Have you been trying forever to get pregnant? Are you worried about your fertility? No period after stopping the pill? Do you have endometriosis or PCOS? Have you been told your only option is IVF/ART?
Trying for a baby has become increasingly difficult for couples. Studies have shown that as many as 15% of couples experience fertility issues throughout their reproductive lives, and are seeking alternative options, including IVF (In-vitro Fertilisation) and ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology), to enhance their conception possibilities.
Just about everyday couples come to my clinic telling me they can’t get pregnant. They have been trying for ages (anywhere from a couple of months to several years) to conceive and every month the home pregnancy test disappoints. They have tried everything, and have been to everyone- doctors, gynaecologists and fertility specialists, only to be told there is not other option than IVF or ART. Thousands of dollars flash before their eyes. Not to mention, IVF/ART can be stressful, both emotionally and physically. There are the drugs, the myriad of appointments to attend, further tests to be conducted, and still more disappointment as it is unusual for it to work the first time- on average it takes at least 3 IVF cycles for success.
FERTILITY: WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF “INFERTILITY”?
If only I had the ultimate answer to this question…. I don’t, so lets rely on the experts. In the most recent 2011 report on ART in Australia and New Zealand, it is stated that the causes of “infertility” may relate to female infertility factors (28.5%), male infertility factors (22.5%), and combined female-male infertility factors at 14.3%. Thus both the female and male share responsibility, it is not just a female issue, but almost a 50:50 split. Blokes, you need to take note, and get involved!
Moreover, in the same report, an astonishing 22.7% of infertility was described as ‘unexplained infertility”. This is the stuff I love to get stuck into, and try to figure out what the cause of the apparent infertility is. I may approach this from a Chinese medicine model as well as Western medicine.
In my approach to treatment, I am hoping to help my couples get pregnant….naturally. Yes, even those whom have been through, or are about to go through IVF/ART, those that have been told there is no other option. Working intimately with these couples, I hope to discover and resolve the block to their ability to get pregnant.
Naturopathic principles are at the core of fertility, preconception and prenatal health care. Fertility and preconception health care involve striving for optimal health prior to conception attempts. As a health care practitioner, I am dedicated to help both prospective parents develop optimal physical and emotional health prior to conception.
“Optimal health of both parents, prior to conception, is a major factor that will positively influence reproductive outcomes” – Dr Miranda Myles
FERTILITY….ADDRESSING IT NATURALLY
There are a number of factors that may influence fertility and the subsequent health of your baby. Preconception health care is concerned with the ultimate health of your baby, improving your babies constitutional health and vitality.
Factors that need to be addressed and / or rectified that may be interfering with your conception and subsequent health of your baby include:
- Hormonal imbalances leading to amenorrhea (no periods), dysmenorrhea (painful periods), anovulation (not ovulating), PMT, PCOS, endometriosis, adenomyosis
- The negative effects of the oral contraceptive pill
- Environmental toxins, chemicals and food additives that may affect sperm parameters and menstrual cycles
- Natural Killer Cells
- Inflammation, immune and autoimmune conditions
- Mental and emotional factors such as anxiety, stress and adrenal exhaustion
- Nutritional Deficiencies
- Diet, including potential unrecognised food allergies
- Different lifestyle factors
- Inadequate or improper exercise
Let’s support IVF/ART….naturally
FERTILITY & IVF/ART- HOW SUCCESSFUL IS IT?
This question depends how we determine what “success” is in relation to IVF/ART. Pregnancy rates are considered to be fairly stable (30-35%) for each embryo transferred up to the age of 30, but then fall to 20% by 40 and are only 5% by 45.
In the most recent 2011 report on IVF/ART in Australia and New Zealand, 66,347 treatment cycles were undertaken in Australia and New Zealand. Of these, 23.1% resulted in a clinical pregnancy, not such a bad success rate. However, surely success should be measured in live births (ie the outcome being a live baby). In that case, ‘success’ rate of ART drops to a meagre 17.5%.
Despite this, there absolutely are times when trying to conceive naturally, without any assisted technology may not be the right choice for you. There are many reasons why this may be the case, such as other health conditions, and instead IVF/ART may be the most appropriate choice to make. You need to be supported in that decision. It may be worth considering options that work in conjunction with IVF/ART to improve its success rate and to help you manage the stress and anxiety that may be associated with it:
- Preconception health care has been shown to double IVF success rates. A Naturopath that specialises in this field best delivers preconception health care.
- IVF can be a highly stressful time. This is a specialty field of Naturopathic medicine. Naturopathic medicine is able to provide support for stress management, which enables IVF recipients to cope more effectively with ongoing treatment regimes.
- Acupuncture significantly enhances IVF outcomes according to many studies and research.
FERTILITY, ACUPUNCTURE AND IVF….NATURALLY
Studies have shown that as many as 15% of couples experience fertility issues throughout their reproductive lives, and are seeking alternative options to enhance their conception possibilities.
Acupuncture improves blood flow to the uterus, benefitting the uterine lining and preparing it for pregnancy. It may improve and regulate hormone levels.
So, lets get the words infertile, infertility, can’t get pregnant, no hope out of your vocabulary. Natural fertility is possible, and likely even when you’ve been told the opposite. Even if you need the help of IVF/ART, that may be the natural choice, the natural option for you. The way you chose to get pregnant is your form of natural, its your normal.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr Miranda Myles, Naturopath & Acupuncturist, is passionate about working with couples in the management of their fertility issues. Miranda is dedicated to help couples achieve optimal physical and emotional health prior to conception. Miranda provides a beautifully supportive and nurturing environment to allow you to reach your optimal health goals, to enable you to achieve a successful conception, pregnancy and baby.
As a Naturopath and Acupuncturist, Miranda is in a unique position to work with and support patients through IVF and ART. She has a thorough working knowledge of reproductive techniques. She understands, and is sympathetic to, both the physical and emotional distresses that may occur at this time.
During her consultation and work with couples, Miranda aims to teach you to understand and be in control of your fertility. Some of the approaches she may take include:
Teaching you how to track your cycle to know when you are fertile
- Techniques may include billings method, mucous and temperature charting
- Helping you understand, in so far as possible, when you are ovulating
- Making you aware of the best times to be ‘trying”