Whenever we talk to women about the steps they should be taking to optimally prepare their body, mind and environment for getting and staying pregnant, they always ask the same question: why isn’t my doctor telling me about this?
We have a few hypotheses to propose:
1. They don’t have these tools in their toolkit.
In general, the majority of doctors have been armed with two main interventional therapies in their arsenal: medication and surgery. In medical school, they were trained to use these two tools very well. However, as the saying goes, “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. For all medical problems, doctors try to use these same two tools. And, in the case of chronic disease specifically, we know that these tools are woefully inadequate. Chronic disease is largely a lifestyle problem, not a medical problem; as a result, the solutions need to be lifestyle-related (e.g., diet, exercise, stress management) rather than medical.
The same is true of fertility. Many times, infertility is secondary to chronic disease (whether you know you have a chronic disease or not). Or, it is secondary to lifestyle habits or environmental influences that are inconsistent with pregnancy (e.g., high stress, high toxin load). So, the tools to “treat” fertility may very well be foundational things like diet, stress management and detoxification, which doctors are not well-equipped to address. Such lifestyle interventions are the sweet spot of functionally trained health practitioners-- both physicians who have pursued additional training in this field, as well as other kinds of health providers like nutritionists and health coaches who have similarly been educated in these strategies.
2. The science has recently changed.
We go into more detail on this in our post about pre-determinism v. self-determinism. To summarize briefly here: until very recently, we believed that our genetics determined our health and there was nothing that we could do about it. Inspiring, huh? With the advent of new scientific and technological breakthroughs, however, we now know that’s simply not true. In fact, most of our health is determined by our lifestyle (read: our daily actions), not our inherited genetic make-up.
3. The environment has recently changed.
This is also a topic that we’ve covered extensively. Our environment has changed more in the last half century than in the past several centuries combined. The rate of change in our environment has been exponential...and we are running a huge population-wide experiment as a result. The problems we are facing today in fertility are brand new; even our grandparents and great-grandparents didn’t face the same chronic disease burden or the same toxic burden or the same infertility burden. It’s not just that the solutions are new; the problem itself is new. And, as with anything in medicine, there is a considerable time lag between knowing that something needs to be done and disseminating the information to implement change in practice.
4. Our current healthcare model isn’t structured to support lifestyle interventions.
Lifestyle change, and therefore behavior change, takes time. In some cases, it can require a lot of counseling and troubleshooting and problem-solving. Quite simply, doctors cannot do that kind of hand-holding. Doctors face enormous pressure to see large volumes of patients to meet the needs of their community and satisfy the requirements of their institutions. Their priority is to keep us alive and manage disease-- keeping us "well" requires a different kind of medical strategy entirely. Thus, they simply do not have the luxury of time to spend on the in-depth discussions that are required to counsel each patient through making lifestyle changes. The structure is not set up to allow them to do so. That’s partly why the whole health coaching industry has sprung up - to fill this gap.
All of this being said, we can't be too hard on our doctors. Most of them are well-intentioned clinicians trying to do their best for patients with the tools that they have available to them and in a system that’s increasingly complex to navigate. However, here at Xandara, we want you to know that there is another way. And we want to show you the path to get there.
Click below to download your guide of the top questions to ask your doctor to get the right conversation started and be sure you've found the right partner for your fertility planning.