Proper nutrition and pregnancy go hand in hand. This has been known for thousands of years and it’s still true today. Your body isn’t just a vessel for your baby for nine months. It also feeds your baby, protects it, and sometimes, it can be your baby’s worst enemy if you decide to ingest unhealthy foods and chemicals or fail to keep your body healthy.
Sometimes however, there are outside influences that affect your ability to carry a healthy child, or carry a child at all, and one of those influences is your immune system. Our immune systems are affected by our diets, but it’s also affected by the places we work, the stress in our lives, and the people we come into contact with every day. Recently, a study was done at the University of Adelaide revealed that immune cells called macrophages are vital to fertility because they create a healthy hormone environment in the uterus. Without enough macrophages, women will have trouble conceiving or they may not be able to conceive at all.
"Previous research has demonstrated that macrophages are prevalent in reproductive tissues, but this is the first time that their absolute necessity for pregnancy has been demonstrated," says the leader of the project team, Professor Sarah Robertson, NHMRC Principal Research Fellow and member of the University's Robinson Institute.
Macrophages are so important to fertility because they arrange blood vessel networks inside the ovaries that are crucial for developing progesterone, which is a key hormone for instigating pregnancy. The research produced by the study revealed for the first time just how valuable macrophages are for fertility and conception.
Progesterone treatments have been known to reverse the effects of insufficient macrophages in infertile women and in fact, progesterone is a common treatment for all types of infertility issues. However, since having insufficient macrophages is also caused by stress, diet, and a general poor immune system, the researchers on the team are hopeful that more natural method of producing more macrophages can be found. The team is hopeful that by reducing stress and maintaining proper diet and a healthy lifestyle, women can actually start to produce more macrophages on their own and reverse their infertility without progesterone treatments.
If you are having trouble conceiving, it’s important to talk with your doctor about the options that might be available to you, but don’t forget the necessity of keeping your body healthy. Natural stress relievers like aromatherapy, meditation, and time management might be beneficial to you, and don’t forget to include healthy foods and plenty of water in your daily diet.
- Alison S. Care, Kerrilyn R. Diener, Melinda J. Jasper, Hannah M. Brown, Wendy V. Ingman, Sarah A. Robertson. Macrophages regulate corpus luteum development during embryo implantation in mice. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2013; DOI: 10.1172/JCI60561
- University of Adelaide (2013, July 8). Immune cells essential to establishing pregnancy. ScienceDaily.