Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations for DOR

by Deirdre
(Boonton, NJ)

Hello Amelia,

I am 35 and a half. My Day 2 FSH is 5.8 and I have been diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve.

I conceived naturally in 2006, only to lose my baby at 32+ weeks for reasons that had nothing to with my reproductive system or anything else related to me. After that we did 2 rounds of IVF with PGD (there was reason to suspect there may have been something genetically wrong with the baby), each time yielding 5-6 fertilized eggs, each time transferring 2 into me, with no pregnancies.

In the summer of 2008 we found out that in fact there was no genetic aspect to the baby's death, and so we've been back (very gratefully) to trying naturally, but we've lost patience and so have done 2 rounds of IUI, unsuccessfully. In those cycles, even with aggressive medication (450 Follistim + 150 Menopur for about 10 days), I only managed to produce 2-3 eggs, so we left them as IUI rather than IVF cycles.

In 2006 when we were first trying to conceive, my husband had good overall sperm counts, average motility, and lower than average "perfect" sperm counts. In the samples he gave for the 2 IUI cycles (November 2008, February 2009), they showed us the numbers and each time everything looked very good.

Thank God I'm generally healthy. I have a history of thyroid cancer (papillary carcinoma) that did not require anything more than thyroidectomy (no radioactive iodine treatment needed), and my thyroid levels are kept at sightly hyperthyroid levels. I also have a history of colon polyps (adenomas) -- 3 were found in 2005, none the following year, and soon I'll be due for my 3-year follow-up colonoscopy. I'm overweight, but not obese, and I go to the gym as often as possible. Since last May, I have been going once a week to an acupuncturist who specializes in fertility issues.

I'd like to believe that my husband and I still have a chance at conceiving a baby of our own, without donor eggs. But I am feeling deflated. I am not inclined to go on herbal regimens, but I am open to any other dietary recommendations (and/or lifestyle recommendations) that you could recommend to assist with ovarian reserve.

Thank You,

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Maybe It's Not Diminished Ovarian Reserve
by: Amelia Hirota

Hi Deirdre,
With your low FSH of 5.8, your age of 35 and your recent pregnancy, I'm surprised with this diagnoses of diminished ovarian reserve. I'm assuming that the RE is basing this diagnoses on the low numbers of eggs that your body produces with the high doses of Follistim and Menopur.

It is my experience that REs throw around the diagnoses of low ovarian reserve too freely. Many of the testimonials on my website come from women that were given this diagnosis because of their age, high FSH levels or poor response to IVF drugs and then went on to conceive naturally with no drugs.

I would recommend a few things in your case. First, I would recommend a closer look at your husband's sperm numbers. Morphology is the characteristic of sperm most often overlooked. In the crudest analysis, positive morphology indicates that the sperm have a head, mid piece and tail. Obviously, if any of these pieces is missing, then the sperm will not function properly.

Second, I would encourage you to reconsider your decision about herbal therapy. In my practice, about 90% of my patients are taking personalized herbal formulas. Chinese herbs are at the foundation of reproductive medicine. I attribute much of my success to the power of Chinese herbs. Herbs are like food in the way they nourish the body. However, the advantage of herbs is that they are concentrated nutrition and their actions on the body have been studied by Chinese doctors for over 2000 years.

Third, I think it's imperative that both you and your husband implement a healthy preconception diet into your daily routines. I recommend that you both avoid all smoking, alcohol, caffeine, and processed foods. There are no magic fertility foods, however eating an organic diet that is composed primarily of meats, eggs, vegetables, fruits, dairy and whole grains will support healthy fertility.

Lastly, I encourage you to chart your cycles to get a clear idea of when you're ovulating and to see the strength of your luteal phase.

If you would like some follow up analysis of your charts, your husband's sperm numbers, thyroid issues or anything else, please feel free to sign up for one of my courses. I have courses covering most aspects of fertility these days and you always have direct access to me in my live courses.

I wish you the very best in your quest for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. I would encourage you not to rush into a donor program at your age. You definitely have time to nourish your body and your husband's body.

Sending Baby Dust Your Way,
Amelia Hirota

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