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Crowded Waiting Rooms: It’s Time for Women to Wake-Up to What’s Beneath Rising Infertility Rates

 

photo-AumatmaShah

I’d like to introduce Dr. Aumatma Shah, ND. She is an absolute delight and I’m blessed to know her as a friend and colleague. Below, I’ve reprinted an article she recently published. I know you’ll find her words encouraging, informative, and useful.
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Infertility is increasing at every age, from adolescence to mid-life. However, doctors have been ignoring the “toxic soup” which evidence suggests is at the cause behind so much “unexplained” infertility. By addressing the underlying causal factors, programs and treatments that restore vibrant reproductive health may be a pro-active response to increasing fertility in couples that want to start families.

Infertility studies by the Center for Disease Control in 2005 showed that 1 in about 8 women were unable to carry a child to term, a large decline from past surveys. One of the concerning discoveries of the study was the observation that the decline in fertility for women 15-24 of age

was very similar to the decline for women aged 25 years and over. Ages 15-24 are normally very fertile years—thus a decline in the youngest category of fertility that closely matches that decline in older women indicates the existence of a developmental threat that is fundamentally affecting adolescents’ natural development into fertile young women.

Another study noted that the rate of unexplained fertility 20 years ago was 20%. Today, it is 40%, double the rate, reinforcing the case for an unseen yet highly prominent threat to fertility at all ages. More so, infertility—though a topic that is intensely important to patients struggling to have a child—remains a taboo topic in social settings. Women (and men) frequently do not talk about their infertility issues, out of shame that something is wrong with them, and perhaps the feeling that no one else will understand. And yet, fertility clinics have waiting lists months long.

Medical procedures now available include in-vitro fertilization (IVF), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), and a vast array of drugs that help to increase the number of ovulated eggs per cycle. Certain statistics, ignoring other variables of women’s health, do seem to show that these procedures can be effective in helping some couples conceive, though success rates are considerably low.

From the Naturopathic perspective, procedurally inducing what the body is unwilling to do spontaneously indicates an underlying root problem that we would be ignoring or covering up if we opt into what modern science has to offer. Please do not misunderstand, there is a place for these technologies and they have helped a significant number of couples have children. However, pushing the body and overpowering the body with high doses of medications, can have its share of consequences.

From the holistic, integrative, and naturopathic medicine perspective, the reproductive system is one of the first body systems to be compromised when the rest of the body is struggling for optimal function. Though important from an evolutionary perspective, the reproductive system is not required for day-to-day functioning of the body and hence, likely to be compromised if the body is under high amounts of stress, or has other issues that take priority.

From the holistic perspective, what are some of the root causes of infertility? From my experience, I have summarized the root causes down to three major factors: Environmental Toxin Exposure, Stress, and Nutritional Deficiencies.

Any integrative fertility program that incorporates and addresses all three of these components, along with discovering and treating any hormonal imbalances is likely to be successful. And, not only that, a program such as this should leave couples feeling healthier, more energized, and with greater balance in their lives.

It is a very personal choice if and when to conceive a child. However, as a Fertility Specialist, I know that reproductive health is the first to decline when the body has too much to handle (stress, toxins, etc). The decreasing rates in fertility, including in adolescents, is a call to action. We, society-at-large, need to take action to have our reproductive health back to the level it should be, even if some never want to get pregnant, because fertility is a significant indicator of the overall health of the body conducive to better quality of life.  Declining fertility is a problem not only for couples wanting to start families, it is a global problem—indicating simply that our environment has become toxic for an increasing population of the human race, and we need to take global action against things like GMO foods, toxins in our water, and other compromises to fertility and overall health.

Dr. Aumatma Shah, ND, is a graduate of University of Bridgeport, College of Naturopathic Medicine (2006) with a dual Master’s degree in Nutrition. Dr. Aumatma Shah, ND, MS is the developer of the Fertility Success ProgramTM and she currently practices in Silicon Valley and the East Bay and works virtually with long-distance clients.  Her practice is focused on working with couples who want to start a family, whether they want to use only the natural approach or they want to work in an integrative setting. Dr. Aum is also a sought out speaker in Holistic Fertility Care. In her past notables, Dr. Aum founded the Karma Clinic Network- a service based, volunteer network for gift-economy health practitioners. More info about her and her services can be found at www.conceivenaturallynow.com.

Reprinted with permission from The Shift Network’s The Catalyst

Premature Ovarian Failure – New Hope

handsAssisted reproductive technologies (ART) do not hold the answer for everyone. You have to follow your heart and your values. It’s your journey, you decide how you want to experience it.

For those that find ART a source of hope, here’s a new finding. New research looks at new assisted reproductive technologies offering new hope for those facing premature ovarian failure.

New Hope for Infertlity, by Helen Ouyang, M.D. published on Parade.com, October 2, 2013

Pregnancy – Is It Possible for You?

young-rose-94186-mCan you get pregnant?  For many of us, the repeated failure to conceive is the first indication that our path to parenthood is taking an unexpected turn.  I remember feeling so defeated each month when my period showed up despite my best efforts to time, measure, and track every observable detail of my reproductive cycle.

And then there were those cycles when I thought and hoped with every fiber of my being that I was … perhaps … actually pregnant.

Kaboom! Hope was shattered sending splinters through my heart and soul when, damn it, again the bleeding would start. WTF!

And then there was the time when I thought I was pregnant … and trying so hard to keep breathing, to not hold my breath, to keep moving so the days could pass … and what, are you sure. By all that’s holy … I was actually, measurably pregnant.

Fireworks! Dancing! Singing! Massive celebration at the soul level!

I can get pregnant!

But the serious-business folks at the clinic told me they were “cautiously optimistic” – the blood test result was a low value and the odds were against holding the pregnancy.

Way to kill my buzz.

No matter, for today I am pregnant.  Today I stand in the space of possibility.  Today I acknowledge and celebrate that I CAN.

And, I can also acknowledge that I want a healthy embryo who can grow into a healthy baby.  I stand whole-heartedly in that possibility too.

And if this embryo cannot develop into a healthy baby, I acknowledge that my body’s wisdom will release this pregnancy.

I stand in that possibility and maintain my focused commitment to creating a healthy pregnancy.

In every conception there is a touch of magic, a miracle, a sprinkle of pixie dust … whatever you want to call it.  Every element must come together just so.  And even under lab conditions, putting all the right elements together in an optimal environment, without that touch of magic, a baby cannot develop.

This is the piece that is out of our hands – out of the hands of the humans who do their part in love or in technology.  Only in the hands of the Great Spirit, natural forces of the Universe, or however you want to identify it – that’s the magic key.  Our best practice is to acknowledge this truth and respect its wisdom.

Have you celebrated your pregnancies?  Even if you miscarried.  How beautifully magical that you conceived!

Can you stand in the place of possibility?

How does it feel when you consider standing in the place of possibility?

Try this on if you need some help accessing that place of possibility:

I am standing in possibility.
I can see so many directions to go.
In this moment I am  ____________________
I give thanks that I am ___________________
What does tomorrow hold? No need to spend today on that.
I feel my joy.
I feel my pain.
I remember and feel love.
This is how I live fully.

As always, I’d love to hear from you.

“Infertility” … “Fertility Challenged” … Insurance Coverage?

qmarkI’m wondering how folks feel about the word “infertility” vs. “fertility” and how you all feel about having fertility challenges considered a disease. I’d love to hear your thoughts and feelings.

From my point of view, of course there are a variety of physical conditions that can impact fertility negatively and some of these are classified as diseases. However, reading and hearing the label “infertility” rubs me the wrong way. It seems to infer hopelessness.

My experience involves a long 10-year road of “unexplained infertility” and I bristle at the notion of it being a disease. On the other hand, I can see where the labels of “infertility” + “disease” bring the advantage of validating the need for insurance coverage for “treatment.”

Another question I’m pondering:

If insurance is covering fertility “treatments,” what specific treatments do you believe should be included in that coverage. For example, do you believe all physical/medical treatments/technologies should be covered? Do you believe psychological/emotional/mental treatments/technologies/therapies should be covered? Do you feel/believe that any treatments that are currently available should be classified as elective, and if so, how should that impact insurance coverage in your opinion?

Please let it rip on your most heartfelt thoughts and feelings on these ideas.

IVF Statistics – Is it really all that?

in vitroIVF is not the only road to the holy grail of conception for those facing slim odds.  Some look to it as the magic bullet — the one “sure” way to be parents using “our own” eggs and sperm.  Even though it permeates the pop-culture mindshare — for example, HuffPost: IVF — it really is not the only answer and it’s not necessarily as reliable as it is often made out to be.  And for some, it is simply not a realistic option.

However, for those who will go the route of IVF, there is good news.  The advent of embryo vitrification (super-fast freezing) has greatly improved the viability of those embryos.  In fact, the trending thought in the ART community is that a frozen embryo transferred into a womb under “natural” cycle conditions (rather than “stimulated” conditions) has a better chance than a fresh transfer.

Dr. Geoffrey Sher calls for a revision to the way IVF success rates are reported so that patients TTC can make better-informed decisions. He suggests that going forward, IVF success rates should be reported as “live births per embryo transferred.” For more on his reasoning, his post Taking a Fresh Approach to Reporting IVF Success Rate Statistics makes a lot of sense and sheds clear light on how results of the current technology can be best assessed.

Are you considering IVF? What about vitrification? Have you discussed the choice of fresh transfer vs frozen transfer with your clinician? What have you tried to alleviate your fertility challenges before going to IVF?

IVF = in vitro fertilization
ART = assisted reproductive technology
TTC = trying to conceive

Infertility & Recurrent Pregnancy Loss – Could It Be Thyroid Autoimmunity?

Leslie Oldershaw, L.Ac

Leslie Oldershaw, L.Ac

On July 24th, Leslie Oldershaw, L.Ac  will be teaching about the connection between thyroid autoimmunity and infertility, early term miscarriage, and poor fetal health on a live free webinar. Thyroid autoimmunity is commonly found in women experiencing infertility or recurrent miscarriage. It can dramatically interfere with conception, increase the risk of first trimester miscarriages, and result in poor fetal development. You can significantly reduce these risks with appropriate management of your thyroid hormones and your immune system. Learn how TCM and functional medicine may be combined to the greatest advantage for a successful pregnancy outcome.

If you know you have a thyroid condition or if you are curious whether this might be a piece of the puzzle for you, click this link on Wednesday, July 24th at 5:30 pm (Pacific): http://bit.ly/Oldershaw  Leslie will be presenting through audio and a slide presentation.
MediGogy usually archives the free teleseminars, so you may try to click through after the date and time have passed if it’s not convenient for you to attend the live presentation.

Free Fertility Support for You from 20 Holistic Experts!

onphoneholdingbellyI know you’re struggling to conceive or panicked about miscarriages or you wouldn’t be visiting this blog. Well I’ve got something totally exciting to share today!! My friend Mayer Goyer has put together a series of training calls to support you — with the help of 20 fertility experts. Learn how you can use their advice as you develop your very own holistic plan — one that works with your body and your values.

This FREE online event is designed with your needs in mind. Mary and 19 of today’s top experts in the field know your’re looking for straight talk and proven advice on:

  • How to clear away the toxins and sources of stress that make conception difficult
  • Ways to open up constriction in your body and improve reproductive circulation
  • Natural remedies for fibroids, PCOS, and many other physical issues you face
  • Emotional and spiritual absolutes — to stay sane, peaceful, and connected

I know you’ll want to grab your spot right away. Click here to register — you’ll get 20 training call for free! And if you can’t make a call live, replays will be available shortly after each call.

Embarking on the Infertility Rollercoaster

roller_coaster
An Interview with Julie Pierce

click to listen

Have you been trying for a baby for a while now, and you’re now having to seek alternative methods to conceive successfully?

Have you been going down the road of IUI’s and IVF’s and still on that rollercoaster journey?

Have you experienced loss during your journey – with miscarriage in early stage or even late stage of pregnancy?

Wherever you are on this journey, it’s becoming commonly known that there are few things everyone experiences:

  • obsession with the fertility process
  • loss of balance with self, life and partnerships
  • a seeking for supporting the body and mind through alternative therapies
  • a confusion on which choices to make and when

and so much more…

In this interview, I’ll be sharing what to expect through this journey in much more detail and informaiton on how best to support yourself during your experience.  I’ll also share about my journey of heartache and success, and what I know you can do differently to feel whole, balanced, and healthy on your journey.

Please share this with anyone you think might also be interested.

Talk to you soon!

You’re Not Alone – Small Groups and Workshops

group_feetDo you feel like a freak?

Let me assure you, although your body is not doing what you expected it should do — and most likely what you had been actively preventing it from doing for many years — you are in good company. Knowing that fact and connecting with others who are experiencing similar frustrations and disappointments can go a long way to keeping your sanity in residence.

It’s old news that reducing stress is one of the most important things to do when you’re trying to conceive or heal in any way. But it’s also well-known that the very message “stress less” is like saying, “don’t imagine Super Man flying.”  Too late!

What if you could be part of a group that wasn’t just set up for complaining and commiserating, but provided acknowledgement of your painful reality as well as proven ways to relieve that pain?

Because I know the value and strength that you can draw from being a part of such a community, I am putting together small groups and workshops specifically for women who are facing or who have faced fertility challenges. These are small groups specifically for women like you and me.

If you’d like more information about these opportunities, please contact me to let me know which of the following small groups interest you:

  • Repeatedly trying to conceive with no conception
  • Compounding grief due to repeated miscarriage
  • Compounding grief due to late term demise

I’ll send you details as I get a feel for how many are interested and where most of us are located. And if you like being able to participate in a group remotely, there will be opportunity for that as well. So for all the details, let me know who you are and how I can reach you.

Fertility Journey Survey: Findings

Many women would have liked the support of a fertility coach from the beginning of the fertility journey and believe it would have reduced much confusion, fear, frustration, overwhelm, and the slide toward depression.

In February 2012, I began surveying women about their experience with the pursuit of parenthood and the fertility challenges that came up for them. By the end of March, I closed the survey so that I could take some time to organize and reflect on what participants had shared with me.

Depending on the ability to coordinate schedules and each woman’s desired level of participation, some surveys were conducted on the phone, in person, or via an electronic form. Much of the survey content is derived from the story-telling of each journey, but there were some yes/no and categorized-answer questions as well.

While each journey is significantly unique, there are some very clear common threads, the most obvious one being the focused, driving desire to become a parent. This focus is usually directed toward becoming pregnant, but sometimes intended parents find themselves making choices from a menu they had never considered part of their palette.

Here are some of the highlights:

93% of survey respondents have had, are having, or plan to have fertility treatments of one kind or another. Treatments are defined as actions on the physical body to enhance chances of conception and delivery. These actions may include acupuncture, herbs, dietary changes, application of oral or injectable medications or hormones, medical investigative procedures, and surgeries.

67% of participants who are no longer trying to conceive and deliver their first child said they would have liked the support of a fertility coach during their fertility journey. Many sought out support from online forums and friends who had also experienced challenges. Many expressed an interest in a managed and directed support group for women specifically going through same treatment protocols provided by fertility clinics. Many also believed that having the support of a fertility coach from the beginning of the journey would have reduced much confusion, fear, frustration, overwhelm, and the slide toward depression.

On average, women tried for 3 or more years before actually conceiving and carrying to term or giving up on the idea of carrying their own baby. This includes women experiencing secondary infertility as well as those trying to have their first baby.

It surprised me that only 17% of the women I surveyed were considering adoption or had found adoption to be the right answer for them. Those who have adopted are consistently and markedly passionate about their choice, and they generally feel moved to encourage others to include this option on their list of possibilities.

In general, the use of donor eggs and the option of surrogacy were not included in the vision of possibilities even when I asked the question directly. The idea of donor eggs evoked sadness at the thought that they would not be part of the makeup of their child. Some women were turned off by the cost of these two options, which is interesting in light of the fact that almost 20% would consider adoption even with it’s high cost. However, it is informative to remember that foster-to-adopt programs greatly reduce the cost.

94% of the women I surveyed responded that they experienced a couple or all of the following feelings: failure; disappointment; betrayal.

67% of the participants believe they would make different choices if they were to rewind and start over. The most popular changes mentioned include:

~ Moving forward with life goals and activities instead of putting life on hold while trying to conceive
~ Letting the desire to be a parent affect them sooner rather than waiting for the “right” time
~ Discontinuing relationships that got in the way of pursuing the desire to become parents
~ Getting clear on the desire to be parents and seeking help sooner
~ Pursuing satisfying information and answers, no longer tolerating unanswered questions and confusion

Although there are plenty of other larger, more clinical and academic surveys done in this area, I wanted to do my own query into the things that struck me personally as important considerations. The questions I created were initially sparked from reflecting on my own fertility challenges and the desire to have a fuller understanding of the vast range of experiences encountered on this path. I have learned so much by connecting with the survey participants and their stories, and I know that the quality of the service I can provide has improved as a result of this expanded perspective.  Thank you to everyone who contributed and participated.

If you are interested in sharing your fertility journey story with me — whether you’re just beginning, are in the middle of it, or have moved on — I would love to hear from you. Please contact me in any of the ways mentioned on my Contact Page. If you have comments or thoughts about the results I’ve presented here, please share in the comments thread below the post.

Have you been the partner, friend, or relative of someone facing fertility challenges? I’d love to hear your observations of their journey too. Please contact me using any of the ways presented on my Contact Page.

I look forward to hearing from you and thanks for reading.