A LEADING Brisbane doctor is among a group of health care practitioners aiming to set up a new field of medicine dedicated to a restorative approach to solving infertility.
Dr Luke McLindon, an obstetrician and gynaecologist from Brisbane’s Mater Hospital, is promoting restorative reproductive medicine as a holistic approach to helping couples restore fertility.
“The big challenge over the last twenty to thirty years has been there have been a number of fertility awareness methods running in parallel,” Dr McLindon said.
He and like-minded practitioners will come together for the fourth national fertility conference in Melbourne later this month, aiming to share their knowledge of techniques and working towards establishing their own field – an alternative to assisted reproductive techniques such as IVF.
“One child in every classroom is born because of assisted reproductive technologies,” Dr McLindon said.
“It’s everywhere. But the question we’ve always got is how many of the couples involved really have to go that far?
“People see infertility as a diagnosis and then they feel hopeless and say ‘I’m infertile – I need IVF’.”
While one in six Australian couples now use IVF, the Catholic Church does not support IVF treatment.
Since 2014, a network of doctors and members of three national fertility awareness agencies have met annually to promote therapies that offer an alternative – that are respectful of physical, mental and spiritual health, relationships and embryonic life.
Dr McLindon said his clinic at the Mater Hospital set out to find out what were the underlining issues preventing an otherwise healthy couple conceiving.
“You need to be at a physical peak for reproduction,” he said.
“It’s age, which is irreversible, delay, smoking, increased weight, lack of exercise, poor diet, environmental toxins.”
His clinic works through a checklist with each couple.
“(This includes) pre-conception health visits, working with a dietitian or exercise physiologists, looking at fertility cycle and then looking at implementing medicines or surgery if required,” Dr McLindon said.
His clinic is able to help nearly half of its client couples get pregnant.
“Like every other area of medicine – we go about it with diagnostic tools, (and) come up with appropriate management techniques to circumvent wherever possible,” he said.
“But it’s not one size fits all. It’s individualised care and it takes time and it’s not cost effective for most service providers and so it’s a hard one to get traction with in the medical world.”
Newcastle University Laureate Professor John Aitken will deliver a keynote speech at the fertility conference entitled “IVF Reconsidered – Impact of age, affluence and avarice”.
Professor Aitken has spoken out about the risks of Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection – binding a sperm cell to an egg – an IVF procedure now being used by many couples.
Last year he pointed to research showing that IVF was producing a new generation of infertile Australian children who would require expensive medical treatment to produce their own offspring.
Professor Aitken said new ICSI research from Belgium showed there could be fertility implications passed on from father to son.
“If you have a son from this process it is possible that he too will have the same pathology that you had,” he said.
While working at the University of Edinburgh in the late 1980s Professor Aitken uncovered a major cause of male infertility; molecules generated by smoking, obesity and age, known as free radicals, could attack sperm DNA.
Today, thousands of men with infertility problems take antioxidants – the treatment against free-radical generation.