"Unexplained Infertility" : The WTF Diagnosis.
What does being diagnosed with Unexplained Infertility really mean? It means your doctor takes you into his office and tells you that, despite not having conceived in over a year, all of your blood work and tests are "normal." And so your reaction? Come on man, WTF.
Couples at this point have been put through the ringer. Tests, and laparoscopies, and semen samples, and more tests, and on and on. And then nothing conclusive. That's understandably frustrating to-the-max.
So how does this happen? How can it be that Western Medicine can't figure out why you haven't conceived?
Well first off, there are so many minute symphonies necessary to conduct a successful conception: The trigger of one hormone by another, the pH of cervical mucus, and the shift in depth (by millimeters!) of endometrial lining, to name a few. Western medical labs measure your body's changes at critical levels. But what of the subclinical? Changes too small to be measured can still play a role in your personal fertility journey.
The difference between Western and Eastern medicine faced with lab reports that seem "normal" is that Western Medicine moves forward with chemical or surgical intervention, and Eastern Medicine moves forward with further investigation and diagnosis.
The Western route suggests most couples with Unexplained Infertility push on to Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART) including Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) or In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). The caution there lies in the fact that, while doctors don't know what's wrong, they are still willing to throw procedures at your body in the hopes that the mysterious fertility problem is somehow bypassed. My hesitation with attacking Unexplained Infertility with ART is that doctors shoot with their eyes closed. And procedures are pricey, some even up to $20,000+, making IVF quite an expensive "guess."
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking IVF. In an NIH study on couples diagnosed with Unexplained Infertility specifically, IVF produced a 40.4% live birth rate for women younger than 35 years of age and 38.9% for women 35 to 37 years of age. And while that sounds like a good chance, you have to consider that as a very expensive 60+% failure rate.
And think of what you would say to a doctor who was doing lasik surgery on your eyes- who couldn't tell you what was wrong with them, explains that the procedure is going to cost $18,000, and says that there is a 60% chance of it not working? Then what?
Despite what a lab report says, your body can, and will, give off other signs of trouble if its systems aren't working quite right. Acupuncturists are trained to read those signs, and adjust treatment to correct the imbalance.
Subclinical signs of disfunction that acupuncturists look for include the following areas. Ask yourself: Is your body telling you it's out of wack?
-Your Period :
Is it irregular? Do you have a heavy flow? Do you have a light flow? Do you have one at all? Do you have a lot of cramping pain or back ache? Do you have headaches that cycle with your menses? Do you have strong PMS symptoms?
-Your Sleep :
Do you have trouble falling asleep? Staying asleep? Does your mind tend to kick into anxiety-high-gear at night? Do you feel sluggish when you get up in the morning? Do you wake at the same time each night? (3am?)
-Your Digestive System :
Do you have gas, bloating or heartburn? Do you find yourself sensitive to some foods? Do you have pain after eating? How are your bowl movements? Too dry and hard to expel? Or a tendency towards loose stool?
-Your Temperature Tolerance:
Are you the one who always needs a jacket? Are your feet perpetually cold? Is the skin above your Uterus cold? (See: Are You're Cold Feet Preventing You From Becoming Pregnant?)
If you find familiarity with any of these symptoms, your body is signaling that something is not quite right. Acupuncturists are trained to investigate the root of these symptoms and treat according to what they find. Using acupuncture and herbs, they boost the body back into balance and return it to its systems to natural function. This includes your reproductive systems!
To further explain the theoretical differences in treatment between Western and Eastern doctors, I love this quote by Radine Lewis, Ph.D:
"The Western approach is like trying to return a lake to purity once its been contaminated by toxic waste. You could try to treat the lake by finding out exactly what the contaminants in the water are, then using different chemicals to neutralize their effects - but all you'd end up with is water with even more chemicals in it.
The eastern way to purify the water isn't to add more chemicals but to put more clean water into the lake. You can do that by making sure the streams feeding the lake are clean, healthy, and flowing as freely as possible, and that the old, toxic water can flow out as new water flows in. Once the ecological balance of the water is restored, the entire lake will return to health, and the fish and animals living in and around the lake will thrive."
So what can you do if you've been diagnoses with Unexplained Infertility? Consider trying an Eastern Medical approach. Whether or not you and your partner head towards clomid, IUIs or IVF, your body can benefit from clean streams and flourishing systems. You can do it concurrently. Contact an acupuncturist in your area and give your body the best chance of fertility success.
Lewis, Randine. The Infertility Cure: The Ancient Chinese Wellness Program for Getting Pregnant and Having Healthy Babies. New York: Little, Brown, 2005. Print.
Quaas, Alexander, and Anuja Dokras. "Diagnosis and Treatment of Unexplained Infertility."Reviews in Obstetrics and Gynecology. MedReviews, LLC, 2008. Web. 02 July 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2505167/