image from flickr
When I was looking for an image, I searched 'fertility' and this image came up saying it was displaying 'the lines of fertility.'
IVF – every second person has had it, needs it or is about to start it and whilst the excitement of having a baby stands before them, I'm not sure they were ever fully prepared for the mission they were/are about to embark on. You see, IVF is hard going. Painfully hard. I'm not here to put you off by any means, I'm here to help and share how to make your journey less of a roller coaster.
There are many stress factors associated with IVF. Hormonally, a woman's body is literally shut down and re-booted. This is a massive deal because it's not made to be turned on an off like a light switch – and whilst this is essential for egg harvest and collection (the process where follicules are taken from the ovaries ready to be fertilised by the males sperm), it isn't something a woman would want to do every day of the year. It's literally a trip down menopause lane and back again, all within a few short weeks. On top of this is what I call 'fertility stress'. The idea of 'we might never have a baby and we must get this done now' or 'this is never going to happen' just adds extra pressure to the mix – which is the last thing anyone needs! There are many causes of stress – including preconceptions, fear, nervousness, and lack of control. When things don't seem to happen immediately in the natural fertility world, it's only natural for a couple to begin to worry (very often unnecessarily) that it might never happen, not to mention the pressure that'everybody else seems to having babies all over the place.
And as if that's not enough to worry about, there's the cost – see, more stress!
It's a stressful process that can leave people pushed to their limits. Fortunately, couples do it, every single day of the year, and survive. It's all about maximising fertility and recruiting coping mechanisms to relieve pressure – and that is where I step in.
Over the past few years, I have been researching, practicing and performing IVF support treatments in the clinic, and have developed an unique and extremely supportive approach. IVF is ever changing and to keep up with the times, allied practitioners need to move with them. Through the IVF process, like everything in life – absolutely no two couples are the same which is probably why Chinese Medicine works so very well. Had I $1 for every time a patient has come to me and said, my specialist is fine with the acupuncture but its a no go with the herbs – I'd be on a greek Island sipping pina coladas by now. Reality is, I know herbs. I know Chinese Medicine and I know what works. My specialist field is natural fertility and IVF support and so I go by what is safe and what works the best. For these patients who are hesitant, we are more than happy to work with their wishes alongside the guidance of their fertility specialist – BUT if they don't respond well or fail to get a quality egg collection, we are armed with wonderful treatments and natural herbal medicines to boost their fertility out of the water. Avoiding overstimulation whilst a woman is on a course of fertility treatment is essential – and we take extreme caution in what is prescribed and when it is taken.
Want to know the biggest mistake we can make with IVF? Discounting the male aspect and putting all the focus on the female. It's not all about the lady! It is most certainly up to 60% the males part when putting together an embryo. Poor sperm may be responsible for a host of issues including recurrent miscarriage, lack of quality fertilised embryo's or no embryo's at all. We can do wonderful things for sperm by hitting the male body with a big punch of antioxidents, acupuncture and herbal medicines. We know that sperm take 90-120 days to regenerate, and with the right treatment based on a semen analysis, the results can be outstanding – in many instances we see extremely poor sperm quality change to increase a couples chance by over 50%. Be cautions of what you are told when it comes to sperm – most of my patients are told their semen is 'fine' and enough to fertilise an embryo – which may be true however, when the quality is compromised, we can't expect great embryos – the same embryos that will most likely not 'stick'. If you recall a post I wrote several months back about semen here - you might remember me saying this; 'Quality of semen has decreased by up to 50% in recent years – men are ejaculating half the amount of sperm they were in the past – this may be one reason why we continue to see infertility rates rise. (Andrew Orr, 2010.)' The success of fertility rests with both male and female. No wonder we are seeing fertility rates drop.
Acupuncture during IVF is paramount for so many reasons – for both men and women (another key to IVF success). Essentially it prepares the body for the upcoming transfer, helps to thicken the endometrial lining, support egg collection, relieve stress, calm the body and encourage implantation. It's the all round best treatment you can add to your IVF.
As I mentioned before – IVF costs a lot. When we add this kind of detailed care to their IVF journey, we are essentially lowering the number of embryo transferred required and therefore we lessen the potential cost but a lot. What a relief! This comes as music to all couple's ears – especially those who have been at it for a while. And yes, it is these couples that we see at their wits end (those that have been at it for a long time) that jump across the table when I say to them we like to see success within 2-3 transfers. Although we can't guarantee this, this is the trend we see in the clinic.
When we tie this all together essentially our focus is:
1. Analyse the fertility of the couple as a unit – not separate entities because both are equally important in creating a quality embryo.
2. Maximise a woman's fertility PRE IVF to ensure the body is prepared and ready to be responsive to treatment.
3. Using a semen analysis and genetic testing, to determine any male factors which may compromise success and treat accordingly.
4. Supporting the couple through IVF from start to finish (and through pregnancy also to prevent miscarriage)
Applying this treatment approach has seen amazing results in the clinic. Everyday we are blown away by the impact of our protocol – simply from getting it right from the get go. We are here to support couples every step of the way and having our support combined with their fertility clinic proves to be the winning combination. I've said it many times before – the proof is in the pudding! Literally…