How long do we keep trying before requesting help?
According to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence
•84% of couples in general population will conceive within 1 year if they do not use contraception and have regular sexual intercourse. Of those that do not conceive in the first year, about half will do so in the second year.
•People who have not conceived after 1 year of regular unprotected sexual intercourse would be offered further clinical investigations including semen analysis and/or assessment of ovulation.
•Couples who experience problems in conceiving should be seen together because both partners are affected by decisions surrounding investigation and treatment.
However, for approximately 25% of couples who have investigations there will be no obvious reason why they cannot conceive.
In either case, stress levels in both partners are likely to be very high.
Stress in relation to fertility.
Stress is a complex condition which affects almost all parts of the body in some way. There is also some evidence to suggest that it may affect fertility.
Cortisol (a hormone released in response to stress) can cause the release of an inhibiting hormone that reduces the production of follicle stimulating hormone and luteinising hormone.
Both of these hormones are integral to the release of the egg and the implantation of embryo after fertilisation.
In other words, feeling stressed may be detrimental to the chances of achieving a successful pregnancy.
Stress is an issue for both sexes, so it is equally important that both partners employ some method of reducing their stress levels - this can include reflexology.
How might reflexology support us?
If you are trying to conceive, reflexology can help support you and your partner both physically and emotionally - whether you have just started trying to conceive or have been trying for a while.
If you have been given a clearly defined diagnosis and are offered treatment, you will probably want to go ahead and take that route.
Can I have reflexology while having medical treatment?
Yes absolutely! There is no evidence that reflexology interferes with medical treatments and if stress is reduced and wellbeing increased, then medical procedures will feel easier.
What if we have been given the diagnosis of unexplained infertility?
This can be very frustrating with no clear problem to focus on, nor a clear way forward. You may still be offered medical treatment but may decide to allow the natural route more time. This will be a personal decision.
Whatever happens, you may find that you and/or your partner would value support at this time, both on a physical and emotional level.
What happens when I go for reflexology?
The first consultation takes approximately 90 minutes and is ideally attended by both partners. You will have completed a Pre-Conception Questionnaire and sent that back to me prior to the consultation. This gives me time to assess where you are on your conception journey.
We take a look at lifestyle and nutrition and formulate a Pre-Conception plan for both of you together. It takes 3 months for the reproductive cells to mature in the male and female so this is an opportunity to get the body in tip top condition.
Ideally you then book in for 4 one hour weekly sessions each. Subsequent sessions are booked in depending on how things are progressing, as everyone is unique and individual.
Reflexology gives you both the opportunity to take time out for yourself at a time when you need it most.
Sperm Comet Testing
Most couples who are trying to conceive are probably familiar with the term 'sperm count', which deals with the quantity of sperm.
However, what many know less about is sperm quality, which might mean that they are missing out on knowing about something that could increase their chances of having a baby..............something that could help reduce the loss of valuable time and financial costs, and not least, emotional heartache, which can be hardest of all.
One in six couples has difficulty having a baby: in 40% of these cases, the difficulty is associated with the man. Sperm DNA is one of the most important factors when it comes to getting pregnant.
Checking your sperm for damage before you start a family gives you the chance to take control and change your lifestyle to improve your sperm quality, if you have damage.
Second only to the human desire for survival is our desire to have children so miscarriage is devastating.
Up until now, miscarriage has been seen exclusively as a woman’s problem. The possibility that men might be involved has not yet been fully considered.
Recent research using a number of novel male biomarkers has shown strong associations between poor sperm quality and recurrent miscarriage. These biomarkers have a common link; they measure different aspects of sperm DNA quality. We know that sperm DNA quality is critical as the normal functioning of paternal genes is essential for the early development of the embryo and foetus, so it is not surprising that sperm DNA is also involved in maintaining a healthy pregnancy (reviewed by Lewis et al, 2013).
Sperm from men whose partners have a history of miscarriage have higher levels of sperm DNA damage than sperm from those whose partners deliver healthy babies. This is not just following ART (assisted reproductive technology). In a recent pilot study, sperm DNA damage (above the clinical threshold, Simon et al, 2010) has been found in 91% of men whose partners have recurrent miscarriages following spontaneous conceptions.
The good news is that there is now a test for male partners of couples with a history of miscarriage.
The SpermComet test provides couples with new opportunities to have a family. It provides couples with more information about fertility, allowing them to make more informed decisions about their future pathways to starting their family.
Further research: Zhao et al, 2014; Robinson et al, 2012
Tommy’s Campaign Project 6: The impact of damaged sperm on miscarriage
It is easy to test for sperm DNA damage using a sperm DNA Fragmentation Test.
If the test shows that there is a lot of sperm DNA damage, you can make better choices about the right lifestyle changes or perhaps fertility treatments may be suggested for you.