Tag Archives: IVF

Vitamin D

As a naturopath I am always going on about the importance of Vitamin D with my patients. Vitamin D is needed to strengthen bone health, to balance the immune system, to help mental health issues especially depression, to reduce inflammation and improve intestinal lining health and is also essential for male and female fertility and pregnancy.

Vitamin D is essential for wellness
Vitamin D is essential for wellness

The reason it is so essential to fertility and getting pregnant is because it is needed to help the body create sex hormones. The correct amount of sex hormones in your body is vital to your overall well-being, otherwise you may suffer PMS, PCOS, and sadly, infertility.

Regulating cell growth is another key function of Vitamin D.

Yale University School of Medicine conducted a study of 67 infertile women, where it was discovered that a mere 7% had normal Vitamin D levels. The remainder of the women either had insufficient levels of Vitamin D or they had clinical deficiency of Vitamin D in their bodies.

Tips for Optimizing your Vitamin D Levels

  • Get 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure daily while the sun is at its highest, between 11 and 3. Even weak sunscreens will block the ability of your skin to manufacture vitamin D. Note that you do not make Vitamin D when sitting behind a glass window.
  • Gradually build up your exposure. Start early in the year (spring), or early in the morning before the sun is strongest and slowly build up the amount of time you spend in the sun. Regular short exposures have been found to be much more effective and safer than infrequent, long ones.
  • The best places to absorb Vitamin D are your inner arms and thighs.
  • After your 15 minutes of unprotected time in the sun, apply sunscreen or wear a hat and light clothing to protect yourself. Opt for sunscreens with fewer added chemicals, look in your local health store.
  • Always avoid sunburn. It is sunburn, not healthy sun exposure that causes problems.
  • Showering: Vitamin D3, an oil-soluble vitamin, is on the surface of your skin and it apparently takes up to two full days before you can absorb this vitamin into your bloodstream. So avoid washing with soap for 48 days after sun exposure. Wash your armpits and groin area with soap but the rest of your body with pure water.
  • Increase your anti-oxidants and omega 3 intake. These nutrients help to protect your skin from sun damage. Eat lots of vegetables and fruits daily, eggs and oily fish (salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines, anchovies and herrings) at least twice a week.

You can ask your GP to check your Vitamin D levels or there home kits that you can buy. I generally recommend to my patients to supplement Vitamin D3, I find that liquid drops are best in 1000iu. The dosage would be dependent on what was going on with the patient. Contact me if you would like further info on this.

Enjoy the sunshine safely 🙂

Zita West affiliated Acupuncturist

I am now delighted to announce that I have become a founding member of the recently launched Zita West Network for Reproductive Health, as an Affiliated Acupuncturist.

ZW_Aff_Acu_Logo_Keyline_POS_ProcessBuilt on the ground-breaking work of midwife, author and fertility and pregnancy expert Zita West and her renowned London clinic, the new Irish network aims to share the unique skills and experience of Zita and her team of doctors, midwives and complementary therapists, with experienced independent acupuncturists across Ireland and the UK. Other health specialists (such as nutritionists, counsellors, midwives and doctors) will also be recruited to the network. The Zita West Clinic is the largest integrated (medical and complementary) practice in the UK specialising in all aspects of male and female reproductive health. It also runs occasional clinics in Dublin on a monthly basis.

All acupuncturist members of the network receive training and ongoing support in Zita West’s comprehensive, holistic approach to achieving optimum reproductive health.  This covers a wide range of treatments and approaches to help boost fertility, enhance IVF, improve pregnancy, enhance birth outcomes and support post-natal recovery.

The Benefits of Choosing a Zita West Affiliated Acupuncturist

  • Wide-ranging Medical and Complementary Health Experience.
    By choosing a Zita West affiliated acupuncturist clients not only get the benefit of their practitioner’s individual expertise but, through them, the training and support of Zita and her colleagues too. The Zita West Clinic works with thousands of women and men each year, helping them to boost their chances of conceiving successfully (both naturally and through IVF) and helping those who are already pregnant to have the best pregnancy possible and the brightest and healthiest of babies. This provides an unrivalled breadth and depth of knowledge to be shared with members of the network and their clients.
  • Exclusive Discounts on Zita West Clinic Services. Choosing a Zita West affiliated practitioner also provides clients with unique access to a range of Zita West clinical services – some of which are available by phone as well as in person – all at special discounted prices.
  • Special Discounts on the Zita West Range of Nutritional Products. Clients of member practitioners are entitled to further discounts on Zita’s best-selling range of premium nutritional supplements for fertility, pregnancy and breast-feeding too (20% off RRP ex p&p). Similar discounts are available on her range of books, CDs, cosmetic products and gift-sets as well.
  • FREE Fact Sheets to Help Boost Your Fertility and Pep up Your Pregnancy

For further information contact Helena Barker at 086-8163130. Or email helena_barker@hotmail.com or visit www.zitawest.com

Cervical fluid/mucus/discharge?! How to recognise your fertile window…

I don’t know why but we are always grossed out by discharges and sometimes we fail to see the importance of them, especially when it comes to fertility. As part of my consultation with patients who are trying to conceive I always ask if they are aware of their fertile period? Do they notice any discharge and if so how much and when?

This ‘discharge’ (such a horrid word for such an important fertility fluid!) is vital for conception as it shows that the body is getting ready to release an egg and to aid sperm on their long journey to reach the egg for the magic conception to happen. In chinese medicine this is the time that yin turns into yang, the cooling phase of the run up to ovulation turns in the incubation phase for implantation.

As an acupuncturist and naturopath I am looking to help increase/promote cervical fluids with acupuncture, diet, lifestyle and correct supplements. And obviously to include the couple having sex in the fertile period!

There are lots of misconceptions about cervical mucus, here is some info to help you decipher your discharges…!

Fertile mucus means you are ‘potentially’ fertile.
It’s not the day we see the most amount of fertile mucus (characteristically clear/egg white consistency), it’s the last day we recognise this mucus. If the mucus lasts for 4-5 days this can be key for timing intercourse.

Cervical fluid changes with fertility and goes through a predictable pattern each and every cycle. After you have finished menstruating you should have a period of no discharge at all.

It should then be:
1. Sticky – In a 28 day cycle, this will be around day 7 or so. Your cervix will start producing a sticky or pasty kind of cervical fluid. This is the beginning of the fertile period.
2. Creamy – As your cycle progresses, your estrogen level is rising daily and the water content of your cervical fluid will increase.
3. Egg white – It is called this as it resembles raw egg white. It’s clear and slippery and can usually stretch an inch or more between a finger and thumb. This is the really fertile stuff!! It’s alkaline and keep sperm alive for up to 5 days inside your body.
4. Watery – Sometimes the water content inside a woman’s cervical fluid will be so high that the eggwhite cervical fluid is more like water, it’s clear, slippery and does not hold any shape. You will know it’s there by a very wet sensation in your vagina. This is very fertile cervical mucus is the last stage of the fertile period and suggests that the egg is about to be released.
5. Dry – this happens quickly after the wet period/egg release, the fertile window has finished for this cycle. Some women do experience a water cervical fluid the day before thee period, this is the endometrial lining starting to break up.
Acupuncture, diet & supplements can help increase fertile mucus
Acupuncture, diet & supplements can help increase fertile mucus
Cervical fluid is an incredibly valuable substance that is produced by your cervix. It’s made up of water, sugars, electrolytes and proteins. Fertile cervical fluid keeps sperm alive once it is inside the vagina. It provides nutrients, a hospitable alkaline environment and aids in transportation. Cervical fluid helps the sperm survive, sometimes for up to 5 days while waiting for the egg to be released. It also tells a lot about the state of a woman’s hormones.
 
Cervical fluid helps the sperm in 3 ways:
1. It provides an alkaline environment for the sperm. A woman’s vagina is slightly acidic and hostile to sperm. Fertile cervical mucus is alkaline, like a mans semen, and provides a safe harbour for the sperm.
 
2. It provides sustenance for the sperm while they swim on the way on up through the cervix, to reach the egg in the fallopian tube. The sperm need food along the way and fertile cervical fluid provides the needed nutrition.
 
3. It provides an easy pathway for the sperm to swim through. It also helps filter out irregular sperm so only the most suitable arrive at the egg.
There are many foods and supplements that can improve your cervical mucus such as royal jelly, evening primrose oil, increase your omega 3’s, avocados, olives etc…
I look at each women/couple individually and recommended foods and supplements to go with the acupuncture fertility program.

15 facts you may not know about Acupuncture…

Here are 15 factoids you may not know about acupuncture:

  1. Originally acupuncture needles were not made of stainless steel but of stone, bamboo, and bone.
  2. Studies have shown that acupuncture points have significantly more electrical conductivity than areas of skin without acupuncture points.
  3. Acupuncture can increase the success rate of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) up to 65%.
  4. The word acupuncture comes from the Latin acus, “needle” and pungere, “to prick.”
  5. Acupuncture needles are single use, sterilized and pre-packaged.
  6. Acupuncture is over 5,000 years old and is one of the oldest practicing forms of medicine known to date.
  7. When performed by a properly trained and licensed practitioner, acupuncture is safe and effective, free from negative side effects.
  8. Even though a needle is being inserted into the skin, acupuncture is virtually painless.
  9. Acupuncture needles are a lot smaller than standard hypodermic needles, and they do not draw blood and are not hollow.
  10. Acupuncturists feel your pulse and look at your tongue to gain a better understanding of what is going on inside the body.
  11. Acupuncture is highly individualized – for example, if 50 people with a cough got acupuncture, all 50 people could have different acupuncture points in their treatments.
  12. The benefits of acupuncture are sometimes difficult to measure when using western research because western research depends on a constant variable to measure all data against…something that goes against acupuncture treatment plans.
  13. Licensed acupuncturists attend an in-depth four year program and obtain over 400 clinical hours.
  14. Acupuncture is just one form of therapy used within the medical system known as Traditional Chinese Medicine, which also consists of other modalities such as herbal medicine, nutrition, cupping, moxabustion, tui na and special exercises such as Tai Chi and Qi Gong.
  15. Licensed acupuncturists in Ireland are fully insured and are registered with either the Acupuncture Foundation Professional Association or the Acupuncture Council of Ireland
Acupuncture can help treat many physical and emotional conditions.
Acupuncture can help treat many physical and emotional conditions.

If you or someone you know would like to learn more about what acupuncture can do, please contact me on 086-8163130 or email me at helena_barker@hotmail.com.

I practice in 3 locations, Navan and Slane in Co. Meath and Ongar in Dublin 15.