We generally don’t like to hear the word “inflammation”. This word has a negative association with being injured or some sort of disease process happening inside the body. However, if you are working on getting pregnant, inflammation is a more complex issue.
Inflammation in the wrong time and wrong place can harm the quality of your developing eggs. We know that the development of eggs is heavily dependent on glutathione, your body’s master antioxidant. Glutathione is used to offset the free radicals produced during DNA and cell replication. If there is inflammation elsewhere in your body, it can use up your body’s precious glutathione, leaving less for egg development.
However, one part of reproduction where inflammation is essential is embryo implantation. When the embryo implants, the uterine wall releases important inflammatory prostaglandins and inflammatory cytokines. Taking anti-inflammatories either in the form of supplements or over-the-counter medications could reduce the chances that implantation takes place. We NEED these inflammatory processes in order to support a developing pregnancy.
Prostaglandins also increase during ovulation and are important for the release of the egg.
For some people, this may not be an issue, but if you have been having difficulty trying to conceive, you may want to be mindful of avoiding pharmaceutical, herbal and food-based anti-inflammatories during these short windows of time.
Ovulation generally occurs approximately 10-36 hours after a positive over-the-counter ovulation predictor kit test.
For someone ovulating at Day 14 of their cycle, the average timing of implantation generally occurs between Days 19 and 21, when the embryo is about 5 to 7 days old. However, this implantation window may extend as far as Days 18 and 24, so caution is warranted during this time.
Pharmaceutical drugs that have anti-inflammatory effects include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and any other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and COX-2 inhibitors. Please discuss with your doctor for a full list if you are unsure.
Many supplements also have an anti-inflammatory effect, and it can be nuanced to understand which are still OK to take during your cycle as anti-inflammatory supplements can be very important for improving egg quality. This means that your fertility specialist may have recommended some of these supplements for you despite this research. Please discuss with your functional medicine fertility specialist for more information on the timing of your supplements to avoid hurting your chances.
There are many strategies for helping people to improve their chances of conceiving and many factors that affect fertility. Some people may need to work more on reducing inflammation and improving egg quality during an initial preconception program whereas, for others, avoiding anti-inflammatories during ovulation and implantation may not be an issue at all. A functional medicine fertility specialist can help you with an individual, tailored plan based on data help you to determine which approach is best!
Griffith, Oliver W., et al. “Embryo implantation evolved from an ancestral inflammatory attachment reaction.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114.32 (2017): E6566-E6575.
Niringiyumukiza, Jean Damascene, Hongcai Cai, and Wenpei Xiang. “Prostaglandin E2 involvement in mammalian female fertility: ovulation, fertilization, embryo development and early implantation.” Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology 16.1 (2018): 1-10.