Bad Gut: One of the leading causes of unexplained infertility


Does gut health affect fertility

The simple answer is yes! In a variety of ways, your gut health might affect your reproductive health. Systemic inflammation and oxidative stress produced by a gut microbiota imbalance have been associated with 70% of unexplained infertility.

Let’s start from understanding what the gut really is. The first section of the gut is the mouth (gastrointestinal tract). Food travels down the gullet (oesophagus), through the stomach, and finally into the small intestine as we eat. The duodenum, jejunum, and ileum are the three portions of the small intestine. The stomach is followed by the duodenum, which is the first segment of the small intestine.

From the time food is initially consumed until it is either absorbed by the body or passed out as feces, the gut (gastrointestinal tract) processes it (faeces). The digestive process begins in the mouth. Food is broken down here by your teeth and substances produced by your body (enzymes). Muscle contractions assist in the passage of food through the gullet (oesophagus) and into the stomach. The major task of digestion is started by chemicals produced by cells in the stomach.

Let’s get down to business, in the guts there’s good and bacteria and there are bad ones. Trillions of bacteria, fungus, and other organisms make up your gut microbiome. The gut microbiome is extremely beneficial to your health, as it aids digestion and benefits your immune system, among other things.

The role of these tiny but mighty microorganisms affects our body from birth and throughout our lifetime, managing our immune system, our central nervous system (which is responsible for our brain function) and, most importantly, controlling the digestion of food. These little but powerful bacteria’s play a crucial role in our bodies from birth to death, regulating our immune system, central nervous system and, most critically, food digestion.

Dysbiosis, or bacterial imbalance, occurs when there is an imbalance between beneficial and dangerous bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract, leading to leaky gut syndrome. Over 70% of your immune system is housed in your gut, and an imbalance of bacteria can be caused by a variety of factors, including nutrition, stress, and lack of sleep.

The gut microbiome imbalance can also have an impact on your reproductive system. There is evidence that dysbiosis is linked to endometriosis, a prevalent reproductive disorder. Estrogen dominance can be caused by an imbalance in the gut microbiome.   Recurrent pregnancy loss has been linked to abnormal gut permeability (also known as leaky gut), which has been linked to inflammatory reactions in the body.

Gut health, obesity, and fertility

Excess calories, processed meat, high sugar and salt intake, as well as little to no fiber, can all have a negative impact on our gut microbiome. This can lead to obesity, and it’s well known that people with obesity and chronic inflammation have an imbalanced gut microbiome when compared to people who don’t have these conditions.

Gut health & PCOS

Women with PCOS have dysbiosis and less diverse gut bacteria than women without PCOS, according to studies, which could contribute to symptoms and disease progression. In PCOS, researchers discovered that the higher the androgens, the lower the gut bacterial diversity.

Gut health & reproductive hormones

Both females and males rely on estrogen for reproductive health and fertility, and your gut health can have a big impact on this hormone. The gut microbiome is one of the main regulators of estrogen, and it does so via an enzyme called ‘beta-glucuronidase.’ If the gut microbiome is unbalanced, estrogen regulation will be disrupted, therefore interfering with estrogen detoxification and increasing the risk of estrogen dominance. This estrogen dominance may then contribute to the development of reproductive health and infertility conditions in women, such as endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome, and sperm production reduction in men.

In this next post I will outline ways you can heal your guts. In the meantime, feel free to leave a comment about what you have learnt.

Chinonso Anyaehie

Chinonso Anyaehie

Natural Fertility Expert & Educator