Your microbiome consists of trillions of cells (bacteria, viruses, etc.). They outnumber your own human cells by a lot, roughly 10:1! It plays an important role in maintaining a healthy gut barrier. They provide key nutrients to energize the gut cells, secrete a protective layer, and communicate with your immune system regularly.
I want to talk about one aspect of your microbiome today: “LPS”, and how it may impact fertility.
What is LPS?
LPS, “lipopolysaccharide” is found on the outer portion of gram-negative bacteria. It is also known as an “endotoxin”. This means it can cause problems if there are too many, or if they’re found in the wrong place.
We’ve got lots of these guys in our gut. In an optimal setting, where your microbiome is balanced, you’re eating a diverse and nourishing diet, they are not too problematic.
However, when the microbiome is imbalanced or there is something irritating the gut lining, your intestinal barrier can become compromised. These endotoxins can then pass through your gut barrier, enter your bloodstream, and cause a number of chronic health concerns. This is known as “metabolic endotoxemia”.
This has been linked to the development of a number of chronic health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, elevated triglycerides, insulin resistance, and more.
How does LPS impact fertility?
There is interesting research coming out in the area of LPS and fertility. Animal studies have shown that elevated LPS associated with reduced testosterone production, elevated oxidative stress, and reduced sperm function. High oxidative stress can be a factor in poor sperm quality. Supplementing with the correct probiotic was then shown to reduce LPS levels, and improve sperm quality.
In women undergoing IVF, blood LPS levels are correlated to those found in the follicular fluid (the area surrounding the egg). This study showed high LPS linked to increased oxidative stress in the follicular fluid and lower progesterone levels.
That’s a lot of science. What does this mean for you?
This means our gut integrity, microbiome, and diet influence not only overall health, but it appears to also impact fertility. We’re big fans of figuring out the root cause at Acubalance. If you’re experiencing imbalanced digestion – such as bloating, stomach aches, acid reflux, irregular bowel movements – you may want to consider evaluating your microbiome further.
Whether you’re trying to conceive or not, going through an IVF cycle or not – optimizing health and your cellular environment should include looking at your gut function.
Dr. Ashley Damm, ND
– Naturopathic Doctor – Vancouver, BC
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