Tag Archive | infertility

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

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Robotic Treatment for Endometriosis Covered by Insurance

Veins of Life, by Tim Geers

According to RESOLVE, “an estimated three to five million American women of reproductive age” experience endometriosis. It is well known that endometriosis impacts fertility, but how it actually interferes with conception is still under much investigation. Treatment for endometriosis to prepare women for conception involves surgery and has been around for many years now. However, there is improved technology now available that promises to make the surgery more accurate and thorough, and patients are finding a significant reduction in recovery time and time to conception.

Dr. Samuel Brown of Jacksonville, FL is touted as the originator of this procedure. ActionNewsJax.com covered the story and includes a video. If you know you have endometriosis, I thought it would be worthwhile to share the link with you. If you think you might have endometriosis but you’re not sure, RESOLVE has a useful Questions to Ask Series Article that will help you understand and open a discussion about it with your doctor.

Because it is a common barrier to conception and because some of the symptoms overlap with other menstrual complaints, doctors will often want to rule it out right away before pursuing fertility treatments and assisted reproductive technology. When I initially brought concerns of infertility to my primary care doctor, endometriosis was one of the first things she wanted to look for. At that stage of my fertility journey, I was still in denial that there could be something physical standing between me and conception. I wasn’t willing to accept that endometriosis could be a possibility. In the end, it was shown that I did not have endometriosis; however, I could have eliminated the doubt of it and moved down a more confident and clear path of progress if I had simply checked it out at the first suggestion. No harm in gathering data when you are completely in the dark about why you are trying so hard but not conceiving — especially if the data gathering is covered by insurance.

 

 

Financial Assistance for Fertility Treatments or Adoption

Not only are you struggling with getting pregnant and carrying to term, but you are now facing some tough financial choices. Or worse, you think you have no choice when it comes to the money you need to get testing, hormones, meds, procedures or maybe adoption. Fertility Within Reach has compiled a list of resources for grants and financial assistance. Included are tips for filling out applications and a list of mistakes to avoid. There may be a surprise piece to your puzzle here.

Have you found resources that have been helpful to you in paying for expenses related to becoming a parent? If so, what has worked best for you? If you have insurance, who is your carrier and does your carrier support fertility treatments and/or adoption? Please share in the comments box below. Let’s help each other find solutions.

Increase Fertility, Naturally: From Experience Life Magazine

Kristin Ohlson, a regular contributor to Experience Life Magazine, has written an up-to-date, concise primer on preparing your body for conception. Her article Increase Fertility, Naturally gives 9 practical strategies for cultivating a healthy pregnancy. She starts out with the reminder that, according to RESOLVE, one in 10 of us will experience infertility.

Each of the 9 suggestions (with accompanying explanation) is valuable. If you take all 9 and implement them as a package, you’ll be setting a solid foundation for trying to conceive. Of course, there may be other issues to address, but don’t sneeze at this set of 9. It’s a perfect place to start to ensure you’re creating the best possible conditions. The article is also sprinkled with useful references.

My personal favorite is Number 7. Look Beyond the Numbers.

On the web version of this article, Kristin has included a 10th (a Web Extra) to help men create the best conditions for the swimmers too.

For those of you experiencing a deeper level of frustration on the fertility path, I’m offering a complimentary guide Freedom from Infertility Frustration: 6 Steps to Relief. Visit Whole Vision Coaching to have the guide sent to you.

Your Journey Continues

There are many visitors to this blog whose fertility journey continues or is just beginning. I’m so excited to be joining you on this journey. To keep this blog alive, I’ll be administering and responding to comments as they come in and creating new posts. We may have a guest blogger or two from time to time as well. Thank you, Coach Louise for the many posts you’ve created here and for so generously sharing your own journey with us.

I am Julie Pierce and my focus is on coaching women like you through your unique fertility journey, enabling you to cope with fertility challenges through education, mindset/perspective training, decision-making support, resource referrals, and emotional support. I was on my own long, sad, and frustrating fertility journey for about 10 years, and I would have greatly benefited from having someone to talk to, who had gone through similar trials, who could help me navigate all the information, decisions, and emotions. Looking back, I realize just how all-consuming the pursuit of motherhood had become for me; I really lost sight of the bigger picture of my life. It is my mission to help you stay connected, feel clear and stable, and continue to pursue motherhood for as long and in as many ways as correspond with your value system.

For more information about me and how I can support you, please click over to Whole Vision Coaching.

I spent a Friday and Saturday in May at the Seattle Reproductive Symposium learning about the latest trends and research in reproductive endocrinology, infertility and advanced reproductive technologies. I’ll be sharing some insights from the Symposium here over time. Attending conferences and symposiums is just one of the ways I stay on top of what’s happening in the world of reproductive research and technology.

Please keep the comments coming and if there’s a topic that you’d like to see, please contact me. I’d love to hear from you about your journey, what challenges you’re facing, and how you cope with the roller coaster that is often a large part of the experience.

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.

Fertility Awareness: Am I Infertile?

Graphic courtesy of RESOLVE niaw page

April hosts National Infertility Awareness Week. What exactly are we talking about here? As a general rule, the medical community considers a couple to be infertile if they have not been able to conceive after one year of regularly trying without contraception. If a woman is 35 or older, six months without a conception under these circumstances gets her this charming label.

I disagree with this classification. Infertile means you can’t conceive. While there may be challenges and obstacles in the way to achieving conception, simply the result of no conception without further investigation does not lead to the condemning classification of infertility, in my humble opinion.

New science is finding that the widely held belief that at birth we get all the eggs we’ll ever have as a female is being dismantled. We are also learning that there are in fact actions we can take pre-menopause to still influence the quality of our eggs.

In the meantime, the CDC and other sources indicate that approximately 12% or 1 in 8 face the challenges of infertility. Well, to be accurate, these sources actually declare these women and couples to actually be infertile. Just because you haven’t conceived for a year or more of trying, doesn’t mean you ultimately can’t. And beyond that, none of this means you can’t one day still become a parent.

If you are concerned that you might be infertile, start asking a lot of questions. Start with other women who are moms. I bet you’ll find more women than you thought had a challenge or two to overcome before they joined the Mommy Club. Get some testing done. If you’re primary care doctor won’t help you out, find a specialist in your area. If you are hearing answers you don’t like and you still have questions, go for another opinion. There are a lot of things that can get in the way — physical and emotional — when it comes to conception. And, thankfully, there are many ways to remove these obstacles and a variety of options that support your desire to become a parent.

Do you have fertility concerns? If so, are you taking action around these concerns? What do you think about the medical definition of infertility? Please comment below. I always love to hear from you.