Chances of fertility and risks of Miscarriage
Smoking and exposure to smoke is the highest risk factor of both infertility and miscarriage. The chances of becoming pregnant are lower the longer and the more you have smoked. Cigarettes contain over 100 potentially carcinogenic compounds. The smoke contains heavy metals that can lead to brain damage. cigarettes cause a small amount of carbon monoxide to enter your bloodstream. Haemoglobin carry oxygen and remove carbon dioxide. Carbon monoxide attaches readily to haemoglobin and literally exhaust the foetus (and your own cells) starving them of oxygen,leading to low birth weight and possible brain damage. Need I write more?
Miscarriage is the loss of a foetus / unborn child before 24 weeks of pregnancy. It is both physically and emotionally distressing. Closure, or saying goodbye to a lost unborn child is important. A formal, or informal funeral service often helps to soften the blow and enable the parents to continue trying for a child. The causes of miscarriage are not clear but in most cases the unborn child was not ready to come into this world.
- Genetic abnormality (corruption of the DNA)
- An ectopic pregnancy
- A poorly formed placenta or poor nutrition between the placenta and foetus
- A placenta that lies too low and blocks the cervix
- Endometriosis – Endometriosis is the type of tissue that lines the womb growing elsewhere
- Some fibroids depending on the size and where they are sited – A fibroid is a non-cancerous growth attached to the uterus, either inside or outside
- Stretched ligaments
- Infections that affect the pelvis
- In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), kidney, liver blood, stomach or spleen qi deficiency, can all affect the growth of the foetus
- An ectopic pregnancy – caused by the fertilised egg growing in the fallopian tubes
- Low progesterone levels are also thought to affect the outcome of pregnancy
- Overwork, irregular eating and working long hours is often overlooked as a cause of infertility or miscarriage. Women who cannot moderate a driven lifestyle or ease off on a punishing fitness regime are more likely to miscarry.
Before you get alarmed, unborn babies are remarkably resilient and survive conditions or accidents that would affect many adults far worse. They are living in a water bath cushioned from the outside world but sensitive to vibration, music, nutrition and stress.
Spotting or bleeding during pregnancy should be investigated. However some women go through a light period in pregnancy at the time when it was due. A urinary tract infection might also lead to blood in the urine. Consult your midwife or GP if you have any doubts.
How to minimise the risks
DNA and Genetics
Genetic abnormality might be inherited and have nothing to do with your personal health. but the risk of corrupting the DNA (coding or blueprint), increases with age, and abuse by for instance alcohol and recreational drugs. Alcohol is potentially poisonous to the foetus particularly at a very early stage of development. Either cut out or lower your alcohol intake if you want the best for your future child.
Several studies have shown that taking anti-oxidants increasing the motility of semen (ability to swim). Studies on taking astaxanthin and and on selenium have shown positive benefits for men. Vitamin E or alphatocopherol was originally called the fertility vitamin. The richest source is to take a dessert spoon of wheatgerm a day. Other sources include sunflower seeds (39 mg/100g), almonds (24 mg/100g), hazelnuts (25 mg/100g), olive oil, groundnut oil. Other great sources of anti-oxidants are mangoes, dark blue berries and other fruits, peppers, strawberries, cherries, raspberries, most fruit and vegetables. Green vegetables contain folic acid, again helpful for conception and a healthy pregnancy. Vegetarians have a higher sperm count that big meat eaters.
Under weight or Overweight
Being underweight can cause difficulties in having a period and therefore conception. I suggest that a BMI (body mass index) of 23 to 29 is a good range. The body stores oestrogen in fatty tissues so athletic and anorexic women are less likely to ovulate and have a period. Their calcium / magnesium levels are also low leading to bone loss. A study) on eclampsia (Sudden rise in blood pressure leading to fits) in late pregnancy, showed that magnesium was effective in controlling the fits.
Being overweight carries other risks such increased pain and discomfort, with a higher risk of diabetes and an oversize baby. I do not know whether it carries a higher risk of miscarriage.
Acupuncture when trying for a baby or to support IVF can be very helpful. In the first 6 days after fertilisation the egg needs increased blood flow to the endometrium. Selective acupuncture helps to improve blood flow to the small pelvis. Then a period of quietness is needed as the fertilised egg builds up cells around it to embed into the uterine wall. This is the time for not intervening. Acupuncture, acupressure and its related moxibustion (applying heat through burning moxa), can be used to lessen the chance of spontaneous abortion (if the cervix has not already dilated). Moxa (BL 67), is also helpful to turn a baby.
The uterus sits slightly above and behind the bladder. It is covered by by both broad and round ligaments that gently anchor it to the walls of the pelvis. Some attachments run back to the sacrum, the wedge shaped bone at the base of the spine. Other supporting ligaments run from behind the pubic bones to the coccyx / sacrum. The fallopian tubes sit loosely in the pelvic bowl. If the sacrum is rotated (in torsion), between the ilia or hip bones, and if the pubic bones are not in alignment, a strain is placed on the ligaments surrounding the uterus. In our experience when the surrounding ligaments are allowed to relax using muscle energy techniques, the chances of successful conception rise. It is possible but not proven that restoring the symmetry of the uterus also improves the fallopian tubes. Over an 18 month timescale, I once counted 15 women, whom I knew about, who successfully conceived before the next period was due after treatment. A number of women have been to see us who sadly suffered miscarriage. In many cases we have seen them successfully go on to raise a healthy family after our pelvic balancing sessions. It might be co-incidence but a happy outcome all the same.