You’ve discovered you have MTHFR and are trying to get pregnant…
Here’s the 10 things we recommend you do:
If you’re reading this, it probably means you have recently discovered you have an MTHFR polymorphism (this means mutation or change from the normal version) and you’re wondering how this affects your health, and in particular, how this may be impacting your fertility.
If you’ve been searching the web for answers, you might be getting very confused by the contradicting advice out there.
Some might tell you it’s not a big problem and not to worry about it. Others may tell you it is a problem and if you take high doses of folic acid, that problem goes away.
Then there are those that may tell you that folic acid is the worst thing to take if you have a slow MTHFR enzyme, and to avoid it altogether!
So how are you supposed to know what to do?
To help you find your way, we have compiled a list of the 10 most important things you need to do, based on the most up-to-date research and world-class clinical practice.
(Note: if you are completely brand new to MTHFR and have no idea what it is yet - read this xxxx blog first or watch our ‘What is MTHFR’ video, then come back here…..) but in a nutshell ‘What is MTHFR?”
MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase) is the gene that encodes an enzyme that makes your biologically active folate. Without active folate you can’t have good quality DNA from either sperm or egg which puts you more at risk of miscarriage, infertility and failed IVF.
1. Understand how this could affect your fertility.
The truth is MTHFR polymorphisms can affect people differently. For some people it can be the single biggest thing stopping them from having their baby. For others, it might be a minor problem that is easily overcome.
Assessing the impact MTHFR is having for you depends on many factors such as your diet, your stress levels, your unique body chemistry (e.g. hormones, immune system etc. ), your other genes as well as the exposure to pathogens or toxins in your environment. Essentially, if you’ve got the MTHFR polymorphism from your mother and father it will affect you more than if you got it from just one parent because your ability to make active folate may be reduced as much as 75%
To help you comprehensively understand how the MTHFR gene may be affecting you, and give you practical steps to overcome it, we hold a free LIVE webinar every month with the world’s leading researcher and expert in fertility + MTHFR, Carolyn Ledowsky.
In this 1 hour webinar Carolyn will explain the importance of active folate and methylation and what it does and why it’s so critical to successful fertility. She also shares the signs and symptoms to be aware of in yours or your family history, that give clues to your methylation pathway disturbances. She will explain the latest research in an easy-to-understand way.
Carolyn also shares insights into what supplements and lifestyle changes she has found to be most effective to support MTHFR polymorphisms based on her decade of clinical experience helping thousands of couples have babies - even when they’ve been told their chances are less than 1-2% with IVF. There’s also dedicated time at the end to ask your questions and tap into Carolyn’s expertise directly.
2. Make sure both partners are tested.
It is essential that both you and your partner get tested for the MTHFR gene. MTHFR can impact the DNA within the sperm, so it's important not just to focus on the woman carrying the baby. Sperm accounts for 50% of the DNA within the embryo, if there is a problem with the DNA in the sperm, a miscarriage is likely or the embryo may fail to implant. In a nutshell if your partner has the MTHFR polymorphism and you don’t, you may still miscarry.
If you or your partner haven’t been tested yet, you can do that here:
Test for MTHFR in Australia
Test for MTHFR in the USA and Canada
If you’d like to watch our short video on how to interpret your results you can watch that here.
3. Figure out the right type and amount of folate for you and your genes.
Once you know which variant of the MTHFR gene you and your partner have, it is important to start taking the right amount and the right type of folate, B12, choline and consider the other nutrients that can be affected by MTHFR polymorphisms as well..
When many of our clients first come to our clinic, they may need five to ten times more folate than they have been taking. So the most important decision you have is, how much folate you need to take that's right for you and your partner's genetics so you can successfully fall pregnant and stay pregnant? That’s where our expertise lies…… this is what we do on a daily basis to help couples have a baby.
It’s not always a simple cookie-cutter answer, so it’s important to assess and work through all the factors that affect the MTHFR enzyme and your other nutrient status. Part of why we created our premium “YOUR BABY Preconception Course”, was because we wanted everyone to have access to this really important information. Our course will empower you to take control of your fertility and determine what's right for you and your partner. What type of folate should you be taking? How much should you be taking? How will you know? How do you know if you are taking the right amount of other nutrients? The course also includes regular catch ups with our fertility team to support you every step of the way.
4. DON’T just jump in with high doses of folate.
Once you know how much folate and other nutrients you need based on your own unique genetics, lifestyle and body chemistry, it can be tempting to start taking the full dose straight away in an attempt to get fast results. We’re here to tell you – Please don’t do this!
When it comes to folate in particular, there are certain factors that if not addressed first, can make you react poorly. Remember, these are biological pathways that have perhaps been inefficient or starved of, or overloaded in nutrients and it can take some time to rebalance this. If you go in with your new supplements too much, too soon, you could end up with unwanted symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, depression, pain and more.
If you react negatively before you reach the full dose, it means your body is not yet able to use your folate appropriately. This means you need to reassess and look into the factors that may still be interfering with that uptake.
When this happens, don’t panic! The best way to start, is to assess these factors first (more on this in point 5 below) and then start with tiny doses of folate and B12, that you slowly build upon.
To give you an idea of what we mean by “slow”, we often recommend people start with just 1 single drop of liquid folate and B12, and slowly work their way up over a series of days or weeks to the full dose. A full dose may be 20-50 drops for some people, so as you can imagine, this can take some time.
But don’t worry, our team is here to support you all the way. Our team of practitioners will guide you through the course, answer your questions in our monthly catch up and be on hand at any time you need help. You will also get to meet the amazing members of our course and share in their triumphs, challenges and queries.
Those with MTHFR polymorphisms may be more sensitive than others, so guidance regarding dose is important. It may be necessary to dose slowly with nutrients in a liquid form, that allows for you to build your dosages up slowly over time. Our clinical experience is that if you use this smarter and more personalised way of supplementing, you’ll achieve the results you need without causing as many swings and unwanted effects.
This is why we developed our preconception starter products which consists of our Prenatal Methyl, Methyl B12 Drops and our Liquid Methyl Folate Drops so that doses can be slowly built up, just 1 drop at a time, to achieve the right dose without the negative side effects. As a course member you will receive our Starter Prenatal kit for FREE.
5. Assess whether you have factors that could be blocking your ability to USE the folate you are supplementing with.
As mentioned above, there are certain factors that you should be aware of which interact negatively with MTHFR polymorphisms. These factors can stop your body from taking in and using your folate effectively. In simple terms, what this means is that despite supplementation with folate, you can still have a deficiency because the folate is not getting into the cells where it is needed.
Because we can spend countless hours in our home or workplace, certain environmental exposures like yeasts, mould, chemicals or heavy metals can place a burden on how your body is able to use folate. These exposures could be due to direct contact with our body, or inhalation of the chemicals or spores in the air we’re breathing. You would be shocked how often looking at these simple exposures and minimising them can help to take the burden off our nutrient-dependant pathways.
Other factors that can impact your folate include; nutrient deficiencies, particularly nutrients that are co-factors for pathways that depend on folate, such as zinc or vitamin B12. There are also a number of other genes such as COMT, TCN2, MTHFD1, SHMT and many, many more that play a role in influencing your folate status. This is why seeing a practitioner who is well-versed in unravelling these aspects is so helpful and why we’ve built this into the “YOUR BABY course” to help give you the knowledge on how to assess this for yourself.
If one or more of these factors is preventing your body from taking up and using folate or the other important nutrients you are supplementing with, then they must be addressed. Without overcoming these factors, you will never be able to reach the level of folate you need to overcome fertility and offspring developmental problems.
If you would like to assess these areas further you can use our fertility assessment toolkit.
6. Assess for deficiencies and imbalances that can be caused by MTHFR polymorphisms and can also negatively affect fertility.
These can include:
- Hormone imbalances
- Immune issues
- Detoxification pathway issues
- Nutrient deficiencies
Each of these issues are problematic by themselves, but when coupled with MTHFR polymorphisms, the risk of infertility is significantly increased.
Once again, MTHFR polymorphisms may make you more susceptible to these imbalances and it may cause greater instability and problems with the functioning of this enzyme.
It is unfortunate how many clients we see in our clinics who have these issues, but are never properly assessed (or treated) for them. Because a few simple changes can be life-changing.
If you would like to assess whether any of these are affecting you, you can choose the following options to help you:
7. Make sure your lifestyle, diet and home all support healthy MTHFR function… not hinder it.
As we have already described, you can see that there are many foods, chemicals and lifestyle factors that can further slow down your MTHFR enzyme or zap up the small amount of methylfolate (active folate) you are producing or supplementing with.
Once you’ve covered the basics of supplementing and eliminating major blocks, it’s time to assess the daily factors that might secretly be sabotaging your efforts. For example, those with MTHFR polymorphisms are not able to detox as well as people without MTHFR.
We cover all this in our “YOUR BABY Preconception Course”
8. Seek the right support!
When you first start looking into this gene and its impact on your health and fertility, it can be quite overwhelming. It can be easy to get sucked down the rabbit-hole of googling and self-diagnosing (we’ve all been there!).
We have a team of clinical specialists who have spent over a decade learning how to help people optimise their fertility, help prevent miscarriage, failed IVF and infertility, despite their MTHFR polymorphism.
Our team of health professionals are all trained in genetics, biochemistry, nutrition, anatomy and more, so it can be much easier and quicker for them to dive right in and help you find the missing links to your fertility puzzle than it may be for somebody else that doesn’t consider your genetic susceptibility.
Our team is dedicated to empowering couples to take back control of their fertility. We do this by providing as much information and resources as we can, however if you are getting confused or overwhelmed, please don’t struggle and try to figure it all out by yourself. Reach out to us to support you, that’s what we’re here for.
If you would like to put the pieces of the puzzle together and know how to optimise your fertility, help prevent miscarriage, improve your IVF chances and eliminate the diagnosis of ‘unexplained infertility’ then we are here to help. Our ‘YOUR BABY Course’ is your guided one stop shop to get you started today! Our practitioners will guide you step by step and you will have monthly support sessions and an introductory session to get your started.
Why wait!!…………… remember it takes 3 months preconception care to optimise your folate. You can start today.
9. Connect with other couples going through this Facebook group.
When you’re struggling with your fertility, it can feel so isolating and lonely. There’s so much to be gained from shared experiences and for this reason we have cultivated a wonderful online community of women just like you who support each other and share their knowledge in our free Facebook group. We invite you to join our group and participate and share in the discussion.
10. Remind yourself that knowledge is power. You have the power to influence your fertility journey by learning exactly what to do for your unique body.
Sometimes the road to figuring out what has been blocking your ability to have the family you’re wanting can be emotionally exhausting and disempowering. You can become disenchanted with the process and feel angry that your body is letting you down.
For many women, MTHFR can often be the first and only test that comes up as ‘unusual’, when all other labs and health markers appear normal. We want you to know that we are dedicated to helping you to find the answers that you need to have a healthy baby. Whether you’re joining our Facebook community, signing up for our YOUR BABY Course, becoming a patient in our clinic or simply signing up for our mailing list to be kept up to date on all things MTHFR we warmly welcome you and we truly believe you’ll find what you’re looking for here.
Our bodies have an incredible capacity to heal when we give it the right environment and resources to do so.
We wish you all the best in your fertility journey.
Carolyn and the
MTHFR Support Fertility Team