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Natural Infertility Treatments: Part 1 of 2

Robyn Openshaw - Jul 26, 2013 - This Post May Contain Affiliate Links

As I started blogging nearly 6 years ago, one of my first topics talked about my struggle for over 5 years with infertility, in my 20’s. In fact, my oldest son arrived after five courses of artificial insemination, and I was taking hyper-ovulation drugs too. (Bad idea—it made hormonal issues worse.)

So technically, my son was an immaculate conception. My husband was there at the hospital several hours before I showed up by myself, to deposit a “sample” for “spinning.” I then had an encounter with a turkey baster.

(They don’t really use a turkey baster. Kinda like that, though.)

It was a hellish five years, with a lot of roller-coaster ride (I was pregnant once during that time and miscarried, and thought I was pregnant, other times). Hopes dashed, hormones manipulated, expensive and invasive tests administered.  I cried almost every month I learned I would not be a mother. I withdrew from normal social activities because I didn’t want to be around the pregnant women and young mothers, who just reminded me of what I didn’t have.

Those five years did make me deeply grateful to be a mother, when it finally happened. Those five years gave me an advanced degree, a chance to travel in Europe, and a jump start on a career that would have never happened if things had happened the way I planned them. (And that education and career start would prove helpful later, when I became a single mother.)

As with many things in life, I’m glad that things didn’t go according to MY plan. I would have been a VERY young mother and would have, I believe, been chomping at the bit, later, to experience the life I didn’t have a chance to when I was young. This whole experience taught me to float in the stream a bit, rather than try TOO hard to force agendas.

I’m always glad when I remember that, and stop pushing sometimes when things just aren’t working. Maybe something better is just around the corner? Maybe the time isn’t right?

I miscarried my son’s twin. And endured a very difficult pregnancy. The delivery was terrible, 27 hours, and 2.5 hours of pushing, as the early morning of my second night of no sleep dawned. I was falling asleep between contractions. When I talk about being 206 lbs., that was the day I delivered Kincade. (I’d gained 62 lbs. during the pregnancy! And I started the pregnancy at a higher weight than I have been, the past 10 years.) I had massive edema, major blood sugar problems, and looked and felt awful.

When Kincade was a year old, I learned about the way our diet was impacting our health. Both of us were in terrible health, my baby and me, and my husband was overweight, too. After I radically changed our lifestyle, especially our diet, I got pregnant three more times, without intervention, and had easy, normal pregnancies where I gained much less weight.

Taking Charge fertilityI also had an ectopic pregnancy nine months after Kincade’s birth, before the lifestyle changes. It was discovered only when it ruptured and required emergency surgery to cut off an ovary. I had bled out half my blood supply at the time that this occurred, while I was in another state and did not have a blood donor. I spent weeks recovering enough to even stand up. I flew home to Utah after two weeks, pushed in a wheelchair onto the plane.

The removal of my right ovary likely reduced my fertility by half, in some ways. But I had three more healthy children AFTER that, without incident. I believe that providing my body appropriate fuel, consistently, allowed my body to heal and solve problems.

I did read a great book towards the end that I believe helped solved my problems. (None of the testing revealed what our fertility problem was.) It is called Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler, MPH. I learned in her book to tune into the female body’s signals, mid-month, that fertility is highest. I learned that what the OB/GYN’s I had been working with were telling me was probably WHY I didn’t get pregnant for five years! They were having me take my temperature every morning. We were told to abstain until right when my temperature went up. At that time, though, I learned from this book, the window to get pregnant had just barely passed.

Ignoring what the drug-specialized OB/GYN’s had told me to do, for five years, and doing what Toni Wechsler taught me in that book, plus improving my health with diet, gave me three more beautiful healthy babies.

Sanoviv Clinic

I spoke at Sanoviv, in Mexico just across the border from San Diego, at an infertility retreat there.  Dr. Iva Keene was there as the specialist, and I interviewed her for this blog series. She’s a naturopathic physician and a specialist in natural treatments for infertility. My next post is my written interview with Dr. Keene that I hope will help others struggling to conceive, with ideas of interventions that don’t involve drugs and surgery, that help the body correct itself. I wish I had known more, when I was 22 years old and began infertility treatments for a problem that wasn’t likely a problem. I was just impatient (sought treatment after 6 months of “trying”), and suffering from years of eating a processed, chemical diet soaked with salt, sugar, MSG, and aspartame.

Link to the flier about the infertility retreat in September HERE.

Posted in: Health Concerns, Natural Remedies

9 thoughts on “Natural Infertility Treatments: Part 1 of 2”

Leave a Comment
  1. Heidi says:

    I would love to hear all your thoughts and ideas about labor and delivery. My husband and I are researching and preparing for a natural childbirth at a birth center.. Don’t you worry most people are not nice when they here this, so now we don’t tell people. I was just wondering what your thoughts were on epidurals, Pitocin, and being induced..

    Just wondering, Thanks!

  2. Denise says:

    Infertility is still often such a taboo subject, yet it affects soooo many people. Thank you for speaking up! I am in the process of healing both physically and emotionally from failed infertility treatments. My husband and I started a daily green smoothie habit daily not too long ago and we both feel a huge difference. We know what is causing our infertility issues, but nothing that was done helped- in fact, like you, it made things worse. Through this healing process things are very slowly righting themselves and we believe that the nutrition we are receiving through our green smoothie habit is helping tremendously. Thank you for sharing all that you have learned with us; I look forward to part 2!

  3. Nancy says:

    I cannot believe you want to tell folks that drinking green drinks will solve their infertility problems. There are so many factors that could be causing infertility. You are setting people up for quilt, self demoralization and heartache!!! ALSO – . You have seriously damaged my relationship with my daughter with your utter nonsense. I’ve studied nutrition for years and brought up 7 healthy children to adulthood. I spent many hours cooking from scratch, choosing plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, home grown foods, whole grains, healthy fats and quality proteins for our meals…but you have brought good common sense to a halt with your rantings. My daughter has replaced religion with your babblings…she has turned into a fanatic…and I give you the full credit for this. . You need to dial it back a few notches…and quit acting like the Goddess of everything green. or healthy… You have villainized whole food groups and I am now watching my grandchildren and my daughter go backwards, away from good health and common sense. I fear for her next pregnancy with what she is doing. They are sicker, my granddaughter is stunted, they all go to the Dr MORE often, they ALL whine more, complain of no energy, bad moods and the worst part….my daughter somehow feels like she is MORE worthy, a better person than the rest…because she is eating vegan. You have helped create a pious monster. You are not preaching the word of wisdom in ANY shape or form. You are NOT an authority…and you are causing REAL harm to individuals and families. Stop lining your pockets…and get over yourself.

    1. Robyn says:

      Hi Nancy, I am surely sorry to hear that you’re having such a hard time getting along with your daughter, over dogmas. You should come to my class sometime or read one of my books. I’m not a vegan and I don’t preach veganism, although I love my vegan friends, I eat little animal protein myself, and I have a vegetarian daughter.

      What you’re responding to here is an interview with a doctor, not me, quoting research on how people who eat a diet high in vegetables and greens have fewer infertility problems. Most modern meat products are high in steroids and antibiotics that do serious damage to our ability to conceive and bear healthy children.

      By the way, my friend, I’ve been blogging and speaking and writing books for 6 years, and I’ve had some hate mail. But none so insulting (or misinformed about my agenda, which is often clearly stated—to help people learn simple, inexpensive ways to eat whole foods), as yours. Perhaps if this is the way you interact with your daughter, it may be more the root of your conflict with her. That may be more the problem than my recipe books or suggestions that blending greens is a good habit as we raise kids. We also have thousands of grandmas who are thankful that we’re part of a great movement to take America back from the Standard American Diet. It’s taking us nowhere good.

      I bet you would disagree with very little of what I say if you studied it. I don’t “preach,” but I do teach the Word of Wisdom and know that document in great detail. That document isn’t vegan. It advocates for eating meat sparingly, in season, in times of winter and famine. Certainly not the way Americans, including the vast majority of LDS, are doing.

      Perhaps your daughter is young and finding her way. When I was young I was more dogmatic than I am now. Give her some space to learn and discover and experiment. Remind yourself that it’s just FOOD that she’s upset about. She isn’t rejecting you personally even if she doesn’t eat the way you do. I hope you can love the fact that she’s passionate and wants to raise healthy kids. Aren’t you lucky! Most of America is feeding their kids chicken nuggets and Crystal Light. Many grandmas I talk to are wringing their hands about their diabetic and asthmatic grandchildren, and their daughters who don’t see the connection to diet. I’d prefer to be you than them!

      I don’t create pious monsters, and I feel so sad to think you called your daughter that. I think if you cheer her on and I think you’ll see her finding a great moderate place—especially if you’re kind and tolerant rather than angry and critical like in this post—where you and she can co-exist peacefully!

      All my best,

    2. Stacy says:

      In term of villainizing whole food groups, I hope you check out Robyn’s course manual titled, “12 Steps to Whole Foods”. You might be surprised at the content. Veggies, whole grains, healthy fats and more take center stage. Also, keep in mind that your daughter is likely combining her food beliefs with other sources in addition to Robyn’s.

    3. Ann says:

      I want to respond to your comment that: “They are sicker, my granddaughter is stunted, they all go to the Dr MORE often, they ALL whine more, complain of no energy, bad moods.”

      My parents are 68/69. My parents have eaten much less healthy than I have their entire lives, yet their health is much better than mine. They eat processed, refined, non whole-foods at each meal. My mom even played with mercury as a toy when she was a kid (no joke!). They have had very few health problems until the past few years. Their energy levels were always great, no digestive issues … they felt “normal” regularly.

      I am 33. I eat salads, veggies, whole foods like crazy. But, I have PCOS, used to have digestive issues, always feel tired, down moods and much more. Probably similar to what your daughter is experiencing. I now eat whole foods to combat those issues.

      Yes, most of my generation and younger are very self involved and self important. Yes, many of the 35 and under group have turned healthy eating, being green and self into their new religion. My generation and younger *tends to* put their desires, comfort and needs above everyone and everything else. BUT, this is a cultural, generational issue. If you are seeing this behavior in your daughter and her friends, it did not get there because of Robyn and her green smoothies. This new attitude is a cultural problem that will only get worse if not stopped in its tracks.

      Also unique to people of my generation and younger is that we are, in general, in far worse health than our parents. Many of us have extremely low energy and low moods, digestive and hormonal issues. It took my parents a long time to realize how crummy I usually felt. They didn’t understand for a long time. I think they thought I was being lazy when I talked about how tired and run down I always felt. Now they see it and my Mom often exclaims that she doesn’t know how I got into such rough health when she and my Dad had pretty good health. I have read studies about how my generation has poor health due to the problems of our parents’ generation (mercury, pollution, toxins, etc made their way to us). It’s certainly true for my family.

      I have been following Robyn for 4-5 years. I have seen examples of her putting others before herself, of her going out of her way to help cancer patients and others who are sick. I went to one of her talks and saw how she sat for 90 minutes after the talk giving *free* advice and encouragement to people. Does she make money spreading the word about whole foods, yes. We all make money doing what we do; that doesn’t make it less valid. Teachers make money teaching. Doctors make money treating people. I have no problem buying things from Robyn to support the work she’s doing. I know little about the Word of Wisdom as I am not part of LDS, but I do know the Bible supports the idea of paying others for their work.

      You said: “I spent many hours cooking from scratch, choosing plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, home grown foods, whole grains, healthy fats and quality proteins for our meals.” This is exactly what Robyn teaches. The green smoothies are taught as a quick, cheap, easy way to get in a bunch of greens, plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, home grown foods, whole grains, healthy fats and quality proteins! Green smoothies are simply the quickest way to get in the quality foods you spent so much time preparing for your daughter. If your daughter is going far beyond whole foods, she’s getting that advice from somewhere else.

      Give your daughter time to figure herself out, and encourage her when she does show that she is thinking of others and showing humility. If she truly is acting like a pious monster, then she needs an understanding and supportive mother now more than ever to show her the way back.

      1. Robyn says:

        Ann, thank you.

  4. Maria says:

    Hi Robyn, first I want to say that I really like your website, and I have benefitted from adding more whole foods and green smoothies to my life. Nothing, however, was able to help me with my infertility. I’m not sure you could even call it that because my husband and I met at 40 and married at 42. We were sad not to be able to have kids. We were hopeful for a few years because my grandmother had her last at 45, but it was not meant to be. I did want to make a comment on your blog entry, though, because it is a pet peeve of mine. “Immaculate Conception” has nothing to do with conception without sex. It is the doctrine that Mary was conceived in her mother’s womb without the stain of original sin on her soul. Thanks for letting me clarify this. Keep up the good work!

    1. Robyn says:

      Maria, yes, I know it. It was kind of a joke, hope it didn’t offend. I’m sorry you’ve been through that and without the outcome you hoped for. I was in the process of deciding to accept that I would make something great of my life, without children, when the surprise of my first son happened. My mother was totally insensitive to our infertility issues and told people, “Robyn cares only about her career and that’s why she doesn’t have children.” Nothing could have been further from the truth, and I never did confront my mom about that. (There’s no point.)

      But she did say to me at one point, “Your trial in life is to not have children. My trial in life was to have them.” (Like I said: really insensitive.)

      Now I’ve had both “trials.”

      I hope you’ve found some peace.

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