March 3, 2014

Reasons to Pump the Brakes on Conventional Fertility Treatments. ~ Ethan Lynette

Pregnant 1

Don’t let your doctor talk you into IUI (intrauterine insemination) or IVF (in vitro fertilization) too soon. Conventional fertility treatments aren’t the only hope for conceiving.

Getting pregnant is one of those things in life that’s difficult to balance. Most of us don’t want to have a baby until suddenly we do, and then we’re anxious to get the ball rolling. For couples who wait until later in life to expand their families, the process can seem even slower and more stressful. Each month of trying to conceive can feel like a lifetime. I know a couple who spent 12 years trying to get pregnant naturally before their first daughter was born. The woman, Rosie, was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, and her doctor prescribed medication to trigger ovulation.

It’s natural for couples to seek a doctor to help with their conception efforts right away—often sooner than they need to. We think of getting pregnant as a race against time, and we’re willing to try anything that might give us the result we want.

But for Rosie, the medication she was taking just masked the problem, and eventually, she and her husband decided that conventional treatments weren’t for them. Rosie eventually started taking natural supplements instead and became pregnant soon afterward, but not all couples are so lucky. Like Rosie and her husband, many people are not properly counseled on all of the natural ways to achieve pregnancy before they’re pushed toward conventional fertility treatments.

At the end of the day, we should all choose what’s right for us, but there’s a lot to learn about fertility treatments and natural alternatives that can make the conception process safe, beautiful, and less stressful.

Jumping the Gun on IUI/IVF

The older we get, the more difficult it can be to conceive. While 85 percent of couples become pregnant within 12 months of trying to conceive, many try fertility treatments earlier because they waited until later in life to start families. However, more often than not, couples simply aren’t willing to wait to get pregnant. In an attempt to appease anxious patients, many doctors prematurely steer couples down the in vitro fertilization or intrauterine insemination path before educating them on all of their options.

There are significant down sides to fertility treatments that couples must be aware of: 

1. Cost. 

Most fertility treatments are extremely expensive. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the average cost of an IVF cycle in the U.S. is $12,400.

2. Success rate. 

The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies reports that, as of 2011, the best chance that an IVF cycle will result in a live birth is 40 percent, and it can be as low as ten percent.

3. Stress. 

Fertility treatments have been shown to be very taxing both on a woman’s body and on the couple. According to the ASRM, “patients have rated the stress of undergoing IVF as more stressful than or almost as stressful as any other major life event, such as the death of a family member or separation or divorce.”

4. Side effects. 

Most fertility treatments come with side effects, including mood swings, hot flashes, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue.

5. Moral considerations.  

Many couples don’t take the time to discuss how many embryos to transfer, what to do with the extra eggs and/or embryos, or what to do if they need a donor egg or donor sperm.

Natural Alternatives to Fertility Treatments

Before going down the expensive and arduous road of fertility treatments, there are a number of natural ways to boost fertility that couples can explore. Natural alternatives are significantly less expensive. They’re also safe, easy, and incredibly effective.

1. Track ovulation. 

Lack of fertility awareness is a major factor in some couples’ inability to conceive. By learning to track fertility signs, couples can accurately predict when ovulation is going to occur and time intercourse appropriately. There are a number of fertility tracking tools available online.

2. Improve overall health. 

There are often general health issues that can prevent pregnancy that many couples aren’t aware of. Improving each partner’s overall health by maintaining a healthy weight, improving nutrition, and getting moderate exercise will enhance fertility.

3. Supplement. 

Many natural products such as herbs, minerals, and vitamins have been scientifically proven to help promote sperm health in men and hormonal balance in women.

4. De-stress. 

Stress is a fertility killer. Couples who have trouble getting pregnant should reevaluate all the activities and relationships in their lives that might be triggering stress. Yoga, meditation, and acupuncture are all effective ways to unwind.

When we’re ready to start our families but can’t seem to get pregnant, continuing the old-fashioned way can seem hopeless. It’s easy to get impatient, and it’s natural to turn to a doctor for help. But no couple should let a physician pressure them into fertility treatments or conventional medicine. We always have options, and there’s no right or wrong way to make a baby.


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Editor: Jenna Penielle Lyons

Photo: elephant archives

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Ethan Lynette