We are trying for a baby…. Its going to be so much fun, we will get pregnant, we will have an amazing birth and we will live happily ever after…
And for 80% of us, within the next few months that reality is going to be a true reality. Unfortunately for 20% of us, it may just become a true nightmare.
What I have noticed in my clinics, is that 80% of people believe they will be the 20% in the nightmare and that 20% of my patients think they are the 80% that will be ok… Do you see how complicated it has already gotten… Today, I have put together a few essential tips and things to look out for…. which will guide you into the 80% of the ‘WOO HOO’ and hopefully out of the 20% of ‘OH NO!”
Essentially the following 8 ideas are the most important lessons I have learnt over the last decade of working with fertility and also now being considered by many as the No.1 Fertility Acupuncture Coach in Ireland… No Pressure there 🙂
My Fertility Check:
1. Get Checked out… Both of you, bloods, hormones and sperm…. yes we need his sperm checked… very important….. 40% of all infertility now is down to male factor infertility. Yes 40%, its an important factor in the equation of life.
2. Learn about your cycle, with the Clue App, in my experience its the most accurate out there, its the Ferrari of Fertility Apps… over time, learn a little more about how your reproductive body works., but not too much….. as this can create a paralysis of analysis of your life and then your fertility.
3. Your Fertility Ingredients: The importance of lifestyle… Diet, Smoking, Alcohol, Exercise
4. Emotional Wellbeing…. Im going to spend a lot of time of this, its one of the least appreciated part of the fertility journey which can do the most damage to a couples future relationship.
5. What about age, is it really a factor. Im only 35… Ok Im really 38… But I feel 21…
6. Is there a sperm problem. 40% of all infertility is due to men. So important I’m repeating it twice on this list as it’s ignored until its too late.
7. And finally… Trying for a baby, but not trying for a baby. This is supposed to be the fun part.
8. Bonus tip: If you don’t have the time to read the rest of my blog, then you definitely need to read the rest of my blog.
The big decision has been made, everything is perfect, we are having a baby.
However isn’t it interesting how we spend 10 – 15 years doing everything we can to not get pregnant. And then there are others who have known from the age of 6…. imagining to be that beautiful princess, waiting for our knight in shining armour. Time passes, year after year…. and all of a sudden it hits….. I want a baby now..
Last week I was on a flight from Boston to Ireland, we had just boarded and I was delighted to get my aisle seat. Next to me, were two seats that were empty.. As the plane filled up I started to get very very excited that I may just get my poor mans first class seat, with those lovely three seats all for me. Yes… It was looking good. The flight crew were preparing for take off… Yes…… 🙂
Suddenly.. I got a tap on the side of my shoulder, it was an elderly lady…. In the sweetest voice she asked if she could take the seats next to me, she wanted to sit next to her husband on the flight home, my wonderful, amazing beautiful empty seats gone……. I replied I would be delighted if they took the seats….. (silently in my head I was Nooooooooooo……)
I hopped into the window seat….
An hour into the flight the lady started to chat with her husband, now I wasn’t listening in… but it was a 7 hour flight…. And she said something to him, that melted my heart… actually I think it broke it…
She took hold of his hand and said, honey, I just want you to know how much I love you, how much you have given me and thank you for everything you have done to make me so happy in our life, together. I know its coming close to an end for us, but you have given me the most amazing life… and we will always be together…
My heart stopped….
Typically in a male fashion, all men do this, its embedded into our brains, he muffled, ‘ah stop, ah stop, you’ll be fine…’ and I think in olympic speed, he whispers back….. ‘I love you too’ loud enough so no one else could hear…
(1) Get Checked Out.
Ok, the basics. Firstly, go to you Doctor and get the following two basic blood tests done, the first is your day 3 bloods which we call your FSH Test, ‘follicle stimulation hormone’, think of this as the petrol in your car. We have the engine, tires, seats, steering wheel, but no petrol… If this is out of range and balance, you are going no where, so get it checked, in different countries there may be different ranges, but anything normally below 10 is within normal range. Results creeping up to 12, 14 and 16, then there is a definite problem. It basically means your ovaries are not responding to your bodies hormones. This will need immediate further investigation.
The second test is your Progesterone levels, normally done seven days after you ovulate, or sometimes seven days before your period, personally I prefer seven days post ovulation as it’s easier to track. Again, different countries have different ranges, but for me I think anything over 40 is perfect. If it’s between 15 and 30, you may have low progesterone, which can effect implantation of an embryo or you just got your days timed wrong which can happen if you have an irregular cycle.
So did you get the all clear on these two? Excellent, lets jump in deeper to creating the perfect cycle to have a baby.
(2) Learn about your cycle…..
Well thats easy…. Use the ‘Clue App’ thats it really. All our patients who are trying for a baby naturally use it and it’s the most accurate algorithm out their. Look no further.
On average a cycle is usually 28 days, this will mean that you will be ovulating on day 14. At ovulation time, when using Clue, monitor your cervical secretions, this is actually really important, as the cervix is normally very acidic, and not sperm friendly, we need the secretions to alkalise the cervix and protect and transport the sperm to the egg. If you are lacking in secretions then this might be a potential issue. Sperm may not be getting to egg.
The second most common reason for someone not getting pregnant might be to do with implantation. So the sperm gets to the egg, sperm fertilises your beautiful wonderful egg, and over the next five to seven days it travels through the fallopian tube into the uterus where it implants itself in the lining. Implantation difficulties are a very common factor for someone not getting pregnant. A clue to how things are there is with your period, a good period is 4-5 days of a blood, where the blood is the colour of the red if you cut your hand. Its not so normal if you have any brown bleeding at the start or end of your cycle, or even black blood. This is an indication of a potential issue for implantation.
A little note, 20% of my patients trying for over a year for a baby, were getting their days wrong… I KNOW…… But they didn’t know….. In general, you have about three to four fertile days, with sperm surviving up to an amazing 40 hours plus, and your beautiful amazing egg, well normally 15 to 18 hours.
Once you have the timing right… then the next most common question I get asked is….. when is the best time, is it every day, every second day, morning or afternoon. The honest answer is…. the perfect time is the perfect time. No one really knows, but if you are finding it getting a little bit process driven and timed. Stop…. That I promise you is not going to work. The is such a difference in trying for a baby that is perfectly timed, structured and process driven, it becomes exhausting. Whereas having fun with your partner… is never exhausting.
Think of the time when you and your partner first met… Ahh…. there’s that smile, now the first time you were together…. now see, is it different to now.………………….. Well if it is… then you need to get back to that place of fun and magic, not the ‘i suppose we have to ‘ and with a bored tired and exhausted attempt… This is so important.
I can almost guarantee you that if you had been less cautious and ovulating that first night the two of you were together, well lets say…… you wouldn’t be reading this blog…….
(3) Your Fertility Ingredients.
So lets say for a day, Michelin Star Chef, ‘Gordon Ramsey’ was the Head Doctor, of an IVF clinic.
I promise, this is going somewhere… So with his Michelin Star Fertility Clinic, what do you think would be the most important part of his success.
Some of the factors might be, the clinic design, the expert staff, patient care, knowledge and experience… all very important… However I think there is one dominant factor that makes the difference between success and failure.
And that’s the ingredients that Gordon ‘Head Embryologist’ is working with. When we think of Gordon, we think organic, we think fresh, we think inspired work. and finally SUCCESS….
What do you think would happen if we brought a Big Mac and large french fries to Gordon…..
Interestingly the same can be said for fertility…. What ingredients are you and your partner bringing to the fertility equation, of sperm and egg, we know age plays a factor, stress massively affects the process and then our emotional well being…
So take a look at your life, what can be improved. Its very easy to look at the neighbour, who drinks, smokes and hasn’t seen a gym in 10 years with their 4 kids and say well they have kids… It will be fine… I can promise you if your partner is exhausted, over worked and asleep on the couch, he’s not going to have triathlete super sperm, they are going to be fatigued and in poor shape and not in a position to fertility any egg…
(4) Emotional Wellbeing…..
I once had a patient at the start of my career while training in the United States who came into me for a treatment session after 12 months of trying for a baby, She looked very stressed, upset and looked as if she hadn’t slept in a full week. During her treatment when I asked her if it was ok to put some needles in her stomach area to enhance her ovarian function she said ’NO’. I have to admit, I was confused, that was the first time anyone had refused, so i pushed it slightly with her…. Eventually she showed me the bruising all across her stomach, from the week before when she punched herself in the stomach over and over for failing to get pregnant. What baby wants to come into that environment…. This is the power of the mind at its most dangerous…. never neglect the mind connection to your fertility.
Unfortunately on a daily basis I see women who emotionally are doing the same thing, almost to an extent where the hate the sight of a pregnant woman sometimes going to a very dark place of hoping bad things will happen to them. Thats equal to the physical bruising of my patient in the stomach.
First timers have the most beautiful innocence in trying for a baby, everyone seems to think it will happen the first night… And when it doesn’t well, chaos may ensue. Modern society is so used to getting everything immediately, that its now an assumption. We work hard, we play hard, focus on our careers, focus on our future with our partners…. And then 12 months later, confusion. Whats wrong, am I damaged, will I ever have a baby…..
I will let you into a secret, between the ages of 22 and 32, for those 3 days of your fertility, you have a 22% chance of getting pregnant…. yes, thats a 78% chance of not getting pregnant per month.. 32 to 36, there is a 15% to 18% chance of getting pregnant per month and over 38, its 8%.
This is a marathon not a sprint. trying for a baby, month by month by month, will drive you crazzzzzyyyyyyy. Gordons program is of quarter ends and yearly results…. Aim to be pregnant by christmas, and evaluate every 3 months as to how everything is going…. please please, take off the pressure of trying monthly…… you will drive your emotional wellbeing crazy…. 90% of couples get their within 12 months. 90%….. you are not the 10%… If you find you are not emotionally good with this, then it’s time to talk to someone and the first port of call is your partner.
(6) Is Age a problem.
If you have been to your doctor you will know the answer to this. Life is very different to 10, 20 even 30 years ago. My mum had me when she was 24. My brother when she was 26….
90% of my patients are over 38 to 42 and trying for their first child.
If all you would like is one child then 38 isn’t old. But if your looking at 2 to 3 children then 34 is when you should be seriously thinking about starting a family. This is one of the more uncomfortable questions I get asked, because I never see age as an issue, it is possible to get pregnant at 44 naturally, and we see all the celebrities getting pregnant in their 40s…. But remember one thing, they have the best doctors in the world helping them…
I have patients in the 40s trying for a baby…. and of course its possible…. but lets say a woman 42 comes into my clinic. She want to have a baby naturally… In my head I’m trying to work out the statistical chances of her getting pregnant. I have a duty of care to be honest and open. So this is what happens in my head…
– She’s 42, so at most that gives her 1 maybe 2 years of fertility…. We are in a very dangerous space at 43 / 44. So lets go with 2 years, women average 3-4 days of fertility per month, and ovulate on average 12 times a year… Now I multiply 4 days by 12….. That gives her 48 days of fertility left, in 3 months time she has 36 days of fertility left.. In 6 months, well its 24 days left…..
So take your age, set a finish point, multiply in by 4 days of fertility and then the number of months left….. Thats how I know…. and in 3 children and you see how age and time are relevant.
(7) Is there a sperm problem……
40% of all cases coming to my door are male factor infertility based…… to me thats a frightening number…. Oh and 95% of my patients are women..
In 8 years of working with couples I have never had a male doctor tell another man he is infertility…. 8 years…. I don’t think I have gone 8 hours where a doctor didn’t tell a woman she is in trouble……. Any thoughts on that?
Its interesting, over the last number of years while working with couples trying to have a baby, some unusual patterns have developed in my clinic. So what do we do about the ‘XY’ Chromosomes of this planet, we call earth. These species are called ‘Men’…. You will see them roaming the earth, some being tall, others small, young and old, bald and hairy. For some of those men, I have to say, I am so proud to call myself a ‘Man’ as I stand shoulder to shoulder with them, in the way I see them support their partners during their fertility journey in unity, with purpose.
Then, there are the others, where I just want to get a wet fish and slap them across the head. What I find amazing is there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground, men are either ‘Super Men’ or just ‘Stupid Jerks’ and wow, they can be Jerks.
It is now know in the medical community that over 40% of all issues related to infertility are male related, yes I will say that again, and again and again, 40% of all infertility with couples trying for a baby is down to men. So if you have been trying for a baby for a while now, and it seems to be unexplained and your partner has not been checked out. Send him for a sperm analysis today especially if he is over 35..
In men, infertility is defined as the inability to fertilize the an egg, whereas sterility is defined as the lack of sperm production. Male fertility depends upon three things:
(1) adequate production of spermatozoa by the testicles,
(2) unobstructed transit of sperm through the seminal tract, and
(3) satisfactory delivery to the egg.
The analysis of sperm count, motility and morphology are the main parameters which gauge a man’s ability to support conception. There are other factors that are also important such, the quality of the seminal fluid, liquefaction, and the ability for the sperm to be inserted into the vagina where fertilisation can occur.
So what does a good looking sperm look like, there is a good head, body and tail. Formation is key to the success of fertilisation. Sometime there may be only 2-3% of the sperm correctly formed.
When you or your partner gets a poor result from their semen analysis and you ask the question, how did this happen, and what can we do to fix it. Don’t ask a Gynaecologist this question, they have trained in female anatomy, and will have a basic understanding of male fertility. Look for a specialist in Andrology who has a background in Urology. And also understands male fertility. Asking your Gynaecologist for advice on sperm is like having your local car mechanic looking at the engine of a Boeing 747, thats one plane I would be flying on if that happened.. Take care, Gordon.
(8) Trying for a baby, but not trying…
Think how many people you know who weren’t trying for a baby… and they just got pregnant, now think of how many couples really trying for a baby and they are not. Every week I hear the newest craze to getting pregnant, one of my favourite is the fertility pillow technique, its one of the more common myths.
Step 1: Have Sex with your Partner
Step 2: Put your pillow under you bum
Step 3: Put your legs in the air
Step 4: Pop in your headphones to listen to your hypnosis program
Step 5: Put prepared hot water bottle on stomach to heat up uterus
Step 7: Pick up and read 50 shades of Grey
Step 8: Your partner turns around to see all this unfold infront of him.
( Do you not see how crazy all this is)
I think of fertility and infertility on the basis of a beautiful new car, of course I do, I am a man, its just it makes it easier in my minds eye to figure out what’s going on, with 90% of my patients having just a flat tyre, for most couples coming to me it’s usually an easy fix, but enough of a problem that they are trying for a year or two and not getting pregnant. Its very very rare to see a broken engine in a couples fertility…. (I hope I’m making sense, lol) So lets just fix the tyre and not make it a bigger problem than it is.
So 2 hours into my flight, a young girl with a baby came down to the elderly couple, she looked so tired… And with a very very quiet voice asked the lady next to me if she could hold the baby, turns out it was her great grand child, while she went to the restroom to freshen up. All of a sudden, as if magically out of no where, the lady next to me became 20 years younger, he eyes glittered, her face lite up with the most beautiful smile. And at that moment I realised something I had never seen before. Life, creates life…. This little baby was stirring life through the generations, that connection from the old to the new…. That having a baby isn’t all about having a baby, it’s creating that link from the past to the future while being in the present moment….
It’s sad to say that A) it took me 8 years to get it, and B) what if that never happens to me, what if me and my wife never have children, what will it be like for me sitting in the chair next to my wife and saying goodbye to her…. Finally, I get why my patients feel. This was going to be a long flight home…..