Having trouble conceiving can frustrate and discourage women who are trying to expand their families. Many women turn to expensive and invasive procedures to improve their chances of conception. But taking natural supplements to restore your body’s hormonal balance, increase blood flow, and encourage cell growth can provide a low-cost solution. In this article, Ethan Lynette of Fairhaven Health, lists five specific supplements that can promote reproductive wellness and discusses the benefits each offer in encouraging conception.
Posts Tagged ‘Coping with Infertility’
Unfortunately, when trying to get pregnant many couples encounter difficulties and visiting a fertility specialist becomes necessary. This is not just for the ladies…men may be asked to have a semen analysis done as inadequate sperm count, motility, and/or morphology affects more than 30% of couples facing infertility. A semen analysis measures the amount and quality of semen in the sample to determine if there is infertility issue.
The preparation for a semen analysis is actually quite simple. He may be asked to abstain from any sexual activity 2-4 days before the analysis. It is also recommend to not avoid sexual activity for the 1-2 weeks before the analysis, because sexual inactivity can hinder the results. At the appointment, he is asked to masturbate into a clean, wide mouthed bottle. This bottle is then delivered to the laboratory for testing. Men that are concerned with the process of masturbating in the doctor’s office should ask for alternate ways to provide the sample.
Approximately 30 minutes after the sample is taken (allowing the semen to liquefy), multiple tests are performed:
Semen Volume: 2-6 ml is a normal volume of ejaculate in a healthy man. An especially high or low volume can signify an issue that may need to be investigated.
Semen Viscosity: Semen should liquefy in about 30 minutes. If it doesn’t liquefy, this likely indicates an infection of the seminal vesicles and prostate.
Semen pH: The alkaline pH protects the sperm from the acidity of vaginal fluids.
Presence of fructose: Fructose provides energy for sperm motility – an absence of fructose may indicate a block in the mail reproductive tract.
Sperm Count: Sperm count is measured by an examination under the microscope. If the sample is less than 20 million per sperm per ml, this is considered low sperm count.
Sperm Motility: Sperm motility is the ability of the sperm to move. For fertility purposes, it’s important to remember that only the sperm that move forward fast are able to fertilize the egg. Motility is graded from A to D;
A – sperm swim forward fast in a straight line
B – sperm swim forward, but in a curved or crooked line, or slowly
C – sperm move their tails, but do not move forward
D – sperm do not move at all
Grade C and D are of concern when testing for fertility.
Sperm Morphology: Sperm should have a regular oval head, with a connecting mid-piece and a long straight tail. Abnormal sperm is distorted in shape (round heads, large heads, double heads, absent tails, etc). A normal sample should have at least 15% with normal form.
Sperm Clumping: Sperm clumping (or agglutination) means sperm stick together. This impairs motility.
Pus Cells: Some white blood cells in the semen is normal – however, many pus cells suggest the presence of an infection.
For couples that are trying-to-conceive, if the semen analysis is abnormal, it will likely be repeated 3-4 times over a period of a couple months. This will help to confirm if there is indeed an abnormality present. If so, you can then work to treat that specific issue.
Not sure if you need a semen analysis? The SpermCheck fertility test is a convenient and affordable way to measure for normal count. You can test in the privacy of your own home, if the result shows low sperm count it would be a good indicator that thorough analysis is warranted.
There also are herbal supplements available on the market to help address issues with sperm count, motility, and morphology. FertilAid for Men works to promote the healthy production of sperm and has been shown to have a positive effect on all three of those parameters. For men diagnosed with low sperm count (under 20 million per ml), CountBoost can be taken in conjunction with FerilAid for Men to specifically address a low sperm count. For men diagnosed with low motility (grade c or d), MotilityBoost can be taken in conjunction with FertilAid for Men to specifically address poor motility.
First things first, it is important to know what your luteal phase is and when it takes place. Your luteal phase begins at ovulation and ends the day before menstruation begins for your next cycle. It is during this phase that fertilization and implantation would occur. Many women don’t realize that they have a luteal phase defect until they are trying to conceive and begin tracking their ovulation.
A luteal phase lasting less than 10 days can be classified as a luteal phase defect. It is necessary for you to have 10 days or longer in your luteal phase in order for implantation to occur and sustain. With less than 10 days, the uterine lining begins breaking down too early – it is not prepared for implantation which causes an early miscarriage. As stated above, many women don’t discover this defect until they are trying to conceive, but there are a few symptoms to look for. Some women may experience frequent but light periods. Women who chart/track their ovulation, may notice that after ovulation their basal body temperature does not remain elevated during the luteal phase as it should due to the rise in progesterone after ovulation.
There are some known causes of luteal phase defect:
Poor Follicle Production: FSH levels are directly correlated to follicle production. It can be caused by two different issues – either your body is not producing enough FSH or your ovaries are not responding the FSH that it is producing. The corpus luteum produces progesterone, which is necessary to prepare your uterine lining for implantation. Inadequate follicle production in the first half of your cycle leads to poor corpus luteum quality. With inadequate progesterone levels, your uterine lining begins to breakdown, resulting in early menses and possible miscarriage.
Failure of the Uterine Lining to Respond: In this case, FSH levels may be adequate, along with healthy follicle development and corpus luteum, however, the uterine lining just isn’t responding to the normal levels of progesterone. The uterine lining will most likely not be prepared for implantation.
Premature Failure of the Corpus Luteum: The corpus luteum can fail when the initial quality of it is inadequate. The progesterone levels may begin low and drop even further after five to seven days after ovulation. Once these levels drop, menses onset early.
If you discover that you have a luteal phase defect, there are some over the counter remedies. Vitamin B6 is one over the counter option; taking B6 every day of the month can lengthen your luteal phase. B6 can be found in fertility supplements, such as FertilAid for Women. If those remedies don’t help – there are also medications that your doctor can prescribe. Luteal phase defect may sound a bit scary but luckily it is a fairly easy to diagnose and correct.
Clomid (Clomiphene citrate) is a fertility drug commonly prescribed to women that are trying-to-conceive to induce ovulation. Clomid is often prescribed to women with irregular cycles that either experience irregular ovulation or don’t ovulate at all. If you aren’t sure whether you are ovulating, you can determine this by tracking your menstrual cycles with ovulation predictor kits, fertility monitors, or even monitoring your body’s natural signs – the consistency of your cervical mucus and tracking your basal body temperature.
In order to understand how Clomid works, it is important to understand what is happening in your body as you approach ovulation. In the beginning of your cycle, estrogen levels are low which signal your body to produce FSH (follicle stimulating hormone). Estrogen levels begin to increase which triggers LH (Luteinizing Hormone). This surge is what releases the mature egg from the follicle. For ovulation to occur, enough LH and FSH must be produced to release the egg. Clomid is used to help your body produce enough LH and FSH. It tricks the body into thinking that there is not enough estrogen – which increases the production of LH and FSH, causing your body to ovulate. Generally, it is not recommend to take Clomid for more than six cycles, so if pregnancy is not achieved, a different treatment plan should be discussed.
While taking Clomid, it is common to experience a decrease in fertile-quality cervical mucus. It is extremely important to have a healthy environment to transport and protect the sperm when trying-to-conceive. Supplements, such as FertileCM can help increase the quantity and quality of fertile-quality cervical mucus and is safe to take along with Clomid.
Fertility coaches, also known as infertility life coaches, help a couple to steer their way through the difficult decisions and treatment options that may be presented throughout their bout with infertility. As many know, this time can be especially trying on your relationship as well. Family and friends may not know what to say or how to help. A fertility coach can help to lay out all the information necessary while providing full support throughout your decisions.
Fertility coaches can be there every step of the way whether for advice on medical procedures, prescription medications or even alternative treatment options. They can walk you through the entire process (and confusing medical terminology) while explaining the benefits and/or consequences to each option. This helps a couple to feel more prepared and confident when picking the option that is right for them and are better equipped to communicate more effectively with their doctor. Some even help determine if insurance will help to cover your specific treatment choice. If infertility persists, fertility coaches can help support the couple as they determine if they want to consider adoption or a life without children.
Dealing with infertility can be quite an emotional rollercoaster for a couple – and having to make such important and possible life-changing decisions can put an even bigger toll on your relationship. Having a fertility coach to talk with allows the couple to discuss each of their own fears and concerns, as different as these concerns may be, in a safe environment. Individual, couple, and group sessions are available dependent upon the fertility coach. Many offer sessions over the phone or online to provide a certain type of comfort and confidentiality if that is what the couple prefers. Fertility coaches can help you to look forward in your battle against infertility and lend a hand in helping you choose the best option for you.
Dating back thousands of years in China, acupuncture is increasingly becoming a respected form of treatment in Western medicine for many ailments and conditions, including infertility. Yoga is also increasingly viewed as a legitimate alternative fertility treatment. Traditionally Indian, meaning “union” in Sanskrit, yoga is a series of physical postures and poses designed to create union between the mind, body and spirit. Combined with proper supplementation, yoga and acupuncture may help you increase your fertility odds, and is a great alternative to harsh and expensive fertility treatments!
In acupuncture, based on the problem you’re experiencing, different ‘points’ are stimulated using long, thin acupuncture needles. These long, thin needles vary in length according to which point it is to be inserted into. The idea is that by stimulating these points, energy flow is rebalanced and the body can then begin to heal itself. While Western practitioners admit that they are unsure of the connection between acupuncture and fertility, many recommend it as a way of regulating ovulation and menstruation for women trying to conceive, as well as decreasing stress levels, opening blocked sperm ducts in men, and increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs. Acupuncture has been recommended by fertility specialists and naturopaths and homeopathic specialists for both diagnosed and non-diagnosed couples with fertility problems. It has also become widely recommended to women undergoing In vitro Fertilization (IVF) and other fertility treatments. In fact, A German study in 2002 found that performing acupuncture about 25 minutes before and 25 minutes after an embryo transfer increases pregnancy rates to 42.5 percent, compared to about 26 percent without acupuncture! *
While gaining popularity by many Westerners as great exercise and an alternative to the gym, like Acupuncture, yoga has also become a recommended alternative to infertility treatments such as In vitro Fertilization and Clomid. Yoga and specific yoga poses recommended for fertility, help to balance hormones while others increase the amount of blood flow to your organs, thereby stimulating and strengthening them. Meditation can also be a part of yoga, which can be a great stress management technique. Check out PhD, RYT, scientist and yoga instructor Anna Davis’s Bend, Breathe & Conceive for a respected fertility yoga DVD that receives incredibly good feedback and reviews!
“…infertility has had such a huge impact on my life – I’m going to have a huge impact on infertility”!
Elizabeth Austen is the Founder of Fill Their Arms, a non-profit organization created to provide financial support for those struggling with infertility. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from California State University of Northridge as well as a certification in crisis counseling from The Women’s Coalition of Ventura, California. Elizabeth is married and has experienced the pain of infertility and miscarriage. We feel very fortunate to have been able to interview her about Fill Their Arms and hope you find this information helpful.
Fill Their Arms Mission Statement: We intend to eliminate the financial hardship that infertile couples experience by empowering family and friends to contribute and provide support. We strive to increase infertility awareness by educating the public and spreading truth.
Fairhaven Health: What prompted you to start a business like Fill Their Arms?
Elizabeth: There is a huge need! During my and Zach’s four year struggle with infertility, we found that our options were extremely limited. Fertility care and treatment was a struggle because of the expense; Adoption was completely out of our reach. Meanwhile, I observed how other foundations served people who had illnesses. I thought to myself, “What about infertility? Why isn’t there something for that?” I thought about how much easier things would be if everyone in our family and circle of support donated towards our efforts to become parents. As I began to connect with other couples in the same boat, I saw that there was a real need.
Fairhaven Health: And then you started Fill Their Arms?
We feel honored today to be joined by Melissa Sanford, who is a life coach who helps women deal with the emotional ups and downs that come from struggling with infertility issues. Melissa herself is trying to conceive, and has done many years of research on staying positive during infertility.
How can I stay positive during infertility?
There are many ingredients necessary to staying happy and peaceful during infertility. These include fully grieving your losses, pursuing your passions and nurturing yourself and your marriage just to name a few. But the most important thing you can do to stay mentally healthy during fertility issues is manage your thinking. And I don’t mean just walking around trying to think positive thoughts, I mean picking out painful thoughts, questioning them and then consciously replacing them with thoughts that feel better. Here’s how this Notice/Question/Replace process works.
1. Notice what you’re thinking
The first step to staying positive is to actually notice what you’re thinking and find the painful or limiting thoughts. Seems simple, right? Well, it can be tricky to get down to the thoughts at first. If you’re having trouble I recommend first tapping into how you’re feeling. Are you sad, angry, anxious or confused? Your feelings are actually driven by your thoughts. Once you have figured out the feeling, ask yourself why you feel that way and write down any thoughts you uncover. (Note – if you’re feeling great there’s no need to do this work on your thoughts).
2. Question the thought
Step two in the process is to question whether or not the thought is true. It’s simple, but powerful. So, read the thought you wrote down and ask yourself this: “Can I know with 100% certainty that this thought is true?” If your answer is yes, that’s okay. You may really believe it’s true. But oftentimes, the answer to this question will be no. Realizing that your thought is not completely true removes much of its power.
3. Replace it with a true, better-feeling thought
The last step is to replace your thought with a different thought that is true AND makes you feel better. You cannot replace a thought with what you think you should be thinking – that never works. You must choose a replacement thought that you believe and that improves your feeling state.
Let’s look at an example. I had a client who was feeling completely hopeless about her fertility issues. When I asked her why she felt hopeless she answered “Simply put – I’ll never be a mother. My body will never sustain a pregnancy. I’m pretty much not getting the family I dreamed of having.” There were three separate painful thoughts that were leading to her feelings of hopelessness. Let’s plug the first thought into the Notice/Question/Replace process.
Notice – Her painful thought was “I’ll never be a mother.”
Question – When she asked herself “Can I know with 100% certainty that thought is true?” the answer was no. This immediately started shifting her feelings.
Replace – The client chose a replacement thought that was true for her and felt better: “I know I’ll be a mother someday but motherhood may look different then I thought it would.”
This thought work gave the client instant relief as it often does. I use this process daily in dealing with my own infertility and I know it can help you, too. Infertility is a winding road fraught with disappointments, uncertainty and wildly shifting emotions. So, grab a pen and paper and get to work on your thinking – it’s the surest and fastest path to peace.
To learn more about Melissa, and living with peace, joy and abundance in the midst of infertility, see her website: http://findingfertileground.com. Also, be sure to check out her new Fertile Ground Coaching Circle! http://findingfertileground.com/coaching-circle