National Fertility Week: Alternative Answers to Fertility
This week is National Fertility Awarenss Week. Especially close to my heart, helping woman get pregnant naturally has been my specialty for many years. This week, I will review the many ways to help increase fertility in both woman and men.
Infertility is often defined when a couple has 1 year of regular intercourse without contraception and has been unable to conceive. Primary infertility is seen when a couple has never been able to conceive, where as secondary infertility is difficulty conceiving after already having conceived and carried a normal pregnancy. Technically, secondary infertility is not present if there has been a change of partners. Infertility can be an issue for both men and women.
In women, having an abnormal menstrual period is a good place to start. A regular 28 to 30 day cycle with good quality fertile mucus right before ovulation, relatively no premenstrual symptoms and a pain free period with efficient bleeding indicate a balanced hormonal cycle.
Physical examination and routine laboratory tests for women include:
1. Genetic testing: this is done to determine whether there's a genetic defect causing infertility.
2. Hormone testing: this may be done to check levels of ovulatory hormones, thyroid and pituitary hormones.
3. Hysterosalpingography: This exam evaluates the condition of the patient's uterus and fallopian tubes by indicating if there is any blockage in these areas.
4. Laparoscopy: this procedure involves inserting a thin viewing device into the patient's abdomen and pelvis to examine the fallopian tubes, ovaries and uterus. Performed under general anesthesia, the most common problems identified by laparoscopy are endometriosis and scarring.
5. Ovulation test: this blood test is used to measure hormone levels to determine whether patient is ovulating or not.
6. Ovarian reserve test: this test begins with hormone testing early in a woman's menstrual cycle. Testing may be done to determine the potential effectiveness of the eggs after ovulation.
7. Pelvic ultrasound: is performed to look for uterine or fallopian tube disorders.
If no physical illness is found, a regimen of proper diet, detoxing, exercise, and plenty of rest and water is a good start. Try to manage stress and balance situations around you.
In man, symptoms of infertility may have some signs of hormonal problems such as changes in hair growth or sexual function. The quality, quantity, morphology and motility of a man's sperm is also looked at.
1. Physical examination and routine laboratory tests for men include:
2. Hormone testing: a blood test is done to determine the level of testosterone and other male hormones.
3. Physical examination: includes the genitals and questions about medical history, illnesses and disabilities, medications and sexual habits.
4. Semen analysis: is the most important test for men. Your doctor will ask for one or more semen samples. The laboratory determines the number of sperm present and any abnormalities in the morphology and motility of the sperm. Sperm counts can fluctuate from one sample to the next.
5. Ultrasound: a transrectal and scrotal ultrasound can help the doctor look for evidence of conditions such as retrograde ejaculation and ejaculatory duct obstruction.
A variety of factors can result in infertility in men. Approximately 25% of infertility is directly due to the male partner. Low sperm count or anatomical abnormalities are often the two main reasons for male infertility. See Improving Sperm Count
The Fertile Garden
The magic of conception is really an amazing and precise process of proper timing and precious essence, brought together in one heightened moment!
Each month the pituitary gland in a woman's brain sends a signal to her ovaries to prepare an egg for ovulation. The pituitary hormones ï¿½ follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) ï¿½ stimulate the ovaries to release an egg. This is called ovulation. It is during this time a woman is fertile (usually about day 14 of her menstrual cycle).
The egg travels through the fallopian tube and can be fertilized about 24-72 hours after it is released. Conception is more likely to occur when intercourse takes place 1 to 2 days prior to ovulation or 1 to 2 days after.
For pregnancy to occur, a sperm must meet with the egg in the fallopian tube during this time. Sperm are capable of fertilizing the egg for up to 72 hours and must be present in the fallopian tube at the same time as the egg for conception to occur. In order for a sperm to reach an egg, the man must have an erection and ejaculate enough semen to deliver the sperm into the vagina. There must be enough sperm, and it must be the right shape and move in the right way. In addition, the woman must have a healthy vaginal and uterine environment so that the sperm can travel to the egg. If fertilized, the egg moves into the uterus where it attaches to the uterine lining and begins a nine-month process of growth.
A regular 28 to 30 day cycle with good quality fertile mucus right before ovulation, relatively no premenstrual symptoms and a pain free period with efficient bleeding indicate a balanced hormonal cycle. Fertile mucus appears several days prior to ovulation and is required to help nourish the sperm and guide it to the egg. An ovulation occurring on day 12 to 15 of a cycle indicates that the egg is being released at its optional developmental time. Ideally, a woman should experience menstrual bleeding for at least 3 to 5 days and this blood flow should be red in color without any clotting or flooding.
Issues that effect fertility include:
1. Hormonal imbalances
2. Ovary disorders such as tumors, cysts and stress
3. Age: early 30's has a 22% chance to conceive, early 40's - an 8% chance and early 50's - a 1% chance.
4. Blockage: such as in the fallopian tubes (egg and sperm cannot meet), pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and STD's (HPV and Chlamydia)
5. Uterus disorders: such as fibroids and endometriosis
When there is an issue of fertility, it is a good idea to look at your lifestyle. These problems can complicate infertility:
1. Finding Balance: in a modern society we tend to "burn the candle at both ends". There MUST be a proper balance in the amount of work that we do, in the amount of sleep we have in the foods that we enjoy and in the amount of "down time" we give ourselves.
2. Excessive Work: can drain the very core of our energy. Today, if you are not working for a company who is placing high demands on your time, health and relationships, then you have your own business, which often has no boundaries when it comes to building and maintaining your dream.
3. Improper Diet: can be a nutrition zapper that robs the body of proper vitamins, mineral and sufficient amino acids that are important for energy product. Improper use of caffeine, alcohol and saturated fats have been shown to decrease fertility and increase the chance of miscarriage. A balance of fresh vegetables, complexed carbs, whole grain, as well as, fruits, nuts, seeds and protein are very important for maintaining proper energy levels.
4. Lack of Exercise: decreases blood circulation. Regular exercise builds stamina that can help anyone battle stress. But even something as casual as a walk around the block can help you burn off some of the tension that you carrying around. Stretching is a great tension reducer.
5. Poor Sleep Habits: can drain you of a good day full of vital energy. Overthinking, anxiety and a racing mind are all issues that cause difficulty in falling asleep and/or difficulty staying asleep. Lack of sleep has long been recognized as influencing fertility. It leads to physiological disruptions including the inhibition of growth hormones.
6. Stress: is a hidden issue that is seldom addressed. Stress has been linked to irregularities in ovulation and abnormal sperm development. When you can lower your levels of physiological stress, you have increased your chances of conception.
7. Weight: Being too thin or too heavy can have an impact on how quickly you conceive. Excessive thinness is known to interfere with menstrual periods. Now, it is also believed that if both partners are overweight or obese, conception will take longer.
8. Smoking: Smokers have an increased rate of repeated miscarriage. Women smokers have been shown to have lower levels of estrogen which, may delay conception. Smoking is also thought to influence tubal factor infertility, and can cause early menopause. In men, smoking may damage sperm. When men stop smoking, their sperm count increases quickly.
Andrew Pacholyk, MS, L.Ac
Therapies for healing
mind, body, spirit