From the time you may be taking Clomid to the start of your actual fertility treatment with your clinic, you will be treated in exactly the same way, via the medium of Reproflexology™ reflexology techniques applied to the reflex points in the feet of the corresponding body systems and organs. You may be on a long treatment protocol or a shorter medicated cycle. Whatever it is, we will mimic it, precisely.
Using IVF as an example, I will give you a brief, but hopefully clear, outline of what may happen during a long IVF protocol when we complement it with Reproflexology™.
In a long medicated protocol, the aim of your clinic will be to first take control of your hormones. Initially, the treatment that will apply is called “Down-Regulation” which starts on Day 21 of the menstrual cycle. Down-Regulation involves taking a drug that switches off the production of the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone (LH), suppressing ovulation until the follicles are mature. It does this by interfering with messages between the pituitary gland (the master endocrine gland) and the ovaries. The most commonly prescribed drugs for this purpose are Buserelin/Synarel or Lupron. These GnRH agonists initially stimulate the ovaries and then ‘switch them off’ and are either sniffed or taken by subcutaneous injection, putting the woman’s body into a temporary menopausal state. (Ref. Barbara Scott).
During this phase of the medicated cycle, Reproflexologists are trained to mimic accordingly and using the specific Reproflexology™ treatment protocols, they will sedate/switch off the usual activities of the organs involved in the reproductive and endocrine systems, down-regulating in unison with the drug treatments, not simultaneously, but during the time span of the Down-Regulation process.
Down-Regulation may have a number of side effects, including many you would normally associate with actual menopause. We can treat some of these side effects; however, not if they will alter in a counterproductive way the efficacy of the drugs. Tiredness is very commonly experienced during this part of the process and we are able to use a technique to raise your energy levels, which we are reported helps.
It must be stressed that none of the techniques we use are in any way a contraindication to your medicated protocols. It has so far been my experience that applying Reproflexology™ down-regulating techniques alongside down-regulating drugs has had the desired effect.
During the bleed
During the bleed, still sedating, we work to clear the endometrium of any debris prior to IVF. Once the bleed has ended, an ultrasound scan takes place to ensure success of the Down-Regulation process and the endometrium is nice and thin and follicles, small.
If the ultrasound scan results indicate that Down-Regulation is not complete, then this phase may be allowed to continue for a little while longer, then you will be scanned again and your case reviewed.
The Stimulating Phase
If the ultrasound scan results indicate Down-Regulation has taken place, then the next phase of the medicated cycle can commence. This is the Follicular Phase, the stimulating phase, when you start taking your stimulating drug and Reproflexology™ must reflect this precisely.
Now we switch everything back on! All systems go! During this phase, we stimulate, stimulate, stimulate – everything we had previously sedated.
During this phase, you will be scanned regularly by your clinic and in sync with them, we will also monitor you closely by assessing your feet to detect follicular activity by palpating your ovary reflex points, also checking for signs of over-stimulation – Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) which, if we suspect has occurred, will be treated by sedations and you will be referred back to your clinic. Our assessment will also give us information as to the depth of the endometrium.
In some cases the stimulating phase may also need to be lengthened if at first there is little or no response. However, it has generally been my experience that during the medicated follicular stimulating cycle, clients being treated with Reproflexology™ alongside the medicated cycle, have reported an improvement to the number of follicles present than during an earlier medicated cycle without the Reproflexology™.
Egg Collection and Transfer
If all is going as well as we hope it will, the next phase of your IVF cycle will be egg collection and transfer. We like to treat you as close to IVF as possible and if you are experiencing discomfort, we can treat to relieve and alleviate these responses either post egg collection, or in between egg collection and embryo transfer. It has been my experience that clients who have received Reproflexology™ alongside their medicated cycle reported an improvement in egg quality and quantity.
Improving the Health & Production of Sperm for IVF
Improving the Health & Production of Sperm for the IVF. Although men sometimes initially appear reluctant to try reflexology, once they become aware of the more scientific approach for delivering our therapy alongside medicated cycles, the more we are finding them engaging with us and taking advantage of the techniques that Reproflexology™ can offer to improve their sperm health and production, thereby maximising the couple’s opportunity of a healthy pregnancy.
This is a particularly important time to treat the men, close to the time he has to produce his ejaculate for the IVF. However, if we can work with the men throughout the three months leading up to production, assuming their sperm analysis is reported as reasonably favourable, then we believe this may lead to a greater opportunity for a successful outcome.
Once 5-7 days have passed following transfer, we would then treat specifically to enhance the possibility of implantation.
As we reach the final stages of this process, clients are likely to be faced with quite possibly their most difficult challenge of all. The wait. We recognise you will have what has been described by clients as an agonising wait until it is time for you to take your pregnancy test and the resultant high levels of anxiety, even excitement, you may be experiencing. The longed-for positive pregnancy test result has been an emotionally charged, physically and possibly financially draining fertility journey in the making, with that ‘nearly there’ feeling keeping you going, but lurking in the shadows is that terrible thought at the back of your mind “what if it hasn’t worked?”
So this is a time for nurturing you and your body for what has already been, for what is now, and for what may be to come. Treating that anxiety, we use techniques to calm the nerves during this phase and it can make all the difference to how you get through it, whatever the outcome.
Good things can come to those who wait…
If you do receive the wonderful news that you are pregnant and all is well, I would be delighted to continue treating you with Maternity Reflexology through the three trimesters of your pregnancy to help alleviate and manage any minor ailments you may experience that commonly occur during pregnancy. The treatments are tailored to your needs at each session including labour expediting techniques if you go post term by encouraging the natural commencement of labour, treating with reflexology and/or massage during labour, birthing and beyond. For more information about this specialist pregnancy therapy please click on Maternity Reflexology.
What happens if IVF treatment is unsuccessful this time?
In the event that the IVF treatment is unsuccessful, during the bleed, we apply the appropriate Reproflexology™ techniques to clear and balance the being and allow the couple to take time out to collect their thoughts, to be present in this together, while reassuring them that there is support for them including expert fertility and relationship counselling to help them work through their sadness and disappointment and find a way of coming to terms with what has transpired and look to the future.
Where implantation is known to have occurred by a positive pregnancy test, but not sustained, particularly if this is a repeating pattern, we would consider a more in-depth analysis of the sperm to be necessary and would like to refer you to a male fertility expert, Dr Sheryl Homa, in case there is an issue with DNA fragmentation (missing (fragmented) pieces of the Sperm body) which would require expert analysis and treatment. Dr Sheryl Homa is a highly respected scientist with an expertise and a wealth of experience in sperm health and male fertility. We refer clients to Dr Homa if we suspect sperm anomalies beyond what we can realistically diagnose or treat. She has also been a guest speaker at one of our ARR training days in 2013. You can view her website www.AndrologySolutions.co.uk.
Not wishing to paint a bleak picture, I would like to reassure you that it is a view generally held by Seren therapists that one cycle of IVF (or other medicated protocol) is not always enough for a great number of couples going through this process and it is Seren’s view that medicated cycles may well be more successful if each cycle were viewed as a process of three attempts, if needed, rather than one. I believe too much emphasis is placed on that first treatment cycle and there is often an unrealistic expectation, because clients find it so complicated and may not fully appreciate the reality of their journey or the effect it may have upon them.
I believe there are a number of contributing factors in delayed response to treatment, including:
- the numerous demands made of couples seeking help for their fertility issues and the resultant stress experienced;
- so many hoops to jump through;
- awareness of the financial implications of medicated treatments and the limited entitlement they may have through the NHS
- an avalanche of information to take in;
- an abundance of sudden intended physical/hormonal changes created in the body;
- the effects these changes have on the mental, physical & psychological aspects of the being
- anxiety and the emotional journey;
- fear of the unknown and of the process not working;
- hope for fulfilment in the future;
- longing for what so many of us take for granted;
that it surely is no surprise the mind and the body has first to digest and respond to these new stimuli before the person can successfully embrace and manage the rollercoaster fertility ride they are about to embark upon.