The emotional rollercoaster of infertility

by Suzanne Hurley, FGHG counsellor

Anyone in the throes of trying to conceive knows the grueling fertility cycle of hope then worry realised into disappointment, the grief and numbness that takes hold right before a new found fortitude and grit. Each new hope that is a little less sure of itself with each cycle, that if allowed, will vanish and harden into a no expectation kind of expectation.

They will know how disorienting, chaotic, demanding and painful it is to be a part of a world that all too often disallows space for such a massive struggle. Workplaces that have little or no flexibility, friends you simply cannot tell for fear of bringing darkness into their baby making bubble, families that will not or do not understand the what, how and why of what is involved. Your right to privacy and confidentiality that cannot be upheld and the all encompassing feeling of failure and shame, albeit real or imagined that prevents you from stopping the spilling over of grief from your heart, carried as tears that first pool and then pour for all to see.

In times such as these we can benefit from slowing the pace and collecting ourselves long enough to create a simple structure to help keep our vulnerability safe. Establishing some emotional scaffolding can alleviate us of any unnecessary burden we may keep on trying to carry. It can help to ground us in knowing some core well-being skills, either not yet learnt along the way to our adult selves, or are no longer effective. How can we ever be prepared to face infertility when the norm is for our bodies to work when we ask it of them?

No one expects this level of adversity in thinking about starting a family. We may dread it or worry that it may be our story but mostly we expect things to go smoothly. When it does not it can rock us to our very foundations of who we are in the world. It is this crushed illusion of who we are that needs the scaffolding in the same way we provide a stick or trellis for a plant that may struggle to bear fruit if not supported.

Identifying with a fertility counsellor who you are, why you are the way you are and knowing where you are right now when faced with fertility challenges, can be the glue that holds you together. It will be the scaffold you need until you too bear fruit. A task made easier with someone who can hold you lightly as you rise and more tightly as you yield.

The extra bonus is whilst doing all of this you earn yourself a confidant and a witness to the best and worst of you. A person who will see you and get to know you and listen and keep learning what it is that you need. They can plan with you how to have that need met, respectfully and honourably, with compassion and awe.

 

SuzanneHURLEYCSuzanne Hurley is an exceptionally compassionate, understanding and experienced counsellor with a very specific skill set and deep understanding of the challenging nature of infertility and the path to becoming a parent. Learn more about Suzanne Hurley here.

How to Improve Endometrial Health

By Jo Sharkey, FGHG Acupuncturist and Gina Fox, FGHG Naturopath

The big fertility discussion is often about enhancing egg quality to improve pregnancy rates, however, there is much less said about the other major aspect of being able to conceive and that’s the health of the endometrium and getting the embryo to stick. If the soil isn’t right the seed won’t grow and in this podcast we’re going to discuss things you can take control of to create a health endometrium and improve implantation success. Take heart in knowing that the endometrium regenerates every four weeks so by making some small changes today you’ll have an impact on your next menstrual cycle.

As usual the discussion is with acupuncturist Joanne Sharkey and naturopath Gina Fox and today to bring her knowledge to this topic is another Fertile Ground naturopath, Rhiannon Hardingham.

Listen to the podcast… How to Improve Endometrial Health

Masterclass for Naturopaths – IVF Support Beyond the Basics

Did you know that up to 75% of Australian patients undergoing IVF seek the support of a CAM practitioner? And that naturopathy is one of the most sought-after modalities? (Rayner, et al., 2011).

With IVF becoming increasingly common place, accounting for nearly 5% of all births in Australia & NZ, the naturopath in general practice is now more likely than ever to come across complex fertility patients in their day-to-day work. However, there is little information available for these practitioners in regard to what is safe, effective & appropriate for this highly medicalised patient group.

Fertile Ground Health Group has been specialising in IVF support in Melbourne for the past 18 years. In this role we have developed a trusted collaborative relationship with medical specialists in the fields of reproductive & obstetric medicine, and a deep understanding of assisted reproductive treatments and approaches to naturopathic management of the IVF patient.


Do you feel confident that you really know what you can do when someone presents with a complex fertility history?

Are you up to date with the latest evidence based research regarding naturopathic interventions for this patient group?

Do you know what to look for in your patients test results to give you the clues for effective treatment?

What are the red flags you need to identify before you prescribe supplements & herbal medicine to IVF patients and are you confident that you know what is safe to prescribe during an IVF cycle?

Are you communicating confidently and effectively with IVF specialists?


If you would like to brush up on your skills or deepen your knowledge, you are invited to join Fertile Ground Health Group naturopath Rhiannon Hardingham for this exclusive online masterclass for fertility naturopaths. In this four-part series Rhiannon shares her extensive clinical knowledge around IVF support, as well as the most up-to-date research supporting naturopathic interventions for this complex patient group.

Rhiannon has been at the core of the naturopathic team at FGHG for the past 9 years. Her success with fertility outcomes is testament to her diligence and keen sense of curiosity to find answers for her patients, even in the most complex and seemingly hopeless of cases, earning her the respect of many IVF specialists in Melbourne. In 2019 Rhiannon will be the first naturopath to present at the annual Fertility Society of Australia conference on the subject of naturopathic support for IVF.

Recognising the isolation in private practice that many naturopaths face, Rhiannon is keen to help you build strong relationships with other naturopaths interested in developing their fertility & IVF support practice, and also offers ongoing individual & group mentoring.

About the course:

This course is uniquely offered to practicing naturopaths with a special interest in reproductive medicine. It is expected that participants will have a working knowledge of standard preconception interventions and are already working with fertility patients in clinical practice. 

Participants will receive detailed clinical assessment and treatment tools to assist in day-to-day practice, as well as up-to-date resources regarding evidence-based support for IVF patients.

On completion practitioners will be better positioned to make sense of medical fertility protocols, manage complex fertility patients, as well as confidently communicate with medical specialists regarding evidence-based interventions for improved IVF outcomes.

Participants will earn 6 CPE points.

Weeks 1 & 2: Specific Preconception Preparation for the IVF Patient- Beyond the Basics.

This highly medicalised patient group have complex preconception requirements, and appropriate identification and preparation can significantly influence assisted reproductive outcomes. We will discuss clinically relevant and evidence based testing recommendations & assessments specific for IVF, as well as the complexities of nutritional & hormonal preparation.

Week 3: Naturopathic Support for ART & IVF

A thorough introduction and outline of up-to-date assisted reproductive statistics and protocols. What we’re commonly seeing now regarding standards and variations of the IVF cycle, along with clinical and evidence-based information regarding naturopathic support for each stage.

Week 4: IVF- Complex Cases

Complications in the IVF process and how to support your patient. We will consider appropriate intervention to increase the chance of success for those with for whom the odds are stacked against. Including poor responders, ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome, older couples, poor embryo quality and repeat IVF failure.

 

Dates:

Tuesday 6th, 13th, 20th and 27th August 2019

Time: 1:00pm–2.30pm AEST (OR meetings recorded for your convenience)

Cost: $495

Platform: Interactive live Zoom meetings online, with the ability to review sessions if you are unable to attend at the time.

To book:  Call 9419 9988 or email reception@fertileground.com.au or book and pay for your course in our online shop. Book here


Here’s what past participants have had to say:

“Rhiannon is a gold-mine of knowledge. If anyone is interested in pursuing this as a practice focus I would highly recommend this workshop, and leveraging Rhiannon’s first-hand experience!”

“Rhiannon is a wonderful teacher and mentor. She has a way of explaining things that is easy to understand, interesting and engaging”

“Thank you for offering this amazing program”

 

L9999600Rhiannon Hardingham, FGHG Naturopath

Rhiannon has been focused on treating men’s and women’s reproductive health, infertility and naturopathic IVF support for the past 9 years at Fertile Ground Health Group. Her frequent communication with IVF specialists, CAM colleagues, industry education and the thousands of patients she has successfully treated over these years have given her a unique and well informed perspective.

When it comes to assisting IVF and infertility patients Rhiannon has seen it all, from the most complex cases to the very simple fixes that someone may have overlooked. Through her Mentoring program for naturopaths Rhiannon’s diligence and passion for the work is something that she now shares with practitioners interested in developing their career in this area of specialisation.

How is acupuncture going to help me conceive?

by Naomi Jankowski, FGHG Acupuncturist

The question I receive the most frequently in clinic is ‘How does acupuncture work?’ This is such a fantastic question with multifaceted answers. The question I like even better is ‘How is acupuncture going to help me conceive?’ When I consider this, there are two parts to the answer which are relatively easy to explain, and which are very important for patients to hear so they understand what we are doing, rather than just going along with a bunch of arbitrary needles.

The first part of this relates more broadly to the question of how acupuncture works. Through my experience in clinic, I have found that so much of acupuncture works on benefiting blood flow and circulation.  Acupuncture does not just work by bringing blood flow to the area where the needle is inserted, in fact often the needles selected will direct the blood flow to an entirely different area of the body.  For example, I routinely use points on the hands that have a direct affinity to the ovaries and uterus.  If a patient comes to see me on a day that they have menstrual cramping, using these points on the hands usually decreases the pain within a few minutes.  By facilitating blood flow to the area, the uterus is then able to function more efficiently.

In many cases, menstrual cramping is caused by a small amount of uterine clotting that is stuck.  The cramps occur when the uterus has small contractions to try to push the clots out.  Unfortunately, the contractions often become inefficient, and then we have the problem which we so often see in clinic, where a woman either has pain or heavy bleeding.  Increasing the blood flow to the uterus facilitates more efficient uterine contractions.  This in turn will decrease pain, decrease heavy bleeding, and, most importantly, create a good basis of endometrial lining.

This brings us to the next point, and our next question of ‘How is acupuncture going to help me conceive?’ Patients often tell me they have low AMH, and that their fertility specialist has told them they cannot conceive as a result of poor egg quality.  Egg quality is certainly part of the picture, and cannot be overlooked.  But let’s consider another perspective.  What good is the perfect egg if the quality of the endometrial lining is so poor that implantation cannot occur?

The analogy of soil works best to illustrate this point.  A seed will not be able to form roots in soil that is littered with rocks, debris and clumped up dirt.  No matter how much fertilizer you add, if there are enough rocks in the soil, your seed will not grow.  These rocks are the clots in the endometrial lining.  First and foremost, our job is to help eliminate this clotting.  Secondly, we work to add fertilizer to the soil i.e. thicken the endometrial lining.  Then, if necessary, we work on egg quality.  Often I never need to directly work on step three, because by that time, conception has successfully occurred.

It is important to note here that patients often have their lining measured, and are told that it looks fine.  This is a measurement in millimeters that does not take into account quality of lining and possible clotting.  Clots will, in a sense, artificially increase the ‘true’ lining of the uterus present on the scan.  It is detrimental lining that leads to a false reading in millimeters.

So to summarize and answer these clinically relevant questions, the benefit of traditional Chinese gynecology is that it takes into account the quality of the endometrial lining.  Acupuncture can facilitate blood flow to the uterus, to improve the quality of this lining which increases the ability of an embryo to implant.

NaomiJANKOWSKIColourNaomi Jankowski is a highly experienced, registered acupuncturist and Chinese herbal medicine practitioner. Naomi is known for her ability to build relationships with her patients where they feel truly supported supported, even the most difficult of fertility and reproductive journeys.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is there an acupuncture treatment to support IVF?

The use of acupuncture treatment to support IVF has fast become a popular treatment. When considering the use of Acupuncture to support IVF and other ART there are a few key components of treatment to consider.

Some people undertake only the minimum pre-transfer and post-transfer appointments to support the embryo transfer.  Most embark on a more holistic program of treatment aiming to treat the whole person and underlying issues that may be affecting fertility.

At Fertile Ground Health Group, it is our preference to treat more holistically, and we would usually see patients weekly in the lead up to egg collection and transfer.  We also have an excellent system that allows us to cater to short term patients, however most current research suggests just doing embryo transfer (ET) acupuncture does not appear to benefit IVF outcomes when compared to any controls; but may improve outcomes when compared to no treatment.

What does the research tell us?

Acupuncture is associated with more live births when administered at a larger dose (9-12 visits prior to ET). At FGHG we recommend regular weekly treatments with women and couples trying to conceive and undergoing IVF.  Working weekly enables us to address underlying health issues that may be affecting fertility, as well as working across a cycle to maximise hormone balancing and cycle regulation, follicular and endometrial development, stress as well as addressing any side effects from medications.

Acupuncture is proposed to aid fertility in three ways:

  1. By inhibiting central sympathetic nerve activity to promote vasodilation and increase blood flow to ovaries and uterus.
  2. Inducing neurotransmitters, which activate hormonal activity in the pituitary gland, increasing ovulation, menstrual regularity, and overall fertility.
  3. Increase the ‘feel good hormones’ mitigating adverse stress response.
When should I start acupuncture in relation to my IVF or ART cycle?

We suggest starting acupuncture as many as three cycles prior to starting IVF or any ART, this suggestion is based on the whole systems TCM approach. The Whole systems approach has shown significantly more benefits compared with just doing protocol acupuncture for embryo transfer.

In any Acupuncture treatment, it is also important to note that the treatment is always designed in relation to what a woman needs constitutionally and specifically at the time of treatment.  Based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) your practitioner will assess your health and address any concerns presenting on the day.  For example if a patient has a headache, or pain remaining from egg collection, point selection takes this into account.

A follow up treatment one week after the transfer is also recommended in support of possible implantation.  This is also a time when many women find their stress levels and anxiety start to peak. The relaxing effects of Acupuncture as well as the chance to talk to their practitioner about how they are feeling during this waiting period is highly advantageous.  Treatment aims are similar to the post transfer treatment – settling everything down, supporting implantation and circulation to the uterus, etc.

Prior to starting any IVF cycles, Acupuncture treatment for approximately three months prior for both partners is advisable. Acupuncture is recognised by the World Health Organisation as a treatment for infertility and is used to help the couple to optimise their health and maximise their chances of success. However even without this, the research into the effects of Acupuncture on the outcomes of IVF cycles by just focusing on the pre- and post-transfer treatments is more than favourable.

I want to know more

In 2008 the British Medical Journal published a world first meta-analysis by highly respected Cochrane Review researchers and scientists.  The meta-analysis assessed the main research from around the world pertaining to acupuncture and IVF.  The results clearly showed a positive association between the use of acupuncture and increased success rates with IVF.  For more information on the Cochrane Review and the meta-analysis, see:

 Manheimer E, Zhang G, Udoff L, et al. Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ 2008;336 (7643):545-549.

For more studies see below

Impact of Whole Systems Traditional Chinese Medicine on In Vitro Fertilization Outcomes

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4458185/

The relationship between perceived stress, acupuncture, and pregnancy rates among IVF patients: a pilot study.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20621276

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3962314/

5 Steps to Take Before IVF

Written by Gina Fox, FGHG Naturopath (This article was originally published on www.conceivebaby.com.au)

Trying to conceive takes time and once you’ve made the decision to have a baby frustration, impatience and sadness are just three of the emotions that can grow with each menstrual cycle that passes.  It’s worth reminding ourselves that we have a 20% chance of conceiving in any one cycle and that 80% of couples will be pregnant within 12 months.  Having that longer term view and doing things to improve your chances of conceiving can be a good focus while you wait.

This impatience for results and lack of understanding about timing is one of the reasons why many couples embark on IVF treatment before they really need to.  We find that many couples benefit from focusing on some key basics they do have control of.  Addressing these things increases the chance of conception within a reasonable time frame and allows women to exert some control over their ability to fall pregnant.

Here are 5 steps to take before IVF:

Have sex at the right time of the month

Know when your fertile window is so that you have sex on a day when you increase your chances of conception.  You only have at the very outside 6 days in your cycle that you may be able to become pregnant and that’s if the sperm lives for 5 days and the egg for 1 day.  The most likely days you will conceive are 2 days prior to ovulation and the day of ovulation.  If you have sex on one of these days then your chances of becoming pregnant in that cycle dramatically increases to 27-33%.

The funny thing is that although 70% of women in a recent Australian study thought they knew when they were ovulating, only 13% accurately estimated their day of ovulation.

If you are relying on an app for this they can be grossly inaccurate. It’s much more accurate is to keep track of your vaginal mucus changes and recognise when your mucus is wetter and more stretchy.  Ovulation predictor kits can also help to more accurately pinpoint your fertile window.  For more information on this go to Your fertility website and watch the video by Kerry Hampton on pinpointing your ovulation (http://yourfertility.org.au/for-women/timing-and-conception/).

Check that your weight is in a healthy range

If you are overweight then you can improve your chances of conceiving by committing to healthy eating and exercising and reducing weight even by a little.  A common measure of whether you are over or under weight is the BMI calculator which you will easily find on line and by putting your height and weight into the calculator it will work out if you fall in the 18.5-25 healthy BMI range.

For women who are overweight and have PCOS reducing weight by as little as 5 % can significantly improve regular ovulation and your chance of conception.

Being underweight can also affect hormones and reduce fertility. Underweight women may be twice as likely to take over a year to conceive compared with healthy weight women.  A man’s weight is also a factor, so father’s-to-be also need to trim down to improve fertility.

Three tips to start off a healthy weight plan:

–  swap soft drinks and alcohol for water;

– make half you plate vegetables or salad at lunch and dinner with a palm size of lean protein such as meat, fish, eggs or pulses;

– get moving more by standing every 40 minutes from your desk, walking rather than taking the car to the shops and taking the stairs.

Have you stopped smoking and drinking?

Smoking affects egg and sperm development and can damage the DNA in both eggs and sperm.  Smoking not only reduces your chances of getting pregnant but also puts you and your baby at risk of pregnancy and birth complications and birth defects.

Even if a woman has never smoked, her partners smoking makes her up to 30% more likely to miscarry.

It’s much easier to quit smoking with your partner so make a plan to do it together and seek help from a counsellor or acupuncturist to give you extra support.

It’s known that drinking alcohol in large quantities reduces your chance of conceiving but low and moderate drinking may also have an impact.  For men alcohol can cause impotence, reduce libido and also reduces sperm quality and so reduces fertility.  Because of the known toxic effects on a baby’s development the National Health and Medical Research Council recommend that not drinking is the safest option for women who are planning to conceive or who are pregnant.

Clean up your environment

Reducing the levels of environmental toxins that have been shown to affect DNA cellular health can affect your Simple steps to take include:

  • increase your intake of organic food;
  • buy non chemical cleaners including laundry powder;
  • start to use natural face and body creams such as coconut or almond oil;
  • men keep your mobile phone away from the reproductive area by not carrying it in your trouser pocket and at night keep on flight mode if you have it by your bedside.
Optimum nutrition

Research shows that optimum nutrition in the pre-conception period three months prior to conception is associated with a lower rate of birth defects.  If you eat well your eggs and sperm will benefit from all the nutrients required for healthy DNA.  Eating for a healthy weight and to support the growth and development of sperm, eggs and healthy hormones we suggest referring to the Fertility Boosting Diet Summary on our Fertile Ground Health Group website (www.fertileground.com.au) and for more information and recipes read The Fertility Diet by Tasha Jennings and The Fertility Food Map by Petra Joly. Or if you feel like you could benefit from some more specific nutritional testing and advice, you could make an appointment with a Fertile Ground Health Group Naturopath.

By taking some control of your own health, most women and couples find they feel happier and healthier and regain a sense of control over their own fertility.

Of course expert help is not far away if you need further support to achieve your aims and make changes, or if you feel you have more complex issues to manage. For more information on support available for your fertility, explore our Trying to Conceive information and other related FGHG blog articles:

Fertility Charting Instructions

Marijuana and your fertility: Are my eggs / sperm stoned too?

Acupuncture to help you quit smoking

 

References

Hampton K, Mazza D; Fertility-awareness knowledge, attitudes and practices of women attending general practice. Aust Fam Physician. 2015;44(11):840-5.

Your Fertility Website

 

 

 

 

 

Gina Fox

Gina Fox is a naturopath with over 15 years’ experience. She trained under Francesca Naish (author of Better Babies) and has a Masters in Reproductive Medicine. As well as being an experienced clinician she is a speaker, naturopathic lecturer and student clinic supervisor.

Gina is highly skilled in providing naturopathic care for women’s health issues, pre-conception health, infertility, IVF support, pregnancy care and through menopause. She treats a wide range of issues including recurrent miscarriage, thyroid, auto-immune antibodies and she has seen good results working with men to improve sperm quality.

Getting to know your practitioner – Sonia Millett, FGHG acupuncturist

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

MA’s October Love Letter

MA's October Love Letter

Welcome to MA’s October 2021 Love Letter. We’ve been receiving MA’s monthly love letters from The Melbourne Apothecary since the beginning of 2020. These letters contain links to a variety of life enhancing freebies that our fabulous practitioners are constantly creating to help you cope during COVID and beyond.

The letters are also a fantastic and charismatic resource that share all the goings on within both The MA and Fertile Ground. So we thought we’d best share them with you here so that you can join in and receive the monthly intel from our delightful and ever wisdomous MA. Please enjoy.

 

Hello my dear,

As I sit here writing to you the gentle rain is tumbling down on my tin roof. My teapot brews beside me and I find myself feeling rather reflective. My 2 young, silky bantam hens are perched in their house, sheltering from the sky and calmly preening their feathers. I watch them out there, simply accepting what is, whilst softly preparing themselves for when the sunshine inevitably bursts through the clouds again, at which point they’ll romp around yet again with adventurous energy. My insightful hens are reminding me that when what can appear like dreary circumstances set in for a while, it’s an opportunity for us to sit into the quiet spots of it and preen our own “feathers”, to prepare ourselves for the imminent shift to the opposite. Everything always changes – it is one of the certainties of life. Suffering and struggle is a feature of lack of acceptance of what is. By accepting what is, I don’t mean rolling over and not doing anything about changing our own circumstances. I mean more allowing a sense of serenity to descend, giving a frayed nervous system the chance to catch up and prepare for the next vault into the unknown.

And so in line with that – let’s preen our feathers shall we?

The 3 things I want to share with you are perfect for helping to bring you back to your centre, to nourish, to unwind, to prepare for the next phase of the beautiful unknowns of life.

#1 is a beautiful article, written by one of the Fertile Ground naturopaths, all about 10 foods to enhance fertility. As luck would have it, it is one of Fertile Ground’s best performing articles of all time (says google analytics). No doubt you might find something on there that tickles your foodie fancy.

#2 is a wonderful learning centre. Fertile Ground practitioners have created so many resources (free and paid ones) over the last 1.5 years of COVID that they’ve had to build a whole learning centre to house it all. You can now go there and download anything and everything to your heart’s content. You’ll find immunity resources, stress relief, meditations, healthy eating guides, movement classes and more.

#3 is a gorgeous online shop. Fertile Ground has been preening their digital feathers over the last few months and have come out with this lovely new online shop featuring all their recommended books, herbal teas, gift vouchers and lovely retail items (like Skintimacy cream and Yantra Botanicals facial oils – oh my goodness these skin care ranges are my favourite and a daily staple! Where would I be without them!!). Word on the grapevine is that there’s a new bespoke organic herbal tea range soon to be launched too, so keep your eyes peeled for that! Take a wander through Fertile Ground’s new online shop wares.

I hope you’re finding space to relax into a sustainable end of year pace darling.

Sending you all my love.

Your MA 💕