Infertility and hormones
Tell me about infertility and hormones
Infertility and hormones are two different entities that need individual attention before we do a deep dive into how hormones can affect your ability to conceive.
Let's start with infertility
You know the feeling. You're trying your hardest, and yet all those fertility tests are still negative. Every month. If this devastating cycle has been ongoing for 12 months or more, then officially you're classed as 'infertile'. That doesn't mean that you can never get pregnant. Just that your struggle is officially acknowledged. This is the start of your infertility journey with the doctors.
Secondary infertility is when you've already had a baby, but this time around you're struggling. Again, the 12 month mark is the marker in the sand.
While all health authorities have their own rules about when you can apply for NHS fertility treatment, you can be sure that they will require you to have been trying to get pregnant for a minimum of one year. Often more.
By the way. You can begin this reflexology any time you like to improve your overall wellness and natural fertility. It also prepares your body for e.g. IVF.
In terms of hormones and the essence of the causes of infertility, they are the messages that inform us we need to get pregnant. If they run in the wrong order, at the wrong time, too many or too few, they're just like a tube carriage. They don't do their job properly, and our body doesn't get the message that we want to get pregnant.
Reflexology can balance hormones which via the process of our body running smoothly improves our natural fertility.
NOTE: This is important. 'Fertility hormones' do not just relate to female infertility. Hormones affect a man's fertility too. In fact, a poor sperm test is often easier, and faster, to solve than female fertility.
Tell me about fertility reflexology
Fertility reflexology specialises in improving your hormonal balance, so ultimately you get pregnant.
Reflexology to improve fertility works in the same way as standard reflexology in that it uses acupressure points on your feet to remove blockages from your system that prevent your body from working optimally.
Your MAR fertility reflexologist, Karen, can work alongside your doctor. All you need to do is feed their diagnosis through to her and she will adapt to support their work. This applies whether you're undergoing infertility treatments such as IVF, IUI or IXY.
However, if you'd prefer to have reflexology independently of formal treatment to help you conceive naturally, we can focus on improving your chances of a natural conception. Either is fine.
Imagine it like this.
You have a big football match and all the supporters are travelling through London to attend the game. Your fertility hormones are these supporters. When your hormones are balanced, they are able to get on the tube, grab a seat and sit on a line that is running on time without delays in ultimate comfort. This means that when they reach the stadium, they are relaxed and ready to enjoy a good game.
However, if there is a delay and everyone is cramped on the tube, they not only arrive late, often having had to take a lengthy and stressful diversion, but by the time they arrive at the stadium, they're out of breath and not in the right mindset to have fun.
When our hormones are out of whack, our system doesn't cleanse effectively. This leaves our passengers taking the lengthy route to the stadium.
Karen, your reflexologist uses hormonal balancing reflexology techniques to remove these blockages and deliver your passengers to their destination on time and happy.
Many of the health problems that women suffer with such as endometriosis or PCOS are caused by an imbalance or poor functionality of our hormones so by default, fertility reflexology can also help these and indeed Karen herself suffers with endometriosis, although you'd never know because she uses reflexology to deal with its symptoms.
Conditions related to hormonal imbalances that we've seen respond well to reflexology
*Stress anxiety and insomnia
*Irregular/ heavy periods or interrupted or non-existent cycles
*PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome)
*Dysmenorrhea (painful period cramps)
*Cervical problems e.g. over production of mucus and blocking
*Polycystic ovaries (PCOS)
*Pelvic inflammatory disease (inc. infection of any part of the female reproductive tract)
What is age related fertility?
As we get older, our fertility changes. A woman is born with all the eggs she will every produce and as she ages these will effectively run out. We don't all run out at the same rate, so some people may suffer with age related infertility in their e.g. thirties, and others may be dealing with this into their fifties. Throughout this change, the quality of the eggs that remain in her ovaries will deteriorate. This is due to our hormones changing.
So, reflexology can help, but only up to a point, because by this stage it obviously depends on the condition of eggs that remain in your reserve. Also don't underestimate the effect of cocaine use on our reproductive abilities.
Are hormones, and ultimately our fertility, affected by stress?
Yes, they are. To use our tube analogy, stress loads the carriage likes it's a constant rush-hour. There isn't enough capacity to carry enough passengers (fertility hormones) to where they need to go. So, they either get left on the platform as the overloaded carriage pulls out, or have to travel via a huge diversion which takes longer and means they're less effective when they arrive.
When administered by a qualified and experienced reflexologist, fertility reflexology evens out that rush hour over the course of a longer period, boosting natural fertility in males and females.
Just an hour long treatment on your feet can help with tackling stress levels. Reflexology helps to reduce your blood pressure, settles your nervous system and promotes relaxing sleep. This in turn improves fertility.
Clients leave a fertility reflexology session feeling rejuvenated and more-able to take on the world. This aids your ability to conceive because your tube carriage gets from A to B with the minimum of hassle. This leaves more energy for a healthy pregnancy.
Fertility reflexology isn't just about us reducing stress though.
Hormones are affected by all sorts of issues, and this is where an experienced reflexologist will know how to blend your treatment to your specific needs.
What are barriers to fertility hormones working optimally?
*PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)
*Hormone imbalance that affects ovulation
*STI’s and other infections/ growths
*Unhealthy body weight
*We will discuss your style of living
Your reflexologist at Essential Feeling, Karen, understands that it's important to balance an ideal lifestyle scenario with what is realistic.
Sure, you want to get pregnant, but Karen isn't under any illusions about how challenging external pressures can be. You can't give up work because you'd like to have a baby — we have bills and responsibilities. These don't just evaporate.
Karen will guide you within these parameters. She doesn't expect perfection. She is there to give you options and help you make the decisions that are right for you. She can do this either individually, or together as part of a couple's fertility treatment.
Can a hormonal imbalance cause infertility?
Of course. Conditions caused by hormonal imbalances such as PCOS are among the leading causes of being infertile.
That's not to say you can't still get pregnant when you have PCOS, but it can be a big issue.
What hormones should be tested for infertility?
We're not doctors, and we don't pertain to be. We work with your medical consultant, using their diagnosis to direct our reflexology programme. We don't do any medical tests and won't direct your consultant on how to do their job. This complementary therapy works alongside medicine.
This collaborative approach is how we improve your natural fertility.
If you're not getting the answers you need though, here's a quick guide on some common tests for infertility.
* FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) releases the egg from your ovary, and along with LH (luteinizing hormone) stimulates ovulation.
If these reserves are low, as they tend to be in e.g. age related infertility, then this is an indicator that your natural fertility will be a problem.
* Can too much oestrogen cause infertility?
Oestrogen levels affect whether and how well, you ovulate. This directly affects your fertility window. If your fertility window (amount of time you're ovulating) is on the short side, there's not enough time for your body to do everything it needs to before the window closes. So you move to the next stage without having done everything you needed in the preceding one.
Likewise, if you ovulate too early, then you haven't had enough time to build up the hormone reserves you need to produce a follicle that contains an egg mature enough to be fertilised. Leave it too long and the egg has gone past its sell by date. Kind of. You get the picture.
High oestrogen levels can also prevent conception by leading to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis.
Karen at Essential Feeling has a track record of helping her client's suffering with all the above issues.
* What is the pituitary gland?
The pituitary gland is part of the endocrine system, which is the collective name for all the glands in our body which deal with distributing hormonal messages.
This gland is a small, pea-sized gland at the base of the brain. It's referred to as the body's master gland because it controls/ stimulates all the other hormone secreting glands.
How does reflexology help to treat infertility?
By balancing your hormones, reflexology becomes one of the most relaxing of infertility treatments because not only are you 'in tune' at the end of your sessions, but you're also dealing with the hormonal cause of female infertility.
What are the causes of female infertility?
As well as the list above, there are many lifestyle factors that can affect how easily it is for you to conceive.
These include what we eat, how we live and how we allow the actions of other people to affect us. Karen, your reflexologist will give you lifestyle hints and tips as you go through your sessions. She'll combine this with counselling to help you through the tough times and overall ensure that you are in the best mental place possible. This holistic approach to your fertility helps your body improve what is within your control.
Hormonal infertility can result in some common side effects.
Below are some side effects that may be a precursor to spotting infertility in women.
*heavy, long or painful periods
*dark or light menstrual blood
*hormonal changes, e.g. weight change, acne, facial hair
*underlying medical conditions
Can treatment for infertility result in pregnancy?
Approx 15% of couples struggle with running a full-term pregnancy. Whilst that's a lot of people, you can still end up feeling isolated. Because people dealing with infertility, don't talk about it.
However, you don't have to suffer in silence.
Karen is a certified counsellor. You can chat through your worst thoughts and fears with her within a safe and private environment.
This in itself helps you feel better, before we even start with the intervention of reflexology on infertility and hormones.
That said, it's important to understand that Karen isn't a miracle worker. The system won't work if all you do is come along to a session once a week. Well, it might, but you're one of the lucky ones! To have the best chance of success, you will need to implement the recommendations.
For sure, we'll work with you on solutions that fit your responsibilities. You are the only one who can put these into action.
We've known a lot of women over the years who turn up and then continue to binge drink, work excessively (really excessively) and then wonder why their fertility is still under strain.
Reflexology is great, but this is part of a package. We can give you the tips, but you need to create the behaviour that is conducive to improving your natural fertility.
Does reflexology help in IVF infertility cases?
If you're having assisted conception, such as IVF, IUI or IXY, then reflexology alongside this is a great choice. By balancing your hormones before you start, you're giving your consultant a great base from which to start. Then throughout your drugs, we'll leave your hormonal system alone and allow the doctors to do their work. Once you've had implantation, we'll then pick up again to once again balance your hormones and leave you without the side effects of e.g. morning sickness.
How do I factor infertility and treating it into my life?
This is easy. When you have fertility reflexology with Karen, she will listen to you. Karen will chat with you until she understands the set of commitments that are unique to your life.
She will only make suggestions about how you can improve your natural fertility that are actually realistic for you to implement.
Karen believes that a series of small changes that are easy for you to stick to, are better than a few big ones that create a level of stress that we're trying to avoid. Adding to your stress levels is counter intuitive.
It's this pragmatic approach that helps improve your chance of carrying a baby full term.