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I see patients from all walks of the fertility journey.  Some natural fertility, some assisted conception and some, that have truly been over the hill, to the moon, around the block and back again.  One thing I know is this; the fertility journey can be tough.  Really tough.  That's why I write here – to share some of that load, to educate and help others make well informed decisions.  I was connected with Candace and Chris from our mis-conception several weeks ago.  They write a fabulous blog and share about their journey – a very rough, tough and heartbreaking one thus far.  Take the time to look around their site – it may be exactly the support you are needing in your own journey – it's all about connecting.  Connecting with people who are in the same boat – grabbing the orr's and rowing together.  

I've wanted to touch on the physical and emotional strain of IVF for a long while – and whilst I see and share with hundreds of couples in this position, I myself have not personally experienced IVF.  So I asked Candace and Chris to share with us, from their perspective, how IVF has affected their lives.  I figure there is no better than those living it, to tell their story.  My main motivation for it is this – to help couples understand IVF isn't necessarily the easy route (although for some, the only route, granted).  In fact, it is far from simple and straightforward as you are about to see.  It makes for a very straining, painful and disconnected time.  I want you to remember, IVF isn't always a last resort either – I also see people who are told they will never have children, fall pregnant.  But, by some tiny miracle, they do.  Trust me, it happens.

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More of your fertility questions answered.

"I am wondering at what point you recommend going the medical intervention route (if at all)? We have been trying for 3.5 years.  The specialist ….. recommended trying natually as long as we wanted to, and then if we had no luck the next step would be clomid and IUI.  Do you have any advise about when to take that next step? I am 33."

I'm not at all opposed to assisted conception – in fact approximately 40% of the couples I see in the clinic come to us for support surrounding reproductive medicine, from clomid to IVF.  Sometimes, assisted conception is the best way moving forward.  Sometimes, especially in instances of couples who have been trying for a long period of time, it is whatever gets you to parenthood the quickest because as time goes by, emotional health begins to fade.  What we know is when we add acupuncture and herbal medicines to the mix, we see an increase in success by up to 70%.  This is mostly because the body is well cared for from top to toe – not just focusing the reproductive organs.  We know when the whole body is supported, we see great outcomes.  

As for a time frame to head toward medical assistance – it will differ for all couples.  In the clinic I apply a certain protocol.  Once I'm satisfied both partners have a certain level of wellness and fertility,  I allow six months, before we might begin to discuss further exploration.  One thing I have learnt is that the longer a couple is trying, the more disheartened they generally become, which does no favours for their fertility – because fertility isn't only a state of physical wellness, it also involves the emotions.

I am also wondering if there is anything you can recommend in terms of Chinese medicine for someone on a limited budget? I talked to a wonderful local practitioner about acupuncture for fertility and he said he would want to see me a few times a week for at least several weeks at a cost of $100 per session. The time commitment would be very difficult to manage, and while I don't doubt it would be worth every penny the several thousand dollar investment simply isn't an option for me right now.

My best advice is to find a practitioner that can work within your parameters.  Each practitioner's approach will differ, and this is because they do what they find works well in their practice.  For me, I like to see patients on average, twice a month, as well as the use of prescribed supplements.  I find this works really well for me and we achieve fantastic results using this protocol.  

Get to the bottom of what is happening for you.  Make sure you and your partner are in great shape, gear your lifestyle toward fertility (the new e-book out this week is your perfect go-to for this), have a semen analysis (I'm only ever too happy to look over one of these) and make sure your menstrual cycles are sound. Once you have ticked all these boxes, should things not be happening for you, it's time to look further and seek assistance.

In most instances, this is enough to provide a solid foundation for a happy and healthy pregnancy.