Fertility naturopath Nikki Warren’s inspirational story and tips for couples wanting to conceive.
Nikki Warren is a fertility naturopath and mum of two children based on the Sunshine Coast. She has assisted hundreds of couples as a fertility naturopath and with her premium range of pre-conception, prenatal and postnatal supplementation. She is sharing her own personal journey with Lux Nomade as well as answering our questions about fertility.
Fertility Naturopath Nikki Warren battled with polycystic ovarian syndrome and her story begins when she was officially diagnosed at the age of 27, in the midst of her career as a busy air hostess. Nikki says: “I was finally diagnosed through ultrasound and saw an endocrinologist. It was a relief to finally have a diagnosis. I was a big-time party girl and I think my lifestyle contributed to the PCOS. Between my job as a shift worker and then coming home and partying non-stop, it had to affect my body eventually.”
“My journey began after commencing the contraceptive pill when I was 27. I started piling on the weight and acne appeared on my chin. As a result, I decided to come off it a couple of months later. After coming off the pill, my period didn’t return, I continued to rapidly gain weight to a total of 10 kilograms, and the acne on my chin only compounded the damage to my self-esteem. Over the next 12 months, my period hadn’t returned, and I saw specialist after specialist before turning to complementary medicine. I saw a homoeopath, an acupuncturist and finally a naturopath. I was feeling pretty despondent by that time. The naturopath formulated a liquid herbal mixture for me and within three weeks my period returned, the acne started to clear and over the next few months I lost several kilograms. I could not believe the outstanding results, it inspired me to study naturopathy the next year.”
“I knew that my weight gain was related to not having a period and interestingly as soon as I started taking the herbs, my period resumed 3 weeks later and the weight started dropping off. I became very interested in learning about the function of hormones and how they relate to every aspect of health”
At 28 Nikki fell pregnant whilst working as a flight attendant, a profession she had had since the age of 22.
“That year, while studying and working full time as a flight attendant, I conceived my daughter. In hindsight, my unplanned pregnancy was probably the best thing that could’ve happened to me. Being a single mum was tough, but the fast-paced lifestyle I led as a flight attendant prior to my pregnancy, was certainly not good for my health.
Working night shifts on long-haul flights in early pregnancy was a struggle in itself, let alone dealing with morning sickness. I spent many days in hotel rooms hovering over the toilet bowl and none of the natural remedies I tried seemed to help.
Nikki’s health journey and pregnancy coupled with morning sickness and the hectic pace of working whilst being pregnant led her to follow her passion and to study Naturopathy. She completed a Diploma in Naturopathy and an Advanced Diploma in Herbal Medicine followed by a Bachelor of Health Science, whilst juggling life with her daughter.
At 36, when her daughter was 6 years old, Nikki got married and wanted to conceive a second child.
“Nine years later I was married and ready to prepare for my second pregnancy. As part of my degree, I undertook extensive research into morning sickness and discovered some insights I had never heard of in my five years of working as a fertility naturopath. With this pregnancy, my husband and I followed a preconception care plan and I fell pregnant with my second child straight away. I designed and had made a prenatal vitamin from a compounding pharmacist that also reduced morning sickness.
It worked so well for me and subsequently my clients, that I knew I had to take it to the market. My aim was to help as many other women as possible on a much larger scale than I could in my clinic. So was born my Prenatal Trimester One formula and NaturoBest was launched in 2016.”
L.N Can you tell us a bit more about how naturopathy can assist with fertility issues?
N. W Naturopathy looks at the person as a whole rather than just treating a specific condition. Naturopaths understand the impact that diet, lifestyle and stress can have on the proper functioning of the body and how that affects the reproductive system.
A couple seeking help from a naturopath will usually follow a 4-month preconception care plan. This is because it takes 72-76 days to make sperm from scratch and 100 days for an egg to fully mature. At a first consultation, both partners would be required to have a comprehensive assessment of their health which includes blood tests, a hair analysis to check for heavy metal toxicity and any other tests the naturopath deems necessary as a result of the consultation.
The couple should follow a detox diet for at least 3 weeks while they wait for their test results. Then a 3-4 month treatment plan is formed based on those results. Sometimes it may take longer than that if for example, a person has severe nutrient deficiencies or a man has very poor sperm quality.
What I love about naturopathy is it can fill in the gaps where there is no medication available. We have a plethora of treatments to choose from especially when it comes to hormone imbalances, sperm quality and herbal medicine.
L.N What kind of herbs are especially good for getting hormones back in balance?
N. W There really isn’t any such thing as a magic bullet “fertility formula”. There are different herbs for different conditions which is why a consultation is required.
One herb that is useful for a lot of women is Vitex Agnus-Castus otherwise known as Chaste Tree. There is a concept called “progesterone steal” were consistently elevated cortisol levels due to stress can lead to low progesterone levels which affect a woman’s ability to carry a pregnancy to term. A medical herbalist would prescribe Withania which reduces cortisol levels and helps reduce the effects of stress on the body and also Vitex which boosts progesterone. However, this will be irrelevant for a woman who has normal progesterone levels but is still struggling to conceive.
If I was going to choose just one herb for male fertility, it would be Tribulus Terrestris. They must take Bulgarian Tribulus leaf though, not the berries which are commonly found in supplements. It is only the leaves which contain the active constituents needed to boost testosterone, DHEA-S, sperm motility and count.
L.N What are the common signs to look for when it comes to hormone imbalances?
N. W For a woman, she would likely have irregular cycles or perhaps no cycle at all (amenorrhoea). She may have extremely heavy, painful periods which is often associated with oestrogen excess or she may have signs of high testosterone such as abnormal hair growth and acne.
For a man, he may have a low libido, low energy and drive and find it difficult to gain muscle mass. These are all symptoms of low testosterone.
This is why it is vital to consult with a medical herbalist if you are considering taking herbal medicine. If you blindly choose a product sold on the shelf you could cause more harm than good. For example, you may choose a product that promises to boost energy levels and it might contain Korean ginseng. This may be fine for one person, but for another person who suffers from anxiety, this will aggravate their symptoms and they could have a panic attack. Or they may have high blood pressure and choose a product which contains liquorice which is contraindicated.
What is important to note is that some complementary health practitioners may have access to herbal medicine but they aren’t fully qualified medical herbalists. Just because someone is a dietician, it doesn’t mean they should be prescribing herbs. Likewise, if a herbalist is trained in Western herbal medicine, it doesn’t mean they are a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner who prescribes in a very different way with different herbal medicines. Always check the credentials of the practitioner you are seeking advice from.
Fertility Naturopath Nikki’s Top Tips for couples wanting to conceive
- Follow a preconception care plan for 4 months
- This includes detox, give up or limit alcohol, switch from drinking coffee to tea, quit smoking, lose weight if they need to, switch to eating organically.
- Take preconception supplements including a multi, calcium and magnesium supplement, fish oils and probiotics and potentially herbs if they have health issues that need correcting (guided by a medical herbalist).
- Take more nutritional supplements than what is in a preconception multi and for this, they should be guided by a naturopath or nutritionist.
For more information visit https://nikkiwarrennaturopath.com