Getting More Sun Improves IVF Success

Vitamin D has long been linked to improved physical and mental health.

It is important for the production of hormones, bone health, a well working immune system, muscle function, heart health, respiration and brain development.

It has specifically been found to be a great predictor of success in IVF too with higher levels found to correlate with a higher chance of pregnancy success*.

In Chinese medicine, the sun’s warmth increases internal warmth and blood flow, which is ideal for improving medication delivery to your ovaries and blood delivery to your uterine lining.

Being outside is also a great way to feel relaxed.

So aim to get at least 30% of your skin (arms, legs and face) in the sun for 20-30 minutes per day for adequate amount of natural vitamin D absorption.

Of course, avoid the sun in the middle of the day to reduce excessive sweating, sunburn or heat stroke, especially after your embryo transfer.

Supplementation can of course help, but nothing beats the real thing!


Acupuncture to Prepare for IVF

You may have read or heard about the benefits of acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer.

Acupuncture has been found to improve blood flow to the ovaries and endometrium, settle uterine contractions, reduce stress on the nervous system and encourage relaxation.

For these reasons, research has found that having acupuncture immediately before and immediately after your embryo transfer can improve not just your chance of falling pregnant, but your chance of taking home a beautiful baby by up to 65%.

That’s great odds. Why isn’t everyone doing it? Or better yet, why isn’t everyone falling pregnant and taking home babies who have had acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer?

A closer look at the statistics shows that ten women need to be treated for just one woman to have this increased chance.

So basically, only 10% of women have a 65% chance of improving their IVF success when having acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer.

The difficulty we have, is that we don’t know which women are going to be more likely to get that 65% increased chance. It would be great to think that we might have a screening tool for this in the future, but it doesn’t look like that’s on the cards just yet.

What we do know though, is that your general health absolutely plays a role in your IVF outcome and perhaps more importantly, the health of your baby.

“Acupuncture can play in big role in improving your general health.”

Before acupuncture was known for its help with IVF, it had been used for centuries and continues to be used to help millions of people around the world maintain wellness and restore health.

Just a few of the things it can help with include; improving the health of your uterine lining, reducing pain, reducing inflammation, calming the effect stress has on your body, improving egg quality, increasing sperm count and movement and improving digestion.

Acupuncture is also safe and mostly pain free, especially when practised by a qualified practitioner.

So, if you wanted to ensure you are in that 10% of women who get the best outcome with acupuncture and IVF, finds ways to become the healthiest you can be. Start your acupuncture treatments three months before you start your IVF.

You won’t regret feeling healthier and you may just get that positive you’ve been hoping for.

Registered Acupuncturist

Founder of The Point of Wellbeing, an acupuncture clinic on the Gold Coast focused on natural support for fertility, IVF and pregnancy.

The Yin and Yang Balance of the Menstrual Cycle Part 1

The easiest way to understand the menstrual cycle in terms of Yin and Yang, is to compare the body to day and night.

Yin is night time. The cooling, resting, nourishing part of the day.

Yang is day time. Energetic, warming, increased metabolic energy part of the day.

The menstrual cycle is the same, but over a longer period (no pun intended!) of time. From your period until ovulation or your follicular phase is your Yin time.

This is when an egg is being nourished, your lining is growing and your body is being nurtured to produce a good quality egg for possible fertilisation. 

Your body temperature is actually lower, your body needs more rest, increased nutrition, more meditation and less stress to nourish your Yin and fertile energy.

From ovulation to the end of your cycle, is your Yang phase or your luteal phase. This is where progesterone, your warming hormone takes over.

Your body temperature noticeably increases. This energy helps a fertilised egg expand and grow.

If no fertilisation occurs, you move back into your Yin phase, ready to start the Yin/Yang dance again.

The very cool thing about this ebb and flow of energy, is that each phase is dependent on each other.

If you don’t have enough Yin (high stress, poor diet, poor sleep, increased age), it is hard for the body to switch from Yin to Yang. Ovulation may not occur and your development of progesterone (or Yang) may be impaired.

You end up with a very long Yin phase while the body tries to nourish an egg. This can happen in women with PCOS.

Imagine having too much night and not enough daylight…plants don’t grow, we don’t warm up, we would lack nutrition from the sun and have less access to nutritious food. We’d be like a poorly nourished egg!

When something upsets this important Yin and Yang balance, women’s health can suffer and not just in regards to falling pregnant.

Yin is needed to nourish all of your organs, not just your uterus. Yin supports all of your body fluids, blood and mucous membranes.

Yang is needed to maintain your digestive metabolic energy as well as your progesterone. Yang drives your digestion and your elimination of wastes. It looks after your water metabolism in the body and your daily energy.

So it is important to balance this Yin and Yang energy. Every single women’s health complaint comes down to an imbalance in this cycle.

It is as simple and as complicated as that!

Falling Pregnant in 2017

If you and your partner have been ‘kind of trying’ for the last couple of months or even years with little luck but have now decided that this is your year to fall pregnant, listen up…

  1. Stop comparing yourself to strangers on the internet – get off the forums and get in to see a real live person who can give you individual advice and treatment.
  2. Stop making excuses about your diet. No matter what anyone tells you, your diet and the nutrients you and your male partner absorb are incredibly important for your fertile health.
  3. Get some basic blood tests done, sperm testing done and pelvic ultrasound to eliminate serious causes of infertility so you can either seek natural treatment or move on to another cause.
  4. Start charting your basal body temperature and show it to the real live person you are seeking treatment from in step 1. Learn how to tell when you are fertile and when you are not, learn about your body and start building a better relationship with it
  5. Exercise – get your body moving! Walking or yoga are two great options that everyone can do. Moving blood around your body helps deliver nutrients to your growing eggs or developing sperm for the males.
  6. Sort out your ‘minor’ health complaints – if you suffer from bloating, poor digestion, frequent headaches, tiredness, skin complaints, low libido, insomnia, painful periods, short or long menstrual cycles, get these treated. They may be related to your difficulty in falling pregnant.
  7. Seek emotional support – either through a great group of friends or with a professional, surround yourself with people who love and support you.
  8. Drink water – the simplest tip but for some reason, the most difficult. Keep hydrated. You want full, luscious reservoirs of eggs for ovaries, not dried out raisins
  9. Relax. Falling pregnant can take time. Stress can negatively impact ovulation and your ability to conceive so do the things that bring you joy.
  10. Have lots of sex! The biggest cause of infertility is not enough sex. Knowing when you’re fertile (step 4) can help target the best ‘window’ but regular intercourse is your best chance at conceiving.
  11. Lastly, get acupuncture. This incredible therapy has the ability to help with all of the above – provide individual and holistic advice and treatment, help you relax, improve your blood flow, treat a myriad of health complaints and provide emotional support especially when given by a practitioner experienced in fertility.

Best of luck in your pregnancy goals for 2017. I’d love to hear from you if you have any specific questions about your individual fertility concerns –

Paige x

Prenatal Vitamin Comparison Chart

Prenatal vitamins can be such a contentious subject and for some reason, this has been a project of mine for a little while. Whilst I have plans for finding the source of each brand’s ingredients, the recommended daily dosages, the additional fillers added and any research supporting each. I think I need to send something out in the meantime. And here it is (below).

Firstly, I need to make this very clear, that no single prenatal vitamin is going to be perfect for everyone. It is suggested for all women to take prenatal vitamins because we are lacking certain minerals and vitamins – due to our diet or digestive systems and the quality of foods available. Although unless  you have had this investigated through blood tests, you won’t know your state of mineral, vitamin and nutrient status.

Some brands have been particularly great at marketing their product to us and to doctors, but does that mean they are the best? Maybe yes, maybe not. The chart helps determine this for you.

I think it’s important when choosing the best vitamin for you too, you understand more about your diagnosis and health. If you have no deficiencies in minerals, vitamins or nutrients you may not need a prenatal vitamin. However, if you’re iron deficient, you’ll need a vitamin with iron. If you have some signs of PCOS, inositol may be helpful. If you’re tired and have other signs of B vitamin deficiency, maybe you need more of those.

Of course there is the option of adding other supplements on top of your prenatal vitamins. Which is something you can consider as well. Keeping in mind the added cost.

I just like you to be informed and then you can make your own decisions about your health. I also want to be able to make a recommendation based on your individual health status when asked.

I am really happy to hear any feedback (positive or critical), suggestions or even another brand to add.




Complementary Therapies for Labour and Birth – New Study

When it comes to complementary medicine, the scientific results for what to use to assist with a safe and natural labour, are very hit and miss. The reason for this, is that complementary medicine usually treats individuals and research studies look at large groups. So it’s hard to say for sure what single therapies work best on their own in large studies. Unfortunately small studies aren’t able to give enough weight to the result either – a constant problem with complementary medicine research and evidence based medicine.

However, with a rise in the rates of intervention in labour, particularly in Australia and other developed countries, more information is desperate.

So earlier this month, there was a new Australian study published looking into the effect of an integrative antenatal education programme to assist pregnant women through labour. The integrative part is the bit I like best. They looked at six different techniques including; acupressure, visualisation and relaxation, breathing, massage, yoga techniques and facilitated partner support.

They were looking to see what effect these therapies combined would have on the rate of epidural use, onset of labour, augmentation (added methods to bring on labour like manual membrane rupture or oxytocin medication), mode of birth and newborn outcomes.

They found that the implementation of these techniques together significantly reduced epidural use and caesarean section.

Other findings – although not significant, they also found that there was a reduced rate of augmentation, length of second stage labour, perineal trauma and resuscitation of the newborn.

For full disclosure – there were no differences found in spontaneous onset of labour, pethidine use, rate of postpartum haemorrhage, major perineal trauma or admission to intensive care unit. However, these may have been more physical or functional concerns associated with existing conditions and not able to be assisted with complementary methods.

Something they noted, is that the study did include a high number of ‘relatively wealthy, well educated women’ but it was also followed up with the discussion point that the highest rates of epidural use and caesarean section are amongst this same population.

Any complementary therapies that can help reduce epidural use and caesarean section numbers are a worthwhile investment in my opinion so it’s some exciting news. Not so much for the people already using these therapies because you’re already benefiting. But it will mean more women and families could be directed towards this style of protocol.

I do recommend all of these therapies with all of the pregnant women I see. Usually prior to 36 weeks because I find it can take some practice for some of the visualisation, yoga and breathing techniques. The great thing is, all of these therapies are safe. Safe pregnancies with healthy mums and bubs is the most ideal outcome.

For a link to the original article, click here.

Wonderful news!

Details of the techniques if you’re interested…

The protocol started prior to 36 weeks in combination with their usual hospital care and included:

  1. Visualisation – four guided visualisations rehearsed through the courses and given to participants on a CD to practice at home
  2. Yoga postures – five postures and movements practiced to encourage relaxation, physiological position for labour, opening of the pelvis and downward descent of the baby
  3. Breathing techniques – four breathing techniques were introduced: soft sleep breaths for relaxation between contractions; blissful belly breaths (BBs) which were used during contractions for pain relief; Cleansing Calming Breaths used following contractions during the transition period of labour; and the gentle birthing breath (GB) which was for use during the second stage of labour and encouraged descent of the baby avoiding active pushing and protection of the pelvic floor
  4. Massage – two techniques were shown to partners: the endorphin massage used between contractions, which is a soft technique and encourages endorphin release; and the stronger massage which is used during contractions for pain relief and focuses on squeezing the buttock, especially the piriformis muscle, to interrupt pain perception
  5. Acupressure – the use of six main points for use during labour selected from a previously published protocol. These focus on hormone release for labour progression, augmentation of contractions, pain relief, nausea and positioning of baby. For a free booklet on these acupuncture points and how to use them, head to Debra Bett’s website here.
  6. Facilitated partner support – used concept of working with pain and instructs partners to advocate for the labouring woman, promoting her oxytocin levels and minimising her stress with actions and techniques which are supportive for the birthing woman, and gives time for facilitated discussion and rehearsal by couples during the course.

pregnancy picture