The importance of detoxing after IVF

When you undergo in vitro fertilisation (IVF), you are prescribed an array of synthetic hormones to help you conceive. These include the drugs used for ovulation induction and ovarian stimulation.

Whilst these fertility drugs are considered a normal part of the IVF process, for many women they do not come without increased long term risks and immediate side effects. This is especially true for women with pre-existing hormone imbalances, for those genetically pre-dispositioned to cardiovascular disease and those with impaired oestrogen metabolism/detoxification (as commonly found in women with Endometriosis, Adenomyosis and Fibroids).

Some of these side effects & risks include:

  • Short term Irregular/ painful periods; mood changes/ anxiety/ depression; fluid retention/ ascites/ weight gain; hot flashes; bloating; fatigue; muscle aches; thrombosis/ stroke.; Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome[1].
  • Post-Partum Post-partum anxiety & depression; Postpartum haemorrhage; Birth interventions such as forceps deliveries and C-sections; Giving birth to a baby who needs to spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)[2].
  • Long term Ovarian[3] (especially for those with family histories of these cancers and pre-existing endometriosis)/ breast cancer [4]; cardiovascular events[5] (heart failure/ thrombosis/ stroke.)

Could IVF contribute to cancer risk?

Some research has demonstrated that high-dose hormonal therapies can trigger cancer growth. For example, oestrogenic drugs such as HRT is known to increase the risk of breast cancer[6]). This is likely because these hormonal treatments alter cell growth patterns, “training” the cells to grow out of control eventually developing into cancer. As IVF treatments involve manipulating hormone levels, there is concern from some in the medical community around long term cancer risks for some women undergoing the IVF treatment.

There is also the possibility that hyperstimulation of the ovaries may also increase cancer risk[7]. IVF drugs aim to get the most out of each cycle by causing the ovaries to produce multiple eggs. Over time, this may cause subtle mutations in epithelial cells that can eventually lead to ovarian tumours.

How could IVF can make Endometriosis worse

Many women with Endometriosis experience issues with fertility thus pursue support via IVF. Whilst there is no doubt this can help with conception, it can also often make Endometriosis symptoms much worse.

Endometriosis is an inflammatory, oestrogen-dependent disease – which means it relies on the hormone to grow and thrive. During IVF (in the egg retrieval phase), women are given large (and currently unregulated) doses of oestrogenic drugs that make natural oestrogen levels much higher than normal. These high doses of oestrogen not only put extra stress on the liver, but also have great potential to fuel and flare pre-existing endometrial tissue by enlarging lesions (thus heightening symptoms).

Despite there not being a lot of evidence in the research to support this, most fertility specialists understand this as a possibility for endometriosis patients that go thru the IVF process.

Natural Medicines can help you detox from IVF drugs

It is possible to reduce all of the symptoms and risk factors described above with the help of natural medicines. The best timing for this is after the completion of IVF – usually after delivery and breastfeeding is complete, or after the IVF has failed and has been discontinued. Naturopathic medicine uses therapeutic diets, functional medicine assessments, clinical nutrition and herbal medicine to support:

  • Risk factor identification, particularly around genetic snps , hormone and metabolite testing.
  • Liver detoxification pathways. In particular, supporting the liver helps the body to convert the fat soluble oestrogen to a water soluble compound which can then be eliminated via the urine, faeces and sweat. Liver detoxification is imperative to clear the synthetic hormone intake from the IVF drugs as well as other xenooestrogens and endocrine disrupting chemicals (from the environment) that act like oestrogen.
  • Gallbladder health and bile flow which enhances liver detox and elimination pathways.
  • Body fat reduction, as oestrogen (in the form of oestrone) is often stored in fatty tissues.
  • Addressing and treating a potential “histamine intolerance”. Histamine is a compound that stimulates the ovaries to make more oestrogen. Oestrogen in turn stimulates mast cells  to produce more histamine and down regulates the enzyme DAO you need to break it down. Naturally reducing histamine levels helps to lower overall oestrogen levels in the body.
  • The microbiome by strengthening and diversifying it. This improves nutrient absorption, overall liver /immune function and decreases inflammation in the body (NB: high dose hormone based drugs inflame the body). 
  • Balancing hormones. It is especially important to naturally boost progesterone levels as it up regulates DAO and keeps estradiol (one of the more aggressive oestrogens) levels in check.
  • Stress relief. Chronic stress can cause hormone deficiencies, dysfunction and inflammation in the body.

If you are interested in finding out more on how you can detox after IVF please email me at info@alexandramiddleton.com.au for more information.

Cheers,

📷 Image sourced from EveryDay Health

Refernces

  1. Centre of Reproductive Medicine, USA: https://www.infertilitytexas.com/blog/ivf-side-effects-what-to-expect-during-treatment
  2. Centre of Reproductive Medicine, USA: https://www.infertilitytexas.com/blog/ivf-side-effects-what-to-expect-during-treatment
  3. Risk of borderline and invasive ovarian tumours after ovarian stimulation for in vitro fertilization in a large Dutch cohort”:  https://academic.oup.com/humrep/article/26/12/3456/2914100
  4. Risks of ovarian, breast, and corpus uteri cancer in women treated with assisted reproductive technology in Great Britain, 1991-2010: data linkage study including 2.2 million person years of observation”: https://www.bmj.com/content/362/bmj.k2644
  5. Failure of fertility therapy and subsequent adverse cardiovascular events”: http://www.cmaj.ca/content/189/10/E391
  6. The combined influence of multiple sex and growth hormones on risk of postmenopausal breast cancer: a nested case-control study”: https://breast-cancer-research.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/bcr3040
  7. Centre of Reproductive Medicine, USA: https://www.infertilitytexas.com/blog/is-there-a-link-between-ivf-and-cancer