Infertility is clinically defined as the inability to conceive a child within one year of unprotected intercourse. Up to 1 fifth of couples have difficulty conceiving, and in up to 30% of these cases the cause of infertility remains unexplained. The success rate of assisted reproduction techniques (for each cycle) ranges from around 10% with the drug clomiphene citrate, and 20 – 25% for in-vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF treatment in Ireland per cycle costs thousands. These treatments may be associated with side effects in some cases, such as increased risk of multiple pregnancy, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, the psychological effects of infertility treatment, and mood disturbances associated with hormonal manipulation can be as significant as the medical complications. Most, if not all people, find the process is not just hard on their bodies but stressful. It is a testing time on relationships.
Boosting fertility naturally
This is where herbal medicine is very well placed. In 2011, a study carried out in Australia reviewed a variety of fertility treatments amongst women who had been unable to conceive naturally. It determined that taking a holistic approach to the problem, which did include traditional Chinese herbs, was more effective than standard western drug treatment of IVF alone. Herbal medicine has many important herbs that can help couples to improve their fertility, general health and well-being. In conjunction with nutritional changes, it can help increase their chances of conceiving naturally, and maximizing the success of assisted reproduction techniques where necessary.
Women’s fertility issues can be divided into two broad categories: Organic infertility and functional infertility. Organic infertility is clearly related to underlying medical conditions. It includes structural infertility due to a structural abnormality of the reproductive organs. Functional infertility is due to incorrect functioning of the reproductive system, and no underlying medical condition. It includes both improper functioning of the reproductive hormones for which no cause has been identified, as well as other unexplained causes of infertility. Some cases of infertility may require orthodox medical or surgical intervention, and in some cases the condition may be irreversible. However, in many cases, herbal medicine may be of benefit, either alone or in combination with other forms of treatment.
While often less spoken about, male fertility issues account for up to 50% of cases of infertility. However, in the vast majority of cases of infertility, the woman alone is offered conventional treatment. For best results, fertility treatment should include both partners, and for a minimum of 3 months. This is in order for fertilization of a healthy oocyte by a healthy sperm, both of which have undergone their development while taking herbs and supplements to protect them, and improve their quality.
Role of Immunity and Stress in Fertility
These are two big areas that must be taken into consideration when dealing with fertility issues as they can be often the underlying reasons for unknown reasons why fertility is not taking place.
Herbal medicine is certainly worth exploring as a first step for anyone who is experiencing obstacles in conception. The heart of Herbal Medicine’s approach looks at the core of the matter and treats the person not just the cause. The treatment protocol includes diet, lifestyle counselling and of course, herbal prescriptions. There is an important preconception care programme to ensure the quantity of nutrients and maximise overall health, for proper development of egg and sperm, thus increasing the chances of a healthy conception. Sperm and egg development and maturation take 3 to 4 months, so there is time to make improvements! Herbal prescriptions include individualised tailor made formulas to treat the cause of the obstacle, balance hormones, treat the immune system and help with anxiety. Each case is assessed on its own individual merits and a treatment programme is devised for each accordingly.
If you are taking the road of assisted conception then it may be of great use that you prepare your body properly to increase your changes. The treatment protocol of Herbal medicine is similar to natural conception in that it uses herbs as well as diet and lifestyle counselling to increase the constitutional wellbeing of both the male and female, to ensure the vitally important optimum state of health. It can help support the nervous system through this (for most) stressful time as assisted conception can often become the focus during this period of your life, being mentally and emotionally challenging. It is so important to take care of yourself through the process especially in today’s world where there are already many demands in our fast paced world. It would be advisable to seek treatment around 4 months, if possible, before embarking on your next treatment, so you can have time to make improvements as necessary! Each case is assessed on its own individual merits and a treatment programme is devised for each accordingly.
How long is the Average Treatment?
It is difficult to determine how long it will take any individual to start seeing results, it usually depends on the following:
- How you react to herbs
- Your compliance to taking the herbs and making the recommended changes
- How long you have had the condition
- The severity of the condition
What you need to do?
Please be prepared that it takes time for the herbs to work. Herbal medicine does not work like pharmaceutical drugs. They often require some time, especially as they tend to work gently and subtly. This is not a quick fix.
Please be willing to work with me, take the medication as prescribed and make the changes which are attainable as well as practical.
How I will help you
Make a treatment plan by creating short term and long terms goals
Identify areas in your life that may be negatively impacting your health.
Give you practical and attainable changes, with lots of support along the way.
Emotional Support along this journey, helping you to help keep on track.