The latest miracle “cure” for infertility

I’m afraid this is going to be a bit of a rant, but I received a press release this morning for a fertility book which made me REALLY cross. Apparently this book will “teach”, yes “teach”, you how to conceive naturally in 60 days with no risks or side effects using “100% natural methods”.  It costs $40 and allegedly contains diet plans and suggests Chinese herbal remedies which the author has researched for decades.  The killer line for me was the final one which claimed that “Any woman can use these methods to fix her fertility problems and become a mother”.  If only…

This book is an extreme example, but there are an abundance of similar (if not quite so patently ridiculous) claims being made now by experts in relaxation and complementary therapies. You can choose from any number of books which will help you to readjust your body’s natural balances in order to “help yourself” to get pregnant.

Anyone with a fertility problem wants to do all that they can to change their situation, and being at the mercy of clinicians, having to wait for appointments and submit to the indignities of treatment doesn’t help you to feel in control of what is happening. Being more proactive and visiting a complementary therapist or following a diet plan is helpful because it makes you feel that you are regaining some of that control, that you are doing all that you can to work towards a positive outcome.

The reality is that no amount of healthy eating or swallowing herbal remedies is going to unblock fallopian tubes that are impossible for sperm or eggs to pass through, or restore a congenital absence of the vas deferens. You are not going to have any impact on this kind of fertility problem with 100% natural herbal remedies.  But what about more subtle imbalances or unexplained infertility, I hear you ask?  Fertility patients are often told that these problems are linked to stressful lifestyles or unhealthy eating, and made to feel that they must be to blame. If you are living on diet coke and fast food, drinking vast quantities of alcohol and smoking, if you are morbidly obese, are suffering from an eating disorder or exercise to excessive levels, then your diet and lifestyle will have an impact on your fertility – but in reality, the majority of people who are trying to conceive unsuccessfully have already adjusted any issues in their lifestyles to try to maximise the chances of success when it became apparent that getting pregnant wasn’t going to be easy.

I have met so many couples who have given up caffeine and alcohol, who are following the  healthiest diets imaginable, yet are still worried that somehow they aren’t doing things quite right for conception, that they aren’t eating enough broccoli, that they may be consuming too many papayas or whatever the latest trend happens to be.

I’ve come across people who are filled with self-doubt about their attitudes to their infertility, and blame themselves for failing to get pregnant because they can’t allow themselves to feel positive after so many disappointments; people who worry that they are responsible for their infertility because they feel so stressed about not being able to conceive; people who have been told that they might get pregnant if they relaxed more, went on holiday, gave up their jobs, did more yoga, did less yoga – you get the picture…

I’ve had enough experts who make you feel guilty, who suggest that by taking some “simple steps” you can solve a medical problem.  Of course, you want to lead the healthiest lifestyle possible when you are trying to get pregnant, and of course, complementary therapies can help you feel relaxed and ready for treatment, but don’t ignore the warning bells when you come across anyone who claims to be able to “teach” you to “fix” your fertility problems…

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