How your brain sends "pregnancy lockdown" signals to your body and why it will continue to do so unless you address this problem

With 15 years experience in Neuroscience and natural fertility I have found that there is one area that is consistently overlooked by other fertility professionals.


With 15 years experience in Neuroscience and natural fertility I have found that there is one area that is consistently overlooked by other fertility professionals.

Namely, how your brain sends “pregnancy lockdown” signals to your body and how it will continue to do so unless you address this problem.

During periods of physical or mental stress changes in the brain lead to a chemical called cortisol being released. Increased cortisol levels has been shown to inhibit the burst of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), which triggers ovulation. This means that if you are stressed for an extended period of time you may not ovulate every month. 

Overproduction of Cortisol due to stress can also leads to increased levels of estrogen. Elevated estrogen is a major cause of symptoms such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), Endometriosis and recurrent miscarriage. 

Cortisol also inhibits Testosterone. In men it is testosterone that stimulates the production of healthy sperm. So reduced testosterone can have huge consequences on sperm count and quality. 

To summarise: release of the stress hormone cortisol, upsets the balance of your fertility hormones and can dramatically reduce your fertility. 

“Several months of trying to conceive passed but no joy…. frustration set in, stress levels rose. I was finding it difficult to cope.”

Does this sound familiar? Many doctors will acknowledge the effects of stress on fertility but they don’t have any answers for it. They’ll most likely say something like “Just go home and relax” 

The link between increased stress and reduced fertility has been established scientifically, as this article shows:

www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/24/stress-infertility-women-us-study 

However how do we use this information to help boost fertility? Its all very well saying you need to relax but if it were that easy you probably wouldn't be reading this right now. 

Over the coming blog posts I'll talk about steps you can take to reduce your stress hormones and increase your fertility. 


Best wishes, 

Michael Arnold
BSc Neurosci. Lic Ac

Empowered Fertility

Anna was given the wrong fertility advice for her situation. All the medical tests showed that everything was working normally. Yet the doctors advised her to have IVF. Two failed rounds of IVF later she came to my clinic. She was visible traumatised by the experience. Physically and emotionally drained.

After a few sessions of acupuncture her energy started to return and her mood stabilised. After three months of acupuncture she was pregnant naturally. I identified that there was blockage in her energy that was stopping her from getting pregnant.

This is all too common a story. IVF was never intended for use for unexplained infertility. It was meant for couples who had no other options because the fallopian tubes are blocked. Yet these days IVF is routinely used as a first line of treatment for couples where natural methods are often more effective.

For IVF the national average success rate for women aged 35 - 37 is 27.7%. If you have unexplained infertility and you’re under 40 our success rate with acupuncture is 67% within six months. Your GP or your fertility doctor simply won’t know this. As far as they are concerned they are giving you the best advice available to them.

If the only solution you have is a hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail.

Except using IVF for unexplained infertility is more like taking a sledgehammer to crack a walnut. You're likely to miss and end up hurting yourself.

Many times couples tell me how they were pressured into having IVF “even though they couldn’t find anything wrong”.

“I wouldn’t hang around, you’re age isn’t on your side”

Is usually what the doctor will tell them.

Again this advice is well meaning. The doctor is trying to help you in the only way they know how. But when you’re already worried about your fertility declining with age, scaring you into making a rushed decision is not helpful.

What’s more, even if you do decide to go down the IVF route there are things you can do to prepare your body that can significantly increase your chances of success. Acupuncture is one of those, optimum nutrition is another.

A patient summed up the western medical approach well recently when she said.

“In the western medical fertility model, the woman opens her legs and has things done to her.”

Not a very empowering position to be in.

But there is another way. You can take your fertility into your own hands as Anna did. You can get your sanity back and you can allow your body to heal itself naturally. Your body is an amazing thing. It’s evolved over millions of years to be able to heal itself, long before there were any drugs or medications. It just needs some help sometimes.

People have been using acupuncture for thousands of years to return balance and health to the body and mind. Science is only just beginning to catch up. We now know that when you insert a fine needle in certain places in the body, this sends signals to the brain which changes the hormonal balance in the body.

With Five Element Acupuncture we find the “Causative Factor” for that individual. This is is the weak area or “Achilles heel” that’s holding you back. You see, we can only be as strong as the weakest link in the chain. When you find and strengthen the weak area for that person, that’s when things really start to change.

“Acupuncture helped me keep calm and less frustrated. I stopped taking Clomid as it was having too many negative effects on my health, and let the acupuncture take its course. I consider myself very lucky to have conceived after 3 months of acupuncture! I have a wonderful son who is now 3 years old, a truly amazing gift!”
- Amrit Kaur, Personal Trainer

If you’d like to find out if this way of working might be right for you, you can try it out without risking anything financially. Have five sessions of acupuncture and if you’re not feeing significantly more relaxed and energised you can stop treatment and claim a full refund. This means we only take on people we really believe we can help. The first step is to come for a free consultation so we can make a full assessment of your situation. 

I am currently booked up until the middle of May but I’m delighted to be able offer more spaces now with the newest member of our team, Gabriella. Gabriella is a very experience practitioner of 12 years and also teaches at my acupuncture school. She practices from Maida Vale in West London. You can read more about her here:

www.feat.uk.com/gabriella-doran

You can also see her prices and details of how to book a free consultation with her here:

www.feat.uk.com/free-consultation


To an empowered fertility journey,

Michael Arnold
BSc (Neurosci. LicAc. MBAcC)

"Everyone else seems to be falling pregnant. Why can't I?"

You spend most of your adult life trying not get pregnant. And then when you actually do want to get pregnant you find you can't. Meanwhile it seems like everyone around you is falling pregnant at the drop of a hat. 

"Everywhere I turned I saw pregnant women, mothers and babies, more and more babies."

These are the words of my patient Amrit Kaur. I asked her if she would mind telling her story in the hope that it may be helpful or inspiring to others who are in the situation she was in. I hope you find it useful.

"After having completed a life long ambition of running the London Marathon in 2005, it was time for a new milestone....children. Several months of trying to conceive passed but no joy....frustration set in, stress levels rose.  I was finding it difficult to cope. My job at the time was proving too stressful, my health began to suffer, I was extremely unhappy, angry and very emotional.....by this time
 

I decided to seek medical help which led to a really slow process of fertility tests and investigations.

Fortunately for me I was made redundant from work, this time away from work helped me to relax a little and enjoy a better life balance. My new situation encourage me to retrain and follow a career which I would enjoy more than my current one.

By now I was diagnosed with a low ovarian reserve, which explained the difficulties experienced in conceiving.  I was prescribed Clomid, a drug used to help stimulate egg production, this however created more unwanted side effects for me as opposed to helping me.

Acupuncture was mentioned to me, I thought I'd look into this idea, and followed through with a consultation with Michael Arnold.

Michael was very understanding and sympathetic towards my predicament. He listened patiently to me rambling on about everything and anything and my infertility problem. He said acupuncture could help so we began treatment and I've never looked back!

I stopped taking Clomid as it was having too many negative effects on my health, and let the acupuncture take its course.

It helped me keep calm and less frustrated. I was able to enjoy my life through an entirely new perspective.  One really important thing I managed to do was to SLOW DOWN in all aspects of my life, and just let go. My sisters noticed a massive change in my personality and were very pleased for me.

I consider myself very lucky to have conceived after 3 months of acupuncture treatment, I continued to have treatment throughout my pregnancy, I even had treatment to help induce labour as my waters broke 4 weeks early!!!

I have a wonderful son who is now 3 years old, a truly amazing gift!!!"

“Baby on Board” Rage

A few months ago a patient told me that every time she saw a woman on the tube with a “Baby on Board” badge she felt an uncontrollable anger.

“I want to be pleased for her” she said “but I just have this urge to go up to her and say “Well good for you! Aren’t you clever?”

“Does that make me a bad person?”

“No, not at all.” I said “In fact it makes you very normal.”

You see the truth is most of the woman I treat have these kinds of feeling of resentment all the time.

When you’re struggling to conceive it can seem like the world is CONSTANTLY pushing your buttons.

Maybe it’s the sister in law who effortlessly spills out babies from her ever fertile womb.

Maybe it’s the friends who went on honeymoon and came back pregnant.

Or the parents or parents-in-law who keep asking for a grandchild.

Or the insensitive couple who make comments like “Well hey, at least you guys get to hump a lot”. And you can’t really explain to them that once lovemaking becomes a job, it’s not really fun any more.

Or the work colleague at the Christmas party who says to you “You’re not drinking. Are you pregnant?”

Or the pregnant woman at your friend’s wedding who tells you “It’ll be you next”.

Is it any wonder you feel resentful sometimes?

The truth is you are not a bad person. You’re reacting like any normal person in your situation. And you are definitely not alone.

Recognising this won’t stop your in-laws from asking “So when are you having a baby”. But it might help you feel more sane when that wave of emotion rises inside you.

Michael Arnold
BSc Neurosci. Lic Ac MBAcC

 

Ovulation O’clock

You know things have got out of balance when you look at your calendar and recognise the date because “Thats just after I ovulate”.

Your lovemaking has become a scheduled event that has to be timed just right. “I know you just got home from work and we’re both exhausted but I just ovulated and this baby’s not going to make itself”.

No, you don’t need to feel ashamed about this. Its completely normal. It may not be fun or ideal but it’s the reality for so many couples faced with infertility.

You start to sacrifice the intimacy you used to share for “The fertile window”. You know it’s not right but you don’t know what else to do.

Before you know it you’ have two problems:

1) You can’t have a baby
2) Your relationship is straining at the edges.

At this point you have a choice:

You can put your head down and work even harder on having a baby, in the hope that this will also sort out your relationship.

Or

You can find a way to bring back balance to your life, your relationship and your over stressed body.

Most people go for the first option. Usually through no fault of their own. They just aren’t told they have a choice.

We are very fortunate to be be able to help people take the second option. For 66% of couples under 40, with unexplained infertility who commit to this approach, we are able to help them fall pregnant within 6 months. But there’s also an added benefit – you get your life back!

The fun starts to return to your relationship. So often when I ask a couple what they do for fun:

“Fun? we’ve forgotten what that is”

…comes the reply.

A few weeks later instead of the endless exhaustion and stress, they’re laughing together like the used to. Fertility is still there in the background, but it can wait.

Next, you see a pregnant woman on the tube and instead of the usual uncontrollable envy, you find yourself thinking:

“How do I know what challenges she’s faced to get there?”. (This happened to a client last week).

This return to balance is something that’s hard to believe unless you’ve witnessed it or experienced it yourself. But we’re lucky enough to see it happening every day.

To book your free consultation, just call 0207 118 0920

Or email:

hello@feat.uk.com

Dee, our secretary, will book you in for your free consultation.
(Offered on a first come, first served basis).

I look forward to meeting you.

All the best,

Michael Arnold (BSc Neurosci. LicAc.)

Secrets, Lies and Fertility‏

Over the last 15 years I’ve spent a lot of time listening to the stories of couples going through infertility.

The one thing that’s really struck me recently is the shame and secrecy that still surrounds infertility.

I’m talking about the feelings many people feel but rarely dare to admit. A big one is the feeling of inadequacy.

“Will I be enough, if I don’t have a baby?”

The media is plastered with images of “successful” women, who “have it all” – The perfect job, the perfect husband, and two perfect children.

As one of my patient’s, Katie, said:

“You question your marriage, you question yourself as a woman. ‘Am I am ever going to be a mum?’ And it really did drain me.”

This feeling of inadequacy may not be conscious. It may manifest as a nagging feeling of “I’m not trying hard enough to have a baby”. It may manifest as constantly keeping busy in an attempt to avoid these painful feelings.

It’s easy to think we’’re alone in these feelings of inadequacy. So we keep them to ourselves. We look around at everyone else and we think:

“How come they’ve got it all sorted and I haven’t?”

This ironic thing is, everyone else is also doing the same thing. The people around you are probably even looking at you and thinking:

“How come she’s got it all sorted and I haven’t?”

Because we keep our feelings to ourself and we don’t let on how we’re really feeling. We want to keep up the image that “everything’s fine.”

When someone comes to see me for acupuncture, the conversation usually turns to these hidden feelings of shame and guilt. We are crying out to admit that deep down we don’t feel complete.

I remember going for my first acupuncture session 21 years ago. My best friend had just died. I was desperately trying to suppress the feeling of enormous grief. But the feelings had to go somewhere, and they came out as dreadful insomnia. I was feeling awful. But on the surface I was still putting on a brave face.

The acupuncturist I saw was very skilled at putting me at ease. He gave me the space to talk about what was really on my mind. For the first time I was able to start to admit the depth of the emptiness I was feeling. I felt the pressure of holding it all in start to lift. Even before he did any treatment. He helped to shed light on my feelings and let me know that they were ok. I was normal for feeling confused and upset.

If there’s one shift that can bring about more healing than any other it’s learning to make friends with your feelings. Learning to recognise that the grief, sadness, upset or any other feelings are ok and completely normal.

We’re conditioned from a young age that we have to “be strong” and “keep it all together”. However, suppression of emotion has been documented as having very harmful effects on the body, such as weakening the immune system, increasing blood pressure and disrupting hormone balance.

By pushing our feelings down we give them more power. We create internal conflict. This internal conflict (not the emotions themselves) is the cause of a huge amount of stress and illness.

The irony is, when we don’t mind if we are upset, the upset can’t last for much longer. It passes through you like a wave. If you observe a young child, you see that they move swiftly from tears to laughter because they don’t suppress anything.

It’s only later when we learn to suppress, that emotions turn into problems.

When I talk about this to patients, one common response is:

“But I don’t want to wallow in feeling upset”

It’s not about wallowing. It’s simply being present with a feeling when it arises, without judging it as good or bad. Just feel the feeling in your body. In this moment the feeling is there. To deny this fact does not make it go away. It only gives it more power over you by making it unconscious.

The key is to focus on the sensation in your body. Go into it the feeling and just be curious. There is an energy in your body that wants to express itself. Can you feel the sensations as it moves through your body?

Thoughts may also come up like “I’ve failed, I’ve let it get to me” Just watch them too. Are they true? Most of what the mind tells you is not true. It is simply a conditioned mind pattern. Notice the mind’s desire to label and then return your attention to the body.

Try this out and let me know how you get on. You may be surprised that, as Eckhart Tolle says:

“When I don’t mind being unhappy, unhappiness cannot last for much longer.”

Michael Arnold
BSc (Neuroscience) Lic. Ac.

Acupuncture London Health Tips

My aim here is to share with you some of the most powerful natural ways to maximise your health and vitality. These are the same strategies my healing clients benefit from. I have found that the people who follow this advice can significantly increase their energy levels and maintain long term health and wellbeing.

This article outlines my “Top 5 tips for health and vitality” These are the tried and tested tips and advice I give to all my new patients:

1 Drink the correct amount of water every day

Most people are chronically dehydrated. Our body is 70% water and unless we give it the vital fluid it needs, our cells actually start to die. Every cell in the body, requires constant hydration to ensure optimum health. There is a conversion chart for deciding how much pure water a person should be drinking each day. Hospitals use this same conversion to decide how much water a person on an IV drip needs in a 24 hour period. To calculate your optimum water intake, follow this simple conversion:

Divide your body weight in pounds by 2 to get the amount of pure water you should drink each day in fluid ounces.

N.B. 16 fluid ounces = 1 pint. 2.2 pints = 1 litre.

This means that if you weigh 10 stone (160 Pounds), each day you need to drink:

160/2 = 80 fluid ounces =  5 pints or 2.3 litres

Start drinking more water today. Your body will thank you and your energy levels will soar.

2 Eat breakfast every morning between 7 and 9am

Your body follows daily rhythms and patterns. Certain organs have times of peak activity. For the stomach, this time is between 7 and 9 every morning. At this time, our body is most receptive to taking in vital nutrients. It is therefore essential that you eat a good breakfast every morning. If this window is missed, you will not be able to make up for it later in the day. Conversely the stomach is least active between 7pm and 9pm so this is the worst time to have your biggest meal of the day. When people say breakfast is the most important meal of the day they are not joking. To maximise your nutrient intake follow the adage “Breakfast like a King/Queen, lunch like a Prince/Princess, dinner like a pauper”.

3 Most nights be asleep by 11pm

Nighttime is when your body goes into growth and repair mode. New cells are made and the whole body regenerates. It is therefore essential that you make the most of this period. It has been show scientifically that the period between 11pm and 8am is when the most fitful sleep is possible. According to the ancient Chinese 11pm marks the start of a new phase of activity, characterised by physical and mental rejuvenation. Obviously the odd late night does no harm but if you regularly go to bed after 11pm your body will not get the full benefits of a good night’s sleep.

4 Take cardiovascular exercise for 30 minutes 3 times each week

Exercise stimulates the production of endorphins and serotonin. These are chemicals in the brain responsible for the feeling of well-being and happiness. It also stimulates the heart and circulatory system, and increases the body’s capacity to take in and use oxygen. Every cell in the body needs a constant supply of oxygen to create energy. Regular exercise has also been proven to reduce stress levels.

5 Get out in nature

If you can take your exercise in the park or the countryside, even better. Not only will you benefit from the fresh air coming into your lungs, but you will feel even more invigorated and relaxed. Research has shown that direct contact with nature can lead to:

– Relaxation and stress reduction
– Decreased mental fatigue, restored mental clarity, and increased sense of well-being
– Decreased use of health care services

This makes so much sense when you think of the sense of ease and well-being you can get from even a short walk in nature.

City life has cut us off from the natural environment in which we evolved. Our bodies must adjust to the seasonal and daily cycles if we are to maintain optimum health. It is this contact with nature that keeps us healthy and in tune with the natural rhythms.

That’s all for now. I hope you’ve enjoyed these simple yet effective tips. More importantly, I hope you implement them. The benefits you see will dependent on consistency, but the rewards for your health and well-being will be more than worth it.

Acupuncture London