Fertility, Infertility

Psychological Stress: Reasons for Termination of In-vitro Fertilization

Infertility remains a clinical and social problem affecting many people in the world. The most common causes of infertility are sperm abnormalities, ovulation dysfunction, endometriosis, reduced ovarian reserves, and tubal pathology; plus, there are unexplained reasons for infertility owing to combined male and female factors. In-vitro fertilization (IVF) offers new hope for conception for such couples when other infertility treatments are not successful.

Couples that have elevated levels of fertility are highly motivated to consult IVF clinics as chances are high to achieve conception. However, the regimens applied for IVF are diverse, expensive, time-consuming, complex and sometimes stressful. Many couples cannot endure the strains of this treatment modality and discontinue IVF therapy. Since the treatment is most likely to be at the early stage, when the probability of achieving pregnancy is at its minimal, discontinuation should, therefore, be put into consideration as an adverse treatment result could definitely have an effect on the success of the program.

According to research, high rates of drop-out are frequently encountered in IVF treatment. The drop-out rates reported by couples undergoing IVF treatment shows a large variation. The highest percentage of participants who underwent unsuccessful treatment did not seek out care elsewhere, thereby discontinuing treatment. When asked why they discontinued treatment, these women indicated that further treatment was too stressful, they could not afford the out-of-pocket costs, and they had lost insurance coverage or had conceived spontaneously. Among those citing stress as a reason for discontinuing treatment, the top sources of stress included already having given IVF their best chance, feeling too stressed to continue, and infertility taking too much of a toll on their relationship*.

Many health professionals in the infertility field think that patients discontinue treatment because of an inability to pay and/or a poor prognosis. Although most research on uninsured patients supports the hypothesis that finances play a large role in the decision to discontinue treatment, studies have shown that recommendation given by the medical practitioner is not the major reason for treatment termination. In fact, in each of those studies of insured patients, it was reported that the negative psychological stress during the treatment was the primary reason for terminating treatment**.  Various studies have been carried out to verify these findings with different patients and recurrent results showing that psychological stress is the major reason why patients tend to terminate treatment via IVF.

Since it is now well known that stress plays a vital role in treatment termination, we cannot undermine the factors that contribute to influence their decision and, perhaps most importantly, what patients think might have allowed them to continue treatment.

*Olivius, C., Friden, B., Borg, G., & Bergh, C. (2004). Why do couples discontinue in vitro fertilization treatment? a cohort study. Fertility and Sterility, 81(2), 258-261. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2003.06.029

**M. Rajkhowa, A. Mcconnell, G.E. Thomas; Reasons for discontinuation of IVF treatment: a questionnaire study, Human Reproduction, Volume 21, Issue 2, 1 February 2006, Pages 358–363,

** Burden of care is the primary reason why insured women terminate in vitro fertilization treatment.  Fertility and Sterility Feb 19, 2018.  Volume 109, Issue 6, Pages 1121–1126.

Fertility, Healthy Menstrual Cycle, Hormonal Imbalance, Infertility

How do Acupuncture and Chinese medicine help post-pill amenorrhea and achieve pregnancy?

What is post-pill amenorrhea?

Post-pill amenorrhea is defined as the loss of menstrual periods for at least 6 months after stopping birth control pills. This situation is a sign that you have not started ovulating yet, and it can be very frustrating for women who are ready to try to conceive.

Why acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help?

The good news is acupuncture and Chinese medicine focus on helping the body correct itself and improve the function and overall health of the entire reproductive system.

What is the natural hormonal cycle?

The normal menstrual cycle consists of several distinct phases.  Each phase correlates to physical changes before pregnancy. These phases are linked with fluctuations in the levels of certain hormones during ovulation and menstruation.

What does birth control pills do to your cycle?

Birth control pills are a synthetic form of the hormones estrogen and progesterone.  Pills artificially alter the normal hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian feeding mechanism and affect the entire body’s natural mode.

What to expect after coming off the pills?

Most of the time after stopping pills, the synthetic hormones are gone, and your body needs to start again on its own to function.  Unfortunately, some women fail to resume a normal rhythm, which means the endocrine system does not re-establish its natural body function.  Eventually, they may face difficulties for pregnancy.

How does Chinese medicine explain the cause of post-pill amenorrhea

From the acupuncture and Chinese medicine perspective, liver Qi is fundamental to regulate the interplay of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian-uterus axis.  Prolonged birth control pills can interrupt natural liver function, and cause liver Qi stagnation.  These result in the cycles do not easily re-establish themselves.

How do acupuncture and Chinese medicine help amenorrhea?

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can help sooth liver Qi, nourish blood and essence, and remove stagnation; therefore leading an improvement of the reproductive axis, regulating the hormonal interplay, and helping re-establish natural ovulation rhythms.

How does acupuncture & Chinese medicine help achieve pregnancy?

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine is a holistic medicine.  Any common symptoms of post-birth control syndrome include anxiety, depression, mood swings, headaches, migraines, breast tenderness, and abdominal gas or bloating can all be helped.  This holistic approach not only restores normal body cycles but also improves your overall health as you are preparing to conceive, thereby achieving the success of pregnancy.

Fertility, Health, Healthy Diet

Bad Diet may hinder female infertility

As discussed previously here and here, diet can impact Fertility greatly. A recent study in 2018 explored the correlation between diet and time spent achieving conception. Women who consumed fruit 3 times daily, for example, were found to have lowered risk for infertility. Additionally, women who did not consume enough fruit in their diet had a longer time to pregnancy than those who consumed daily. Basically, frequent consumption of fruits tends towards higher and faster chances of conception. Intake of fast food is another factor impacting infertility, those who consumed fast food 1-2 times a week reported an 18% and 34% reduced risk for infertility. Those who consumed no fast food had a 41% reduced risk for infertility. (Source) Based upon all of these findings small, easy modifications in diet may have benefits in improving fertility and should be pursued by couples seeking pregnancy.

Fruits and vegetables should be vibrant in color and are crucial antioxidant-rich foods. They can provide protection and nourishment during the cycle of an egg from primary stage to ovulation, and help create a healthy egg, which is optimal for conception.

A healthy fertility diet can influence the reserves of nutrients necessary for reproductive hormone systems to work properly and balance the environment that fosters conception.

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