a poor work/life balance and I could see that this level of continued stress was playing a big factor in her fertility struggles. She felt extremely confused by all the conflicting information she had received over the past few years and wanted someone to advise and guide her in a trusting and reliable environment. Another key concern for Natasha was her weight gain, as she knew this could have detrimental effects on IVF results. She was looking for support on weight loss in a healthy and sustainable way that would support her fertility journey and improve her chances of a viable pregnancy.
Where did we start?
Natasha completed a comprehensive food and lifestyle review, so I could assess her medical history, past testing results and look at any other systems of her body that may have been contributing to her presenting symptoms. It also allowed me to analyse her current eating habits, including nutrient status and portion control, as well as any supplements she was already taking.
Natasha’s diet was lacking in core macro and micronutrients needed to support her fertility. She was eating excessive amounts of pro-inflammatory foods including red meats, dairy and processed foods containing added sugars, preservatives and empty calories. These types of foods can wreak havoc on our reproductive hormones, promote poor blood sugar control leading to weight gain, high cholesterol and mood related disorders.
This way of eating can also cause an imbalance in our internal microbiomes (mouth, gut & vagina) which are essential in conception/pregnancy and something that was clearly out of sync due to her frequent BV infections. This indicated that her vaginal environment wasn’t optimal and could have been a factor in the unsuccessful implantation of embryos in past IVF procedures.
At a basic level Natasha wasn’t consuming enough daily fruits and vegetables, which contain potent antioxidants that can reduce oxidative damage in our body. She also didn’t have enough diversity in what she was eating, choosing the same meals and snacks time and time again. She lacked sufficient wholegrains, fibre and anti-inflammatory foods that can all help with the detoxification process, hormone balance and optimising our microbiomes.
For specific egg health we looked at less inflammatory protein choices, and smarter snack choices, removing processed foods that were having a negative effect on her blood sugar and switching to options that would nourish her body with additional nutrients. This would help keep her fuller for longer and limit additional weight gain.
What did we do long term?
Longe term we focused on small but efficient steps to reduce her levels of stress. Mindfulness was always an area Natasha had struggled with, so we started with easy wins in the form of daily walking, relaxing baths, reading and removing external stressors such as screens during eating and in the bedroom before sleep. Slowly we began to incorporate more breath work, meditation and journaling to help process her anxieties and separate work from her home life. Natasha also started training 3 times per week with a PT, alongside alternative therapies including acupuncture and reflexology. Her energy levels began to return, her skin was clearer and she was losing weight at a steady but consistent pace.
As her diet began to improve, we shifted our focus to other factors that could have been detrimental to her egg health and the upcoming transfer. This included removing environmental toxins that can disrupt the endocrine system & interfere with hormonal balance, such as plastic (BPA) exposure, pesticides, pollutants and synthetic compounds. We also worked on Natasha’s detoxification pathways to improve her elimination of excess hormones and toxins, as well as re-building her microbiomes.
Supplements to help Egg Health and IVF
Diet is fundamental to improving egg health and increasing the chances of conception. However supplementation can prove highly beneficial when used in conjunction with the right food choices.
Natasha had been suffering with BV on and off for a number of months, so we ran a vaginal Ecologix test to see what was at the root cause. She had high levels of inflammation, her beneficial bacteria was low and the pathogenic strains were dominant. This meant she had a hostile environment that would have lowered her chances of implantation and conception. We supported this with potent probiotics to improve the overall composition of her microbiome and to balance the pH levels to reduce acidity. I also added in some prebiotic support to make sure the beneficial strains of bacteria could thrive, both in the vagina and the gut microbiomes.
"I was shocked at how quickly my symptoms resolved once I started taking the supplements. I’m so glad I did further testing to identify what was going on. I had no idea it could have been a factor in my fertility."
As age was a consideration with Natasha, I included some additional antioxidant support to improve the quality of her eggs. I also put her on a better quality prenatal supplement available via practitioners only.
What changes did Natasha see?
Within the first month of working together, Natasha could already see improved results in her energy levels, mood and weight. She was able to train more efficiently, without feeling drained afterwards and she was sleeping for longer periods of time and feeling much more rested upon waking.
Natasha slowly began to adopt tools for managing her stress levels and could effectively put these in to practise to avoid periods of burn out.
Where is Natasha now?
Her egg collection resulted in 12 mature eggs and 3 A Grade embryos. Even though Natasha felt incredibly nervous during the transfer window, she was able to keep a positive outlook and maintain her new healthy habits. This resulted in her first successful transfer, giving her a positive pregnancy test result after the 2 week wait!
I continued to work with Natasha throughout her early pregnancy, to advise what core nutrients were needed to support foetal growth and limit her feelings of anxiety. I’m happy to say that Natasha is now 7 months pregnant and really thriving in her experience so far.
Here is what Natasha had to say...
"I’d been trying for a baby for over 5 years and had gone through 7 rounds of failed IVF before I met Gail. I’d decided my next round of treatment would be my last, I was 46 and I just couldn’t take the heartache of another failed attempt. My morale was very low and in my mind this was my last ditch attempt at getting the baby I’d so longed for. I’d worked with a nutritionist prior to Gail, so I knew the importance of diet & lifestyle for a successful pregnancy. However, I wanted more targeted advice from someone who really specialised in this area and had experience and success rates in assisted reproductive techniques. I knew my age would be a factor against me, I was also struggling with persistent weight gain, hormonal imbalances, frequent vaginal bacteriosis and a lot of stress - both from my job and the mental toll infertility was taking on me.
We worked together 3 months prior to my final egg collection and transfer. Gail really helped me to identify areas of my diet that needed improving and educated me on all the key nutrients needed to boost egg health and improve my chances of conception via IVF. Her focus was on my egg quality, as this was something that had been a negative factor up to this point. She gave me regular feedback via my food diary review and always recommended easy ways to switch or improve what I was eating. Most importantly was how she transformed my awareness to the detrimental effects of the stress I was experiencing. My job required long hours, periods of extremely high stress, anxiety and a persistent lack of sleep. It was affecting my mood, my weight - as I was making poor food choices and emotionally eating, my relationship with my partner and ultimately having negative effects on my fertility. I started exercising regularly, incorporating recovery and mindfulness via yoga and meditation. I also prioritised switching off from work each evening and putting in place a proper bedtime routine, which combined with the food changes Gail advised gave me so much more energy and focus.
When it came to the collection and transfer I felt fitter and healthier than I had in years. Gail supported me in the dreaded 2 week wait and addressed all my worries and concerns, putting my mind at ease. When I did the pregnancy test I was so shocked to see it had worked and I was pregnant. I truly believe her advice and continued support was exactly what I needed to help me piece together multiple elements across my diet, lifestyle and finally break through all the confusion I'd been facing around fertility testing and treatment. I’m now 7 months pregnant and can’t wait to meet my little miracle. I’m so grateful for Gail’s help and can’t recommend her enough."
How can we help you do the same?
I see so many women just like Natasha, who are feeling anxious, tired and often overwhelmed by the IVF process, and like Natasha, many just need a helping hand to get various body systems back to 100%. If Natasha's story resonates with you, it's worthwhile reaching out!
At The Natural Balance we work holistically addressing the entire body, not individual parts. We have package options tailored for everyone, so why not book a free 20 minute consultation with us today to see how we can help you.
Registered Nutritional Therapist
Gail Madalena is a registered nutritional therapist specialising in fertility, pregnancy and women’s health. Her expertise lies in hormonal imbalances, such as irregular cycles, debilitating PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, thyroid issues and sub-optimal fertility. Her goal is to reduce hormonal side effects and symptoms by addressing the root cause of the issue. Gail helps couples optimise your nutrition and lifestyle choices, supporting you on your journey to achieving a healthy pregnancy.