Can a Naturopath Help with Fertility?

Naturopath for Fertility

Embarking on the journey to parenthood is an incredible and sometimes challenging chapter in many people’s lives. While conventional medical approaches play a vital role in fertility treatments, an increasing number of people are exploring complementary therapies like naturopathy for fertility, to enhance their chances of conception.

Naturopathy is a holistic approach to health and wellness that emphasises the body’s ability to heal itself through natural medicine. It incorporates various therapies, including nutrition, herbal medicine, and lifestyle counselling. Naturopaths view fertility holistically, considering physical, emotional, and environmental factors. At Fertile Ground, our naturopathic practitioners work towards identifying and addressing underlying issues that may impact fertility, such as hormonal imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, environmental disruptors and stress.

In fact, we’ve written a free ebook guide all about strategies you can start to put into place immediately to begin enhancing your fertility. It’s called ’12 Steps to Create Your Fertile Life’ and you can get it here:

Download Our Free 12 Step Fertility Guide

Balancing Hormones Naturally

Hormonal imbalances, often silent disruptors within the intricate dance of the human body, can wield substantial influence over fertility. Understanding this intricate interplay, naturopaths adopt a multifaceted approach to rebalance hormones, fostering an environment conducive to fertility. Let’s delve deeper into the nuanced strategies employed by our naturopathic practitioners for fertility:

Lifestyle Modifications for Hormonal Harmony: Our fertility naturopaths recognise the profound impact of lifestyle choices on hormonal equilibrium. Through personalised assessments, individuals are guided towards lifestyle modifications tailored to their unique needs. This encompasses recommendations for adequate sleep, stress management techniques, regular exercise, food choices, weight management and a multitude of nutritional nuances. All of these things are pivotal in promoting hormonal balance.

Nutritional Support as a Foundation: A cornerstone of naturopathic intervention lies in the power of nutrition. Nourishing the body with the right balance of nutrients is crucial for hormonal health. Naturopaths, therefore, curate dietary plans rich in essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This nutritional support aims to fortify the endocrine system and create an optimal hormonal milieu for fertility. Fertile Ground naturopathic practitioners analyse specific dietary and nutritional requirements and prescribe supplements where necessary for optimising fertility.

Herbal Medicine: Nature’s Balancers: Harnessing the potency of botanical allies, naturopaths may prescribe specific herbs renowned for their hormonal balancing properties. Herbs such as Vitex, known for its impact on the menstrual cycle, or adaptogenic herbs like Ashwagandha, revered for their stress-modulating effects, are carefully chosen to address hormonal imbalances. These natural remedies act synergistically with the body, gently nudging it towards hormonal equilibrium. (It’s very important to know that any herb suggested on the internet or by well meaning friends may not be right for you – always consult with an expert naturopath/herbalist before taking anything).

Fertile Ground practitioners use the prescription services of The Melbourne Apothecary for dispensing both nutritional and herbal supplements. The Melbourne Apothecary is one of Australia’s largest fertility specific prescription only naturopathic dispensaries, located in Collingwood, Melbourne. You can collect or arrange to have your prescription posted to you.

Mind-Body Techniques: The Art of Hormonal Harmony: Stress, a ubiquitous companion in modern life, can exert a profound influence on hormonal balance. Naturopaths recognise the intricate mind-body connection and often incorporate stress management techniques into their approach. Mindfulness practices, breath coaching for nervous system regulation, relaxation exercises, and techniques like yoga and meditation are woven into the fabric of naturopathic care and many of these are often recommended by Fertile Ground naturopaths, all with the aim to  help you reduce stress hormones and promote hormonal harmony.

Individualised Treatment Plans: A Tailored Approach

Naturopaths champion the uniqueness of each individual, acknowledging that hormonal imbalances are diverse and multifaceted. Consequently, treatment plans are meticulously crafted, considering a person’s medical history, lifestyle, and specific hormonal and fertility challenges. This bespoke approach ensures that interventions are precisely aligned with the individual’s needs, optimising the chances of restoring hormonal balance and optimising fertility.

Education and Empowerment: Equipping Individuals for Hormonal Health: Beyond prescribed interventions, naturopaths embrace an educative role. Understanding that empowered individuals are better equipped to navigate their health journey, naturopaths provide insights into the intricate dance of hormones. This education empowers individuals to make informed lifestyle choices, reinforcing the principles of hormonal balance in their daily lives.

Holistic Monitoring and Adjustments: A Dynamic Process: Naturopathic care is an ongoing, dynamic process. Fertile Ground naturopaths monitor progress closely, adapting treatment plans as needed and working closely and collaboratively with your healthcare team. Regular check-ins allow for adjustments, ensuring that the approach remains responsive to your evolving needs. This holistic monitoring contributes to the sustainability of hormonal balance and promotes enduring fertility.

By addressing hormonal imbalances through this comprehensive and holistic lens, naturopathy emerges as a supportive and integrative ally in the journey towards enhanced fertility. Through lifestyle adjustments, nutritional fortification, herbal medicine, mind-body techniques, individualised care, and ongoing monitoring, naturopaths seek not only to balance hormones but to cultivate an environment where fertility can flourish. In the realm of naturopathy, hormonal harmony becomes a key orchestrator in the symphony of reproductive wellness.

Fertility Naturopath Services in Melbourne

In the pursuit of parenthood, an increasing number of individuals are seeking holistic solutions to complement conventional fertility treatments. Naturopathy, prioritising natural medicine and holistic well-being, has emerged as a invaluable ally in the journey towards conception. With over two decades of providing fertility naturopath services in Melbourne, Fertile Ground has witnessed the integration of our natural approaches yield exceptional outcomes. Collaboration between naturopaths and fertility specialists is becoming more common and we are proud to know that we have paved the way for this as it has always been our highest value at Fertile Ground since the practice began back in 2001.

If you’re captivated by the potential benefits of fertility naturopathy, we invite you to connect with Fertile Ground’s expert practitioners in Melbourne. Schedule a free 10 minute consultation with one of our fertility naturopaths to discover how naturopathy can be intricately tailored to your unique needs, providing a holistic and supportive approach throughout your fertility journey.

Book your naturopathic appointment

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How To Create A More Fertile Life

fertility naturopath melbourne

Are you looking to create a more fertile life, grow your family or begin trying to conceive? The irony is that for many of us and for most of our lives, having a baby seems as simple as falling off a log – in fact, it seems so easy that most people spend the majority of their adult lifetime trying to avoid falling pregnant! It is a bitter pill indeed when it turns out that fulfilling that dream perhaps doesn’t necessarily happen so easily, and is something that our fertility naturopath, Melbourne team, work with people daily to support.

Addressing Infertility in the General Population

If you are reading this, you probably already know many of the facts around the increasing rates of infertility in the general population, which is around one in six couples experiencing fertility issues: 35% due to women’s reproductive issues, 21% due to male factors, 12% combined male and female, and 28% of infertility cases have unknown causes.1–3 Infertility is a challenge for couples (as well as single people or same sex couples trying to conceive), regardless of who has the diagnosed issue, and especially if the fertility problem is unclear.

There is no doubt that trying to conceive is an incredibly emotional and stressful journey for couples to whom it does not come easily. Family-making seems like a birth right and it feels unjust when this right appears to be denied. And the worst thing is that if you are having trouble conceiving, it appears that absolutely everyone around you is pregnant – older women, young women, women who weren’t trying, women finally achieving their miracle baby … it can be unbearably frustrating, even devastating for some to celebrate another’s joy when they are facing a future without children. Many couples end up feeling isolated, alone in their grief, trauma, struggle and stress and ultimately, helpless. Seeking the one magical answer that will provide the solution becomes an obsession for some, as they spend hours online with others in similar circumstances looking for answers. Our fertility naturopath, melbourne team, understand this deeply, having worked with thousands of people in this space for decades and having supported so many to successfully birth their babies and grow their families.

All crisis has the potential to transform

One of our favourite sayings is: “all crisis leads to transformation”. You may see this as another useless platitude, or it could be a mantra that leverages you out of helplessness and into a shift of perspective to identify what this opportunity means to you, and how to make the most of it. If you’re currently experiencing a struggle to conceive, you can choose to go through it and remain unchanged, or you could allow it to be your greatest teacher, giving insight into what makes you feel good, what a truly healthy lifestyle is, what is damaging your health, well-being and fertility and, most importantly, how to make lasting change that will affect not just your health, but that of your whole family – for generations to come.

Are you healthy enough to conceive – for your body?

When they first start trying, many people think they are ‘healthy enough’ to conceive, but sadly in some cases good enough is not enough to get across the line. Each person is unique and responds to all that life throws at them differently. While one couple seems to have a poor lifestyle and are able to conceive, another feels they are much healthier yet still struggle. It doesn’t seem to make sense and it certainly doesn’t seem fair.

How can you improve your fertility even when doctors say you can’t?

If you have undergone IVF treatments, you will know just how important creating a quality embryo is to achieving a pregnancy. If you are trying to conceive naturally, this still stands. It is estimated that over 90% of genetically normal embryos will result in a live birth, whereas at least half of all miscarriages are due to chromosomally abnormal embryos.4 Therefore, achieving that quality embryo is the first step in every successful parenting journey. Get started on your way to optimising your fertility with this free 12 step guide from our expert fertility naturopath, melbourne team.

Download Our Free 12 Step Fertility Guide

When achieving quality starting ingredients (eggs and sperm) is understood, the reasons for preconception care are more obvious. Both the sperm and egg take around three months to develop/mature, and in this time they are both vulnerable to damage, creating interruptions to normal, healthy development and even chromosomal abnormalities. The embryo and developing baby are significantly influenced by their environment and their genetic development is profoundly altered by outside influences. So we focus on reducing risk factors, optimising the environment in which they develop and hopefully creating the most positive outcome possible: a sweet, healthy baby. 

Access preconception care with our Fertility Naturopath, Melbourne team

Our lifestyles, diet, toxic load and life stages play a significant role in influencing the expression of our genetic code as new cells are made. It seems it is not such a lottery after all. Healthy choices can strongly impact your chances of conceiving a healthy baby – and even your baby’s chances of healthy fertility! There are many well-known and medically-researched factors that impact directly on your fertility and outcomes, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, being overweight or underweight, advancing age, certain environmental and home chemical endocrine disruptor exposure and other factors you will learn about in consultation with Fertile Ground Fertility Naturopaths.

There are also many factors that, while not directly affecting your fertility, can have an indirect effect. Things like chronic health problems and complaints (digestive problems, periodontal health, asthma, sleep issues, stress, nutritional factors, even emotional considerations) may add up to an unhealthy load that compromises the whole organism and puts fertility right at the bottom of your bodily priorities – even in so called healthy individuals. Certainly, starting your pregnancy from a basis of optimal health will help to ensure minimal pregnancy discomforts and disease as well as positively impacting on the health of your developing baby at every crucial stage. 

Are you ready to get started with improving your fertility?

Download Our Free 12 Step Fertility Guide

Kylie’s Story

Kylie came to see us after 9 months of trying to conceive. She complained of weight gain (her BMI indicated she was 10-12 kilos overweight), sugar cravings and recent blood tests indicated she was pre-diabetic. In addition, Kylie also had food intolerances to dairy and wheat. Due to her regular consumption of these foods, she experienced multiple digestive symptoms including constipation, indigestion, and heart burn. Her energy was low, and she struggled to get out of bed in the mornings.

Kylie experienced long menstrual cycles (36 days) with cervical fertile mucus apparent around Day 19 as well as PMS symptoms including tearfulness and irritability

Her naturopath designed a diet high in protein, vegetables, and good fats with some additional whole grains to help shift Kylie’s excess kilos and improve her energy levels and fertility. She also removed dairy and wheat to ensure her digestion was functioning properly, resulting in an almost immediate improvement in her digestive symptoms. Kylie was advised to always carry healthy snacks (with a list of ideas provided to her) and looked at healthy meal options when she was very busy at work. As Kylie needed extra support to help balance her blood-sugar levels, herbs and supplements were prescribed that helped reduce her sugar cravings and supported her nervous system during times of stress. Kylie also began a regular exercise routine and enlisted the help of a personal trainer to help achieve her weight-loss goals.

Within a month Kylie had mastered her diet and was finding she had far less sugar cravings than before. Within six weeks she felt she could avoid processed sugar almost completely. Kylie had also started to lose weight and felt she had more energy every day. By the two-month mark, Kylie’s menstrual cycle had reduced in length to her first ever 29 day cycle and this was maintained for the following three months, indicating an improved hormonal balance. During this time Kylie had also lost seven kilos. She fell pregnant the following month and went on to have a healthy baby boy.

How to book with our Fertility Naturopath, Melbourne team

For more information or to get help on your fertility and / or pregnancy journey, book in with one of our highly experienced Fertility Naturopath, Melbourne practitioners.

Book your Fertile Ground Naturopath

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Excerpt adapted from our book, Create A Fertile Life, written by Gina Fox, Charmaine Dennis, Rhiannon Hardingham, Tina Jenkins, Milly Dabrowski.

References

  1. Fritz MA, Speroff L. Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility. 8th edn. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams
    & Wilkins; 2011.
  2. Thoma ME, McLain AC, Louis JF, et al. Prevalence of infertility in the United States as estimated by the current duration approach and a traditional constructed approach. Fertil Steril. 2013;99(5):1324-1331. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2012.11.037.
  3. Loxton D, Lucke J. Reproductive Health: Findings from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health.; 2010. http://www.alswh.org.au/ images/content/pdf/major_reports/2009_major_report_d_r149.pdf.
  4. Rai R, Regan L. Recurrent miscarriage. Lancet. 2006;368(9535):601-611. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(06)69204-0.

The Two Week Wait

the two week wait with Naturopath Tess Doig, Fertile Ground Health Group

It’s important to explore your options for mind and body support during the two week wait, as this is the time between ovulation or transfer of an embryo during IVF,  to when you find out the outcome of your pregnancy test. It can be a time of great anguish, as you wait (for about 2 weeks) to find out if you are pregnant. 

Many women that have been on a fertility journey for a while often say they are living their life in 2 week increments. The 2 weeks leading up to their ovulation are filled with planning, and lots of sex in the days before ovulation, which then moves into stress and anxiety post ovulation, followed by a depressed few days when their period comes, to be repeated over and over. 

Seek Support

To help support you in this time, here are a few tips to help optimise your body in lowering stress, improving your mood and as well as optimising your body to hopefully lead to a positive pregnancy test. 

  • Reward yourself with a massage, a shopping trip or a delicious meal out with your partner (no wine though please). There is some evidence that supporting dopamine can help support implantation. Dopamine is produced when we feel a ‘reward’, so no better excuse to treat yourself than this. It doesn’t need to cost money either, it could be running a bath for yourself with some candles, chatting with an old friend on the phone or anything else that feels good. As well as supporting dopamine, it can also help as a point of distraction during the two week wait.
Sex for everyone
  • Commonly, when couples have been trying to conceive for a long time, sex can become a little mechanical and left for just the fertile window.  However, studies show that a woman being exposed to a male partner’s semen post ovulation or transfer can actually help implantation. When an embryo implants into a woman’s uterus, her body has to perform a miraculous feat of down-regulating her immune system to allow the foreign cells from the embryo to join into her body and allow her blood supply to continue to nourish and grow the embryo. In no other time does this happen, think of how many immunosuppressive drugs a person must take in an organ transplant. It is believed that a woman continuing to be exposed to a male partner’s cells through contact with semen, this supports that down-regulation of her immune system to support the embryo’s implantation. Sex can also be a wonderful way to boost dopamine, see above, as well as to strengthen the connection between a couple.
  • When going through the fertility journey, allowing sex to be for pleasure and not just baby making, can be a wonderful way to maintain your connection in any context you choose – be it to yourself, to your partner or otherwise. Sex can be supportive whether you’re conceiving naturally, through IVF or in a heterosexual or same-sex couple. For single women, self-pleasure can be just as beneficial. 
When is sex not recommended?

The only time I may consider sex may possibly not be safe during the two week wait, is if you have a significant vaginal infection such as Bacterial Vaginosis. Hopefully this has been looked into and treated prior to conception but if you are unsure, speak to your naturopath practitioner. 

Nutritional & Medicinal Support
  • Eat nitric oxide rich foods such as berries, beetroot, dark chocolate, pomegranate and leafy greens. Nitric oxide is a chemical in the body that helps to open blood vessels and promote blood flow. Increasing blood flow is important for implantation to help nourish the uterine wall and embryo. Some examples of how to include these foods could be a berry choc smoothie with cocoa and organic raspberries, or a roasted cauliflower and beetroot salad with a yogurt dressing and pomegranate sprinkled on top. The other benefit of these foods is they are often feel-good foods, boosting your mood. Another fantastic way to support blood flow can be getting acupuncture, and many studies support acupuncture for not only improving implantation but also relieving stress and anxiety.  
  • Take your progesterone or progesterone supportive herbal medicines. Progesterone is produced in a natural cycle post-ovulation from the corpus luteum, the temporary gland that is produced once an egg leaves the ovarian follicle. Progesterone supports implantation by down-regulating the immune system, lowering inflammation and maintaining the uterine wall for implantation. If during your preconception work up, your naturopath has found you have low progesterone, they may have implemented strategies through nutritional supplementation or herbal medicine to increase progesterone levels. If this is the case, please remember to take your medicines in this time as it is important to continue to work on your progesterone. During an IVF cycle, progesterone pessaries are very commonly prescribed, and please continue taking these as prescribed by your fertility team. There are other benefits too – low progesterone can increase anxiety and insomnia, so by supporting healthy levels of this hormone you can also support a happy mood. 
  • Take your probiotics: some strains of probiotics can support progesterone production which helps with implantation as well as supporting good bacteria that support implantation as well. Bifidobacterium strains, in particular, have some research they can increase progesterone, while the lactobacillus species are the beneficial species in the vaginal microbiome. As mentioned above, vaginal infections can possibly affect the implantation process, by increasing inflammation, and triggering the immune system, so support a healthy vaginal flora while helping to boost your progesterone levels. Speak to your naturopath about which probiotics are right for you, as different species have different roles in the body. 

These strategies can be really helpful in supporting your body to increase the chances of falling pregnant and lowering your stress and anxiety during the two week wait, but the real work comes in preparing your body BEFORE conception. Working with your naturopath for at least 4 months prior to conceiving, can increase your chances of pregnancy through natural conception or IVF by improving egg and sperm quality, supporting healthy nutrient levels, looking at microbiome issues and addressing hormone imbalances (just to name a few). There is a myriad of things we look at improving for people who are struggling to conceive. 

If you would like to find out more how I can help you, please book a free 10 minute consult and we can have a chat about your current fertility struggles and make a plan to move forward.

Yours in wellness

Tess Doig

Tess Doig is a highly skilled degree qualified naturopath with over 9 years of practice specialising in the areas of fertility, pregnancy, women’s health and mental health. She is skilled in complex infertility cases, helping support many women and couples through unexplained infertility, recurrent miscarriage, IVF, male factor infertility and more. 

Along with supporting singles and couples with fertility, she also has a passion for all areas of women’s health including hormone imbalance, gynaecological disorders, vaginal infections, autoimmune conditions and mental health.

Read more about Tess and make a booking to get started on your journey together.

Create A Fertile Life Book Launch

We are incredibly grateful for everyone who was involved in making our book launch such a special night. Our book baby has been birthed into the world!

Our attendees enjoyed platters of yummy treats on the night, as well as a show bag full of goodies to try at home and listened to talks by fertility specialist Dr.Lynn Burmeister, building biologist Nicole Biljsma, and of course our book authors Gina Fox, Charmaine Dennis, Tina Jenkins, Rhiannon Hardingham and Milly Dabrowski.

Some people were asking about whether you can still join our private community Facebook group for Create A Fertile Life, as well as sign up for the FREE miniseries we created to celebrate the launch of the book. The answer is YES YES you may join both the facebook group as well as sign up for the miniseries.  You can also purchase your copy of the book here Create a Fertile Life.

P.S. If you are a practitioner and want to join us on 2nd October for our practitioner only launch event, please sign up here. We know as soon as we announce the special guests for this one, spots will be snapped up in a flash. Make sure you are also signed up to our practitioner list for future collaborative events and opportunities too.

Thank you to all of our beautiful friends who took photos xx.

 

Create solid foundations for your fertility

By Gina Fox, FGHG Naturopath and co-author of Create a Fertile Life.

 

Preconception health really does set the foundation for creating healthy eggs and sperm to conceive, and to have a healthy pregnancy and baby. 

So what is involved in a preconception and fertility plan with a naturopath?

Ideally for at least 3-4 months before you begin trying to conceive, you will both pay close attention to your diet and lifestyle, your environment and any chronic health issues that need to be addressed.  Extensive testing for nutritional levels, infections and other contributing factors are all undertaken.  Your family history is explored and your personal medical and health history is extensively mined for clues as to anything that may compromise your fertility.  Everything from digestive issues to nutrient deficiency, hormone imbalance to urinary tract infections can be really important contributors to fertility, many of which are highly treatable or responsive to natural medicine support.

This process is comprehensive, enlightening, empowering and most importantly, takes you on a journey of continuous improvement that at the very least leaves you feeling healthy, energised and vital, but more importantly may help you achieve a healthy baby.

Preconception planning directs us away from unquestioning or despairing acceptance of genetic destiny or environmental randomness. Investing in yourself at this time of your life goes a very long way. There is surely no other time of life in which such major changes occur and where our action is potentially most powerful.

Both the sperm and egg take around 3 months to develop / mature and in this time they are both vulnerable to damage; creating interruptions to normal healthy development and even chromosomal abnormalities.  The embryo and developing baby are significantly influenced by their environment, and their genetic development is profoundly altered by influences from outside.  So we focus on reducing risk factors, optimising the environment in which they develop and hopefully creating the most positive outcome possible: a sweet, healthy baby.

What is the ‘perfect embryo’?

Both the egg and the sperm contain 23 individual chromosomes, which combine at the moment of conception to create the 23 pairs of chromosomes required to make a human. At the very moment conception occurs your child’s genetic stamp, the strongest predictor of their future health, learning abilities and susceptibilities, is created. And the thing that dictates these outcomes are those individual 23 chromosomes in the sperm and the egg.  And the good bit is that you can influence the genetic make-up of your child by improving your own health during the months prior to conception.

Your fertility is a barometer of your general health. As well as an increased chance of conceiving a healthy baby. This approach promises a host of other benefits.  All treatment approaches have their side effects and ours is no different.  Reported effects of regular visits here have included: improved aging (anti-aging), increased energy, healing or improvement of chronic health issues, stress reduction, weight loss, sleep enhancement, reduced disease risk, especially for some of the most common lifestyle diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease … and so much more! The investment you make in your health now will have consequences well into advanced age.

We are often asked by patients what the odds are of their falling pregnant, or, what our success rate is. It is a fair question but not a straight-forward one to answer. Unlike a running race, the fertility journey for most people is not a straight run to the finish line. But very much like a race, those who do well are usually the ones who have put in the hard yards: done the training, eaten well, taken care of themselves, made adjustments along the way, done as their team of experts has advised and consequently showed good endurance.

At Fertile Ground our focus is on optimising, creating the best you, making the most of what you’ve got.  Are you ready to start?

We hope you enjoyed this peek into our new book, Create a Fertile Life which is packed with practical information – It’s an A-Z of pre-conception health so you can create the ideal foundation for your healthy baby.  

Written by Gina Fox, Naturopath, Fertile Ground Health Group and co-author of Create a Fertile Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting to know your practitioner – Sonia Millett, FGHG acupuncturist

Fertility Sonia

What inspired you to become an acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist, with a special interest in fertility and pregnancy?

Fertility, pregnancy and women’s health conditions are some of the most interesting and complex to treat, for this reason it has always drawn me – there are so many interesting aspects to consider, such as hormonal and emotional factors.

I love the challenges fertility issues present, and in particular the joy of hard-fought successes such as conceiving a baby after years of trying.  I also enjoy then treating  patients up until they give birth –  there is a real sense of completion and connection with the patient.

I first experienced the benefits of Chinese Medicine when my infant son did not gain weight and was diagnosed with ‘failure to thrive’, and was very unsettled. Several pediatricians were unable to provide a reason or a solution. Chinese Medicine, however, provided some notable improvements, and I was hooked.

What do you see as the strengths that acupuncture and Chinese Medicine (CM) have to offer in terms of fertility and reproductive support?

Fertility and pregnancy treatments are a major area of strength in Chinese Medicine as it fills a gap in conventional Western Medicine. This makes it a wonderful adjunct to medical treatments such as IVF.  If a pathology is not visible (eg in scans/to the eye) or does not show up in testing such as blood tests, Chinese Medicine excels. This is why Chinese Medicine can be effective with diagnoses such as ‘unexplained’ infertility, or for older patients. Traditional Chinese Medicine has a different diagnostic system and we can find a diagnosis (and therefore help treat) even when there is none in Western Medicine.

Chinese Medicine practitioners treat the individual, not the disease, and aim to strengthen underlying issues in the body.  The treatments are more patient- centred.

Also, Chinese Medicine is a holistic approach, supporting the OVERALL health and vitality of the body, as well as treating health issues directly. The principle aim of Chinese Medicine and acupuncture is to recover the equilibrium between the physical and emotional aspects of an individual, by treating the whole person. This is why we also provide lifestyle and dietary advice, and consider the emotional state of patients.

Patients often report they feel less stressed and more able to cope following acupuncture treatments, and we see this as a vital part of the treatment.

In your work you assist a lot of women on their journey to becoming pregnant, do you recommend they continue to see you after they have fallen pregnant? What does acupuncture and Chinese medicine have to offer during pregnancy?

Chinese Medicine is very useful throughout pregnancy. It offers a gentle approach to treatment without side-effects. It can help treat conditions such as nausea in early pregnancy, and any pain throughout the pregnancy. In late pregnancy, acupuncture can be used to prepare the patient for an on-time labour.

The benefits of treatment also extend to post-partum for issues such as poor milk supply and for a boost in energy when exhausted.

Your week tends to be very busy, what sort of self-care do you do to recharge outside of seeing patients?

I get lots of benefit from connecting with special friends, and possibly combining this with a walk. Also a regular yoga practice. I find that any practice that nourishes you emotionally as well as physically, has more far-reaching benefits. Whenever time permits, I also enjoy  acupuncture, kinesiology or massage treatments throughout the year.

I enjoy massage treatments primarily for stress relief, and acupuncture or kinesiology when I have a more acute condition that needs addressing such as pain.  I personally really enjoy kinesiology – it’s an eclectic mix of treatment approaches (and even incorporates some Chinese Medicine channel theory).

What are your top five tips for others to help maintain a healthy lifestyle?

  • Eat a nutritious diet with primarily fresh fruit and vegetables (no need to eat low fat foods) and get daily exercise (doesn’t need to be strenuous).
  • Make time for fun and nurture the special relationships in your life. Particularly important when going through challenging times such as when trying to conceive or with a new baby.
  • Find Gratitude – notice things in your life daily that you are grateful for
  • Get plenty of sleep, ideally within the hours of 11pm – 6.00am.
  • And of course have regular therapeutic treatments such as acupuncture, massage, naturopathy, kinesiology, to maintain health – after all, prevention is better than cure! CM is great as a preventative to help keep you in peak heath and manage stress.

Learn more about Sonia Millet on our practitioner page here: Sonia Millet, FGHG Acupuncturist

Putting A Pause On Menopause

Menopause with Suzanne Hurley from Fertile Ground Health Group

What to do when the desire to have a baby collides with fertility’s end (menopause)?

Thinking about a good time to have a baby may be considered good family planning, but what happens when reproductive circumstances dictate how and when this time needs to be?  Never more so than when we enter into our midlife years and there is a realisation that it actually needs to be right NOW.

To get to this place the desire to have a baby can have been a source of great ambivalence, entirely missing or lay dormant in some people. At times this will be a reflection on other life circumstances such as health, mental health, past trauma, being unpartnered, partnered with uncertainty about the relationship enduring, partnered with another who does not wish to be a parent or to parent again, or without a clear point of readiness for life as it has been to change.

Your reproductive rights

Many people may have previously experienced a pregnancy they were unable to continue, even though they would have chosen to if the context in which they found themselves pregnant were different. Whether they are adequately supported to continue is often outside of their control. Some have experienced reproductive coercion, either in being coerced into pregnancy when they did not wish to be, or forced to terminate when they would have liked to continue.

A decision to continue any pregnancy comes with it an assessment as to whether a person has ‘enough’ support, be it financial, emotional, health, their partner’s health if they have one, age factors, being adequately housed and feeling safe – not only now but for the life of that future child. These are all common considerations for any child a parent will be responsible for. Parenthood, I believe, begins with these considerations, as does the willingness to make some hard choices for the life of another above one’s own life choices.

With so many factors to interrupt a choice into parenthood what happens when it has to be right NOW? One such example is the medical need for a hysterectomy, particularly potent in someone who has not only not yet had children, but also may not yet have considered whether they want to have children. Imagine the frantic scrambling of thoughts and feelings that need to be explored, all without adequate time to do so. Mix this with the all too often narrow lens of the medical profession that rarely takes on the bigger picture in a person’s life outside of the part they will play in performing their surgical prowess. Add to this gender imbalances of male dominated gynaecological surgical practices and any biases they might hold about age and fertility. What might you expect?

The right to options

If a person in their midlife (40’s) presents for a medically required hysterectomy, has not yet had children, may know they either want to have children or may have not yet have considered if they want children. What might you expect? I know that what I would expect would be to be given options with regard to the surgery, such as, any alternative surgery that may provide additional time for the person to consider, decide and reconcile with their choices and circumstances, a thorough breakdown of medical risks in relation to their medical condition and any delay or alternative surgery, a referral to a counsellor to begin to explore the decision before them, a referral to a fertility specialist to discuss their options (eg. egg freezing, surrogacy, pregnancy, IVF), patience with regard to any indecision, and above all compassionate consideration for their predicament without personal bias or unfounded harmful statements. Basic assumptions you and I might think, but quite the contrary to what I have come across in my practice recently.

Moving into menopause

Moving into menopause is no small transition physically, as we are mostly aware of, with the common symptom picture of hot flushes, irritability, fatigue, weight gain etc. Psychologically it can be even harder, particularly for those whose fertility journey has been fraught with challenges, missed opportunities, losses and broken dreams, but equally so for those whose opportunities have never taken them to the foot of the parenthood mountain to raise the challenge of do I or don’t I. Passing through menopause can be graceful and welcome when one’s reproductive expectations have been met and satisfied, for those fortunate enough to not hold regret for any children unborn.

When a medical event removes your uterus and/or your fertility in one fowl swoop, great care needs to be exerted by everyone surrounding that individual, always giving them control over their choices, supporting them in their decisions even if they seem counter intuitive or differ from your own.  Without this unconditional regard for their right to choose we overlook the wisdom within people to know their own bodies, to make their own choices and know their own minds. Without this basic human right you can expect a very poor mental state and outcome for people and their reproductive rights.

For anyone who has had a negative experience of hysterectomy you may like to contact;

InternationalHERS Foundation

After speaking with The New Daily, Health Issues Centre CEO Mr Vadasz said the body is interested in hearing the experiences of women who were encouraged to undergo hysterectomies.

To contact the Health Issues Centre, call (03) 8676 9050.

For more support, Suzanne Hurley, Perinatal Counsellor, is available for consultations at Fertile Ground Health Group or you can make an appointment for a phone or video session for your convenience. Learn more about Suzanne.

What’s Your Fertility Plan?

Your Fertility Plan with Sage King from Fertile Ground Health Group

It can be quite overwhelming for any individual or couple to decide if their family plan includes children, let alone go one step further and reach out for support to optimise or facilitate fertility. These decisions can be even more complex for those who fall outside of the mainstream heteronormative, coupled, gender binary. 

Fertility plan – where to start?

Knowing when you want to have children is key to where you can choose to start on this journey. Does your family plan include children within the next 3-12 months? Did you know that preconception care takes a minimum of three months to positively influence reproductive health,  including egg quality? 

One of our expert fertility naturopaths, Sage King, has written a 6-part series to help individuals and couples of all gender identities and sexual orientations confidently navigate their fertility journey and create their own fertility plan. This series is inclusive of everything from preconception pathology screening, naturopathic preconception considerations, how to enhance your fertility naturally, to egg freezing, intrauterine insemination (IU) and In vitro fertilisation (IVF). Sage will be taking a deep-dive in how you can optimise your fertility outcomes.

What you’ll learn in this free 6-part article series

Part One: Identify Your Unique & Individual Needs

  • Individual considerations
  • Couple considerations
  • Sperm donor considerations

Part Two: Do You Need Preconception Screening?

  • Understanding your optimal preconception window
  • GP preconception screening
  • Your functional preconception assessment options
  • Naturopathic preconception considerations
  • PCOS, Endometriosis and the impacts on fertility

Part Three: Enhance Your Fertility Naturally

  • Eating for your fertility
  • Exercising for your fertility
  • Stress management
  • Enhancing sleep quality for your fertility
  • Endocrine disrupting chemicals and why you should avoid them

Part Four: Is Egg Freezing for You?

  • Age and egg freezing – what’s the go?
  • Understanding the egg freezing process
  • How to access Naturopathic support for egg freezing

Part Five: What is IUI & do I qualify?

  • What is intrauterine insemination?
  • Is IUI for you?
  • Natural vs. medicated cycle
  • Importance of collaborative care
  • Naturopathic support options for IUI

Part Six: Your Guide to IVF

  • What is IVF?
  • Is IVF for you?
  • Importance of collaborative care
  • Naturopathic support options for IVF

Are you single? In a couple? Do you wish to use your own eggs, or do you want to carry using your partner’s eggs, or vice versa? Do you have a known sperm donor, or will you use clinic-recruited donor sperm? Perhaps a child is not in your short-term plans but you wish to freeze your eggs for peace of mind down the track – there is great information here for you too. 

Register to receive notification as each article in this 6 part series is released. Sage is dedicated to helping you identify your unique and individual needs, as well as to provide you with the information you need to feel more informed, more confident on how to best navigate your situation, and most importantly helping you feel fully supported on your fertility journey.

Bonus Preconception Q&As with Sage online

Get your questions answered by joining our closed Create a Fertile Life Facebook group. Submit your questions in this group and Sage will answer.

Identify your Unique Fertility Needs

Sage King Unique Fertility Needs Fertile Ground Health Group

What’s your Fertility Plan and do you know how to identify your unique fertility needs?

Welcome to this free 6-part article series designed to help you determine your fertility plan and understand the steps you can take to optimise your fertility outcomes. 

Over these 6 weeks we are going to discuss all potential options for those of you who are:

  • single, 
  • in same-sex relationships, 
  • are gender non-conforming, 
  • or are in a heterosexual relationship.

In these articles I will address information around:

  • trying to conceive, 
  • options if you have been struggling to conceive, 
  • considerations for those of you thinking about IVF, 
  • considerations for those of you currently undergoing IVF treatment,
  • how beneficial naturopathy can be in optimising your fertility outcomes.

Opportunity to Ask Me Questions – LIVE

After each article release, you have the option to submit any questions you may have by 7pm Monday evening to the Create A Fertile Life Facebook group. If you’ve not yet joined that private group you are welcome to go there and request to join.

If you wish to submit your questions anonymously, you can private message the Fertile Ground Health Group Facebook page and admin will forward them to me. 

Each Tuesday, I will be answering your questions live in this Create a Fertile Life Facebook group at 7pm AEDT, so we can all learn from each other.

Your Fertility Plan

Now, some of you may know exactly what your plan is, others may not have thought about it so concisely yet. Whatever stage you are at, I want you to provide you with the tools to determine what your fertility plan can look like and how you can optimise your outcomes with Naturopathy. Grab a pen and a piece of paper, or type in to a document on your phone/computer so that you can create the skeleton of the items that relate to YOUR individual journey and we will build on this each week over the next 6 weeks. 

I am excited to embark on this journey with you. Let’s get started!

Part One: Identify Your Unique Fertility Needs

In the same way that we are all our own unique individuals, no two fertility journeys nor pregnancies are the same.  It is important for you to identify what your family plan looks like, taking into consideration your age, who your fertility plan involves – who is providing the egg (you or your partner?), who is providing the sperm (you or your partner? Sperm donor – known? Clinic recruited?), who will be carrying the pregnancy and in which timeframe you wish to try to conceive. 

Age & egg quality

For individual’s trying to conceive, age is something that is spoken about regularly. I see frustration in many of my patients when age is spoken about and I understand that frustration because, well, you know the impacts of age on fertility. While age is something we cannot change, thorough preconception care can positively influence your egg quality and reduce the impacts of biological age as much as is possible. 

Statistics show a decline in fertility from 35 years of age, with a further decrease after 40-42 years of age. (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Gynecologic Practice, 2014; Fertility Society of Australia, 2018) Individuals assigned female at birth are born with all their eggs and research now shows that egg quality can be positively influenced in the 100 days before ovulation. (Fertility Society of Australia, 2018)

If you’re 34 years old or younger, you’re fortunate enough to have at least 12 months to undertake a thorough preconception screening and treatment protocol. 

If you’re 35 years or older, your time to conceive considerations are a little different. If you’re wanting to try to conceive within the next 3, 6, 9, 12 months, it is essential you undergo a thorough preconception screening for your individualised preconception care as soon as possible to maximise your time to influence your biology in a positive way. The more time, the better! In some cases, the best opportunity to conceive involves using donor eggs, however this is something that is determined on a case by case scenario and takes many factors into account.

Timeframe of starting your fertility journey

Have you considered the time in which you want to start trying to conceive? Considerations include your age, sourcing a sperm donor and individualised preconception recommendations. It is good to start with an estimated time frame. The time required to optimise your health for conception will become clearer once you’ve undertaken a thorough preconception screening. 

The minimum recommendation for your optimal preconception screening is 3 months. However, some of my patients have more time-sensitive scenarios where we will tailor their treatment protocols to support where they’re at in their fertility journey, whilst closely monitoring their pathology and working alongside their fertility specialist.

Questions you might want to consider
  • What does your timeframe of trying to conceive look like? 
  • Do you have an age in mind of when you want to start your fertility journey or have children? 
  • Given the information you know now, has this changed or become clearer? 
  • Will you need support in trying to improve your cellular health and egg quality due to your biological age? 

Maybe you’ve already started your fertility journey and unfortunately are yet to achieve conception. No matter what your circumstances, preconception screening and care is the best way to optimise your…

Want to keep reading? Sign up to get instant free access to Sage’s preconception article series and find out about the intricacies of your menstrual cycle, sperm donor considerations, intercourse, conception, egg quality, egg carrying considerations, assisted reproductive technology, home insemination, the answers to your questions and more.

Written by Fertile Ground fertility Naturopath, Sage King.

Do you need Preconception Screening?

Preconception Screening by Naturopath Sage King

What’s your Fertility Plan and do you need preconception screening?

Welcome to this free 6-part article series designed to help you determine your fertility plan and understand the steps you can take to optimise your fertility outcomes. Below you’ll find Part 2 – “Do You Need Preconception Screening?” If you’ve already read article 1 feel welcome to skip this intro and get stuck into part 2 below. If this is, however, your first time finding out about this series – please read on to learn what it’s about, how it can help you and what to expect over the coming weeks.

Over this free 6 week article series we are going to discuss all potential options for those of you who are:

  • single, 
  • in same-sex relationships, 
  • are gender non-conforming, 
  • or are in a heterosexual relationship.

In these articles I will address information around:

  • trying to conceive, 
  • options if you have been struggling to conceive, 
  • considerations for those of you thinking about IVF, 
  • considerations for those of you currently undergoing IVF treatment,
  • how beneficial naturopathy can be in optimising your fertility outcomes.

Opportunity to Ask Me Questions – LIVE

After each article release, you have the option to submit any questions you may have by 7pm Monday evening to the Create A Fertile Life Facebook group. If you’ve not yet joined that private group you are welcome to go there and request to join.

If you wish to submit your questions anonymously, you can private message the Fertile Ground Health Group Facebook page and admin will forward them to me. 

Each Tuesday, I will be answering your questions live in this Create a Fertile Life Facebook group at 7pm AEDT, so we can all learn from each other.

Your Fertility Plan

Now, some of you may know exactly what your plan is, others may not have thought about it so concisely yet. Whatever stage you are at, I want you to provide you with the tools to determine what your fertility plan can look like and how you can optimise your outcomes with Naturopathy. Grab a pen and a piece of paper, or type in to a document on your phone/computer so that you can create the skeleton of the items that relate to YOUR individual journey and we will build on this each week over the 6 weeks of this series. 

I am excited to be on this journey with you. If you’ve already registered for the whole free package, take a sneak peek at part two below and check your inbox for the arrival of your full comprehensive article for this week (week 2).

If you’re just finding this free series now and would like access from part 1 all the way to part 6 – simply register here for your free access to the whole package.

Part Two: Do You Need Preconception Screening?


Before we jump in to preconception screening, it’s important to understand what your optimal preconception window is, why it’s important, what medical preconception screenings are available to you, and how naturopathic clinical assessments and further pathology investigations provide us with key information to tailor your treatment plan to complement your fertility journey. 

 

Your Optimal Preconception Window

As we touched on last week, the optimal preconception window for both egg and sperm quality is approximately 3-4 months. This is because although individuals assigned female at birth are born with the basic cells that will eventually form their eggs, these follicles do not contain eggs ready for fertilisation. In order to develop eggs required for fertilisation, they must go through what’s known as ‘maturation’ and this process takes approximately 100 days. So the egg released during ovulation each month actually started maturing 3-4 months ago! (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Gynecologic Practice, 2014; Fertility Society of Australia, 2018). This means that given 3-4 months of tailored preconception care, you can positively influence the health and development of your ovaries, follicles, and the eggs maturing and growing inside. 

Similarly, when it comes to sperm health, preconception screening and care is just as important as egg quality. Sperm also undergo a process of development ready for ejaculation, and take nearly 90 days to be produced from scratch to the time they are ejaculated. So the sperm trying to fertilise an egg this month was already being produced 3 months ago! (Rowley, et al., 1970)

But what if time is not on my side?

For many of my patients, time is of the essence with their fertility plan; due to age, their partner’s age, and if they’re about to/are already undertaking IVF. Time considerations will also vary for individuals wishing to freeze their eggs due to egg freezing not being recommended for individuals older than 38 years of age. If this is you, in these circumstances, I still recommend preconception screening so we can use this information to tailor a treatment protocol to complement any stage of your fertility journey. By implementing key dietary, lifestyle, nutritional, and (where indicated) herbal medicine interventions, I can support you at any stage of your fertility journey. However, if time is not on your side and/or you are currently undergoing IVF, our treatment protocol aims to support your egg quality & endometrial receptivity in the background so that should you be unsuccessful, we have begun to positively influence your egg and sperm quality throughout this window putting you in a better position than before.   

 

Preconception Screening and Your Health Team

It can be really overwhelming knowing where to start with preparing to conceive. Some of my patients come to their initial consultation with blood test results referred by their GP for general health, nutritional status, immunological markers, cervical screening, and sexually transmitted disease (STD) screening. If their fertility specialist has referred them for further testing, I review these test results too. 

While it requires some organisation and commitment, pathology testing provides us with very important data about your health status. If you have already had preconception testing performed, how long ago did you have them conducted?

Want to keep reading? Sign up to get instant free access to Sage’s preconception article series and find out about the intricacies of your menstrual cycle, sperm donor considerations, intercourse, conception, egg quality, egg carrying considerations, assisted reproductive technology, home insemination, the answers to your questions and more.

Written by Fertile Ground fertility Naturopath, Sage King.