Almost daily I get emails from women who report some kind of miscommunication with their fertility doctors: too short or too long times in-between the IVF rounds, treatments which are determined by financial rather than the physiological realities, egg donation scheduled too late or too early in the process (in this post you can read why there are different recommendations in Europe vs. the US).
But the kind of miscommunication that I personally find most devastating in terms of its far-reaching consequences is that many clinics won’t support any natural methods for improving fertility.
Basically, the moment you check into a fertility clinic, you kind of admit that nature doesn’t work and give your partner and yourself into the hands of technologies (and literally put all your eggs in one basket). This can become mentally devastating if the process of becoming pregnant turns out to taking longer than expected.
But there is of course more than this. My several years of dealing with the possible reasons for miscommunication have lead me to the following conclusions to where communication fails and why:
- Couples. When facing infertility, couples are scared. And when scared, they seek to place overly strong trust in doctors and techniques. Lifestyle changes are not perceived as a treatment, especially in those who are coping with infertility for longer periods of time.
- General practitioners, naturopathic doctors, and various other medical professionals can suffer from a lack of information. Busy schedules don’t allow enough time to learn new information; personal convictions are also hard to overcome.
- Fertility specialists love to rely on high-tech (and with good reason!) To this, most clinics have no financial incentive to educate women on lifestyle interventions and increasing fertility naturally. Currently, women can only hope that deeper system adjustments will occur in the near future and bring changes to the daily practice in fertility clinics.
- Clinical staff – embryologists, biologists, and nurses are mostly not empowered to give advice, which is a real pity.
Do you know how many years of education it takes to become a good, skilled embryologist? Can you imagine how detailed are insights which a biologist has about eggs, in contrary to a (average) gynecologist? And this army of people is most often not entitled to speak directly to the patients.
While this is often reasonable and justified from a medical point of view, recruiting this army to help teach women about how changing certain lifestyle habits could bring benefits to all sides involved (while creating no potential for cross-competencies, because if women become more successful in improving their egg quality naturally, they increase their chances to get pregnant both naturally or via IVF).
Fertility clinics are by no means perfect places. Checks by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority show that nearly one in two licensed fertility clinics have “anomalies” in their records.
What is the solution to this? For women over 35 who are struggling to get pregnant and don’t have much time to waste, I see only one way out: learning, gaining knowledge, understanding . Your body, your eggs, your fertility journey. Feeling in charge of your own ovaries and uterus (or at least not feeling hopelessly out of control). For me, learning how to lead life to make the best of your remaining fertility is one of the clear areas where knowledge matters.
My two cents.
Supplements which are scientifically proven to increase egg quality:
Prenatal vitamins and folic acid: