Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker took their fertility journey a step further in the latest The Kardashians episode – and they're certainly not afraid of being 'experimental'.
Kardashian, 43, founder of Poosh – which has been compared to Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop – tried a range of new-age treatments, including a vaginal steam, with the hope of helping her get pregnant.
After her last egg retrieval – part of the process in vitro fertilisation (IVF) – unfortunately didn't work, the loved-up couple, now husband and wife, decided to try what is called a Panchakarma cleanse.
"Our last egg retrieval was not successful, so our new thing that we’re going to be trying is a Panchakarma cleanse, which is Ayurvedic [alternate medicine], it’s like 3,000 years old, which will get all of the toxins that are deep within our tissue out of our bodies to have better quality eggs," Kardashian explained to viewers.
This, apparently, means no exercise and no sex, as well as no caffeine or alcohol.
"I did this cleanse 10 years ago, I kept telling Travis about this and it’s the one thing we haven’t tried that he’s heard me talk about."
Kardashian already shares Mason, 12, Penelope, nine, and Reign, seven, with her ex Scott Disick, while Barker shares step-daughter Atiana, 23, Landon, 18 and Alabama, 16 with his ex-wife Shanna Moakler. They have discussed 'blending' their family, and now hope to grow it further with another child of their own.
After Kravis' latest wedding in Italy (their third, so far...), Kourtney changed her name to end in Kardashian Barker on Instagram.
Later in the The Kardashians episode, sitting with the Ayurvedic expert supervising the cleanse, Kardashian recalled another recent appointment with a 'doctor'. "He said something, he told us, well he told me that the thing that would help it was drinking his [sperm] like four times a week."
"I love this doctor," Barker chimed in.
With Kardashian also undergoing IVF, she warned Barker, "I'm on so much oestrogen right now, on top of not having sex with you, or not having caffeine. If my moods take a turn, that's why."
Of course, he responded, "‘I’m [more] okay with a bad day or a rough day with you than a day without you."
They then went to attend a spa for seven days in a row, to receive four-hour treatments, with Kardashian having a 'yoni steam', also known as a vaginal steam.
This method involves sitting without underwear on a chair with a hole in the middle, over a bowl with steaming hot water, filled with herbs. But, while it's claimed by some to help with fertility, as well as menstrual symptoms, stress, digestive issues, depression, headaches, fatigue and more, there is no real scientific evidence to show it does.
Kardashian also had a ginger foot bath – supposed to 'bring warmth' to the womb.
So, do any of these methods actually work? And why are more women trying new-age treatments to help with things like fertility and improving the success of IVF?
"Not being able to have a child can be incredibly distressing and can leave individuals feeling very vulnerable and desperate to try alternative options that could possibly help them conceive or improve their fertility," says Gwenda Burns, Chief Executive of leading patient charity Fertility Network.
"However, trying alternative methods which do not have any clinical evidence of effectiveness is not recommended; the potential risks to an individual’s health and finances are too great."
However, she adds, "You can, though, prepare your body by adjusting your lifestyle to maximise your fertility. Simple changes you can make include cutting out caffeine and alcohol, stopping smoking, exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet and drinking enough water."
So while the no-exercise (quite the opposite) and no-sex part of Kardashian's cleanse won't be beneficial, healthy lifestyle choices made generally, like the cutting out of caffeine, might help.
And what about that vaginal steam in particular? “Although this steaming has been used all over the world it makes no sense,” Lynette J. Margesson, MD, FRCPC, Assistant Professor of Dermatology and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College previously told Women's Health.
“Why would one do this? The steam almost never gets inside the vagina. Steaming would just affect the vulva and potentially scald the skin. Unfortunately, women mix up the vulva and vagina all the time. They, too frequently, are taught that the genital area is a taboo, dirty area – how sad!”
Burns adds, "If you are struggling to conceive, a first step is to speak to your GP and ask for tests for both yourself and your partner, to see if there is a medical reason that is preventing you from starting a family."
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