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THE SOCIAL DESIGNER: truth or dare
Fertility specialist The evolution of technology has changed the basic terms we use to describe our lives. Our modern day could no longer be digitally portrayed as ‘busy’ by pushing a button on our blackberries or I-phones. We now have different descriptions of ‘busy’ available to effectively depict the stressed, pressured and hectic nature of our lives. We are so adamant to show people that we have no time for evil idleness and inefficiency.

By bazaar staff, April (2011) edition of bazaar
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Fertility Specialist Iva Keene
Fertility Specialist Iva Keene

The evolution of the technology used in modern medicine over the last one hundred years has successfully lead us to believe that we have the power to cure mysterious illnesses and confront any challenges threatening our micromanaged existence, including infertility. Our aging hips and polluted lungs are now replaceable, and prescription drugs exist to prolong our lives: Why would challenging infertility be any different?

When faced with the harsh reality of taking drugs to alleviate the side effects of other drugs, we painfully question the true quality of our prescribed lives. Attributing these factors to starting a family is no different when considering the rising number of infertility cases worldwide. Eager mothers are subjected to endless tests and invasive procedures and disheartening side effects of injecting manufactured drugs and hormones could easily discourage parents in waiting to proceed with the modern medical wonderments of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART).

Perhaps there is more we could do with our valuable time that we describe as, ‘can’t talk/working’, to improve the way we conduct our lives and start new families.

Often misperceived as ‘New Age’ medicine, the natural approach to medicine sheds light on the beauty of slowing down and taking the time to understand our bodies. Far from ‘New Age’, the natural approach to medicine shows how the evolution of medicine allows us to better examine the true quality of our health using principles of basic nutrition and biochemistry.

In this special interview with renowned fertility specialist and naturopathic physician Iva Keene during her one-week visit to Kuwait, bazaar explores the ideology behind “the natural fertility prescription”. Iva, an ethical and compassionate practitioner of natural medicine, dedicates her time in developing a universally applicable approach to challenging infertility. Based in Switzerland, she has successfully aided hundreds of couples with fertility problems towards overcoming barriers to pregnancy in an effort to seek natural alternatives to invasive assisted reproductive technology treatments like IVF (in-vitro fertilization).

Why would you advise parents in the Middle Eastern region to opt for natural courses of treatment when Assisted Reproductive Techniques like IVF could provide a faster solution for eager parents in waiting?

Eager parents in waiting sometimes fail to realize that by properly preparing for pregnancy, with or without IVF, they are increasing their chances of having a healthy baby. Essentially, this is about the baby and the health of both parents at the time of conception is extremely important. Parents tend to be impatient because they want to be successful or feel pressured, and for success preparation is important. We meticulously prepare for everything in life, like a vacation, buying a car or even a job interview so why not prepare for pregnancy?


What are the main characteristics of Natural Fertility treatments? Would you call your approach to treating infertility a holistic approach?

The natural approach focuses on educating couples about their reproductive systems and the factors that could impair the reproductive system and cause a disruption when conceiving a baby. The reproductive system is linked with the rest of the body and it is not treated as a separate entity as with assisted reproductive treatments like IVF. The natural approach is more holistic as it focuses on identifying and removing toxins and negative aspects contributing to infertility or miscarriages and replacing them with nutrients that the body needs to produce a healthy baby.


What are the main risks involved in conventional treatments like IVF? Would you go as far as to advise against IVF?

IVF is a very technical approach as it isolates the reproductive system to allow doctors to find a solution to a certain ‘blockage’. Risks are involved because drugs are used to create what could happen naturally with a higher cost to the mother and baby. Embryos are exposed to chemicals that could damage the baby. In cases where the harvested egg and sperm are suboptimal in quality or defected, the risk for malformation increases, predisposing the baby to abnormal development. Emotional risks for women are also involved, with the common factor of miscarriage, and the trying effect of the drugs used to prepare for IVF. In certain cases of infertility, IVF is the only option couples have. One cannot absolutely advise against IVF in such cases, however I would advise to leave it as the last choice.


Are most infertility cases treatable with natural courses of treatment?

Most cases are, as there exists only a very small percentage of true infertility where conventional treatments like IVF is needed. The idea that IVF is a solution for ALL infertility cases is problematic because with clear investigations and giving pregnancy enough time, a natural pregnancy is highly probable to occur. It normally takes women under the age of thirty up to six months to get pregnant, and up to a year for women over thirty. If true success is to be achieved, then improper preparation and rushing between treatments will not improve any couple’s chances of conceiving a baby.


Are there any statistics for success rates of conventional infertility treatments like IVF versus the natural courses of treatments?

There are various studies supporting natural fertility treatments. For instance, a study by Foresight, the Association for Pre-conceptual care in the UK demonstrated that without IVF and when natural treatment methods are properly applied the natural method reversed over 80 percent of infertility cases.


What are the main differences between conventional infertility treatments and your recommended natural treatments?

The main differences consider the quality of treatments, and the technical processes involved. With a natural course of treatment, the end result is beneficial for everyone, preserving and enhancing health for the parents and the baby. This is not a prioritized objective when considering conventional treatments. Technically, natural treatment is based on principles of nutrition and biochemistry, whereas conventional treatment utilizes drugs and invasive procedures. One might think that a natural course of treatment is unscientific, yet studies go back to thirty years and longer; the effects of certain chemicals and foods are well documented. A final technical difference is that natural treatment involves both the male and female partners to be actively involved in creating optimal fertility for the creation of a successful embryo, whereas IVF focuses mainly on the mother.


Could infertility cases be treated naturally in conjunction with a conventional form of IVF treatment?

Yes! In serious cases of infertility where IVF is the only option, the natural treatment prepares the body, removing negative toxins and allowing for the creation of optimal egg and sperm health from both parents for a successful embryo to form. On average, the success rate for IVF is 25 percent, and is elevated to 47 percent when aided by natural treatment methods. Also, the risk for miscarriages to occur is highly reduced.

Before proceeding with any chosen course of infertility treatment, natural or conventional, what is the recommended course of action for patients in terms of preparing for their battles with infertility?

Patients must always think of the conception process as a whole, and faithfully accepting any treatment without questioning and researching the side effects is very risky.


Do you believe that the psychological state of mind of patients plays a role in determining the success or failure of natural courses of treatment?

The emotional state of patients is a continuous consideration of mine, as the risk of miscarriages is reduced for women. The process of conception is emotionally challenging. Meditation, visualization processes and emotional therapy is always advised to reduce stress and provides support for couples. Some patients suffer from extreme depression and a support system must always be in place when challenging infertility. Even in cases where there are no organized institutes or forums in place to provide support, we offer through our online program and facebook group support which is available to everyone.


Women suffering from infertility also often experience cases of repeated miscarriages. How does a natural treatment to infertility affect these specific types of women?

Women who tend to suffer from recurring miscarriages often have partners with suboptimal sperm quality. This is why it is very important for men to optimize their reproductive health, as well.


Would you say that natural treatment to infertility ends after achieving a successful conception and childbirth?

No, the diet can be followed indefinitely for optimal health and wellbeing. It provides the mother with adequate nutritional support throughout breastfeeding as well. Baby’s eating habits later in life will be largely influenced by mother’s food choices during breastfeeding. By adopting a healthy diet, such as outlined in the NFP program, during breastfeeding the mother can help her child to develop healthy eating habits in childhood.


For more information about ‘the natural fertility prescription’, directly contacting Iva Keene for live and free advice about fertility and online/phone fertility services, please visit

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