We know that in the pursuit of taking great care of yourself and maximizing all the resources that you'd like to enlist for your support can tack on a lot of appointments and the running around town can really add up. At Integrative Fertility, we're always strategizing about ways to help you get all the support you need without stressing you out more! 

So, we're excited to offer you our latest DVD that is designed and presented by integrative reproductive specialists to accompany the stages of your IVF. From the comfort of your home you can be guided in Chinese medicine principles and guided mindfulness exercises. This theory and instruction is intended to offer regular and doable techniques that complement the specific phases of IVF to assist you in optimizing your wellbeing and your results!


"The challenges of becoming pregnant can often lead to an increase in stress and sense of being out of control. Meditation and mindfulness have been shown to be helpful dealing with many challenges in medical care. I encourage my patients to use these strategies as they are pursuing pregnancy. This video is an excellent introduction to mindfulness meditation. Acquiring these skills will help successfully manage the inevitable challenges of infertility and life in general."


- Dr. Eldon Schriock

The Season of Giving and Receiving: Considerations Around Using Egg Donation

It's the season for giving and receiving, and from a fertility perspective, we can extrapolate this theme into exploring egg or embryo donation.

This is usually quite a leap for any woman or family from how they originally imagined their path towards growing a family. Although the statistics are very favorable for women who are not able to use their own eggs (an average birth rate per embryo transfer of 55% for all egg donor recipients), this does not necessarily initially demure the difficulty of this decision.

The field of evolutionary biology suggests maternal cells are shared with your fetus to make it "your own" baby.

There is some interesting information emerging in evolutionary biology around the ideas of how our environment can actually shape our DNA (which was previously thought to be fixed by our heredity). One aspect being studied in this way is the uterine environment.  Research is demonstrating how some of how the mother's system influences changes in baby's actual physiology . Simply put - baby literally incorporates part of the carrying mother's genetics regardless of whether or not they started from her egg.

This idea is still speculative, and the conclusive science so far is that really only a few of the carrying mother's cells gets to baby, but it can be a basis to start to consider the possibilities of what an intimate relationship you share with a baby that you carry and how much room there may be to influence that relationship and make the process your own.

There are of course many layers to this topic - others being the evaluation of any stigma or judgment about not carrying "your own baby," your value system around your motivations to have a child etc. Women and families who have gone through this report more often than not that the original challenges fade when the baby arrives. After all, you carry them, birth them, and provide for them. So, they really do become a part of you in one way or another.

So, if this is where you find yourself, give yourself the room to explore this option and all it's grey areas and potentially give yourself the gift of the family that you desire.

Here is a book you may find interesting on the topic of in utero influences:

Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives
by Annie Murphy Paul 

 

Buy Now

As this is a laden topic, you may want to consult with some fertility expert therapists. You can draw on the Integrative Fertility list to see if anyone is the right match to help you work through this profound subject: Fertility Therapists

References:
http://integrativefertility.com/psychology-psychiatry/
http://www.thebarkertheory.org/press_092210_time.php
http://www.asrm.org/FACTSHEET_Egg_Donation/

 

Cultivating Relationships Between Fall and Fertility

Many cultures have traditionally turned to the legacy of their ancestors for advice.  When it comes to fertility, we of course draw on our familial histories to inform us about aspects of our health, but it may also be useful to draw on other aspects of what we inherit, such as what we've learned about how to interface with our emotional challenges. We can use this information to help guide current relationships to the fertility process. Sometimes this can look like continuing to cultivate one's family's legacy, and sometimes this can look like examining ways to do things differently.

In this Fall season, we can also look at the symbolic fertility associations of the Harvest time.  In an agricultural sense, the fertility of the land was crucial for the continuance of family lineages and believing that ancestors were deeply rooted in a family's ability to reproduce, people have traditionally constructed ancestor altars at each harvest.

 Our contemporary celebration of this relationship between family and fertility is November 1st, or

"Day of  the Dead", where bread is sometimes baked to look like a baby to further symbolize this potent fertility time. Whether you want to light candles, cook special food or simply reflect on your own lineage, this can be an opportune time for honoring who and what has come before you, how they've influenced you and inviting those influences in, or letting them go to make more room for your own way. 

To support you in enhancing your relationship to reflecting on and cultivating your own wellness, this guided imagery was developed by Dr. Rossman who is an MD and an acupuncturist and is established as a figurehead in the field of guided imagery:

 Creating Wellness

 

References:
Day of the Dead in the USA: The Migration and Transformation of a Cultural Phenomenon (eBook)

 

 

Fall Foods to Grow Your Own Little Pumpkin

Fall is a great time to nourish yourself and help some traditional holiday foods keep working towards boosting your fertility.

In Chinese medicine there are associations with each organ system. For instance the Chinese Spleen system, which governs important aspects of the reproductive system is also analagous  to ATP from the mitochondria, or energy.  Additionally, the Spleen system is associated with the color yellow. So, yellow foods can help to nourish aspects of  our reproductive system and overall energy.  As ever, we at Integrative Fertility like to look at the East-West overlay for these mechanisms. Here are some "yellow" foods and their fertility-boosting properties:

  • Wild Yam contains diosgenin, which is essentially a progesterone molecule which can be used in the treatment of PMS, fibroids, ovarian cysts and to help both ovulation and maintenance of an early pregnancy.
  • Pumpkin has shown to improve carbohydrate metabolism, stabilize blood sugar and subsequently boost energy and endurance.
  • Pumpkin Seeds & Pumpkin Seed Oil are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation and stimulate blood flow to reproductive tissue. They're also high in zinc which can increase testosterone and sperm count and both contain high contents of carotenoids and liposoluble vitamins, which can have a positive effect on the prostate.       

References:

"Natural Progesterone: Is Estrogen the Wrong Hormone?", Barnard, Neal, M.D., Good Medicine, Spring 1994;11-1

J Sci Food Agric. 2013 Mar 30;93(5): Chemical composition and functional characterisation of commercial pumpkin seed oil. Procida G1, Stancher B, Cateni F, Zacchigna M.

Molecules. 2012 Oct 9;17(10): Pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata) fruit extract improves physical fatigue and exercise performance in mice. Wang SY, Huang WC, Liu CC, Wang MF, Ho CS, Huang WP, Hou CC, Chuang HL, Huang CC.

 

Addressing Endometriosis

Endometriosis affects one in ten women in the United States, and approximately 50% of women with infertility have endometriosis.

 

During a normal menstrual cycle, the lining inside the uterus is shed. In a woman with endometriosis, some of the endometrial cells implant outside of the uterus, which causes scarring and can lead to symptoms and complications with fertility. Symptoms can vary from none at all to painful periods and even chronic pelvic pain. 

 

Diagnosing endometriosis can be vital to your pregnancy success. The only way to confirm endometriosis is through a laparoscopy (a small camera that goes in through the navel to look at your abdominal cavity), but there are lots of ways to start working on symptoms that may be associated with this while you're ruling out endometriosis. 

 

In Chinese, endometriosis is called neiyi, meaning internal lump, and in Chinese medicine, we call the symptoms of endometriosis "Blood Stagnation," which encompasses the idea of excess tissue, pain and inflammation associated with endometriosis.

 

Acupuncture can effectively work to alleviate this pain by mediating the central nervous system and through stimulating the release of neurotransmitters.  Acupuncture also increases blood circulation to the uterus so helps promote the shedding of extra endometrial tissue and contributes to reducing inflammation. 

High levels of prostaglandins can also be produced in response to the inflammation that endometriosis causes. So, you can help your body respond to the inflammation by incorporating foods that stimulate healthy prostaglandins such as oily fish including sardines and mackerel, walnut oil, pumpkin seeds and dark, leafy green veggies.

Endometriosis is estrogen sensitive tissue. So, you can work through nutrition and your environmental factors to minimize your exposure to excess estrogens.

You can incorporate foods that are shown to modulate estrogen levels such as mustard greens, cabbage, broccoli and dark, leafy green vegetables and eliminate caffeine - researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, women who have two or more cups of coffee or four cans of caffeinated soda per day were found to be twice as likely to develop endometriosis.

Additionally, refer to this previous post on environmental estrogens (xenoestrogens) to learn how to minimize your environmental exposure to unnecessary estrogen: 

http://integrativefertility.com/blog-research/2013/12/30/nutrition-xenoestrogens

 

References:

Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2010 Nov;153(1):90-3. Is acupuncture in addition to conventional medicine effective as pain treatment for endometriosis? A randomised controlled cross-over trial. Rubi-Klein K1, Kucera-Sliutz E, Nissel H, Bijak M, Stockenhuber D, Fink M, Wolkenstein E.

J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2008 Oct;21(5):247-57. Japanese-style acupuncture for endometriosis-related pelvic pain in adolescents and young women: results of a randomized sham-controlled trial.

Wayne PM1, Kerr CE, Schnyer RN, Legedza AT, Savetsky-German J, Shields MH, Buring JE, Davis RB, Conboy LA, Highfield E, Parton B, Thomas P, Laufer MR. Grodstein F, Goldman MB, Ryan L, Cramer DW. Relation of female infertility to consumption of caffeinated beverages. Am J Epidemiol. 1993;137:1353-1360.