Autoimmune diseases are a category of reactive processes in which the body turns against aspects of itself. With autoimmune infertility, the body's same defense mechanisms react to and reject an embryo that is trying to implant as if it is a foreign threat.
Women who have reproductive autoimmune processes will often feel flu-like reactions at certain times during their menstrual cycles depending upon what hormones they have become sensitized to. Or, they may experience menopause-like symptoms as their body stops reacting to reproductive hormones altogether.
Sometimes women with this condition will sense that they are conceiving almost every month, but then the immune system fight kicks in and they may feel fatigued, stressed and even experience nausea. They may well have conceived, but before the pregnancy test can even show up positive, the immune reaction rejects the embryo and they get their period as if nothing happened. Yet their subconscious is aware of the war raging inside. Diagnoses of infertility are even more confusing when a woman is aware that her body is making frequent ongoing attempts at implantation.
WESTERN MEDICAL TREATMENT
The study of autoimmune infertility processes, which is rarely given much credence in reproductive endocrinology circles, is the field of reproductive immunology.
The hormonal stimulation utilized by reproductive medicine can exacerbate autoimmune imbalances. Sometimes FSH values will rise even higher, signaling that the body is trying hard to get the reproductive system to work, even in the face of ongoing challenges. A woman may have markers of autoimmune reactivity such as antinuclear antibodies (ANA), anticardiolipin antibodies (ACA), antiphospholipd antibodies (APA), elevated and reactive natural killer (NK cells) in the uterine lining and increased clotting factors (PTT). These are all potential markers of inflammatory reactions to aspects of the embryo's implantation process.
Unfortunately, Western medicine has identified very little to do about these processes other than try to suppress the immune system. But, this intervention does not cure the problem, only interrupts it, often with even worse side effects in the long run.
DISCUSSION AND ROOT CAUSES
When a woman takes care of her external world at the expense of her self, her inner environment can suffer. Her inner boundaries may become weakened and in extreme cases, her body's protective mechanism, the immune system, literally can become unable to tell the difference between self and non-self, what is harmful and what is benign. Even the subtle messages that we give ourselves of appreciation or self-criticism, over time, can contribute to our health or imbalance.
The immune system is like the body's army. When it is well cared for and all is peaceful in its environment, we feel secure and content. But if an internal battle, a sort of covert guerilla war, rages over time, our internal army may become unable to distinguish between enemy and ally. When this happens, all it remembers is that its primary job is to kill, and that's what it does, regardless of what it encounters.
Examples of autoimmune diseases include lupus, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. When our bodies reject the innermost aspect of our being, the reproductive system, our immune system can react against the endocrine system itself - the hormones, our body's response to the hormones and the endometrial tissue of the uterus.
When a woman's body is in reactive mode, her immune system may turn against her husband's sperm. Even if the reproductive process progresses despite the complex internal defensive systems working against it and the embryo implants itself, the blood supply to the embryo can clot itself off as a result of the immune cells mounting their assault.
EASTERN MEDICINE DIAGNOSES
While Western reproductive endocrinology has recognized the impact of immunologic factors only for a decade or so, traditional Chinese medicine has been treating autoimmune infertility for thousands of years. According to the Eastern medical paradigm, it is not so important what the blood marker is, be it elevated clotting factors, +ANA, +ACA, +APA, high FSH or lupus anticoagulant. Neither does it matter if T-cells are low or if natural killer cells are elevated in the uterine lining. What is important is the process that initially caused the immune system to go awry in the first place. When we treat the cause along with its manifestation, the immunologic markers in the blood or the uterine lining correct themselves and the body settles down and stops reacting negatively to the pregnancy.
Fertile Soul therapies can calm the reactive immune processes while also strengthening the endocrine and immune systems. The body's internal healing mechanisms are miraculous, and when brought into balance, the reactive processes disappear and pregnancy is allowed. Many women with previously diagnosed with unexplained infertility or autoimmune infertility have been effectively treated with dietary and herbal therapy, Asian bodywork, acupuncture and therapeutic exercises.
Rhonda was finally diagnosed with autoimmune infertility after an agonizing seven years of trying to conceive with the assistance of various reproductive technologies. Although she was able to conceive, her pregnancies wouldn't make it beyond eight weeks gestational age. As her diagnosis progressed from unexplained infertility to autoimmune infertility, the situation seemed more and more hopeless. She had elevated antiphospolipid antibodies, an immune reaction against parts of the cell wall and antinuclear antibody reactions to the basis of cellular life. Her blood work also showed elevated natural killer cells within her blood, indicating a severe reactive process to continued stimuli. She underwent extreme treatments with intravenous immunoglobulin treatments, steroids and blood thinners. No matter what drug regimen was employed, her body kept saying "no".
When Rhonda found The Fertile Soul, she didn't have much hope left. Yet with our coaching, she started to live her life differently. She shifted her focus away from her attempts to conceive and toward caring for herself in a radically different way than she had ever been taught. She began eating more healthily, based upon what her body needed. She took supplements that strengthened her Blood immunity. She received acupuncture and herbs for a severe imbalance in her Spleen energies. She took care of herself first before she exhausted all of her energy caring for her husband, parents and the community outreach program she ran. She learned to define inner and outer boundaries. She learned methods of releasing internal stress. And when she really started enjoying her life without children in it, she became pregnant. Rhonda knew this was only the beginning of a new chapter, not the end. She learned to apply the same methods during her pregnancy. She took natural herbal supplements throughout her pregnancy, continued Qi Gong meditations and had a healthy, happy pregnancy. Little Dominique is reaping the benefits of her mother's having learned to care for herself first.
In Rhonda's words, "Dominique couldn't have survived while I was so imbalanced. My body was experiencing all the negative effects of my western lifestyle-my entire world was out of alignment. I didn't know how imbalanced I was-I was just focusing on my fight to stay pregnant. Through The Fertile Soul process, I learned that I had to make room for myself first, then there could be room for my baby. I knew she wanted to come; I had to become well first. I couldn't be a sick mom for her-she deserves more than that. The fight is over. I don't have an autoimmune process anymore, either."