I have practiced Naturopathic Medicine in Bloor West Village for over 12 years now and the most frustrating diagnosis that I encounter is that of ‘unexplained fertility.’ What does this mean? Generally, it translates to a Fertility Specialist informing a couple that there is no specific problem detected in a Western medicine evaluation. In these cases, all hormone levels are in the normal range, ultrasounds reveal no abnormality with the ovarian follicles, and ovulation seems to be occurring properly. It also suggests that all the reproductive organs appear to be functioning normally, and the endometrial lining is building adequately. In addition, there are no male factors at issue; sperm count, morphology and motility are all within normal limits. So for a couple, it means, ‘Now what?’
At this point, many patients come to my office. They hear that acupuncture is a great tool in fertility treatment and can be used in conjunction with IUI and IVF procedures. From a Naturopathic Medicine perspective, I inform patients that reproductive health is not separate from overall health. It is part of a woman’s health and thus should not be treated in isolation. If you are searching for more answers when you are diagnosed with unexplained fertility, consider other options for treatment. For example, if you also have concerns of gas, bloating or heartburn, I would recognize that there is an imbalance with the digestive system. This may also point to nutrient deficiencies. How is this addressed and what does this have to do with fertility? Good question! By increasing the vitality of one’s overall health we can improve fertility outcomes. In this case, I would test for food sensitivities, inflammatory markers and determine vitamin status by doing blood tests. The goal is to reduce inflammation, increase antioxidants, and also create a more favourable internal environment, one that would be more receptive and allow for conception to occur.
Another area of interest for me is that of ‘environmental toxins.’ Did you know that chemicals such as phthalates and bisphenol A have been implicated in the rising rates of miscarriage and male and female infertility? Phthalates are found in many personal care products such as soap, shampoo, hair spray and nail polish. How many of these have you used today? These factors are usually not considered by a Fertility Specialist. As an ND, I believe these external environmental factors require more evaluation. ND’s can test for heavy metal burden and toxic elements.
For many of my female patients, this diagnosis is the hardest to hear. They are told by their Fertility Doctor that there is no immediate solution. I believe this is where Naturopathic Medicine treatment may be beneficial. It helps to create a clear path. As your health partner, it is my role to help reduce that stress burden. I offer many recommendations. For example, I encourage you to eat healthier, to take that dance class you have been considering, to stop talking to that co-worker who gives unwelcomed advice, to say ‘no’ to that everyday latte. Reducing your stress levels is the key to fertility treatment. Therefore acupuncture and counselling are part of my Fertility prescription.
If you have been told there is no medical reason why you and your partner cannot conceive, I urge you to meet with a Naturopathic Doctor. An ND will work with you to elevate your body to a better state of health. If you have been told that your age is the assumed problem, I urge you to seek a second opinion. For many reasons, Naturopathic Doctors are in a unique position to be an effective health care provider for the couple with the diagnosis of ‘unexplained fertility.’