Lunch & Learn Webinar

Preconception Healthcare: Improving Egg Quality for Natural and Assisted Fertility with Dr. Sarah Zadek ND

Guest Speaker:
Dr. Sarah Zadek, ND

Dr. Christina De Avila, ND CDE

Webinar Date and Time:
20/09/2022 12:00 pm

Dr Zadek is a naturopathic doctor in Ontario working with Conceived Health – a team that works in IVF and IUI Clinics. The clinic takes a unique approach to preconception problems with naturopathic and medical doctors who work together to give patients insights into all aspects of their health and fertility. Their different practitioners facilitate different conversations.

Q. What is preconception healthcare?

A. The period that it takes for a cohort of eggs or sperm to develop from an immature state to be ready to get fertilized is a very crucial time. For an egg, this period is about 100 days, and for sperm, 70-100 days. Preconception care focuses on optimizing the health of those eggs and sperm by ensuring that your hormones are working optimally, protecting your eggs against different assailants – things that cause oxidative stress and inflammation in the body – like fast food, charred foods, alcohol, drug use or smoking, and eating an optimal diet with antioxidants, vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids etc. So, when you try to conceive, that cohort is already in optimal health and will carry that egg on to be a healthy embryo and help that to develop, survive and end up into a pregnancy.

Q. Is it ever “too late” for someone to get on the journey to better preconception health?

A. I think it’s never too late to start to make changes. But, certain things need more time than others, for example, people who need to lose a drastic amount of weight or are combating long-term habits like smoking. Even after you quit smoking, it might take your body more time to get those chemicals out of your system and get that damage taken care of. In those cases, you might even be looking at a year before trying to conceive.

For people without any serious issues, make little changes that have long-lasting effects, or that’ll even work short term. Something as simple as ensuring your hydration is adequate and getting enough sleep. Stress is another issue that can delay your period and prolong ovulation, so something as minor as managing anxiety and short-term stressors can significantly impact you.

Q. Apart from lifestyle and nutrition, what can someone expect in terms of clinic treatment when trying to improve preconception health?

A. At our clinic, we do initial consults and make recommendations depending on how much support is needed. Step one is checking in on your diet, health and lifestyle. Next, we look into toxins that could be detrimental to your fertility – everyday chemicals and toxins that we don’t think about too much, like, swapping out plastic water bottles for glass or stainless steel. Then, egg quality: we look at antioxidant and energy support for your eggs – they need enough energy and healthy DNA to replicate properly. We often use supplements, especially if someone is over the age of 35. There’s a lot of research out there on how different antioxidants and nutrients can affect egg quality. Sometimes we will do testing for patients where we look at ferritin levels, vitamin D, blood sugar and insulin levels. We also use hormone panels for our patients to get additional information as adjunctive care. Acupuncture is also an excellent treatment that can increase your endorphins and reduce the release of stress hormones in your body. It can help to regulate your sex hormones and improve circulation throughout the body to make you feel good while helping with fertility. Very often, stress could be a barrier when you’re trying to conceive.

Q. Are there any additional fertility treatments for women diagnosed with PCOS or Endometriosis?

A. Women with PCOS and Endometriosis are two demographics of people who would benefit from preconception care. They might need more time, depending on the severity of it and what’s going on. We help to improve follicle maturation into eggs, starting with improving insulin sensitivity and testosterone levels with naturopathic care. Similarly, we can help suppress inflammation and lesions’ growth for endometriosis. Whether you’re having surgery for them or whether they’re small enough or few enough that you don’t need surgery, there are still treatments we can do to help to give you a better chance of conception.

Q. How long in advance do you recommend getting off birth control or removing an IUD before trying to conceive?

A. It depends on how long it takes for you to start your natural cycles once you’re off birth control. Many medical studies say that you can get off the pill and try conceiving the next month. However, I recommend you give it time to ensure that the synthetic hormones are out of your body. Allow your body time for a good hormone reset and at least one good, regular bleeding cycle with your natural hormones. Once everything’s on track, you can start trying from the next cycle.

Q. Do you have any recommendations for supplements for prenatal care?

A. The most important thing with a prenatal supplement is getting enough folic acid. I recommend the methyl tetrahydrofolate version of folic acid versus just regular folic acid unless you’ve ever had a reaction to B vitamins or folic acid where it makes you anxious. The standard is a minimum of 400 micrograms, but most of my patients are in their 30s or early 40s, so I recommend at least one milligram of folic acid. Make sure you’re using vetted brands and clean and optimal products without weird fillers or food dyes.

About Dr. Sarah

Dr. Sarah Zadek is a licensed naturopathic doctor in Ontario with a clinical focus on fertility. Sarah graduated from Nipissing University with an honours degree in biology after completing her thesis on genetics, oxidative stress and immune function, but her passion for helping people and wanting a career in healthcare led her to the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto.

Dr. Zadek uses the latest evidence-based medicine, orthomolecular medicine, botanicals and antioxidant therapies to help patients correct hormonal imbalances and immune disorders including: endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), hypothyroidism, painful and/or irregular menstruation, and challenges with fertility.

She loves empowering her clients to take charge of their health through diet and lifestyle, assisting them on their journey to reproductive success.

Sarah is an author and has written for multiple publications across North America including the NaturalPath, Naturopathic News and Review (NDNR), Naturopathic Currents, and Eco Parent Magazine online. She is currently a writer for Advanced Orthomolecular Research (AOR) and Bird&Be, while working on the publication of her first book.

Dr. Sarah Zadek is a naturopathic doctor with Conceive Health, practicing at TRIO North York, Downtown at TRIO Fertility Toronto, and virtually across Ontario.

Dr. Christina De Avila, ND CDE

About Our Host

Dr. Christina De Avila, ND CDE

Dr. Christina De Avila, ND CDE is a licensed naturopathic doctor by the College of Naturopaths of Ontario (CONO) with the additional designation of Certified Diabetes Educator. She works one-on-one with patients to create individualized treatment plans that address the underlying cause to improve overall health… About Christina De Avila