Is this Fertility Plan an alternative to IVF?

Tidying out a drawer today, I came across an article I had cut out from a Sunday supplement in July. I was interested to read it at the time, but not ready to learn more as I was still in the throes of dealing with my recent miscarriage. Returning to it again today, I intend to follow up the article and see if there might be anything in it. I am particularly keen as I am desperately hoping I may still be able to conceive again naturally.  Because of my cancer history, I would not feel confident hyper-stimulating my hormones with fertility drugs. I think it’s wonderful for women who do conceive with IVF but for me, it is not an option I feel is safe for me to explore.  Have a read of this article and let me know what your thoughts are.

Dr Sami David, a doctor involved with the first-ever successful IVF procedure in New York 30 years ago now believes that half the women who undergo IVF do not need but could get pregnant naturally.

David has turned his back on what has become a multimillion-pound industry with a vested interest in rushing women into assisted conception. “Infertility is a symptom, not a disease,” he says, “yet most fertility doctors are only interested in giving a woman drugs and getting her on a course of expensive, and stressful, IVF as soon as possible. I’m not against IVF — far from it,” he continues. “But it shouldn’t be the first thing we turn to as doctors. Putting a woman on aggressive drugs to stimulate egg production is a waste of time if, in fact, she is failing to get pregnant because her partner has a low sperm count, or she has an infection.”

David claims that most specialists have little interest in doing the necessary detective work to establish why a couple aren’t conceiving. Together with Jill Blakeway, an alternative-health practitioner who moved from the UK to America 20 years ago, he has written The Fertility Plan, a three-month scheme that helps women overcome common blocks to pregnancy. The book offers targeted advice according to five different “types” of people. “The types are loosely based on Chinese medicine, combined with Dr David’s clinical experience,” says Blakeway, who has such a high success rate that The New York Times dubbed her “the fertility goddess”. “I didn’t want to bog people down with the more esoteric aspects of eastern philosophy,” she adds, “so I’ve kept it simple.” The five types are: stuck, pale, waterlogged, dry and tired; there are quizzes and guidelines to help identify your type and what to do in each case. It’s all refreshingly simple.

“IVF is part of our quick-fix society, particularly in New York,” says Blakeway. “We are used to life being convenient, to having stuff delivered on demand, so a woman might think: ‘When the time comes, I can always go for IVF.’ Making babies is a much more mysterious thing — you can’t think like that.” She is also keen to remind women that IVF still has a relatively poor success rate. “At one of the most renowned New York clinics, figures indicate that among women under 35, the success rate is still only 47%.”

In the book, the duo present a range of common factors that can inhibit fertility, but which doctors don’t always raise. “There are issues from hormones being thrown out of balance by yo-yo dieting, to women who exercise too much, which could lower levels of oestrogen and progesterone,” David says. “Or infertility can arise from a diminished flow of blood to the uterus, which can be dramatically helped by acupuncture.”

Another common cause of infertility is bacterial infection, which has prompted David to remark that antibiotics are his favourite fertility drug. “A lot of doctors specialise in scaring the patient,” he says. “They’ll tell a woman of 37 she’s left it too late and her only option is IVF. But they’re measuring everyone by the same yardstick. Every woman has time to take a three- or four-month evaluation of what’s going on with her body.” Blakeway agrees that the emotional rollercoaster of trying to become pregnant can extract a heavy toll on would-be mothers. “The last thing we wanted to do was make women feel stressed out about not getting pregnant. If it’s not happening for you yet, it’s comforting to bear in mind that there is an enormous amount you can do for yourself”. 

Source: Sunday Times


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. roisin
    Sep 09, 2009 @ 09:06:17

    Very interesting! Thanks for posting!


  2. Lorna
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 18:44:57

    There’s a lot of sense in this – pumping us full of drugs along with the stress of IVF etc isn’t the most relaxing of procedures. I appreciate that you are trying to reach a successful first pregnancy but it is incredible how many women experience secondary infertility. A good friend of mine took 2 years to conceive her first, he is now almost 5 and they have been trying to conceive for 4 years – now they are looking at IVF, docs can’t find a reason for them not conceiving.


  3. humpo
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 12:56:25


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