Explaining the Unexplained (Infertility)

Miscarriage yinstill reproductive wellness

Hearing that you have “unexplained infertility” can be one of the most frustrating things for a couple trying to conceive, yet this is one of the most common “diagnoses” for infertility in North America. There is obviously no specific criteria for this diagnosis other than being unable to conceive*, and not finding any other medical reason for infertility, which makes unexplained infertility a diagnosis of exclusion.

Due to a lack of understanding behind unexplained infertility, clinics will usually encourage couples to undergo assisted reproductive technologies like IUI and IVF with the hopes of improving their chances of having a baby. Since these procedures can be quite costly in Canada, it’s important to really make it count by doing everything you can to give yourself the best chance of success.

Doing everything you can also encompasses seeing an integrative health practitioner to get a holistic perspective of the body and investigate whether there are underlying imbalances that could be preventing you from becoming pregnant naturally. Estrogen dominance, elevated cortisol, nutrient deficiency, luteal phase deficiency and stress are all aspects of fertility that are extremely important to address as their presence can make you less receptive to conception. The fact is that fertility clinics simply do not have the time to go through each of these factors with all their patients. Their job is to rule out significant medical reasons or structural abnormalities preventing pregnancy but beyond that, they are not equipped to provide you with a holistic view of the body.

When a patient with unexplained infertility comes to see me, the first thing I do is have a nice, long conversation with them about their overall current health and medical history. We discuss all the systems of the body AND the mind to get a good overall holistic assessment of that person’s well-being. As a naturopathic doctor, my job and eternal goal is to get you to OPTIMAL health. We go beyond “normal” lab ranges and shrink them down to optimal values. We push past the notion of health simply being the lack of disease, and instead, we aim to get to that place where you are not just disease-free, but you feel amazing and at your best! This is when the body is most open and receptive to conception!

Keeping that in mind, the second thing I do with a patient who’s been diagnosed with unexplained infertility is consider which labs will give me a better look into what’s going on in their body on a cellular level. I may send you for bloodwork to do some tests that aren’t routinely done by your medical doctor, or I may send you home with a test kit to collect your saliva and assess your hormone levels throughout the month. Either way, these are extra clues aren’t always offered by mainstream medicine, but can sometimes make all the difference in uncovering that missing piece.

Next, I work on your treatment plan. Based on the information that I have collected through speaking with you, performing a physical exam, and interpreting any labs we’ve done, I will formulate a personalized treatment plan tailored just for you. The treatment plan is holistic to match our assessment – it includes guidance on your diet, lifestyle, supplements, herbs, and in-office treatments that will help you give yourself the best chance at either getting pregnant naturally or with ART. We then periodically assess your progress both through lab values and symptom progression (and of course pregnancy tests).

Some examples of treatment you may ancitipate are:
– dietary modifications to decrease inflammation in the body
– lifestyle modifications to reduce perceived stress
– IV vitamins and nutrients to correct deficiencies
– focused supplement regimen
– botanical medicine or Chinese herbal medicine
– acupuncture
– Bowen therapy
– bringing your partner in for assessment because, let's face it, sometimes they're the 'unexplained' part: https://yinstill.com/blog/naturopathic-support-male-factor-infertilit…

If you are already undergoing treatment with a fertility clinic, that is still a great time for you to come in and optimize your chances of success. In my opinion, an integrative approach is the best one. You can read this article for more insight into a woman’s experience with this type of approach: https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/the-purple-fig/unexplained-infertility_b_61….

I am happy to give you a call and answer any questions you may have about your specific case. I offer free 15 minute phone consultations to all prospective patients so if you’d like to book in for one, email office@yinstill.com or call 604-873-9355.

Your well-being awaits!

Dr. Shilo

*Failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months of unprotected sexual intercourse for women under 35 and 6 months for women over 35.

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