Infertility, which now affects more couples than ever, appears to have reached epidemic proportions as one in six now have difficulty in conceiving. Awareness of IVF treatment within the consciousness of the public makes it seem to be the first and most obvious choice since the term IVF seems to be almost synonymous with infertility. However, there are good reasons held by many practitioners both mainstream and holistic (myself included) to question whether this should always be the case. We are also all aware that would be parents are often demoralized by enduring repeated invasive medical procedures especially if the long hoped for result is not achieved.
Happily, a quiet revolution in thinking about conception is taking place. Certain Holistic approaches have been used to such good effect that the media and wise couples are looking increasingly at (or even being medically referred to) experts (i.e. those having substantial experience and post-graduate training) in areas such as TCM and acupuncture only to be surprised by the established reputation, success rate and waiting lists which already exist amongst these particular professionals.
It is the case that, while IVF can sometimes create new life, its limitations lie within the fact that it does nothing to address the actual causes of an inability to conceive. Much infertility is 'unexplained' which means that, without addressing or resolving the issues that lie beneath, IVF is less likely to be successful. These underlying factors include nutritional deficiencies, unidentified health conditions, toxin exposure, stress, food intolerances, allergies and immune deficiencies. They may subtly, but critically, interact unhelpfully with a kind of negative synergy to impact the quality of a woman's eggs and man's sperm, thereby affecting your ability to conceive and maintain the health of your embryo.
For example, in my own practice, I have found that miscarriages and apparent infertility are frequently concomitant with subclinical hypothyroidism. In other words, women may not necessarily show the most obvious symptoms of this condition or they have been tested by standard laboratory tests which fail to identify people who are at the low end of normal. TCM has other ways of revealing this by using differential diagnosis which identifies and distinguishes conditions by identifying various signs and symptoms. Often, there is simply a need to clear the system by enhancing the flow of Qi (body energy) so increasing blood supply to the ovaries, and restoring levels of general health in order to make pregnancy more possible. It is also helpful to treat the man as well as the women to ensure that optimum conception health exists for both of them. Sperm counts are usually relatively easy to improve.
Not long ago I treated Katie* whose unsuccessful attempts to have a child using IVF had left her feeling almost hopeless. However, she had, rather than reconcile herself to childlessness, decided to be open-minded about trying different approaches to her predicament. I had treated her for four months before she rang me one day almost breathless with excitement to say that she was, at last, pregnant. To ensure the safe continuity of the pregnancy I continued to treat her for another two months. Recently, she sent me a picture of her lovely baby girl with heartfelt thanks. These are the moments which make all our hopes and endeavours feel so very worthwhile.