Meah Robertson has been specialising in fertility since 2006, working at Sharkey’s Healing Centre on the Gold Coast for 5 years. Following on from this Meah started her own practice and has continued to help couples on their fertility journey.
Fertility / Infertility has become increasingly prevalent in the last decade with estimates that now 1 in 6 couples find it difficult to conceive. Chances are that you or someone you know is walking this journey, but dependant on the couple they may have chosen to keep this private. The fertility journey can be a very isolating experience. I certainly find it admirable when people share their stories. It shows great courage to tell your story especially of the difficult times, as you never know how you may help inspire others. Many couples experiencing fertility issues can relate to one another with some relevant concerns like costs, age of the parents, physical health and emotional wellbeing.
Seeing a Naturopath whom specialises in fertility can really help to support you. We take a holistic view of fertility and this means ensuring optimal health of both prospective parents prior to trying to conceive, no matter your age. When thinking about age & fertility remember its not about how old you are but how healthy you are which determines your fertility. It’s important to remember this as couples can feel the pressure of the “biological clock ticking” and sometimes make inappropriate decisions from a place of fear their time is running out. I always suggest clearing any negative emotional baggage and coming back to a place of happiness, love, trust and faith. Then making decisions based on all the information available and doing what feels right. This process is empowering and allows couples to take control back of their situation. Usually the journey begins with the decision to start/grow your family, a period of trying naturally and then after about 6-12 months calling in some help. This help may be in the form of your Doctor/GP, Fertility Specialist, Acupuncturist or Naturopath. Each couple is different, each fertility journey is unique and each modality brings to the table different set of skills & resources. I strongly feel that the best quality of care is in shared care, and utilising a combination of therapies that feels right for you.
Couples who experience fertility issues can ride a roller-coaster going through the highs and lows of their journey, emotionally and physically. Women can feel hormonal through their natural cycles which is further heightened when utilising the medication in assisted cycles. They often feel they are doing so much to make it happen, and naturally take on the responsibility or sometimes burden of the couples fertility issues. This can be an emotionally charged time cyclicly, with the disappointment of their period, the hope of ovulation that this could be the cycle that it happens, then the anxious 2 week wait. Intercourse can, after time, become “clinical” and can impact strongly on a couple’s relationship. Add to this a barrage of appointments and tests to determine the cause of infertility (female or male) before then being directed to a Fertility Specialist. Often advice from a Fertility Specialist is straight to IVF or other artificial reproductive technologies such ovulation induction hormones, artificial insemination, or IUI. Unfortunately, these advanced technologies are often invasive with and with little support and sometimes not as successful as couples hope them to be. You could compare the fertility journey to slugging up a hill with many obstacles to get around which can be very overwhelming and tiresome. However if you choose not to face it alone and you have guidance & support from a team of professionals, family and friends it makes the process much easier. This also helps to give you perspective of your journey, learn what you can from it and appreciate your family at the end of it so much more.
No matter where you are on your fertility journey preparing for pregnancy is extremely important, which means ensuring you are as healthy as you possibly can be right now. When you are mentally, emotionally and physically functioning at your optimum you are in balance, everything seems to work better, you’re more sensitive/in-touch with your body and more adaptable to change. A healthy couple in the pre-conception phase leads to a healthy pregnancy & birth, which gives your baby a great start at life and we all want that for our children. Ideally the pre-conception & preparation period should be at least 3-4 months prior to pregnancy, this is relevant for both parents considering sperm & egg development/maturation times. Through the consultation process we’ll prepare a pre-conception/preparation plan together that enables you to address any health issues, emotional blocks or stressors, lifestyle imbalances and identify environmental issues that may affect your fertility and/or the health of your baby. This will ensure that you are in the best health possible to make the healthiest sperm, eggs & uterine environment and thereby growth a happy healthy baby.
A pre-conception/preparation care plan is individually tailored to meet each couple’s/individual’s needs. As every couples situation differs the time it takes to conceive with a viable pregnancy can vary a lot. Generally a good time frame to start with is 3-4 months of preparation, prior to starting any assisted cycles or natural conception and with a Naturopath like myself this usually involves:
• Comprehensive assessment of each partners health and fertility during detailed consultations
• Menstrual cycle tracking, through basal temperature charting
• Detoxification Plan, followed by dietary plan to improve fertility and egg/sperm health
• Lifestyle and exercise plan
• Nutritional supplementation to ensure optimal sperm and eggs
• Hair mineral and heavy metal analysis based on lifestyle history
• Treatment of specific health concerns with natural medicines (herbs, supplements etc.)
• Blood tests to check hormone balance, endocrine health, fertility & general health
• Semen analysis including count, motility (how well they are swimming), morphology (whether they have abnormal defects like 2 heads) and in some cases a DNA fragmentation test.
Research shows that preparing & improving your health prior to conception and during pregnancy can influence the following outcomes:
• increased natural fertility & better outcomes with assisted cycles
• reduced risk of congenital defects
• reduced risk of complications during delivery
• healthier babies who are born content, alert and breastfeed easier
• older children are less likely to suffer from allergies, asthma and behavioural problems
If you or someone you know is planning to start a family or is currently experiencing fertility issues you can greatly benefit from Naturopathic support it really is for everyone of every age including:
• Fertile couples who want to give their baby the best possible start to life, with a 3 month pre-conception plan
• Couples who have diagnosed fertility problems, including unexplained infertility, male factor fertility issues, delayed fertility over 35 years, annovulation or ovulation irregularity, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, PCOS and other hormonal problems.
• Couples who have a history of miscarriage
• Couples with a previous history of prematurity, malformation, genetic defects, low birth weight, stillbirth or other problems diagnosed during pregnancy
• Couples undergoing IVF, IUI and other ART (artificial reproduction techniques) – specific protocols have been developed to ensure that you are well prepared physically & mentally. This helps you to cope better throughout the cycles, reduces side effects from the medication and can make a big difference to your outcome & results.
When it comes to improving your fertility, a good health professional will treat the underlying cause of infertility, whether it be caused by common problems such as hormonal imbalances, stress, chemical exposure/toxicity, nutrient deficiencies, autoimmune disorders, thyroid and adrenal imbalances or a complex combination of reasons. It is then a matter of improving and optimising the health status of both parents to create a fertile environment and the building blocks for a healthy pregnancy & new life.