Natural Fertility Consultant

Posts By: Brendan

“Dad…Dad”….“DAAD”

“What”

“If I jumped on your head – would you die?”

“Depends on how high you jumped from!”

“Like….if it was off a ladder!”

Depends how high the ladder was.”

“Like if it was as high as the house”

Well then – ya – you’d probably kill me”… … … Why?”

“Oh…just wondering!”

I miss being carefree.  Life doesn’t get any better than this.

Timed Sexual Intercourse

TSI – Seems all wrong doesn’t it!

The very notion of timing sex in advance can seem like a turn off, and indeed it is for a lot of couples, but especially for men.  So much for the anytime – anyplace macho argument!

When TTC’ing it is usually the woman who does the planning, who knows when the time is right and thus who usually initiates, and not to get too crude about it but the woman can just ‘go through the motions’ regardless of her mood and still have a successful encounter, whereas a guy has to – perform!

The only time you ever hear of guys not being able to perform is when it is to do with procreation.

You might only hear about these times, but this of course is a myth!  Yet another myth in the world of infertility.

Guys are regularly turned off sex, procreative or otherwise, they just don’t always talk about it.  I mean picture a guy walking into work and saying “Jeeze, she wanted to bonk again this morning, but I couldn’t do it, wasn’t in the mood”.  Imagine the lack of any meaningful support from ANYONE, let alone from other guys!

Pardon the reverse pun, but this situation is hard for guys.  There are often real psychological issues at play which are wired to primal senses, and most of the time there is no proper ‘platform’ on which to express these issues.

Where is a guy to go with this issue?  Friends…family…counselling? That seems a bit heavy.

My take on this (speaking to guys and girls) is that there usually exists some unexpressed assumptions here that need to be talked out, but in a totally open and non-judgemental way.

Sure, it could just be a case of – “damn girl 7 times in 2 days…c’mon I’m not 007”!

But it’s most likely to do with – wait for it – imagery, or more accurately lack of imagery.

The running joke on us men that we are simple creatures who can even be turned on by a cartoon is not inaccurate.  Most men’s initial arousal stimulus is visual, but the element that sustains the interest and the interaction is a mix of the visual and mental.

The mental part is to do with a deeper interpersonal connection, and ultimately this is the key to it.

Proof of this is the fact that porn initially works by visual signalling alone, but the soon to follow hollowness of it is due to the complete lack of any mental emotional connection.

The upshot of all this is that it is often difficult to arrange successful sex in the fleetingly short fertile window, and each ‘missed’ month is a big deal because the clock is ticking.

But guys – the ticking clock does not exactly make your woman feel attractive; you have to help her out with genuine reassurance and affection in all the other moments.  It could be one of the unexamined assumptions that need to be talked about.  I suggest you seriously consider mood lighting.  The oldest profession in the world knew something about mood making when they employed red lights!

And Girls – expecting performance on demand might be practical and even necessary, but it will break the deeper mental connection more often than not.  You can help get past the difficult moment by either engaging the visual imagery or setting the mood to create the sense of belonging and mental connection.  No matter what the guy suggests or laughs off or how he acts…he wants it!

Clomid (aka Clomifene Citrate) is one of the most common ‘fertility’ drugs in the world and often the first choice of doctors looking to help their patients ovulate ‘better’. 

It’s often used in a sort of “shur try it and see” approach.

Ask anyone on the street how it works and anyone who even knows about it will say something like “doesn’t it make you ovulate?”.

Yes…indeed.  But how?

It’s a class of drug called a SERM, or a Selective Estrogen Receptor Modifier, in that it ‘modifies’ certain (or select) estrogen receptors, those being the ones in your hypothalamus!

It’s your brain that dictates how much estrogen your body should produce at any given moment.  It does this by first tasting the blood to see how much estrogen is already in it.  (Like a good chef tastes for salt!).  Specifically, it’s the hypothalamus part of your brain that does the tasting.  There are estrogen ‘taste buds’ on your hypothalamus, otherwise called estrogen receptors.

Clomid blocks these taste buds so that your brain can no longer accurately tell how much estrogen is in your blood.

The result of this is that the signal to stop producing estrogen doesn’t fire, or in technical terms the Pituitary gland does not get the signal to cut back on the amount of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) it is pumping out…so it continues to pump it out…and pump it out…and pump it out until the levels of FSH rise much higher than normal in the body.

FSH rises because Clomid has blocked it’s ‘off-switch’!

Soon after taking a few high doses of Clomid, the ovaries become bathe in FSH which hyper stimulates the follicles in the ovary to grow and attempt to ripen.

You could say it forces the ovaries to ripen some eggs!

For some people this is ‘job done’ ovulation happens, pregnancy follows, but for others it doesn’t work at all.  Often Clomid is used in advance of IVF to help produce a cluster of eggs that can be harvested, tested and fertilised with a sperm in a petri dish.  Again, for some it works fine, for many it doesn’t.

Why does it not work sometimes?

There is no easy answer to this, but the general answer is that women who are availing of this treatment are already dealing with underlying dysfunctions in their bodies, however the dysfunctions are different for different women.  They may all have issues ovulating, but the causes for this are very varied.

To give just one example – let’s say a woman was having trouble ovulating because, out of a multitude of possible reasons, she was chronically tired – and so her cortisol production was compromised.  Cortisol is necessary for many functions in the body but if your levels are lower or higher than you need them to be, then certain functions will be affected.  One of these functions is egg maturation because you need a certain degree of cortisol to produce a viable egg.

But if you are low on that hormone then forcing your follicles to mature eggs is not going to fix that.  Clomid cannot fix that problem!

Another issue with force-ripening eggs is that you may not have the nutritional raw materials to produce a healthy egg, this may be the reason for failed ovulation in the first place.  In this case Clomid may well succeed in making your ovary produce a clutch of eggs, but that doesn’t mean they will be healthy or capable of sustaining fertilisation or pregnancy.

The bottom line is Clomid works for some, but in my world the best solution is to address the underlying issues first.  If that doesn’t work then Clomid may be a viable tool to get you over the hump!  (No pun intended!)

Bigger Things Than You

Regardless of your religious faith it’s true to say that one of the biggest benefits of spirituality and religion is that it connects us to something bigger than ourselves.

The idea that we surrender to God seems, at least on paper, to be an expression of weakness.  It’s as if we have so little faith in ourselves (to cope with whatever we are facing) that we must give up any notions of our own strength and just let God take care of it all for us.

On the other hand, the idea of ‘surrendering’ in the face of complexity is a realistic acknowledgement that life is bigger than us and that try as we might we don’t actually have total control over what happens.  There’s a self-evident reality to this, and yet we spend a lot of energy resisting it.

Many elite solider outfits are trained to accept death before a big mission.  This is a similar idea, and it actually increases the odds of success and survival!

Surrendering control is a tacit acknowledgment that we are mortal, that we are limited and that we really do need help solving big problems, yet the very act of facing big problems with the intention of solving them (and thus making the world a better place) is an expression of our innate greatness as human beings.

We have it in us to do amazingly complicated things, to overcome deep problems and to leave a mark on history that would not have been left had we not risen to the occasion.

And yet surrendering, an act that seems so weak, is the beginning of our real power.

“I can’t reach the branch Dad” says my 10-year-old daughter, “can you lift me up?”

… … “There you go” … and off she climbs fearlessly into a massive tree!

You’re facing infertility but you realise suddenly that you don’t know much about it, or about how to fix it, or about the options available to you.

You decide to go and check out your options, so you start looking – but where exactly?  

Do you go to the doctor first?  Why? 

Dr Google is always available and will certainly provide you with many choices, but now the real problem arises – the problem of choice!

This supplement or some of them?  This clinic or that?  This book or one of those?

It’s head wrecking having so may choices, but there is a biological counterpart to this too.

It takes A LOT of energy to make decisions.  Many people are now suffering from decision fatigue which is affecting the quality of their lives.

Deep in our core body there are millions of decisions being made every moment that require a lot of energy to carry out.  The number of these decisions increases exponentially if you dial in other issues such as – nutrient deficiencies, cellular damage, inflammation, a medical condition or a basic functional issue like constipation.  As the level of internal decisions multiplies so to does the level of energy required by the body to make these decisions.

Eventually the body reaches decision fatigue.  One symptom of this is infertility – it’s the body dealing with issues in the now, thus unable to make decisions about the future.

My program “return to fertility” helps you get your body to a place where it needs to make less sub-conscious decisions, but to get on to that program you need to make one big conscious one.

The chances of success on any route you take are slim enough, that’s a hard reality, but all your options carry greater rates of success once you get your body to a place where it needs to make less decisions.  This is the key to success, alas most of you will soldier on making one separate decision after the next and increasing the level of internal (sub-conscious) decisions your body must make just to keep you going!

The most effective decisions you can make are those that minimise the number of future decisions you will have to make!

I use the analogy of the map and the compass regularly with my clients, so it’s not surprise that Seth’s Blog inspired me today.

It’s the essence of understanding how the program ‘Return To Fertility’ is successful.

A constant theme in the program is that of bring your inner guidance system back online or fixing the ‘offset’ in your compass.  This literally means getting your thoughts and goals straight, getting your hormone system balanced and functioning normally and being able to read your gut instincts more effectively.

But what about the Map?  What about the terrain you are attempting to navigate?

This comes in two forms: 1 is your body and its internal terrain, and 2 is the field of infertility and how you need to navigate your way through it to find the best options so that you achieve your dream of having children.

You literally have to steer your body through unknown or incompletely understood situations before it arrives at a place where it is aligned and ready to become pregnant.

There are lots of elements to line up for this to work.

The terrain you are crossing needs to be figured out as you go, and your course corrected as you get feedback that you are going in the wrong direction.  But the key to this is to get your inner compass working well so that you can realise when you are going in the wrong direction and when you are going in the right one.

The confusing part for many people is realising that your right direction is not the same as someone else’s right direction.  Another way to say that is the map is not the same for everyone!

Thus, the key to is all is the compass.

As Seth says…

“Happy endings come from an understanding of the compass, not the presence of a useful map.

If you’ve got the wrong map, the right compass will get you home if you know how to use it.”

 

I couldn’t agree more!

Being infertile is a tough place to be.

You might need to get several different aspects of yourself working better before your fertility comes ‘back online’, but you may not know what those things are.
It’s pretty much a universally true phenomena with my clients that something about their world view is part of the mix of ‘stuff’ that needs to be fixed before they can restore fertility.

That’s a weird thought though, isn’t it!

Our worldviews hold such a powerful grip on us, they pretty much dictate our decisions, and our direction in life, they even create much of our personality – so much so that it’s often impossible to know where ‘we’ start, and our worldview ends.  It seems like we are one and the same, but we are not.

An accurate though simplistic way to conceptualise a worldview is as a frame of mind and emotions that colour how we carry on in the world, meaning how we interpret and react to everything that happens to us.  Our worldview is like a lens through which we see life.

Grow up in crime-alley and you will be more likely to tense up whenever a stranger walks up to you – but grow up in the Hamptons and your interpretation of strangers is much different.

If you think of worldviews as something that gets created in our minds by virtue of the experiences we have which get loaded on to one side of a scales or the other such that positive experiences tip the scales one way and negative experiences tip it the other way, then how your internal scales are leaning at any given moment in your life, is based on the overall weight of the combined negative and positive experiences you’ve had in life.

Simplistically put, some people are predominantly negative in outlook due to a list of negatively interpreted experiences that get place on one side of the scales, whereas others are predominantly positive in outlook due to a list of positively interpreted experiences that load the other side of the scales.

A negative outlook makes it more likely you will shy away from challenges in favour of creating a predictable life, whereas a positive outlook allows you to have the juice to take on new challenges, thus you will more likely create a life of variety.

The key though is to realise that it is our interpretation of what happens that matters – not the event itself, but there is unfortunately, circular issues afoot here – a negative worldview makes it more likely we will interpret new events negatively, so it becomes self-reinforcing.
This is a huge problem, and if you are facing infertility the last thing you want is a negative worldview because this is wired directly to your hormonal system.  If you see the world negatively your hormones will have no choice but to take on a defensive posture (as does your physical body often), and this posture is anti-fertility in nature. 

I would go so far as to say that you cannot fix a fertility problem if your mind is coloured by a negative worldview.

To solve the problem, you must first identify what your worldview is by asking yourself if it is defensive, on alert, or in some way causing you to generally see things negatively or stress-fully.  Then you must create a new picture in your mind, or a new feeling in your heart of the future you want, then you must conjure up that picture or feeling so regularly that it becomes familiar to your nervous system.

After you ‘familiarise’ your system with this new future idea of yourself, you do it again with a new picture or feeling that you desire to make real.  This could be you playing with a new baby on the carpet and loving it, or it might be imagining yourself with a pregnant bump, but it could be whatever you want.  Doing this will eventually familiarise your nervous system with the good life you want and allow you to melt away barriers that prevent you from achieving it. If you are following what I am saying here, you will realise that many of the barriers preventing you from getting pregnant are internal.  They are related to your beliefs and to unexamined assumptions you hold that are related to your worldview and which cause you to veer off the path of truth – so to speak!

I’ve just summarised an incredibly powerful book for you that has nothing to do with getting pregnant but could just carry the day for you if you have the courage to put it into action!

 

Life provokes people to continually take on more.

Jobs, relationships, families, hobbies, sports, community activities, social engagements, overtime, church work, extra study, following the news, social media, back to college, moving up the ladder, home building, political activism, environmental concerns, fitness regimes…and on and on it goes.

We start out with some idea of what we want in mind, but eventually Mission Creep sets in and we find ourselves over-committed, not where we really want to be in life and unclear what our path should be, but worst of all we don’t even know it’s happened.

This describes a lot of my clients.  Good people, with a strong work ethic and a can-do attitude – doing too much of something and not enough of another.

Sometimes you have to hit a wall before you realise you were not looking where you were going.

Sometimes cancer is that wall, sometimes it’s a broken relationship, and sometimes it’s infertility.

How hard you hit it depends on your level of self-awareness, and the actions you take on a regular basis.

We only have so much energy and we don’t know how much time we have.

Tune into your body, focus on your mission, resist the forces that cause it to creep off track, save your energy for what really matters to you.

The Wall is coming.

I learned a lot from “The Road Less Travelled”, by M. Scott Peck.

I learned that no matter what path you take it will be hard, and that once you come to terms with this life gets a lot better – despite being hard.  Coming to terms with this reality is one of the best things I ever did, though it took me a long time.  I’m a slow learner!

Once you realise that every action you take is the result of a decision, you come to accept that there is no neutral position to take in life.

If you ‘go’ there will be consequences.  If you ‘don’t go’ there will be consequences.

If you hold off deciding because you are afraid to ‘go’ – that’s a decision, you have decided and there will be consequences.

If you decide to ‘go’ because you are afraid to not go, that’s also a decision, albeit a clearer one.

I like the way Jordan Peterson put it – it’s less about being courageous and more about choosing to be afraid of the right things.

If you do nothing different to what you have been doing, what do you think the chances are of solving your fertility problem?

Are you afraid of never having a baby, or are you afraid that you might realise too late that you could have been doing something more to solve the problem?

Are you afraid of the right things?

It’s so frustrating to watch a woman do a whole lot of hard work to prepare her body to have a baby, only to see the guy not step up to the plate and try to solve his own problems, or at the very least do what he can to improve his own health in advance of conception.

I accept that men generally don’t really understand how important the health of their sperm is not only for conception to happen, but to the long-term health of their kids.  They are hardly told about it by doctors, who are not told about it in medical school.

To use just one example of published science, it is known that a fathers age at the time of his child’s conception has an influence on longer term outcomes like autism and schizophrenia in the child.  To understand this, you have to appreciate that the age is simply a marker for sperm health, or sperm damage, and that ANY sperm damage or ageing that occurs will likely produce similar effects. 

Some men’s lack of willingness to play their part in promoting optimal fertility used to bother me no end until I came to understand better why it happens.  This really allowed me to help my male clients much better.

This is what I see as being the issue:

It’s a biological fact that men are not as tuned into fertility as much as women are.

One of the most common reasons men give for not being able to complete the work on my fertility program is that they are too busy with their work.

This makes total sense, but it makes better sense to call it as it is and to acknowledge the truth, which is – “Right now I prioritise my work over having a family”. 

Every guy has a total right to do this, no question, no judgment.  If that’s the truth that’s the truth.

With rights come responsibilities though, exercising ones right to not pursue a family just yet may mean reneging on a previous promise, even if that promise was unspoken.  Being in a committed relationship with a women IMPLIES the intent to have kids, unless otherwise agreed. 

Also, one may have to read between the lines sometimes.  For a guy – not being ready may mean that something has changed in the relationship, but they haven’t said it.  If this is the case then so be it, but it needs to come to the surface.  It can’t just be that the guy frustrates all efforts to have a baby by not taking positive action hoping the issue will just go away or the clock will run down.

Men know intellectually that a woman can’t wait forever, but they don’t seem to know this intuitively.  I didn’t, I thought we could wait until things were more aligned, till we were better prepared, till we had more money or till our minds were in the right place to think about kids.  Lucky for me my wife was having none of that.

Serious straight communication is needed here.  Couples need to say out straight what their intentions are, what their dreams are, what their fears are.  The first two are easy for guys, but the last one is hard.  The irony of it is that for most guys (or at least the ones who live with decent women) the very act of sharing your fears will promote a bond of trust and deepen your friendship, it can lift the tide of any relationship and even in itself can free you from false assumptions.  Just doing this alone can sometimes resolve infertility issues.

Beating infertility is a team sport.  Your job as a man is to have your woman’s back, to make her feel safe and secure – part of this involves being open and honest about your intentions, first to yourself, then to herself.

Dragging your heels is not an expression of male energy, it’s an expression of confused energy.  Being clear and decisive and straight up is an expression of male energy because it requires having the guts to deal with things properly, and even with the fallout.

If you don’t want kids just yet – fine – but at least come out straight and say it.

 

Natural Fertility Consultant