The desire to have children is a natural instinct. However, the capability to produce offspring may not readily come naturally. Various reasons have been identified why couples, who otherwise appear physically healthy, could not conceive. In addition, stressors of modern living aggravate unwanted childlessness, which results to a vicious cycle of frustration and despair for couples who want to get pregnant but cannot.
A Mind-Body Program to Enhance Fertility
While infertility can be addressed by medical intervention, primarily through intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF), the delicate interplay of the couples’ psychological health and their level of physical fitness is still the underlying factor that largely determines success. IUI and IVF, from a medical standpoint, are sophisticated tools to aid conception, but they are tools only available to fertility professionals.
Couples, who are the lead actors in assisted reproduction, are often left without sufficient material to influence the outcome and to do so in their favor. IUI enhancements are thus crucial to empower couples to ensure that the environment with which medical professionals are going to perform assisted reproduction is conducive to pregnancy. Hence, it is essential for couples to play an active part in assisted reproduction; they can influence the rate of success of their IUI or IVF by taking control over their own fertility.
A Brief Overview of How Conception Takes Place Using IUI
Conception occurs when the spermatozoon penetrates the ovum. In failed pregnancies, there are three assumptions of why a woman may not have conceived.
- She has unpredictable ovulation cycles or infrequent – and even absent – menses. Because conception is all about timing – introducing the sperm during that brief window of opportunity where the egg has just been released and awaiting fertilization, usually within 24 hours – she and her partner may have made attempts to conceive at a time when she is not ovulating.
- Her partner may suffer from any one of these common infertility problems: erectile/ejaculation dysfunction (the inability of the male to achieve erection and ejaculate spermatozoa); oligospermia (low sperm count that has not reached the average number which is 100 to 300 million per ejaculation); decreased sperm motility (inability of spermatozoa to travel up to the neck of the uterus, and even up to the Fallopian tube, to meet the ovum); poor sperm health (the sperm itself is unable to thrive in the acidic uterine environment).
- She and her partner both have health, and by extension, fertility issues. Both of the spouses may suffer from health problems that render the body, and reproductive system, vulnerable to ailments. Cancer patients, for example, may have compromised ability to reproduce. If the fertility problem is not caused by health, it could be brought about by the lifestyle of either or both partners that is not optimal to reproductive health. Alcohol consumption, for instance, decreases sperm count. Alcohol also interferes with the female body’s hormone levels. Alcohol has been known to depress the woman’s estrogen levels which regulate ovulation.
Sophisticated assisted reproductive techniques (ART) may only address these concerns in part. IUI, for example, increases the probability of fertilization. In IUI, the sperm – after it has been washed free of any impurity that might impede its motility and therefore ability to fertilize – is introduced to the womb so it is as close to the mature egg as possible. The underlying presumption is that failure to conceive is due to low sperm motility or the sperm’s inability to survive in the acidic uterine environment. While this is a fact, as we have seen in the preceding reasons of failed pregnancy, it is only half the equation. The other half is the reproductive environment responsible for producing and releasing mature egg and, equally crucial, housing the embryo.
The female counterpart of increasing the chances of pregnancy using IUI is through medication using gonadotropin. Specifically, the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) stimulates follicular activity so ovulation takes place predictably in women with irregular luteal phases or absent menses. The underlying assumption is that the more predictable the ovulation cycle of the woman, the easier to introduce the sperm at the most opportune time (36-40 hours after ovulation is deemed imminent).
While IUI has its merits, its success rate can be further improved by calling into active participation the spouses who are, ultimately, responsible for their reproductive and over-all health. Though conception may be every creature’s biological drive, not everyone may be adequately equipped – physically, psychologically and even financially – to fulfill this expression of instinct. Advances in reproductive science may have narrowed down the margin of failure to naturally procreate, but it is apparent that there are still cases where the course of nature requires medical intervention.
A Dietary Approach to Make the Body Healthy and Boost Fertility
Fertility does not exist in a vacuum. Fertility is dependent on the natural processes of the human body. As such, it should be viewed as an indicator of the body’s health. Cancer patients who have conceived are generally regarded on their way to a clean bill of health. This is because the ability to conceive is a measure of how well the body is able to put the system back together in order to fulfill – from an evolutionary point of view – its utmost biologic imperative: procreation.
This view of fertility as an indicator of health is more than anecdotal. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, “women undergoing treatment for infertility have a similar, and often higher, level of stress as women dealing with life-threatening illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.” This suggests that the inability to conceive is perceived by the mind as a threat to the organism’s survival. Unlike other illnesses, however, infertility is a condition that exacerbates the couples’ anxiety and frustration because month after month, they are confronted with the bitter reality that they are no longer in control of their bodies.
Natural Fertility Breakthrough: A Case of Improving Chances of Pregnancy Through Naturopathy
Natural Fertility Breakthrough gives this sense of control back to aspiring parents. Its naturopathic approach to restore the body’s natural fertility implies that it treats infertility as a function of nutrition. While it still maintains, and even expects, that intervention in the form of IUI or IVF is a statistically viable course of action to achieve pregnancy, it likewise strongly encourages couples to adopt healthy lifestyles even long before they plan to conceive. Natural Fertility Breakthrough believes that the groundwork of future pregnancy can be laid down early. It believes that the cumulative effect of living healthy increases the chances of conception and decreases the incidence of miscarriage.
Because of this philosophy, Natural Fertility Breakthrough offers a wealth of information about what natural foods promote good health and boost fertility, what products to approach with caution because of their possible effects to fertility and conception, and how lifestyles can be changed to overcome unexplained male or female infertility.
With Natural Fertility Breakthrough’s Free 14 Day Natural Fertility Challenge, aspiring parents would find a wealth of information and inspiration that shows getting pregnant is possible even in the most challenging cases, and to provide hope to couples who may be in the minority because of repeated attempts and frustration. Below is a brief review of the program.
Program Goals: Free 14 Day Natural Fertility Challenge
- To inform couples of what additional tests they can ask their doctors to perform to find out the root cause of their inability to conceive.
- To educate couples of what they can do to eliminate habits that depress fertility.
- To help couples restore and enhance their natural fertility in 5 easy steps.
- To inspire couples that there is room for hope using case studies showing that it is possible to conceive, naturally, despite being diagnosed infertile.
Program Effectiveness: Free 14 Day Natural Fertility Challenge
- Couples have implemented straightforward steps to restore their fertility.
- Couples have modified their habits and lifestyles to eliminate contributors to failed pregnancies.
- Couples have reclaimed their sense of empowerment knowing that naturopathic approaches have shown great promise despite statistics.
- Couples have increased their chances of pregnancy through IVF and other aggressive assisted methods by 47%.
- Couples have regained a sense of control of their condition and have become proactive in their effort to procreate naturally.
It’s All In The Mind: A Mental Approach to Fertility Through Relaxation and Visualization
A complementary school of thought in increasing the chances of pregnancy argues that a relaxed emotional state increases hormones that facilitate conception. This philosophy is hinged on the belief that being psychologically relaxed and in control of the situation allow the ‘safe passage’ of reproductive cells to their intended destination. This philosophy is based on solid scientific studies that have found stress – and all the attendant maladies that come with mismanaging or not handling it well – is a predictor of success or failure of conception: Chronic stress drives the hypothalamus (the master gland) to produce cortisol that interferes with the natural flow of other hormones responsible for conception; a manageable level of stress leads to a cascade of events that makes the body more receptive to parenthood. Reproductive endocrinologists refer to this approach as “letting the hypothalamus talk to the pituitary which then talks to the hormones.”
The mental approach to raise fertility levels also believes that the mind can be trained to achieve what it desires. The mind, it argues, can be programmed such that the body achieves what it instructs. This psychosomatic take on fertility is based on the science of visualization. The body – which is to say the reproductive system – does not make a distinction between seeing with the eyes (the reality) and seeing with the brain’s visual center, the cerebral cortex (the desire). By invoking the active participation of cerebral cortex into the fertility equation, the hormone-driven reproductive system responds accordingly.
The Circle+Bloom IVF/IUI Mind-Body Program operates according to this particular field of science. The highlights of the program goals and results are outlined, as follows.
Program Goals: Circle+Bloom IVF/IUI Mind-Body Program
- To educate couples with the mind-body connection so their understanding sets the stage for visualization exercises that follow.
- To reduce stress during critical points of each IUI/IVF cycle and every day of the medicated cycle.
- To educate couples, particularly women undergoing the procedures, to use their brain to bring about desired physical responses.
- To empower couples to be in greater control of their bodies by providing relaxing techniques that ‘massage’ the mind.
Program Effectiveness: Circle+Bloom IVF/IUI Mind-Body Program
- Couples have become more confident in the power of their minds to bring about desired physical responses.
- Couples have become receptive to mental exercises that relax the body and the mind.
- Couples have learned to relax during procedures, relinquishing control of external variables to reproductive health professionals, and taking control of their own internal forces that affect the production of certain hormones and consequently affect conception.
- Couples have gained more control of their situation, knowing that they can utilize the power of their brains to direct the course of their assisted reproductive therapies.
The Science of Mind-Body Connection as Explained in “The Infertility Workbook: A Mind-Body Program to Enhance Fertility, Reduce Stress, and Maintain Emotional Balance”
The book is an immensely valuable tool to aspiring parents or people who are struggling to balance life-work because of undue stress. “The Infertility Workbook: A Mind-Body Program to Enhance Fertility, Reduce Stress, and Maintain Emotional Balance” invites the reader to take a hands-on approach to be proactive in their effort to increase their chances of success while undergoing assisted reproductive therapies.
The book touches on how Western medicine has, for a long time, discounted the impact of thoughts and emotions on physical processes. As a result, the approach to treating infertility is largely physical in nature: Increasing semen volume, enhancing sperm motility, stimulating ovulation through medication, and performing invasive procedures to introduce sperm to egg (or to induce fertilization altogether) are just some of the few. The book postulates that there are countless research studies that prove otherwise; that there is a solid body of scientific evidence that points to the clear connection between emotional states and physiologic responses.
The book also devotes a chapter to “Understanding Worry” and deconstructing the emotional as well as the psychological aspects of anxiety, frustration and despair. It then proceeds to dispensing what-to-do advice when facing depressive psychological states so aspiring parents (or even those who are plagued by normal day-to-day stressors) know how to cope and seek treatment.
The book also discusses the “Emotional Roller Coaster” and what it does to sympathetic and parasympathetic systems (the body’s normal fight-or-flight mechanism), levels of cortisol, and consequently, levels of reproductive hormones. The book then offers indispensable advice and how-to guide on what mental or breathing exercises can connect the body to the mind to maximize oxygen intake, control cortisol production, and visualize conception.