Lunch & Learn Webinar

Meet Doctors Olivia Rose, ND and Jennifer Strong, ND supporting your Fertility Journey: Hormone Disruptors and Sperm Health

Guest Speaker:
Dr. Olivia Rose, ND and Dr. Jennifer Strong, ND

Dr. Danielle O' Connor, ND

Webinar Date and Time:
05/04/2023 12:00 pm

The sixth annual Canadian Fertility Show will take place at the International Center in Toronto on May 13. It includes a trade show floor where attendees can consult live with the experts. There will also be a robust lineup of speakers on various topics supporting multiple areas of family planning.

Today we’re talking with two expert speakers that will be at the Canadian Fertility Show — Dr Olivia Rose and Dr Jennifer Strong. They are both naturopathic doctors and will be exploring the topics of sperm and hormone health, including factors that can impact your hormone health and strategies for improving chances of successful conception.

Dr Olivia Rose is a naturopathic doctor, writer and speaker with over 16 years of experience. She owns Rose Health Clinic, a multidisciplinary clinic in Toronto. She collaborates with her colleagues in a holistic, patient-centred environment. Her clinical focus is digestive and immune health, stress management, infertility, weight management, skin rejuvenation and chronic disease prevention. Dr Olivia is also a regular wellness contributor on Global News Morning and other educational podcasts and online publications.

Dr Jennifer Strong is also a naturopathic doctor, committed to supporting her patients’ health goals and providing sound advice that can easily be incorporated into a person’s lifestyle. Her approach provides evidence-based treatment plans that empower her patients to make positive health choices and better their outcomes.

Today, Dr Olivia Rose will speak about endocrine hormone disruptors and fertility, and Dr Jennifer Strong will discuss the new evidence about sperm health.

Dr Olivia Rose


Q. What is a hormone disruptor?

A. Hormone disruptors are pesky chemicals in our environment — in the products we use and our food supply. They are either absorbed through our skin or ingested, influencing how our endogenous hormones act and react. Essentially, they mimic our hormones and can interact with our receptors leading to different regulation and production issues within our body.


Q. What are some common sources of hormone disruptors we see in our daily lives?

A. The number one place we find hormone disruptors is our plastics — the containers we carry our food and drink in, especially if heated. Storing anything acidic in your plastic, like tomato sauces or vinegar, can leach certain chemicals from that plastic, known as bisphenol A and phthalates. These are plasticisers and negatively impact fertility.

Pesticides, especially a group of pesticides called organic chlorines. These are older pesticides that are still present in the environment and pose an issue to how our body metabolises hormones. Eat organic whenever you can. The Environmental Working Group is an organisation in the US that releases a list — Dirty Dozen & Clean 15 every year. The Dirty Dozen would be the ones that you would most likely want to buy organic as they have the highest pesticide residues. Using that list is one way to navigate making quick changes to your family’s lifestyle and diet to avoid these chemicals.

Personal Care Products are another big one. Our skin is the largest organ in the body, and personal care products include parabens and phthalates in fragrances. Try to choose unscented products.

If you want to make your home smell good with cleaning products, move towards more natural cleaning supplies, whether making your own or looking towards natural solutions without chemicals.


Q. How do hormone disruptors impact fertility, and what are some potential long-term effects of exposure?

A. There’s research mounting to show things like low sperm quality and quantity, irregular menstrual cycles, increased risk of miscarriage, birth defects and the timing of puberty in children. When dealing with the puberty issue and parents suspecting precocious puberty, we work on eliminating or reducing environmental chemical exposure as much as possible.


Q. How can a person reduce exposure to these hormone disruptors and protect their reproductive health?

A. Starting from the top, switch from plastic to glass containers or stainless steel. Choose organic foods and buy organic products. For personal care, trim down on products and look for items that don’t have fragrances.

Filter your water with reverse osmosis or activated carbon to reduce pesky chemical and pesticide residues, especially one called perchlorate, which can disrupt your thyroid function.

And then the last thing is simple, especially here in Toronto, where we have long winters. Ventilate your space. Choose a HEPA filter, open your windows and let the air go through and circulate.

Dr Jennifer Strong


Q. How do some food choices affect sperm health and the chances of conceiving?

A. Food choices play a huge role in how sperm develops and matures. The nutrients and calories from your foods carry into the sperm and help it grow. Choosing a diet that serves your overall health often benefits the sperm. Studies often support Mediterranean guidelines that give all the macros and micronutrients needed in sperm production. Nutrients like amino acids and vitamins, and minerals are important. Sometimes we look at more paleo guidelines for those looking to balance out their weight or anti-inflammatory guidelines if allergies are part of the picture.


Q. Does regular exercise impact male fertility?

A. Regular moderate exercise does help with blood flow everywhere in the body, especially to the pelvic organs. So when we’re looking at nutrients to support sperm and the fluids that it travels in, we want to get good blood flow to the pelvic organs. When looking at overall male health and libido, we want to support mood. Exercise can give you an endorphin kick supporting mood, overall health and sexual function. Moderate exercise reduces inflammation and reducing oxidative stress, benefiting sperm health.

When we look at exercise and weight, weight plays a role in sperm health. So when weight increases, it decreases testosterone levels, which is needed for sperm health. It can also decrease sperm count in volumes. Another feature with weight is that as weight goes up, body temperature goes up, and we need to keep those sperm healthy so they can mature properly.

If exercise is excessive, it heats the body quite a bit. Marathon runners who exercise for quite a few hours a day have higher body temperatures which are not ideal for sperm health. High-intensity exercise also drives up cortisol levels, putting your body in fight or flight mode, which shifts where the nutrients need to go. Moderate exercise is ideal so you finish your workout you feel refreshed and energised, not drained or exhausted.


Q. When putting together a diet and exercise plan for patients, are there any specific nutrients that can improve semen?

A. This is where we dig deeper and see what would apply to each person. We could pretty much justify each nutrient having a role in sperm health. When we meet with our patients, we look at what’s low in their diet and what their semen analysis or bloodwork shows. Selenium, zinc, copper, manganese and magnesium are important in sperm health. Those are the nutrients found in the sperm and seminal fluid. Having a balance is also important. Too much of one mineral can cause deficiency of another.

We look at food sources, how well they’re digesting them and then supplementing if they’re not at ideal levels. Amino acids, carnitine and NAC, are important and play a huge role in terms of antioxidant support. NAC has a huge role in reducing oxidative stress. It drives up glutathione levels, which is helpful for sperm nutrition. Often, we see carnitine levels low in those who don’t eat meat — vegetarians and vegans. Antioxidants, vitamins and fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D, B12, and folic acid also play a huge role. We also look at food sources and indigestion and see which ones may not be ideal for them.

About Dr. Olivia

Dr. Olivia Rose is a naturopathic doctor, writer, and speaker with over 16 years of experience. As the owner of Rose Health Clinic, a multidisciplinary health centre in Toronto, she has built a thriving practice where she collaborates with her colleagues in a holistic, patient-centred environment. Her clinical focus is in digestive and immune health; stress management, infertility; weight management; skin rejuvenation and chronic disease prevention. Dr. Rose is also the founder of ReLiv Organics, a luxury, botanical and organic skin care line featuring wild-crafted, local ingredients. She is registered with the College of Naturopaths of Ontario where she has served as a clinical examiner for new graduates, and she is an active member of her provincial and national naturopathic associations. She is a regular wellness contributor on Global New Morning, as well as many educational podcasts and online publications.

About Dr. Jennifer

Dr. Strong is committed to supporting her patient’s health goals and providing sound advice that can easily be incorporated into a person’s lifestyle. Her approach provides evidence-based treatment plans that empower her patients to make positive health choices and better their outcomes. She is certified in Intravenous Infusion Therapy, Doula Certification, a mentor to Naturopathic students and a member of the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Medicine, Canadian Association of Naturopathic Medicine, and College of Naturopaths of Ontario.

Dr. Danielle O' Connor, ND in Etobicoke - HealthBuddha

About Our Host

Dr. Danielle O' Connor, ND

Dr. Danielle has been a licensed Naturopathic Doctor for almost 20 years, practicing and living in the Halton region. She is deeply dedicated to helping her patients figure out the root cause of their health concerns and supporting them with foundational support like healthy eating, targeted supplementation, counselling, and lifestyle recommendations…  About Danielle O’ Connor