Are you taking an holistic approach to infertility?
When couples have been struggling to conceive for 12 months or more they are encouraged to see their doctor for fertility tests. If all the results come back ‘normal’ then they are often told they have Unexplained Infertility. This diagnosis can leave people feeling slightly bewildered and disappointed because there is no actual explanation given as to why they aren’t conceiving naturally. These couples are often then put on the waiting list for IVF treatment.
Just to put this into perspective, here are some statistics from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA, ‘Fertility Treatment 2014 Trends and Figures’). According to the latest figures the percentage of couples seeking standard IVF by the reason they sought treatment, is as follows:
5% – Endometriosis
10% – Male Factor
12% – Tubal Disease
3% – Male and Female Factor
38% – Unexplained Infertility
10% – Ovulatory Disorder
5% – Multiple Female Factor
Unexplained Infertility counts for an overwhelming majority of the couples seeking IVF treatment and yet the live birth rate following IVF treatment is only 25% (in 2013). This makes me wonder if couples who have been given this diagnosis, should be going straight into IVF treatment as their first plan of action. Especially in light of the fact that IVF treatment was originally designed for women with blocked fallopian tubes.
From a holistic perspective if the body is not falling pregnant naturally, I feel there has to be a reason why not and perhaps the answer to this question lies outside of the standard fertility testing that the NHS provide.
As far as the body is concerned reproduction is not a priority. In fact, it’s the lowest priority with everything else coming before it. This means that the body needs to be balanced because the body views reproduction as not that important. Interestingly, the body views managing stress as the most important thing, so it sits at the very top of the body’s priority list and as I’m sure many of you have heard, stress is a major block to natural conception.
I’m a homeopath and I work with couples who are struggling to conceive naturally and who either want support for their IVF treatment or want to avoid going down the IVF route and so want help with conceiving naturally. In my clinic I see a lot of couples who have been told they have unexplained infertility and I feel that there are 3 key factors that influence this.
- The hand you got dealt at birth
The first factor is the hand of cards you got dealt at birth. What I mean by this is when we are born we will have our own unique way of being in the world. Some babies are strong and resilient, and some are more sickly. We would see this as how strong the immune system is for example. In homeopathy we call this, your constitutional type. The constitutional type takes into consideration a person’s mental and emotional nature. I, as the homeopath would want to understand your constitution so that I can use homeopathic treatment to strengthen it.
I would start by asking you about your unique fears and anxieties along with your food likes and aversions. I would want to know how you respond to different weather conditions and environments. How you sleep, what makes you alert, tired and what areas of your body tend to feel weak when you’re stressed. I’d also be observing your physical characteristics i.e.: are you tall, thin, big eyes, long eyelashes etc…as well as asking you what your body temperature is like, i.e.: do you have cold hands and feet or are you so burning hot generally that you need the window open, even in the winter time. Understanding what makes you tick in this way emotionally and physically helps me to know how to strengthen your body. I often tell my clients that it’s like I’m giving your body a MOT as you would with your car so that it runs at its most optimal level.
The other major factor that affects the hand you got dealt at birth are your inherited weaknesses or tendencies that are passed down through the family i.e.: your genetics. This might be really obvious, like for example your Grandmother had an early menopause and your mother had a history of fibroids. Both issues are clearly hormone related, potentially being passed down the female line to you and are affecting your hormonal tendencies. However, it might be less obvious, like for example a distant relative having TB or many family members having had cancer. What is wonderful is that we as homeopaths have a unique set of homeopathic remedies that can push back and strengthen these inherited weaknesses that could be influencing whether you can conceive naturally.
- Your weak spot in the body
The second factor that I feel influences a diagnosis of unexplained infertility is your weak spot in the body. When we are stressed, under par, burning the candle at both ends, we get often become more susceptible to getting ill. Every person will tend to get ill in a slightly different way. For example, one person will tend to get migraines, or another person will get sinus problems or their athletes foot will come back. There are many ways in which the body will show us that it’s not happy and out of balance. Most of us just get used to these issues being there from time to time and see them as almost normal and part of our everyday life. However, if your body is focusing on dealing with a migraine every couple of weeks, it’s not focusing all its energy on Reproduction and that’s where you want it to be focussed.
As human beings we are very adaptable. When we are children we spring out of bed with bucket loads of energy. But as we grow older this energy gets eroded and we adapt to feeling sluggish in the morning and craving sweets in the afternoon, but this is not our natural state of being. As a homeopath I want to understand what your body does when it is out of balance so that we can bring your body back into perfect harmony. Allowing your bodies focus and attention to be directed at reproduction as well as everything else.
- How you’ve lived your life
The third factor is how you’ve lived your life and your lifestyle. I’m sure many of you reading this will understand lifestyle factors affect your fertility. No doubt you’ve been looking at your diet, eating more vegetables, cutting out processed foods and sugar, reducing your alcohol intake and stopping recreational drugs. Reducing your caffeine and improving your light exposure and the number of hours sleep you get per night.
But outside of these lifestyle adjustments which are all important, are the factors that perhaps have been less in your control. For example, the stresses, traumas, accidents, heart breaks, griefs and losses that can have an enormous impact on our body, health and fertility. With homeopathic remedies I have helped release held trauma and emotion for people that had they been left there could well have had a negative influence on their fertility.
Another important aspect that I like to discuss with my clients when it comes to their current lifestyle is how much time space and energy is currently available in their life right now for a baby. So many of my clients are juggling a lot of different things i.e.: nursing a sick relative, managing a busy job, a difficult commute, they may be renovating a home etc…. Our lives are busier than ever, and this leads to a low level of constant stress which can have a negative impact on fertility.
What I recommend my clients do is have an honest word with themselves and ask, if I was delivered a baby tomorrow would I have enough time and energy for it? If the answer is NO, then you need to put in the steps that would free up that all important time and energy so there is space in your life for a baby to come into. Perhaps you need to get a cleaner, or you need to ask for help or perhaps you need to cut your hours down at work. Whatever it is that will give you that time and energy back could make all the difference.
In conclusion, I feel that there is ALWAYS a reason that you are not getting pregnant even when you have been told there isn’t. The NHS may not have a test to show it right now or the time to uncover it but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Taking a holistic approach, viewing the person as a whole and all the many things that has happened to the person along life’s journey can give clues as to where and why their fertility has become compromised. Then once we know where the issues are coming from, we can formulate a strategy that can bring the person back into balance, allowing conception to happen, whether that’s naturally or alongside assisted conception methods.