Fertility Issues, miscarriage and the use of therapies.
As a experienced therapist I work with couples, women and men every day that are struggling to conceive a baby. In addition, I also see women that are finding it difficult to maintain a healthy full term pregnancy.
The overwhelming anguish and sense of loss experienced by women struggling with infertility issues is an unwelcome motivator to explore treatments options that will increase their chances of conceiving a healthy baby. From fertility drugs, IVF, donor eggs and embryos to acupuncture and other natural remedies.
There is growing evidence that Acupuncture when used in conjunction with western fertility treatments increases conception rates by 26%. A recent study at Tel Aviv University demonstrated that when combining IUI with acupuncture treatments, 65.5 percent of the test group were able to conceive, compared with 39.4 percent of the control group who received no acupuncture treatment.
The Science behind Infertility
Because of the delicate balance between the hypothalamus, pituitary, and reproductive glands, stress is capable of preventing a woman from ovulating entirely. This can contribute to the cause of female infertility. Stress can also create spasms in both the fallopian tubes and the uterus, which can interfere with movement and implantation of a fertilized egg. In men, stress can alter sperm counts, motility, and cause impotence. Acupuncture infertility treatment counters the effects of stress and cortisol by releasing endorphins in the brain.
Hormonal balance does not have to be disrupted by cortisol to cause infertility. The most common cause of female infertility is an ovulation disorder (see further details below), in which the release of a mature egg from the ovary is prevented, usually because of a hormonal imbalance. Without enough progesterone, for example, the fetus is unable to attach to the uterus. High levels of prolactin, the hormone that stimulates the production of breast milk, can also prevent ovulation.
An imbalance in reproductive hormones can also negatively affect male reproductive function, such as sperm motility and production. However, the fertility drugs that stimulate ovulation in women by
The Potential of Acupuncture to Increase Chance of Conception
Acupuncture can increase fertility by reducing stress, increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs and balancing the endocrine system, according to several studies and medical research.
The goal of an infertility Acupuncture treatment from a Chinese medicine perspective is not just to get pregnant, but to stay pregnant and to have a healthy baby.
Among many other benefits, acupuncture can provide better blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, creating a stronger chance for an egg to be nourished and carried to term.
Modern acupuncture consists of the gentle insertion and stimulation of thin, disposable sterile needles at strategic points near the surface of the body. Over 2,000 acupuncture points on the human body connect with 14 major pathways, called meridians.
Chinese medicine practitioners believe that these meridians conduct qi, or energy, between the surface of the body and internal organs. It is qi that regulates spiritual, emotional, mental and physical balance. When the flow of qi is disrupted through poor health habits or other circumstances, pain and/or disease can result.
For all the reasons mentioned above Acupuncture is usually the first treatment option that I offer a individual who has fertility issues or has had a recent miscarriage. However, there will be occasions when I would discuss with the individual the option of having Hypnotherapy or Reflexology as either a alternative to Acupuncture or to combined with Acupuncture.
Hypnotherapy is particularly beneficial if the individual or couple are worrying about their ability to conceive. It can a worrying and anxious time for a couple whether they are trying to conceive their first child or subsequent children.
For some women who are trying to conceive their second child there is fear & worry any complications that arose during the birth of their first child will have a negative impact on their ability to conceive further children.
Hypnotherapy can be a wonderful relaxing experience which can really help you increase your confidence and belief that you will be able to conceive naturally or by using an assisted fertility programme such as IVF.
To maximise the benefit of the Hypnotherapy treatment I record the Hypnosis session on your mobile phone, so you can listen to the recording anytime you wish to.
From a Neuroscience point of view, we know that by listening to a recording a minimum of 3 times a week this starts to embed the suggestions in the subconscious mind (this is essential to create permanent change to a individual’s way of thinking and belief system).
I also offer Reflexology treatments to women & men who are trying to conceive and during pregnancy. Reflexology is a wonderful relaxing experience and can really help to reduce the level of stress hormones in the body which positively increases conception rates and the maintain a healthy pregnancy.
If time allows I can add a short Reflexology treatment on to the Acupuncture treatment at no additional cost to increase your sense of relaxation and enhance a good restful night’s sleep.
I offer a free 30-40 minute consultation which is a great opportunity for you to discuss your concerns and needs.
Background information about fertility issues, acupuncture & lifestyle advice.
One in six UK couples have difficulty conceiving a baby within one year of trying (having sex every two to three days) if the woman is under 40. In addition, of those couples who do not conceive in the first year about half will do so in the second year of trying for a baby.
Fortunately, now there is a much greater help and acknowledgement of the challenges both emotionally and physically couples face if there are unable to conceive.
Now with the help of IVF, Donor Sperm, Artificial Insemination, Fertility Drugs, Donor Eggs, Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection there is array of medical options available to assist the couple who are have difficulties conceiving.
Although, there is a lot more help and options available for couples with fertility problems it can be still a challenging time. Several studies have demonstrated that Acupuncture can increase fertility by reducing stress, increase blood flow to the reproductive organs and balancing the endocrine (hormonal) system.
In fact when used in conjunction with western fertility treatments (as mentioned above), acupuncture increases conception rates by 26 percent. When combining with IUI with Acupuncture, 65.5 percent of the test group were able to conceive compared with 39.4 percent of the control group who received no acupuncture.
For the couples who have difficulty conceiving around one third are due to female fertility problems, one third to male fertility and the remaining third is due to unexplained unknown factors!
Firstly, I will discuss female infertility and it’s known causes and lifestyle factors and what can be done and then male infertility and again what can be done.
Most cases of female infertility are (when there is a identified cause) caused by problems with ovulation. Without ovulation, there are no eggs to be fertilised. Some signs that a woman is not ovulating normally include irregular or absent menstrual periods.
Ovulation problems are often caused by Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a hormone imbalance problem which can interfere with normal ovulation. PCOS is the most common cause of female infertility (classic signs of PCOS are excessive hair growth, acne and being overweight).
Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) is another cause of ovulation problems. POI occurs when a woman’s ovaries stop working normally before she is 40. POI is not the same as early menopause.
What increases a woman’s risk of infertility?
- Age (egg quality decreases with age)
- Smoking (increase risk of ectopic pregnancy, greater risk of cervical cancer, premature aging of the ovaries, decrease in the number of eggs)
- Excess alcohol use (binge drinking of more than 4 drinks in one session is particularly damaging)
- Stress (leads to release of hormone Cortisol which upsets the Pituitary balance which is key in reproductive)
- Poor diet, history of eating disorder, erratic eating
- Endometriosis, fibroids or polyps in the uterus
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Previous ectopic (tubal) pregnancy
- Athletic training loss of body fat (regular long distance running can affect hormone balance which can affect ovulation).
- Being quite overweight or underweight (women with anorexia nervosa or bulimia often do not ovulate).
- Sexually transmitted infections can cause scarring & adhesions which makes conceiving more difficult
- Health problems that can cause hormonal changes as mentioned above under stress, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, primary ovarian insufficiency, other chronic health problems uncontrolled diabetes, chronic kidney disease
- A side effect from some medications such as Chemotherapy, street drugs such as Cannabis and Cocaine can also affect the ability to ovulate.
- Rare genetic problems that affect the ovaries.
- Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser syndrome born without a uterus (womb)
As we can see from the above there are many factors that can affect a woman’s ability to conceive. The good news is there are many things women and men ( see below on Male Infertility) can do to enhance their fertility.
Lifestyle and Fertility.
Getting pregnant is the first part of the story, the next step is maintain a healthy pregnancy.
Both you & your partner are equally important here. Making lifestyle changes in order to get pregnant can be challenging for some but making improvements will improve not only your health, it will give you more energy and increase your ability to conceive.
Diet & Weight
- Eat healthy fats. Eliminating trans fats and using more vegetables (unsaturated) oils is good not only for fertility but avoiding heart diseases, damage to blood vessels and improving insulin sensitivity. Nuts, vegetables oils, fish like salmons and sardines and nuts.
- Eat protein from vegetables and a small amount of meat (if you eat meat). Proteins from peas, beans, soy and nuts have been shown to improve fertility.
- Carbs are important, but slow carbs are a better choice. Food rich in fiber, such as vegetables, whole grains, fruits and beans are rich in carbohydrates that are digested slowly, improving fertility, controlling blood glucose and insulin levels.
- Eat your Iron. Iron rich plants such as beans, spinach, tomatoes, pumpkin, beats and whole grains are all fertility boosters.
- Drink a lot of water (but not icy water as this makes your digestion sluggish and will decrease your energy)
- When you eat take your time and chew your food, try to eat when not feeling stressed. Stress affects the how we digest our food.
Sleep and Relaxation
- Lack of sleep damages fertility. During the night our body recharges itself (a bit like recharging our mobile phones), not only does the body recharge but the mind does as well. The reality before electricity we humans went to bed shortly after the sun set and we got up with the sun. In fact we know that body’s hormonal levels respond to light & dark in a complex way relying on sleeping and waking cycles to establish hormonal balance. Light pollution can affect egg viability. When the sun goes down or the lights go off and you head to dreamland your body produces Melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleeping and waking cycles.
Male Infertility causes
Like women there can be many causes of male infertility. It’s also worth remembering that 30 percent of couples who struggle to conceive a baby there is no identified cause.
Some common causes of male infertility are:
- Quantity of sperm. A low sperm count is clinically defined as less than 15 million sperm per millilitre of semen.
- Quality of sperm. The quality of your sperm may be impacting on your fertility, such as sperm mobility. Sperm mobility
- Testicular damage
- Ejaculation disorders
such as having a healthy nutritious diet, reduce weight gradually if overweight, if underweight then increase intake of protein ideally from vegetables such as peas, beans, soy and nuts, have your ideal body mass index between 20 to 24, stop smoking, reduce stress levels and ideally introduce some ‘me time’ everyday, reduce alcohol consumption, get a good night’s sleep, stop taking street drugs, taking regular exercise has been found to increase fertility, stop taking Ibuprofen & non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as research has shown this medication can interfere with the ovulation & the release of the egg from the follicle and in men can reduce sperm count, stop or reduce caffeine levels (this includes coffee, tea,fizzy drinks, , and consider having acupuncture treatment if you are concerned above your fertility.