On this week’s episode of Unprocessed, Clara and Grace have brought naturopath Megan onto the podcast to unpack the essentials for conception and reproductive health, and why it’s not all about the “biological clock”, but rather a range of factors affecting men and women’s fertility at increasingly younger ages. Here’s what Megan wants you to know before you try to conceive.
Megan Haralampou, widely recognised as "The Biomedical Naturopath," is an expert in the fields of naturopathy, nutrition and herbalism, with a specialisation in women's health. Her journey into the realm of holistic health and wellness was spurred on by her passion for helping people, and with her Bachelor degrees in Biomedical Science and Clinical Sciences, she equipped herself with the knowledge to make a difference. She now guides individuals and couples towards better health and fertility – and she’s joined the Unprocessed podcast to further share her tips and tricks for conception.
With one in six couples struggling to conceive, Megan has been a lifeline for countless couples who have faced the heart-wrenching challenge of trying to conceive for years without success.
"I do see a portion of clients who don't have any major fertility issues, but the types of clients I see are the ones that have been trying for years to get pregnant,” she says. “I help them understand if there are other tests that maybe haven't actually been done, interpret their test results for them, actually give them understanding."
Beyond Egg Quality + Optimising Sperm
Megan Haralampou emphasises that fertility health is far more complex than just egg quality. "It's inflammation, it's your immune system, it's your genetics," she asserts. In fact, everything from the microbiome to genetics plays a significant role in one's ability to conceive. It's a holistic approach that takes into account the multifaceted aspects of fertility. She also notes the importance of looking into sperm count, quality and health as this is a vital element of conception – seems obvious, right? Yet so many default to focusing on female reproductive health, while overlooking half of the equation.
“I’ll have clients who say, oh my husband's sperm’s fine,” Megan says. “I’m like, can I actually look at the result because often times it's not okay, and they are sitting at that really low level.
“It’s important to remember that concentration needs to be at 73 million, that's at 50th percentile and gives you an average chance of conception, progressive fertility.”
Nutrition for Fertility
Megan recommends incorporating CoQ10 into your regimen, a powerful antioxidant known for its positive impact on both sperm and egg quality. To reap its full benefits, Megan advises a daily dosage of about 300 mg, taken twice a day. Additionally, N-acetylcysteine, another antioxidant, plays a pivotal role in boosting overall pregnancy rates.
“What it does is it kind of helps to protect the egg from environmental toxins,” Megan says. “And it also reduces miscarriage risk and also increased pregnancy rates as well.”
These nutrients and supplements form a crucial part of Megan's holistic approach to enhancing reproductive health and increasing the chances of a successful pregnancy.
The Impact of Modern Living
One of the most alarming issues Megan discusses on Unprocessed is the decline in male fertility. She explains how our modern way of living, filled with endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in everyday products, is contributing to this concerning trend.
"Chemicals that you wash your face with, chemicals that you wash your hair with, fragrances in your house, laundry detergents – these all add up," Megan cautions.
The cumulative exposure to these chemicals is a serious concern, and they are resulting in reduced fertility around the globe. These chemicals, often referred to as endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), can interfere with the normal functioning of the endocrine system, which regulates hormones in the body. Here's how household chemicals can affect fertility:
Hormonal Disruption: Many household products, such as cleaning agents, personal care products, and plastics, contain EDCs like phthalates, parabens, and bisphenol-A (BPA). These chemicals can mimic or interfere with hormones, leading to hormonal imbalances in the body. In women, this can disrupt the menstrual cycle and ovulation, making it more challenging to conceive. In men, it can affect sperm production and quality.
Reduced Sperm Quality: Exposure to EDCs has been linked to reduced sperm quality in men. These chemicals can affect sperm count, motility (ability to swim), and morphology (shape), all of which are essential for successful fertilisation. High levels of EDCs in the body have been associated with a decrease in sperm concentration and an increase in sperm abnormalities.
Irregular Menstrual Cycles: EDCs can disrupt the normal regulation of hormones in women, leading to irregular menstrual cycles. This can make it difficult to predict ovulation and plan for conception. Chemicals like phthalates and BPA have been linked to menstrual irregularities.
Unprocessed is on a mission to educate, inspire, and empower its listeners to take control of their health, and this week’s episode doesn’t miss a beat. To find out more about the best nutrients for conception and the major pitfalls people fall into, catch the full episode HERE.