Vail Daily health feature: Enhancing your chance
First we believed babies came from a stork. Then at one point we discovered the truth, learning about the tale of the sperm and the egg from either our parents, a teacher, or a wise older friend, like a fourth grader. We thought we knew everything about how babies are made, and as adults, many people still believe that conceiving a child is a simple, elementary process. In reality baby-making is a complex endeavor, with many factors affecting both female and male fertility. Some see the traditional method, the ol’ “thrust and trust” if you will, as the only natural way to get pregnant. But the stork doesn’t stop there. The field of natural fertility methods is growing faster than Princess Kate Middleton’s heir to the throne, with many local health care providers adding treatments that aid in fertility to their practices. Pressure points and pregnancyKellie Krasovec is a licensed acupuncturist based in Edwards. Krasovec started treating fertility issues seven years ago and sees a number of women and couples trying to conceive. Krasovec said acupuncture, or Chinese medicine, restores the body to its best state of balance.”(Acupuncture) helps clear out excess toxins so that blood can flow more (easily) through the reproductive system, ovaries, and testes,” Krasovec said. When a woman comes to see Krasovec for fertility treatments, she’ll often issue a pulse diagnosis, where one can measure the blood flow quality of the uterus. Krasovec said she asks patients to commit to a full three months of treatments, which includes not only acupuncture but diet and lifestyle changes, before expecting results. Krasovec estimates that 50 to 60 percent of her patients who go through the entire process end up conceiving a child.”I do have quite a few folks who are just not ready to do the work,” Krasovec said. “Most people have to make significant dietary changes. In the culture we live in, we like instant results. (But) for the egg to make it to the ovaries, it takes three months.”Krasovec said it’s not uncommon for women to receive acupuncture in conjunction with other assisted reproductive technology treatments, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). In a study done by the Reproductive Medicine & Fertility Center located in Colorado Springs, of the 578 patients treated between 2003 and 2008, there was a 15 percent increase in pregnancies and a 23 percent increase in live births for IVF patients treated with acupuncture. A woman’s fertility rate does decrease as she ages. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, a 30-year-old woman has a 20 percent chance of getting pregnant per menstrual cycle, while a 40-year old woman has a 5 percent chance. Krasovec thinks women over the age of 35 should still remain hopeful despite what they read online or hear about from friends and family.”All those statistics are for people who are doing nothing to enhance their fertility,” Krasovec said. “If a woman is having a period every month and they are ovulating, with work they (could) conceive and have a child. I can’t make guarantees, (but) I will always do my best to get them to the goal of having a child.”The mind/body conception methodFor some health care providers, witnessing a couple bring their first child into the world is what motivates them to delve deeper into the mysteries surrounding fertility. Lynsi Eastburn is a Denver-based registered psychotherapist and the founder of HypnoFertility, a program that trains therapists on how to use hypnosis to affect fertility and aid in pregnancy. Eastburn began applying what she knew about hypnosis to childbirth 12 years ago, with surprising results.”I ended up with women getting pregnant who were not even candidates for in vitro fertilization,” Eastburn said. “I don’t like to quote numbers, (but) most of the clients that I work with end up getting pregnant. It’s a high enough number that its been worth me training other therapists (in HypnoFertility) and writing two books on the (subject).Eastburn said hypnosis affects the parasympathetic nervous system, known as the ‘rest and digest’ response, which is the opposite of the sympathetic nervous system, or what we commonly refer to as the ‘fight or flight’ response. “Hypnosis naturally impacts and neutralizes our ‘fight or flight’ (response) and helps you get back into that peaceful state,” Eastburn said. Eaastburn said she also sees patients who’ve had miscarriages or are undergoing IVF.”People will have four or five miscarriages, or they’ll go through a number of medical treatments, usually IVF, and come to do hypnosis along with it,” Eastburn said. “They carry the baby through, and they tell me the only thing they’ve done different (this time) is hypnosis.”Risk-free fertility treatmentsStacey Horn, a local licensed clinical social worker and certified hypnotherapist, studied with Eastburn and now offers HypnoFertility to her clients. “A lot of times when people come in for hypnosis, they’ve gotten desperate,” Horn said. “They’re willing to try anything that might possibly help. I never make promises, but I do believe that if women are relaxed, if they are calm and managing stress well, this increases the possibility that (getting pregnant) could happen.” Horn had her first child at age 44 and used hypnosis as her sole fertility method. Horn was uncertain whether or not she could conceive a child at that age, but she did not undergo any type of infertility testing prior to getting pregnant. Because hypnosis is such a recent addition to the field of fertility, Horn understands why some would question its effectiveness.”I think it’s good to be skeptical of things,” Horn said. “I know for myself, I didn’t think I could get pregnant at that point. That was the mindset that I had. Operating on that belief system makes it more difficult for women. You never know if that unknown factor is a belief system based on experience or something someone told us once (about how we couldn’t get pregnant).‚”No fertility method has a 100 percent success rate. Because the practice of natural fertility methods like acupuncture and hypnosis is so new, there’s little research that can definitively prove just how much it increases one’s chance of getting pregnant, if any. But unlike more costly and invasive methods, such as IVF, the risks of getting an acupuncture treatment or undergoing hypnosis to enhance one’s fertility are minimal or practically non-existent. “(With) acupuncture, almost all the side effects are positive,” Krasovec said. “It’s not just about getting pregnant, it’s about getting your body to the best state of health that you can, and everything improves.”If a couple has been trying to get pregnant with no luck, maybe it’s time they stop thrusting and put their trust in a different kind of natural method. If this doesn’t work, maybe our childhood friend the stork is still taking orders for delivery.