No matter your situation, it is imperative that you reach your maximum wellness before conception.
Of course, babies are conceived in all kinds of scenarios, sometimes without planning, and that’s perfectly OK — many of us wouldn’t be here otherwise.
But if you have decided to conceive then it’s time to focus on wellness and fertility. We’re not living in the same world our parents did. Food quality is different, stress is much higher and couples are having babies later: these all impact our fertility.
The bottom line is this: our bodies need a certain level of health if we want to conceive with ease — whether through IVF or assisted conception, or just the natural way.
Without certain nuts and bolts, a car won’t run. Your body is no different. If your menstrual cycle is all over the shop or your period is missing, your body is telling you something — you can’t skimp on health. If your body is deficient, chances are you’ll have trouble conceiving. Especially for couples facing IVF, health is without doubt the most important piece of the puzzle.
Let’s look at clomifene (Clomid). I’m not opposed to it, but it is problematic.
If you’re not familiar with clomifene, it is a drug that promotes ovulation. Basically, it works by blocking the action of oestrogen so that the pituitary gland is tricked into producing lots of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). It’s freely prescribed, most often to women who are still having trouble conceiving after a period of around six months.
Some doctors will be thorough enough to run blood tests before prescribing clomifene to check whether a woman is actually ovulating — the blood sample is typically taken on the 21st day of the cycle. The doctor then works out a treatment plan according to the result.
But here’s the problem: what if ovulation happens after the 21st of the cycle? Most likely, the patient will be told she isn’t ovulating and will be prescribed Clomid, even though she might well be ovulating! Not everything is as straightforward as medical science would have it. A blood test provides only a snapshot of a short period of time, not the full picture.
From a natural fertility viewpoint, the benefit that clomifene offers (promoting ovulation) is cancelled out by all that it robs from your body. Most importantly, it reduces fertile mucus (essential for conception) and thins the uterus lining, making the environment unfavourable for conception. The success rates for clomifene are low, and each time the clomifene course is repeated the unwanted side effects compound the problem. Other side effects of clomifene include enlarged ovaries, irritability, headaches, nausea, vomiting and more.
But for a very few, clomifene can be fantastic, especially if hormone health and wellness are being nurtured — keep in mind it only works for those who aren’t ovulating. Often, the anguish of trying unsuccessfully for a baby long-term takes its toll. Emotional stress is on par with physical stress in terms of its effect on hormone balance.
So how do we pump up the fertile factor? My advice is always the same, whether for general hormone balance, PCOS, endometriosis or thyroid issues. By putting diet and lifestyle guidelines in place and decreasing stress, you will get to optimum hormone health.
– This is an edited extract from Well & Good by Nat Kringoudis, published by MUP, available now. RRP $32.99.
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