"Unexplained infertility" means that there is no medical reason within the realm of modern scientific understanding that your doctors can find to explain why you are not able to conceive. Often women whose laboratory blood analyses show hormonal levels within the "normal" range are given this diagnosis even though their menstrual cycles are irregular. Couples with unexplained infertility are either told to go home and keep trying, or they are subjected to different clinical procedures in the hope that one of the solutions offered by Western medicine will work. Often these couples are referred to Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART), the theory being that putting the sperm directly into the uterus as is done during an IUI, or fertilizing the woman's eggs outside her body and then providing a chemically-enhanced environment for their implantation, may bypass the origin of the fertility problems that remains a mystery.
Usually by the time you are diagnosed with unexplained infertility, you have undergone an array of tests. You have tracked your basal body temperature (BBT) for months to see if and when you were ovulating and had intercourse accordingly. You have taken urine tests to monitor the surge of luteinizing hormone (LH) which precedes ovulation in your body. You have probably had several blood tests, as well, to measure the levels of estrogen, LH, and progesterone in your bloodstream to see if you have ovulated. You may have had ultrasounds to track follicular growth in your ovaries. You have undoubtedly undergone cycle day 3 follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) level tests to see if your FSH level is too high, indicating a decline of ovarian function. You also may have had your day 3 estradiol measured as too much or too little estradiol at this point in your cycle may indicate poor egg production and quality. You may have undergone a clomiphene challenge test, taking the ovarian-stimulating drug Clomid for five days to check its effect on your FSH and estradiol levels.
If your doctor suspected problems with your luteal phase, you may have had your plasma progesterone levels measured, an ultrasound to check whether or not your follicle has ruptured, your levels of prolactin and androgen checked and perhaps an endometrial biopsy. To rule out cervical mucal difficulties, your doctor may have had you do a postcoital test, where you went to the doctor's office a few hours after intercourse to have the quality and quantity of your cervical mucus evaluated to see if live, motile sperm were present. You may also have been tested to determine if there were any cytotoxic (sperm-killing) factors in your body, or to see if there was any kind of infection present that might be affecting your fertility.
If none of these tests identifed your problem, your doctor may have recommended a surgical procedure to evaluate the health of your reproductive organs-possibly:
- a hysterosalpingogram (HSG), where the uterus was injected with dye and then examined by x-ray,
- a sonohysterography, an ultrasound process that uses saline instead of dye,
- a falloposcopy, which uses a fiber-optic endoscope to take pictures of the inside of your uterus and fallopian tubes,
- a hysteroscopy, where a small scope with a fiber-optic light is inserted through your cervix to examine the inside of your uterus; or perhaps even
- a laparoscopy, a surgical procedure done under general anesthetic during which the abdominal cavity is pumped full of carbon dioxide and instruments are inserted through small incisions in the abdominal wall to examine the pelvic cavity and reproductive organs.
Finally, if your doctor suspects that male as well as female factors are contributing to your infertility situation as is true in one of every four infertile couples, your partner will have undergone his own series of tests, measurements and possibly even surgeries.
Even with all of these tests and information, though, unexplained infertility is still an all-too-common diagnosis. According to RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association, up to 30 percent of all cases of infertility in women and 25 percent of cases in men are due to idiopathic, or unexplained, causes. Ten percent of women diagnosed with infertility will never know the cause of their condition.
There are many steps in the fertility journey, and even a small misstep can make the difference between a happy mother and a woman faced with unexplained infertility. One hormone produced at the wrong time in the menstrual cycle, a tiny change in the pH of cervical mucus or a millimeter less depth in the endometrial lining can be the deciding factor between a pregnancy and yet another period. Western medicine may be very good at measuring such differences when they reach critical levels, but what about the subclinical-i.e., too small to be measured-problems that may still be significant enough to keep a woman from getting pregnant?
Generally Western medicine will refuse treatment to women with unexplained infertility because it is believed that their odds of conceiving are near zero.
WESTERN MEDICAL TREATMENT
Many fibroids have enough mass to be detected by a routine pelvic exam. To determine their extent and exact location, ultrasound, sonohysterography, a vaginal ultrasound using sterile salt water inside the uterus, hysteroscopy and MRIs are sometimes used.
Just as pregnancy hormones can cause a fibroid to grow, a lack of reproductive hormones can cause it to shrink. Western medical treatment occasionally uses drugs like Lupron to create the condition of pseudo-menopause. In many cases, drug therapy is accompanied by surgical removal of the fibroid. If the fibroids are small and accessible from inside the uterus, a laparoscopic procedure can be done where the surgeon uses a probe threaded through the cervix to destroy the fibroid using either heat or cold.
Another technique is arterial embolization, where the blood vessels feeding the fibroid are cauterized. However, as this cuts off blood flow to the uterine lining as well, it is not recommended for women who wish to have children.
In more complicated cases, where the tumors are larger or located on the outside of the uterus or in the pelvic cavity, a laparotomy may be necessary. This procedure involves an incision either through the abdominal wall or uterus and requires a three-to-six-month healing process before pregnancy should be attempted. If the fibroids are too large or in a location that compromises a woman's health, hysterectomy, which is removal of the uterus, is the last line of treatment. Approximately 600,000 hysterectomies are performed in the United States each year, and non-cancerous conditions including uterine fibroids, abnormal uterine bleeding and chronic pelvic pain account for two of every three of these procedures. If your uterus is removed, a gestational surrogate or adoption are the only remaining means for parenthood.
DISCUSSION AND ROOT CAUSES
If you've heard the statement, "We don't know why you're not getting pregnant," it probably felt more like, "We don't know why you are dying."
Unexplained infertility is perhaps the most frustrating diagnosis a woman can receive because it doesn't come with clear insight into causes or a treatment path. In fact, it may come with no symptoms at all.
If you've received this diagnosis, you may have begun an internal dialogue something like, "I am barren. I have no hope. Western medical intervention may be the only way I may ever realize my dream of becoming a mother."
This is simply not true. In fact, at The Fertile Soul, we don't believe there is such thing as unexplained infertility. What this diagnosis translates as is that Western diagnostic methodology, with its inherent laboratory limitations, hasn't found the problem. Fortunately, Chinese medicine offers an alternative medical model. You body has great wisdom. If it is preventing a pregnancy, that stems from an underlying root cause. If you look deep enough and pay attention to your body's messages, you will find it. The body, mind and spirit prevent the expression of fertility when your life is out of balance.
Western and Eastern approaches to restoring fertility are analogous to the different ways you can return a lake to purity once it's been contaminated by toxic waste. You can treat the lake by finding out exactly what the contaminants in the water are and then use different chemicals to neutralize their effects. But, in the end, you have water with even more chemicals in it. Adding drugs and hormones to a body that is out of balance tends to make it even more toxic and out of harmony with nature.
Instead of adding more chemicals, another approach is to put cleaner, pure water into the lake instead. You can do this by making sure the streams that feed the lake are clean, healthy and flowing as freely as possible, and the old, toxic water can flow outward unobstructed as new water flows in. Once the ecological balance of the water is restored, the entire lake can return to health, and the fish and animals that live in and around it will thrive.
The Fertile Soul Method (TM) teaches you how to take this same approach with your body. We assist you with allowing clean, pure, healthy energy to flow in while releasing old, toxic energy to be eliminated. When energy is balanced, the body is restored to its natural state of health. The organs and different systems of the body, including the reproductive system, function as they were designed to, and the resulting environment is far more conducive to conception.
EASTERN MEDICINE DIAGNOSES
In Eastern medicine, "unexplained infertility" translates simply as impaired reproductive functioning. Its origins cover the full spectrum of common infertility-related imbalances profiled in the other Diagnoses sections. Reproductive functioning is restored by bringing the entire body back into balance.
The first step in natural treatment is always to determine the underlying pattern in order to treat the root cause rather than the symptoms it produces. In most cases of unexplained infertility, there are indications where the problems lie in symptoms involving the menstrual cycle, feelings of hot or cold, lethargy or nervousness, and so on.
When you are diagnosed using Eastern medical principles and The Fertile Soul MethodTM, all of your objective and subjective symptoms are taken into account. Eastern medicine uses the diagnostic tools of pulse reading and examination of the tongue to determine where the imbalances lie in your particular system. When these imbalances are addressed, the reproductive system can supported in functioning normally again.
One of the best ways to discover subclinical fertility problems is to examine the different stages of a woman's menstrual cycle. Possible indications of fertility problems include menstrual irregularities such as:
- Severe PMS
- Premenstrual breast pain and headaches
- Premenstrual low back pain, loose stools, acne
- Heavy menstrual flow
- Scanty menstrual flow
- Clotty, dark menstrual blood
- Menstrual pain
- Short luteal phase
- Long follicular phase
- Short follicular phase
- Inhibited ovulatory phase
Each of these indications is a physical manifestation of imbalance in the reproductive system. When we determine what energetic imbalances are causing the menstrual irregularities to appear, the infertility is no longer unexplained. And when we have an explanation, we have a diagnosis, a treatment, and a remedy.