Welcome to the latest series of Fertility Foundations, where we speak in depth with expert guests about how to prepare the foundations for healthy pregnancy. This week Sandra Greenbank is talking to Katy Bradbury, Registered Nurse and Nutritional Therapist, about what you can do if you’re feeling lost and overwhelmed while trying to conceive. 

As well as being a Registered Nurse and a Nutritional Therapist, Katy is qualified to work with people who have eating disorders and is trained in hypnosis and coaching the unconscious mind. Her approach to health uses a functional medicine model to delve deep into the underlying drivers behind personal imbalances and addressing them in a bespoke way. 

Throughout this podcast Sandra and Katy discuss the connection between nutrition and fertility, the need for more education and awareness around this topic, and why a personalised approach to fertility nutrition is important. 

Listen to this episode of the Fertility Foundations podcast with Katy Bradbury here.

Find Katy Bradbury on Instagram here: www.instagram.com/katybradburyhealth

And find Katy’s website here: https://www.katybradbury.com

This podcast is sponsored by Invivo Healthcare, a human microbiome company. They specialise in accurate testing of different microbes such as the gut, vagina, oral and urinary, as well as a range of specially curated supplements focused on the microbiomes. They support healthcare providers and their clients navigate the complex world of the human microbiome and it’s one of the most use labs and supplements by our own fertility specialists at the Fertility Nutrition Centre. Visit the Invivo website for more information at www.invivohealthcare.com

Podcast transcript

Sandra  00:06

Hello and welcome to the Fertility Foundations podcast, where we go into detail about how to prepare the foundations for healthy pregnancy. We dive deep into the underlying root causes for fertility issues and natural solutions. I want you to know that you’re not alone and you’re not broken. I hope that by sharing these episodes this will help you move from feeling overwhelmed and lost to feeling hopeful and empowered to take charge of your own path to parenthood, because there are actually lots of things that you can do to help rewrite your own story. 

I’m Sandra Greenbank, Nutritional Therapist, Functional Medicine Practitioner, Coach and Educator, specialising in fertility, pregnancy and postpartum health. I’m also the founder of the Fertility Nutrition Centre, where you can find fully trained experts in nutrition, lifestyle and functional approaches to a healthy fertility and pregnancy. You can find out more information over at www.fertilitynutritioncentre.org and also book a free strategy call with one of our experts.

Today I’m speaking with Katy Bradbury about what to do when you’re feeling lost when you’re trying to conceive. Katy is a registered nurse as well as a nutritional therapist and is qualified to work with people who have eating disorders. Katy’s also trained in hypnosis and coaching the unconscious mind meaning that she helps you reprogram neural networks that might be keeping you stressed, anxious or stuck. Katy’s approach to health uses a functional medicine model to delve deep into the underlying drivers that are driving your personal imbalances and holding your hand through addressing them in a bespoke way. Katy also supports me in teaching and mentoring other nutritionists while making babies naturally course for those nutritionists or medical professionals who want to work with fertility patients. 

This podcast is sponsored by Invivo Healthcare, a human microbiome company. They specialise in accurate testing of different microbiome such as the gut, vagina, oral and urinary tract, as well as a range of specially curated supplements focused on the microbiomes. They support healthcare providers and their clients navigate the complex world of the human microbiomes and is one of the most used labs and supplements by all fertility specialists. Visit the Invivo website for more information at www.invivohealthcare.com. 

Now let’s get into today’s interview with Katy thanks so much for joining me, Katy on my podcast.

Katy Bradbury  02:27

Thanks for having me.

Sandra  02:30

I’ve got so many things I want to chat with you about and talk to you about but I think that we’re both seeing so many people feeling so lost on their fertility journey, right. And so I really want to kind of give anyone who’s listening a bit of power back and some tools and you know, a bit of a way forward on, you know, where they’re feeling a bit lost. So, that’s the topic of today’s chat. But first of all, could you talk a little bit about your history because you’ve worked as a nurse in the NHS and a health visitor as well. And you’ve also got your own sort of personal fertility journey that brought you to where you are today. So yeah, talk to me a bit about this. 

Katy Bradbury  03:16

Okay. So my background, I guess in terms of my career path to get to where I am today, it’s been a gentle meander through various professions, but they’ve all been really helpful for where I’m at now, and actually creating the practice that I have today. So I actually started originally in studying Evolutionary Anthropology. And so that was where I, you know, where my interests lay, which is in you know, human evolutionary biology and really, that seems so much around a lot of the mismatches we see now in terms of our biological makeup versus the, the modern life and how that’s really, there’s so many ways in which that’s mismatched. And so many of the modern health issues that we see today, with fertility being a part of that actually, are kind of in in correlation to that picture. So that was what sparked my interest in in health, originally, and, and I found that a bit too, it’s a bit of a Goldilocks story of like, You’re too hot or too cold, just right. And I found the evolutionary anthropology, I loved it. And I went on to do a master’s in medical anthropology, which I loved as well. But I came out of that feeling like it was a little bit armchair, and it was a little bit theoretical and not enough action. And so I decided, I was like, you know, what can I do now? And I wanted action. And I thought, Okay, well, let me I’m going to train as a nurse because that’s action. Right? That’s that line as you get in terms of health care, and so I retrained as, as a nurse and I worked in the nursing profession for a little while as a gynae nurse, actually, so I’ve always been geared towards women’s health, maternal and infant health has always been my fascination really. And I worked in the early pregnancy and gynaecology unit for a little while. And what happened to them was I got a bit, again, frustrated with how the system operated in a hospital setting. And you know, gynaecology is a big field right there. We were seeing all sorts of different cases and early pregnancy too. But what I found within that context was, you would see the gynaecology doctor for this specific problem. But if there was something that fell out of the scope of the gynaecology doctor, you’d be referred to the bloods doctor or the cancer doctor, or the this doctor or that or, you know, someone suddenly had gastrointestinal symptoms, oh, well, you know, we can’t do without separate,

Sandra  06:15

completely separate mind the fact that they’re all intertwined, or the organs but you know, this is a separate doctor, who has no no interest in the other pit.

Katy Bradbury  06:26

Yeah, yeah. I mean, it’s almost like having an having a mechanic that’s like, oh, well, we don’t deal with the engine, we just deal with the exhaust. So you know, we can tell you what, what that’s about. So, you know, it’s this, this, there wasn’t really much acknowledgement that, first of all, all of the body is interconnected, and all of the systems in the body. But let alone that within that there’s actually a whole person sitting in front of you with their own story in their own life. And I was the nurse, that would be like staying behind till 10 o’clock, each dish shift, because I’d actually want to get to know my patients, and you know, that time with them in that kind of, you know, a bit of actual therapeutic time with them, and then have to sit behind writing all my notes at the end of the day. So it frustrated me and I heard then about about Health Visiting. And that was, you know, it was it was it was public health, which I would really wanted to move into more preventative medicine, I guess. And so I and really, for me, so much of what I learned in my Evolutionary Anthropology days was that, that early years matter, right, and not just years, but even like to preconception. And so we laze about the, you know, the epigenetics and all of this type of thing, where actually, even what happens to a child in pregnancy, and even pre pregnancy, which is a lot of what we focus on now, matters actually for the rest of their life in terms of health outcomes, and even like behaviour and like educational attainment, and all sorts of things. So that really fascinated me and I decided to move into and I retrained again, as a as a specialist, public health nurse, and specialised in Health Visiting. And that’s where I spent, I guess, the majority of my nursing career was in the field in Health Visiting and then specialise further in family nursing and working with with young mothers. And again, I did really enjoy that. But ultimately, I found you know, to be perfectly honest, the burden of working on the NHS was was a big one. And, you know, there was more and more expected of us. And I just found that we weren’t really able to practice in a way that made a real difference, because we were just under too much strain. And within all of that, I went through my own fertility journey. I, you know, I always wanted to be a mother and I, you know, I was one of these people that it’s like, that is that’s my goal, right? That’s my ultimate goal is to is to be a mother and I know that lots of people can resonate with that. And it was like, Okay, well, you know, very traditional route through you know, get me to meeting the person and getting married and getting the home and getting the career stabilised. And it got to this perfect point where it was like, Okay, well now, I’ve wanted children all of these years and now now is the perfect time and you know, so far all the career and everything has gone through this step by step process. So the next step is that we have babies and you know, I knew a little bit about you know, the oral contraceptive pill and how that can be disruptive for hormones, etc. So, I came off the pill two years in advance of when I knew I would be starting to try. And then within all of that, I found that ultimately, what I know now is that I must have had PCOS. I didn’t know much about it, but I knew that my cycles were not regular at all. I really struggled with trying To understand when I was ovulating, and it took us Yeah, it just it was like, Okay, now is our time to get pregnant and then it just didn’t happen. And it didn’t happen. It didn’t happen. And eventually I went to my doctor for some help. And that doctor’s appointment resulted in me coming out in tears, because the doctor basically just said, Well, look at you, you’re overweight. No wonder you can’t get pregnant. And that was like, you know, it was just like, well, what you expect? That was the long and short of the appointment? And I was terrible. So unhelpful, but also not even correct. Yeah. Yeah.

Sandra  10:38

Was there any reference to your partner at that point? No, nothing.

Katy Bradbury  10:45

Nothing, no reference to my partner, there was there was a reluctant referral for fertility clinic, which you know, for, of course, there was a long way to waitlist. And what I think there was there, we did one set of Bloods. But I didn’t really understand like the nature of what was being tested, I think it was day 21 blood. So I went for, but I had a regular cycle. So that wasn’t really relevant to me. And getting it on the right day was difficult. But no one explained that to me, no one told me what the results were. And I really knew nothing, then compared to what I know now, about hormones and the menstrual cycle, because we don’t get taught this stuff in school. In school, we get taught, you know, sperm meets egg equals pregnancy. And there’s that and it’s, of course, not as simple as that.

Sandra  11:39

Yeah, they don’t, you know, I mean, you don’t know about fertile days, the fact that you can’t get pregnant for most of your tracking, yeah, that there’s so many things that we have no idea, but I mean, I’m not. I’m sort of laughing. But it’s not funny, because your experience is the same as I would say the absolute majority of people. Yeah, lack of information, lack of understanding, lack of guidance. Yeah, absolutely. And no wonder people for lost, you know. Yeah.

Katy Bradbury  12:16

And it’s, it’s just like, coming out of the other side of this. And, you know, even having trained as a nurse and working in health care. And working in gynaecology, even right, you know, really about the menstrual cycle. You know, we at no point in school do we really get taught about like that, you know, vaguely, but we don’t really get taught about the dots or the hormones and what happens at different types of your cycle and what to expect and how that might impact your mood and how it impacts your fertility. And certainly, you don’t get taught it in, you know, in your nursing training. And I just think that so many of us just don’t know, our own bodies. And that’s a real shame.

Sandra  13:03

That’s kind of bizarre, because then it’s like, what do you learn? But I suppose that’s, you know, if you go to a gynaecologist, they’ve got a couple of things that they can do. They’ve got obviously surgery, drugs. Yeah. But the lifestyle and the diet piece is not really there is that no, no, and you know, this firsthand, and, and sort of got jaded and decided to do something different. So how did you come into fertility nutrition, then?

Katy Bradbury  13:38

Yeah, so so when I was I’ve always always been interested in, I guess, collectively, you could call it Holistic Health. And when I was working in a nurse’s, the early days, I had this vision that I wanted, and I’d had acupuncture in the past, and it had really helped me for various things in my life. So I wanted to train originally as an acupuncturist and I did my first year you had to do a first year in natural empathy. So I trained in natural Pathak and my first year with a view to then going on to do a diploma in acupuncture alongside my nursing and I had this vision of somehow bridging the gap between nursing and acupuncture I didn’t really know what it would look like. Anyway, I had a massive course correct, because I did my first year of natural empathy. And the nutrition side of it just blew my mind by it just really blew my mind. And I think I grew up in a family where healthy healthy eating was important like you know, all of our meals were home cooked in this kind of thing, but we didn’t really know about it and there was a lot of probably like Pooh poohing of, I remember specific a specific example of this is when I was growing up, one of my childhood best friends. I went round to her house one day and the older brother was doing his GCSEs and the mom was giving him an Iike three, so fish oil. And I remember looking at this and she was, oh, yeah, it’s just to help his brain because he’s studying at the moment. And I was like, David

Sandra  15:08

culus, fish fish got to do it.

Katy Bradbury  15:11

That’s stupid. And I just didn’t really remember that. And so that, I think, was the general attitude that I that I had. And I did this nutrition side of the natural apathy. And I was just like, oh, my gosh, that is, you know, that’s incredible. And that is, that’s a tool that we all have, every single day, like we all eat, you know, the vast, vast majority of people eat every day. And so it’s like probably one of the easiest and most available tools that we have to changing our lives, actually. And so I went to train in nutrition instead and loved it, absolutely loved it. But alongside all of this, I was going through my fertility journey and struggling. And it was using, I mean, we didn’t really do much on fertility nutrition in that original course. But it was using some of those principles around diet and lifestyle that I actually ended up being able to adapt my No my husband’s diet and lifestyle. And, and it was a week before my first IVF appointment, that I actually had my first you know, positive pregnancy test and, and had a healthy pregnancy, thank God and have my little girl back in 2018. And I remember hearing about your programme, so enjoy the Making Babies naturally programme, which started in 2019. So when my when my little one was about six months old, and I noticed that as soon as I heard about it, I have to do that I have to do that course. And I remember messaging you in February, because it had already started and I was like, Please, can you let me onto this programme because I need to, it’s like my life’s calling.

Sandra  17:04

And I remember and I was like, oh my god, Katy comes to these calls, and you had like a little baby on the arm. It’s sort of Gosh, this was like, such a long time ago. Now. That was like, pre COVID. Ya know, so glad you did. But it’s so true, isn’t it that power you have with every single plate of food that you picked up every single day, and people will get told by the doctors Oh, your diet has no bearing on your fertility and it’s pointless, don’t do, you know, don’t change your diet, don’t take any supplements just have IVF instead. But actually, if you think about how big the contraceptive pill is, I mean, it’s a teeny, teeny, teeny tiny pill, and that can stop you from getting pregnant. So what is all the food on your plate does their you know everything they take, the food you eat is chemical messaging, chemical messengers, for your, for the gut, in your, for the microbiome in your gut for your brain, for yourselves. And so every time you eat, you’re sending a message to your body to adapt, and it’s just completely inconceivable that what you eat has no impact. And you know, we know it has an impact on cardiovascular health on, you know, preventing dementia, and, you know, so many things, why are you telling me that it has no bearing on my fertility? Like, have you lost your mind? They lived under a rock for the last 10 years, like there’s so much research,

Katy Bradbury  18:35

I don’t really understand how there are still medical professionals out there that are dismissing this stuff. And don’t give you a classic example of this. Actually, there’s a couple that I’m working with right now. And I think one of the side notes of of our work and our individualised approach is that actually, a lot of the time we like we pick up things that people might not have been aware of, you know, talking about cardiovascular piece and, you know, risk factors for disease, you know, quite serious diseases, oftentimes, that we in our work, we get to pick up on those things early. And so we get to shift, the, you know, the train tracks almost, we get to redirect those, with people in a preventative way as just part of our identity work. So, I had, I’ve got a couple that I’m working with now. And I mean, this couple, they haven’t had IVF but they’re thinking about it later in the year. But they have had every investigation under the sun they’ve had that, you know, they’ve all of the investigations that we might do together. They’ve worked with another practitioner before me. And they’ve looked at her vaginal microbiome and his you know, his his seminal microbiome and all of these things and he’s been Say You Want To jest and DNA fragmentation and all of these things which are an important part of investigation. but at no point in having any of that work done, has anyone ever looked at their diet, and especially him because lots of falling with him yet they haven’t worked with a nutritionist I’ve worked with different different types of, but no one. And he’s even had supplements suggested to him, but no point they had their check. And they came to me and we looked at his diet. And I mean, I can’t, you know, sugarcoat it, it was a bad boy, it was it was not a nutritious diet at all. And we’ve turned out and also in our bloodwork, because I always do comprehensive blood work with any new clients, in his blood work, we were, you know, flagging up all of these significant risk factors for metabolic and cardiovascular disease. And really

Sandra  20:50

understand is that for that 10 years prior to you getting your diagnosis, so you might be going to the doctors and they’re like, you’re not sick, yet, you’re not sick, yet, you haven’t got diabetes, yet, come back, when you’re when you know, when your HPA one says, beyond, you know, beyond a diabetic range, and you’re kind of sitting there going, but hang on a minute is creeping up and up and up and up, at what point you know, it’s just nonsense to just sit there and wait until the scale tips over in the wrong direction, it just takes years, it takes a decade at least. And you have seen research that actually correlates I don’t want to sort of spook anyone who’s listening. But, you know, the fact is that male infertility does correlate with higher rates of cardiovascular disease in later life. And that’s not surprising. And it’s not the infertility that’s causing it, it’s the underlying biochemical factors that you’re kind of, you might have been predisposed, but then with your diet and lifestyle, you’re kind of pushing the wrong buttons all of the time, little by little, over the years. And an early indication might be that you’ve got fertility issues. And you know, and this might not be the, this is not the case for everyone, but it can be a really significant factor. And if you are coming to see us, I mean, we’re always going to work with your main aims. But in in the back of my mind, I will always be thinking, vitality, longevity, you know, and this sort of biohacking side of kind of making sure that you live well into later life, because my experience of kind of coming into this was looking at my parents and their lifestyle, and how they have now ended up with, you know, what I would say, is not the type of old age that I would want to experience, which is sort of house bound, you know, not being able to travel, dialysis, you know, being very, very restricted in what they can do and what they have the energy for, and pain, and, you know, all of this, and I just think, you know, I would love for people sort of see this not just as getting a positive positive pregnancy test, but just really wellness, for you, for your partner for your future family and your, for your future grandchildren, and having that real ripple effect as well. Because really, that that is the possibility and the reality.

Katy Bradbury  23:21

Yeah, yeah. And that’s it. Sandra is we’re not just a reproductive tract, right? We’re so much more than than, than that one system in our body. And actually, that one system in our body is possibly the most reflective system of what’s going on in the rest of the body. Because if we take it back to that original notion that I spoke about at the start of evolutionary biology, human childbearing is in terms of we always think of things in terms of like, energy expenditure, actually, that’s, that’s biologically what what our bodies are built to do. And human childbearing is high on the energy expenditure, because compared to other mammals, we give birth to really premature young, because of the way our hips are built. So since we started walking on two legs, our hips became narrower to accommodate that. So our birth canal is a narrower, meaning that we have to give birth to young that are comparatively very mature. So a baby giraffe wings, is walking from the moment it’s born. Whereas human babies take a look. It’s almost like they’re still in utero, it you know, we have to really, really look after them for those early years of life. So it’s a big energy investment biologically, and what our bodies want to know from all of the rest of what’s going on what our reproductive system wants to know is, is this a good moment to do this massive investment like are we in good enough Nick? You know, to do this, or do we kind of work on and I think inflammation is something that comes up a lot, when we’re looking at root causes of things, and there are so many, you know, inflammation is a bit of a buzzword now, it’s, you know, being bandied around a lot. But ultimately, and it does mean different things. But ultimately, like, it is a bit of a root cause for us. And if there is inflammation, or if the body is on red alert, in any of its other systems, then the chances are, it’s going to be dialling down on the reproductive system, because the message is, hey, maybe it’s not safe right now. And our bodies want it to be as safe as possible to reproduce. So our goal of working with clients is really doing those comprehensive kind of investigations so that we can be really tailored and helping your body to receive those messages that are, it is safe, it is safe. And every time we can give that signal of safety to the reproductive system, then we’re kind of checking a box in terms of the chain of events that has to happen. Yeah,

Sandra  26:04

I agree. And actually, I’ve had this conversation so many times where I’m sort of saying to people, because a lot of people sort of think they’re not stressed, or they believe rightly or wrongly, that stress doesn’t impact their fertility. But I’m sort of, you know, and you’re kind of growing, but if your body perceives you to be stressed, if you’re over exercising or overworking your scrimping on sleep, or whatever it is, is going to do what it’s meant to do. Your body’s not malfunctioning. It’s doing what it’s supposed to do with the information you’re giving it.

Katy Bradbury  26:40

Trying to protect, ultimately, yeah, because you know,

Sandra  26:43

if you have a baby, during wartime, for example, you know, that baby isn’t going to fare as well. Or the mum and, you know, it’s like you said, there’s those protective mechanisms. So, yeah, it’s, it’s really interesting, and how you bring in that evolutionary aspect of it as well. But what so in practice, then, how do you do it? So how’d you? First of all, how does what you do differ from the conventional medical setting? And what is it that you do differently to sort of really make sure that that individual was getting what they they need? And actually, it’s not just the individual is it because you, you mentioned that it’s a whole person that’s sitting there in front of you, and they’ve got a brain and a gut, and a reproductive system, and they’re constantly communicating? Or their systems, but also, it’s not just one person, you’ve got two people, and they are a city, they need to work, and they lead me to live and breathe in symbiosis really? And sort of both be ready. Enable. Yeah,

Katy Bradbury  27:52

yeah, totally. And, and yeah, I guess I guess, just to start off with to answer your question in terms of how, how my approach would differ from that, perhaps that that conventional approach, so if you go down the route of and I’m not saying don’t access the conventional, by the way, because I think both things have something to offer. And, but if, if we liken it to so a baby, having a healthy pregnancy, getting pregnant, and having a healthy pregnancy is almost like a recipe, right? So we want there’s a recipe that we want to get from here to here with with a baby. That’s that at the other end. So we’re trying to create that baby, and we’ve got a recipe and I guess the conventional medicine approach is a bit more fixed in the recipe of like, okay, this is the recipe, this is what we need, you know, so he guy that’s, that’s the recipe is just, you know, that’s, that’s what we’re going to do. But what that doesn’t really take into account is, what ingredients have you got in your cupboard? What are that person’s taste preferences? Or what’s their appetite? Or, you know, what’s their? What utensils have they got? What are they, you know, what, what are they missing? Have they, you know, have they got the access to the shops to go and buy what they need, and all of those kinds of things. And so it’s kind of treating everyone the same, regardless of circumstance and not really asking any of the questions of actually, like, are you going to be able to do this? Let’s, you know, let’s let’s just try and figure this out together and see you know, what, what’s missing for you what gaps there are and then we can we can work with you on that. Whereas what I would do and what people in our field would do in infertility nutrition is, is let’s look at the gaps right let’s let’s see where you’re at. You let’s do a bit of digging and that looks like asking questions. First of all, so sitting down with you for I mean, personally, I sit down with people, each part each side of the couple, I will sit and do a 90 minute consultation with so we’re doing we really delve The in to the crux of who you are. And that’s looking at all of the systems in your body, your health history, your family history. And, and really starting to knit that together and looking also, of course, what you’re currently eating and drinking, what your lifestyle is, like, what your stress is like. And all of those are the factors that make up you as a whole person. And there’s a couple if you’re in a couple. And and then I guess, in terms of, you know, the second part of that question, I’ve kind of tied in some of the principles of how how we might operate. But first, it’s, it’s asking the questions is the first port of call. And then it’s, it’s doing the digging. So you know, we might discover then that, for example, through through doing that initial consultation, that actually, there’s maybe some things going on in your gastro intestinal system or your gut. And the gut is such an important system for fertility, it might seem a bit strange, unrelated, but actually, it’s, it’s in a lot of ways that the heart of our of our systems, because all of those nutrients from the food that we eat, we need good gut health to be able to absorb them, we need good gut health to be able to eliminate things properly out of our body, including our used up sex hormones. And also in terms of that inflammatory piece that we mentioned. The gut is a place where there’s also often some inflammation, and then there’s like the bugs that live in our gut and how they interact with our hormones. So there’s so many ways in which the gut matters. So it might arise from our initial consultation that actually, oh, maybe we need to look in a bit more detail and really optimise your gut health before we even do anything else. And chances are, nobody has ever asked you what your gut health does is part of your fertility investigations, right? I doubt it. If anyone in your clinic has asked or you know what you’re still patterns are. But it’s important. And and then we might from there. So I will always do comprehensive bloodwork for both partners as well, that’s I used to play around with bloodwork and kind of think, Oh, well, maybe we’ll do a comprehensive thyroid panel, maybe we’ll look at the you know your iron depending on what’s going on for you. But I’ve come to realise that actually, we need to look at bloods comprehensively for both partners. And so now, that’s just a part of my onboarding of we will do really comprehensive blood work together for both parties.

Sandra  32:31

Just don’t leave anything to chance, because that missing piece, if you miss it, you can be six months down the line, you go, Oh, maybe we should maybe we should just run this test and you missed something.

Katy Bradbury  32:42

Yeah, and accessible, you know, bloodwork now, it’s, it’s, you know, private blood testing has come a long way in recent years. And it’s not that expensive. And you can get really comprehensive blood work for under 200 quid, and it’s just so worth it for the amount of insight that you get, because what happens is every layer of information that we get, we get to map that together. So we wouldn’t ever just look at your bloodwork and say, you know, like, for example, me going to my doctors and having that day 21 hormone panel, and that’s it, that’s the only consideration is like, Okay, well, we map that comprehensive bloodwork with you with your health history. And that that that helps to give us answers. So we can go aha, look, you’re you know, you’re you’re showing your I don’t know, maybe you’re not ovulating, for example. So we find that out. And we also see that oh, well, actually, probably your stress levels are quite high through looking at your cortisol. And maybe your cholesterol levels are quite low. So you don’t have the power index. So we need to close down blocks. Yeah, yeah, sex hormones. And actually, that starts to give us this picture of Ah, okay, we know what’s going on for you. And so we then know actually how we can approach that and what systems in your body and your life needs support?

Sandra  34:03

Yeah, it’s about that detective work, isn’t it? And you, you know, that analogy is great with the recipe, but I think, you know, your doctor will ask questions, and they ask a very limited set of questions. And, you know, when I say questions, the question could be, you know, looking at your running blood test or doing you know, but what they look at, it’s so narrow and my, in my opinion, unexplained infertility is not a thing. So, for example, you know, we talked about the detective work that goes into what we’re looking at. And, you know, we asked so many kind of seemingly random questions, but a pattern a pattern picture can emerge content where you’re sort of someone says, I’m cold all the time. I’ve got cold hands and, you know, feeling I’m always feeling cold. I’m gaining weight. I don’t really know why. You know, I’ve got straight In Chandler sort of my avtodor my eyebrows for note, oh, by the way, you know, I’ve got celiac in the family and you’re going okay, you know, there’s an autoimmune picture, I think we need to look closer at your thyroid, I think this could be really significant. And so you’re constantly asking questions, and I suppose we’re just, we keep going further upstream to find the source of the problem. And, you know, I think that if you haven’t found the answer, you’ve probably haven’t asked enough questions yet, or the right question. And I’m not saying that we will always get an answer for everybody. Because sometimes, it’s the collection of things that we do that bring you further into balance enough that you can get and stay pregnant, as sometimes that is a little bit on both sides.

Katy Bradbury  35:47

I often when I’m talking to people, especially when a client calls me for an inquiry, I often use the analogy of the chain of events. And so it’s, it’s the chain of events that has to go right, in order for a healthy baby. And I guess it’s this is kind of in line with the recipe analogy as well. But if we think about it in a chain of events, as as a chain of events, we all have gaps in our chain, because a gap could be a single nutrient deficiency, it could be inflammation sitting somewhere, it could be that your thyroid hormones aren’t working, it could be that you have the occasional and ovulatory cycle, it could be sperm health, you know it, there are so many possible gaps. And each each one of us if we think about the chain link together, and each of us have got gaps in our chain. For me, it’s about identifying, okay, where are the gaps? Because a lot of people are searching for the one answer, you know, what is the cause of my infertility? And I think that’s a lot of what the medical model has taught us, you know, like, and I get a lot of clients, when we do investigation be like, Oh, okay, so is this the reason? Is this the reason? And it’s like, well, this is a part of the picture, because again, your person, right, and so, and then the male aspect of things, too. So we would always be working to identify, what are the gaps for you? And how can we plug those gaps, because every single gap that we identify and plug that increases your chances? And yes, there are some people who have a lot of gaps, but the stars align, and somehow the chain lines up, you know, and they’re against them. But it works out for them. And you know, this, these are the questions we often ask him, you know, well, how come that person who has smoked all their life or has a terrible diet or, you know, whatever it might be, how come they got pregnant like that, and I can’t, when I feel like I’m doing all the things, and that can feel really frustrating. But ultimately, it is a game of odds. And and what we we do when we work together is work to increase your odds a step at a time.

Sandra  37:50

Yeah. And I think that when you start working with someone that’s always, you know, not just a chain of events, but you’ve also got like the sort of hierarchy of like, what’s going on? So, you know, number one is, do you have any eggs left? Yeah, you know, a certain age, we need to establish what is that? And it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. And then the next thing is, are you ovulating? If you’re not? Why, you know, is it stress is your prolactin to high? Have your you know, are you still breastfeeding too much, you know, if your father had a baby, and so, you know, sometimes it just means that your prolactin has remained higher, and you need to cut the feed. And that’s it. And you know, or do you have PCOS, then what is, you know, what is the underlying driver for your PCOS? We’ll go and look for that, we’ll address that, then, you know, are your tubes blocked? If you’ve never had a positive positive pregnancy test? Have you actually had had your tubes checked? So it’s also kind of going, did you have all the conventional tests that you should have had by now or that somebody had had have an off day and just did not think to run this scan? And then we’re looking at the health of the womb, and you know, could there be signs of endometriosis? Do you need to get this checked out? The vaginal microbiome, is there inflammation? You have the correct level of like to bacilli in there? And the male partner, you know, what’s going on? Have you had a semen analysis? Is it recent? Have they had a DNA fragmentation to enter this all of these tests that we’re kind of going, what’s next step, next step next step but you can’t launch into what supplements should I be taking when we don’t know if you’re ovulating? Or, you know, if it we don’t know if we don’t know what’s going on, you know, and I think GPS don’t actually get trained to read a semen analysis. So you really need to get that similar licence looked at by somebody who specialises in fertility. I think you Whether it’s a urologist whether it’s one of us, or somebody who has, who can understand how to decipher that, and we will always look over everyone’s tests anyway. So for example, if you’ve had blood work, that’s brilliant, you know, there’s loads you can get done enough to pay for, as a sort of starting point with within the NHS, it’s not, you shouldn’t ignore it or not habit, but we look at it with a different lens. Particularly when it comes to thyroid levels. And we know that the NHS ranges you’ve told your normal that it’s very likely to actually, you know, that’s not quite correct when you’re looking at it with fertility lens, for example. Yeah, and

Katy Bradbury  40:43

I think the thigh was a really good example. Because if we use that personalised approach in that digging in that question, then if we discover so typically speaking, someone might get their TSH, thyroid stimulating hormone tested on the NHS. Now, we know that actually, TSH is a brain hormone. It’s not a thyroid hormone, it’s thyroid stimulating hormone. So that’s just the the messenger that’s coming to tell your thyroid to produce thyroid hormone. So it doesn’t really I mean, yes, it works on a feedback loop. So it can be indicative of what your thyroid hormone levels are doing. But it doesn’t actually tell us what those levels are. So often, we then want to, as you say, like, Look, what’s what’s going on under the surface? And what are your, your your T for so thyroxin? And then also, what is your T three? Because that’s your active thyroid hormone. And if, if we can see that pattern, and we can see, you know, or if we know what’s going on, then it helps us to identify what might be the cause of that. So, for example, if someone’s TSH is okay, but their T four is suboptimal, then maybe we might be looking at what do you have the basic nutrients that are required to make tea for like iodine and tyrosine, which is a protein and iron like, do you have those, those those those building blocks, and then if someone’s T four is okay, but their T three is sub optimal? Then again, there are some more building blocks like Selenium. But we might be asking what actually is your your stress levels, pushing that down the what we call the reverse T three pathway, which is inactive thyroid hormone. So if we actually see the full cascade, then we can get a much better idea of what’s going on and then bringing the thyroid onto auto antibodies in if things are out of balance, then we can see, well, if the antibodies are high, then is it autoimmunity that’s driving this picture. So it’s having that kind of that one TSH, and then often being told when it’s out of out of the optimal range, like, Oh, no further investigation, when actually there’s so much more that we can get out and questioning and optimising.

Sandra  42:49

Yeah, I think, you know, the NHS would only really look at every look at two markers for us, we’ve got a list where we’re looking at TSH t 43, reverse T three that at least two antibodies that six already. And, you know, they’re not the only markers. And then, you know, paradoxically, high low iron can cause thyroid issues, but also, low iron levels can cause excessive bleeding during your menstrual cycle, for example. So we’re kind of looking at, do we need to kind of your iron levels, and actually is that going to have that positive knock on effect, then to balance, you know, you sort of hidden more than one bird with the stone, they’re not you. And, you know, again, in the NHS, you get a ferritin reading, but that’s only such a small part of looking at what’s going on with your iron, you know, or your red blood cells accessing the iron. You know, what else is going on? Inflammation is huge, as well. And you know, we certainly don’t want to be taken iron, if we didn’t need it, you don’t want to be taken too much. And so it’s all about tweaking, tweaking all of those things. So, so just we’re sort of running out of time soon. So what just if someone’s listening to this, and they’re thinking, I’m feeling so lost, what am I going to do? I don’t know where to start and you know, that overwhelmed with kind of all the possibilities of what they now are thinking they should or could be doing. What would you like to say to the listeners? Yeah,

Katy Bradbury  44:29

I think that there is really something to be said for making sure that you’ve got the basics covered. Because you know, this, this is a rabbit hole and us as practitioners, we are, you know, we are trained we are used to delving in the rabbit, you know, into the rabbit hole, but what we do see is a lot of people trying to delve into the rabbit hole themselves and getting overwhelmed with information and then that of course, drives their stress levels up. So great if you’re, you know, if you’re trying to be proactive and learn about these Use yourself brilliant. If you are wanting to dig deep, I would really strongly recommend working with a qualified practitioner on this. Having said that, if you’re like thinking, I just need to start somewhere, then you know, you’re right in terms of the, those building blocks that you spoke about, and that the hierarchy of okay, ask the basic questions like, am I ovulating, you know, are asking those questions? And is there any? Is there any obvious mechanical thing going on? So these are things that you can get tested on the NHS? Right? And then it might be that you that you ask questions around diet, like, you know, I have a whole, a whole programme, that it’s just called the fundamentals for fertility, and that is just about getting the basics down, like, am I eating and nutrient dense enough diet that’s going to be meeting the needs of my reproductive system? Am I managing my stress levels? Am I doing the things that are going to be helping to support the health of my eggs, and my vagina? Vaginal house, and and my partner’s sperm health? You know, are we doing those things and so there’s, there’s, there’s kind of tick boxes that you can do in terms of actually getting the basics right. And you know, a lot of the time, if you just want advice that loads of us talk about this on our Instagram channels, in terms of like the best dietary approaches and this kind of thing. So it’s really, it’s just start with the basics. And if you know that, maybe you’re, you know, if your sleep is terrible, and you’re really stressed, or you know, you don’t exercise at all, or you really exercise a lot, you know, exercise furiously, then those are all things we always want balance. So always trying to question like, am I balanced? Is my diet balanced? Or is my work life balanced? Is my you know, is there balance in my life? Because really, that those are the underlying principles that we’re searching for? Yeah,

Sandra  47:01

I agree. And you can look up the wheel of life quite new online, which is really useful. And you know, you can change the topics. But certainly, it can be quite eye opening in terms of what areas of your life are not balanced, and a lot of the time, actually, it’s your relationship with your partner, isn’t it? And you might need to focus a bit more on that and sort of dialling down some of the other things that actually don’t bring you so much joy and actually can be a source of stress in your life. And you sort of feel like you should be able to cope or be able to do those things. But yeah, I think that what you said the track to the cycle tracking actually an understanding your cycle, as a female trying to conceive is absolutely key because almost nobody actually ovulates on day 14. And we’re all told that we all ovulate on day 14, we don’t it’s just a myth. It’s just a medium number. It’s just nonsense. It’s actually nonsense. And, you know, learning to understand when you ovulate, which you can do by temperature tracking, and there’s lots of different ways to track your temperature, which are really simple nowadays. And you know, there’s so many options there, tracking your cervical mucus, or using a device, you know, and we can advise on all of the various options out there. Again, there’s so many now but finding out when you ovulate, and then actually making sure that the window between ovulation and your your first day, the next menstrual period is long enough. So we’re looking for at least 10 days. And, you know, again, spotting can be a sign that there’s something going on with low progesterone, for example. And so really beginning to listen to your body and understanding what is going on. is really powerful, because only then can you begin to make changes.

Katy Bradbury  48:56

Yeah, yeah, I am. If you’re doing Shane and Sandra, I did. I wrote an article for glamour online on about about this a little while back, so just called Am I ovulating. And that can be like a guide of asking those questions on, you know, how do I know if I’m ovulating? And what’s actually happening to my hormones that different types of times in the menstrual cycle?

Sandra  49:18

Yeah, brilliant. And so you mentioned your course. How do we find out more information?

Katy Bradbury  49:26

Yeah, so that’s, that’s a it’s a 12 week programme. It’s online. And it’s released over 12 weeks? Because it’s really starting from the basics. And actually the first module is called it starts with regard because is that really the focal point of where we want to begin in terms of our overall health and then by proxy, our reproductive health so so it’s six modules, and it leads you through all of those those fundamental elements of Okay, you know, making sure that my gut health is optimised as far as possible, then my nutrition and then it looks at stress. And you know, it’s very practical. And there’s, there’s lots of additional tools in there to help you on your way. So if you’re, you know, at a point in your journey where you’re thinking, I could use a bit of guidance and support with this, I’m not sure if I’m ready to like, really, you know, jump in and commit or, you know, if cost is a factor of kind of getting the really in depth investigation done, then that’s a it’s a great starting point, because any of us fertility, nutritionist, those are the principles that we would work through, together with you to kind of get the baseline stuff sorted. So regardless of whether you then choose to go on to do investigations, like it’s always worth getting those those those fundamental pieces in, so certainly, I can give you a link to that for the show notes. If that’s helpful for people as well.

Sandra  50:54

Great. And your website is Katy.

Katy Bradbury  50:59

Yeah, it’s just Katy, so Katy, with a Y www.katybradbury.com. And on Instagram, if anyone wants to come and find me on Instagram, I’m known for doing the occasional rant on Instagram, and I’m @katybradburyhealth

Sandra  51:13

Great. Yeah, Katy’s Instagram is brilliant and full of really useful sort of snippets of information, and also very empowering, I think, and so yeah, thanks so much, Katy. It’s been so lovely to kind of catch up properly and hear your story. And I’m sure that those who are listening are feeling a bit more empowered and sort of more strategic now. Yeah, and

Katy Bradbury  51:39

I think that is like one of the key messages and even within the 12 week programme, one of the key messages is, you know, acknowledging that yes, this can feel overwhelming, but just start somewhere like just take a step, you know, the most simple steps or something and you can build from there. So you know, if it is overwhelming for you right now, listening to this like that, that’s okay, because there’s a lot to it. But but just taking a step is is is really significant.

Sandra  52:07

Absolutely. And if you need help, we’re here I really enjoyed this chat with Katy and I hope you enjoyed listening to this episode. Please like share, save and rate this podcast if you find it useful, as it helps us reach more people. And if you’re looking for fertility specialists to support you or practitioners can be contacted over at www.fertilitynutritioncentre.org. They will offer a free strategy call to help you decide on your best next steps on your journey. Thank you for listening.