If you and your partner long for the pitter-patter of tiny feet but the only pitter-patter you hear is rain, do not despair.
Dr Marilyn Glenville
, the UK's leading nutritional specialist on women's hormonal health, is giving a seminar
in Dublin this Saturday on natural solutions to infertility. Dr Glenville has studied and practised nutritional medicine for over 25 years, helping countless 'infertile' couples to become parents. If you are having difficulty getting or staying pregnant, please join her and discover how her evidence-based, natural approach to infertility can help you too.
Natural Solutions to Infertility: Seminar with Dr Marilyn Glenville PhD
Saturday 22 May 2010
Place: Alexander Hotel
, Dublin 2 (Directions: just off Merrion Square, opposite the side entrance to the Mont Clare Hotel) (Google Map
â¬15 plus online booking fee of â¬1.12
Online at Positive Nutrition
or ring 01-4020777
Natural solutions to infertility enjoy a high success rate because fertility is complex. A particular set of problems might be determining your inability to conceive, whereas different factors could be plaguing John and Jane next door. If you try the natural route, it is essential to work with a qualified practitioner who can address your specific needs.
At the Viveka
clinic in London, Dr Glenville and gynaecologist Dr Yehudi Gordon
offer an integrated service that marries natural and assisted approaches to fertility.
In Dublin, we are graced with the Positive Nutrition
clinic. Founders Sally Milne and Heather Leeson
are the only nutritional therapists in Ireland trained by Dr Marilyn Glenville. They offer her tried and tested successful nutrition and lifestyle programmes at their clinic in Rathmines. These lovely ladies know from experience what you are going through and use the most up-to-date nutritional testing and scientific research to uncover your specific issues. They also help you make the day-to-day shifts you need to bring those little bundles of joy into your nights ;-) .
According to a UK National Fertility Survey published in September 2007, fertility has declined dramatically over the past 50 years. The survey suggests that up to one third of couples struggle to conceive. A key reason for higher infertility rates, says Sally Milne, is the modern trend of starting families at a later age. Another raft of reasons relates more to lifestyle.
Lifestyles based on fast food, skipping meals, caffeine, alcohol and smoking are extremely unfriendly to fertility. All of the above can throw human hormones out of sync, making conception harder and miscarriage more common. Other hormone-disrupting factors include underlying infections; environmental toxins; food additives with names longer than the box; long-distance, nutrient-depleting food transport; and modern farming techniques, which strip the soil of nutrients while adding oestrogen-mimicking pesticides to our food. Even health-conscious couples can unwittingly chuck a spanner in the works of the baby machine thanks to the invisible hazards of the industrial world.
All is not lost, though. Making positive lifestyle and dietary changes greatly improves a couple's chances of having a baby, whether they are taking the natural route or an assisted path such as IVF. Tons of research and clinical experience have shown that when both members of an 'infertile' couple optimise their diets and lifestyles and minimise stress in the three to four months prior to conception, they can often conceive naturally â even if they have been trying for years. Making positive changes also prepares their bodies to produce the healthiest sperm, eggs and housing conditions should they need the added boost of assisted conception. Healthier parents tend to conceive more quickly and are at less risk of miscarriage, reducing the need for repeated, expensive and heartbreaking fertility treatments.
Unfortunately, some couples are unable to conceive and may need to look at other options, such as surrogacy or adoption, to bring a child into their lives. But most people fall into the sub-fertile camp, where natural intervention can create miracles with pig tails. A study at the University of Surrey took couples with a history of infertility and cleaned up their diets and lifestyles. Nutritional supplements were added too. The result: their conception rate shot up to 80 percent. The success rate for assisted conception (without diet/lifestyle support) is around 20 percent.
An overview of a typical plan of action can be found on Marilyn Glenville's website
, should you care to have a look. But a few things are worth bearing in mind from the start.
Pre-conception care: playing patience
It takes at least three months for immature eggs to mature enough to be released during ovulation. It also takes at least three months for sperm cells to develop, ready to be ejaculated. So give yourself a run-up ofÂ three to four months of healthy living before
you try to conceive.
Cleaning up your act prior to conception can make a world of difference to the mother's health in pregnancy and the physical and intellectual health of the child. For the mother, morning sickness and more serious problems like pre-eclampsia can be side-stepped. For the baby, the risk of birth defects, low birth weight and non-inherited chromosomal conditions such as Down Syndrome can be minimised. After all, the building blocks from which we are made are our mother's egg, our father's sperm, the hothouse in which we are grown and the menu provided by our mother-chef (forget the wine list!). It makes sense that each of these elements should be in tip-top form to give us the best start in life.
Good pre-conception care can also reduce risk of miscarriage, which tends to occur either because the woman is unable to hold the child in the womb or because there is something wrong with the foetus. Old Mother Nature is anything but a softy: survival of the fittest is the name of her game and she has no qualms about throwing out the clay and starting over if her sculpture is not to her satisfaction. Going the natural route, however, is living by her laws. The mother's body grows stronger and more able to hold a child. And the foetus, being of sound DNA, is allowed to remain in situ
It takes two, baby...
Remember, it takes two (and lots of good sex, which can easily evaporate in the stress...!) to make a baby. Natural fertility counselling is also for two. Often, one partner bears the 'blame' for a couple's infertility. But it is rarely that simple, even medically. And pointing the finger can put unbearable emotional pressure on the supposedly infertile party. Love, support and shared responsibility are crucial when trying for a child.
Getting pregnant is easier when a woman is younger. She tends to ovulate more regularly and egg quantity declines steeply after 35. But what matters most is egg quality. With good pre-conception care and, if necessary, herbs to boost ovulation, a woman can improve her hormone panel and the way her eggs mature and develop. She can, in effect, reduce their biological age! How's that for rejuvenation?
Fertility-unfriendly conditions such as PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), fibroids, endometriosis and menstrual dysfunction can often be triggered by hormonal imbalance, bad diet, blood sugar imbalances and stress as well. By restoring equilibrium to the body naturally, it is possible to alleviate or eliminate these problems, getting them out of the way so you can concentrate on making babies.
Chez les hommes, sperm production and quality also decline with age but good lifestyle choices can increase the quantity and quality of new sperm. Men need to be extra conscious of environmental and dietary toxins. Chemicals, pesticides and plastics with feminising oestrogen-like activity are most likely to blame for the 50 percent drop in sperm count over the past 10 years. According to Marilyn Glenville, even the so-called 'normal' test range has been downgraded to accommodate the decline.
In days of yore, men puffed on Players and sperm were strong and swift. But their food was organic and home-made; their air was cleaner; and our chemical soup was in their future. Nowadays, men need to minimise lifestyle toxins to compensate for environmental poisons they can't control. Caffeine, alcohol and tobacco â all controllable â are the perfect place to start. Caffeine robs sperm of its va va voom (motility); alcohol causes abnormalities that make penetration of the egg impossible; and both alcohol and tobacco damage sperm-making hormones and reduce its quantity. (Going on a bender can wipe out sperm count for months!) Mobile phone radiation can also affect motility, DNA and sperm count, so don't carry your phones in your genes, guys!
A fascinating but little-known fact: a young woman's eggs are able to override defects in her partner's sperm! As her eggs age, though, their ability to compensate diminishes. If she is over 35, the health of her partner's sperm becomes critical. If an older man has kids from a previous marriage, his partner does not, and they can't conceive, she may be deemed the 'infertile' one. But that ain't necessarily so...! Her eggs might simply be unable to override the defects in his sperm, whereas his wife's eggs could do so when they were young.
âMale fertility ought to be addressed as much as possible,â believes Marilyn Glenville. If male infertility is overridden by an assisted reproduction technique, it can be carried to the next generation. That could mean the loss of the principle of survival of the fittest. âThe more we can help couples conceive naturally and improve their fertility,â she says, âthe stronger future generations will be without the need for assistance.â
Given the massive health benefits pre-conception care confers on mamas, papas and babas, even couples who churn out kids with ease would benefit from attending the seminar, making an appointment with Positive Nutrition
, or reading Marilyn Glenville's book, Getting Pregnant Faster
(London, 2008), which outlines her programme.
False hope v false hopelessness
One of the most common arguments I have heard against natural approaches to infertility is that they offer false hope, which implies that they are not evidence-based. Nothing could be further from the truth. (Take a peek at the 'References' section of Dr Glenville's book
It can be scary to make big changes in the hope of getting something you want almost too much. What if it hasn't worked for your friends? What if it doesn't work for you? Won't the disappointment be that much harder to bear? But if you don't give it a chance, you will never know whether some simple changes might have blessed you with your longed-for child. And if conception doesn't happen, at least you will know that you have tried everything. To assume that the natural approach is useless without trying it is not so much false hope as a form of false hopelessness.
One way or another, you will be improving your quality of life. By making the changes you need to get pregnant, you will be doing yourself and your partner a favour. âThe chances are you will even get to enjoy the healthier you that results from your efforts,â says Sally Milne. âYou will have more energy, less fatigue, better stamina, and will generally feel revitalised and ready for the next phase in your life.â
Stay tuned for Oh Baby! Natural Solutions to Infertility: Part 2: Acupuncture, Reflexology and Herbs