INFERTILITY AND WOMEN

The first line of treatment in the case of any infertile couple is to check the male out and assure that his sperm count is good. The tests are non-invasive and fast to perform. The male provides a semen sample and a blood test may be taken to check the hormonal situation if the sperm count or motility is low. If something is wrong, the following can be of help.

As with men, do not feel a need to concern yourself until conception has not occurred for a year of unprotected and well-timed intercourse. If you are trying to conceive after the age of 38 years, then seek advice after six months.

Women have much the same potential difficulty in producing viable eggs as men do in creating sperm. Girls are born with a finite number of eggs in each ovary. These lie dormant as the ovary and the rest of the female matures. Around the time of the menarche (the starting of the periods), the chemical changes that occur with young girls at that age cause eggs to mature and ripen. Due to a particular chemical ‘cut-out’ method, usually only one egg matures each month from either ovary and is released into the opening of the Fallopian tube. Many reasons can account for failure of an egg to ripen: nutritional factors, infections, stress and unhappiness, hormonal imbalances and ovarian pathology.

Practical matters can be a hazard too. Once the egg has passed into the Fallopian tube it has to travel the equivalent of a human being walking from London to Munich. The egg is assisted by peristaltic waves pushing the packet of female genes towards the uterus. Most fertilization occurs in the outer one-third of the Fallopian tube, requiring the more motile sperm to travel a far greater distance. As one can clearly see, there is much scope for structural problems causing a barrier between the two gametes. Previous infections can scar up the Fallopian tubes and difficulties such as endometriosis (misplacement of uterine tissue around the Fallopian tubes onto the ovaries or in the abdominal cavity) can all bar the movement of the microscopic egg and sperm.

HORMONAL MATTERS

Once the basic health of the couple has been checked, the physician may move on to more specific tests. If nothing is found to be wrong, then blood tests are taken at particular times of the cycle to get an idea of the hormonal pattern. The hormones checked are: oestrogen and progesterone follicle-stimulating hormone luteinizing hormone prolactin

Oestrogen and progesterone are necessary for the preparation of the uterus to allow the fertilized egg to implant. Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) causes an egg within the ovarian tissue to mature and ripen, and the luteinizing hormone causes the shell of the ovary to open and allow the egg to be released into the Fallopian tube. Prolactin is formed to prepare the breasts for lactation; an excess of prolactin, usually due to a non-cancerous tumour in the pituitary gland, can prevent pregnancy, which is why lactation and breast feeding may prevent pregnancy.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Established hormonal problems should not be treated without guidance from specialists in this field, both orthodox and complementary.

Any hormonal problems need to be monitored by a gynaecologist.

Nutritional, herbal and homeopathic medicine can help . Ensure the practitioner has knowledge of natural oestrogens and natural progesterones, both transcutaneous (passed through the skin) and oral.

Visualization and meditation can be useful.

If stressed or anxious, see a counsellor.

BLOCKAGES

One of the more common causes of infertility is a blockage in the Fallopian tubes, so the specialist’s first step is usually to perform a laparoscopy. This is an operation that usually requires a general anaesthetic. A small incision is made underneath the navel and a thin flexible scope is passed through, enabling the surgeon to have a look at the ovaries, Fallopian tubes and surrounding structures. A dye is passed through the cervix and the flow is watched from the two open ends of the Fallopian tube. This is called a hysterosalpin-gogram. The discovery of a blockage can be cured by operation, as can polycystic ovaries: a condition that can run in families, where the ovaries have multiple fluid-filled cysts that act as a blockage as well as sometimes being associated with hormonal imbalance.

Ideally, before this invasive stage is reached I would recommend that alternatives are assessed. Without the tests one cannot be certain of the diagnosis of a blockage, although a history of infection may point to this. Good pulse-readers claim to be able to diagnose a blockage, as can Kerlian photography .

RECOMMENDATIONS

Tibetan and Chinese herbs prescribed by experts may help.

Silica 30, twice a day for 14 days only may reduce blocking scar tissue over a three-month period.

Use visualization of a small person with a pickaxe travelling down the Fallopian ‘tunnel’.

Osteopathy is a must to try.

Polarity therapy and Alexander technique can theoretically affect posture and relieve blockages.

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