When Unexplained Infertility is the Hand You’ve Been Dealt
The Fertile Heart™ holistic fertility approach to identifying and overcoming subclinical nutritional, and emotional fertility challenges, commonly referred to as unexplained infertility
Unexplained infertility is one of the most interesting terms of the infertility medical jargon. When no readily identifiable diagnosis exists, either structural or hormonal, wannabe mothers and fathers are told they have “unexplained infertility.” For the women and men wrestling with fertility challenges, receiving the “unexplained infertility” diagnosis seems to be particularly frustrating. What I often hear is, “If only they could find some cause, then we could fix it. But telling me I have unexplained infertility means they can’t help me.” But unexplained infertility simply means that the commonly used diagnostic markers of the fertility “work up” offer a highly incomplete list of possible culprits.
In my work with clients, unexplained infertility is one of my favorite diagnoses to work with. And the radically holistic fertility approach of the Fertile Heart™ Ovum Practice is particularly useful with such clients. What that diagnosis says to me, is that the obstacle, whether it’s a nutritional deficiency, an emotional conflict, or a call of the soul to give birth to a not-yet-born part of ourselves—has not yet manifested in the physical body. Maria Bono’s story is a wonderful example of how the Fertile Heart Ovum tools can help unlock the mystery causes of “unexplained infertility.”
As far as I’m concerned that’s good news.
We can then use the remedies of Fertile Heart™ Imagery and Body Truth, as well as the available research on fertility foods and fertility supplements to begin to repair possible nutritional depletion. The same tools can be eminently useful in identifying the culprits on an emotional level, attending to the myriad of hidden feelings linked to pregnancy, intimacy, motherhood, and more.
When the Causes of Unexplained Fertility are “I don’t know”
When it comes to healing, I often think about the three little words whose utterance might induce droves of people to set out in search of more satisfying answers:
“I don’t know.”
What if the fertility expert you turned to said, “It’s unexplained infertility to me; my education and my life experience does not include any further answers to your infertility, but that doesn’t mean the answers aren’t out there. So, if you find out anything more, please come back and tell me.”
In 2001, a few weeks before the World Trade Center tragedy, I interviewed Dr. Zev Rosenwaks, director of the Center for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility at the New York Presbyterian Hospital.
“With some couples, everything in their diagnostic workup checks out, and the cycle fails. Then I see women with all the cards stacked against them, and they end up with a healthy baby. Even in the best of circumstances we have no more than a sixty percent marker of viability. In other words, there is a lot about this that’s quite beyond us.”
Unexplained Infertility Treatment Concerns
Sadly the most common mainstream medical approach to unexplained infertility is to administer Clomid (clomiphene citrate). In my practice I’ve seen women go through as many as 12 cycles of Clomid, in spite of the warning that suggests a link between ovarian cancer and higher than 6 cycles of clomiphene citrate. The use of Clomid is often accompanied with intrauterine inseminations and if no pregnancy occurs, the couple will be advised to move on to in vitro fertilization for as many as 6 menstrual cycles. And tragically, I’ve also met countless women who have undergone far more than 6 IVF treatments.
What often happens is that these commonly used fertility drugs silence the body’s call for help. Revving up the ovaries with synthetic fertility stimulants might not only further disrupt endocrine function, it robs aspiring parents of the opportunity for healing that comes with every health crisis.
A 2002 report in The New England Journal of Medicine examined the incidence of health problems in babies conceived through in vitro as well as children conceived through introcytoplasmic sperm injection, in which the egg is fertilized by injecting it directly with the sperm. Reviewing data from registries of birth defects, the investigators found that 9 percent of babies conceived through such fertility treatments had chromosomal abnormalities, heart, kidney, and urogenital defects—compared to 4.2 percent of babies conceived without treatments.
The investigators, as always, called for further research, stating it was unclear whether the abnormalities were caused by fertility treatments, or by the “infertile couples’ medical problems.”
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
For me, the study raised a different set of questions: if your car exhibits problematic behavior, chances are you’ll take it in for repair rather than force it into higher performance. Wouldn’t it make sense to offer our bodies a similar opportunity? To address the underlying depletion that might have triggered the explained or unexplained infertility?
Achieving a full term pregnancy, whether you are told you have “unexplained infertility” or explained infertility caused by “advanced maternal age, PCOS, endometriosis, fibroids, or poor sperm morphology” is still one of the challenges where certainty eludes even the best and the brightest. 32 years after Dr. Edwards’ historic IVF birth announcement and millions of dollars spent on research, the chance of a healthy baby after treatment remains low: 28.2% for women under 35, falling to 10.6% for women 40-42.
Something about conceiving a child makes it clear that birth is not the same as manufacture and the creation of a life involves far more than matching the right egg with the right sperm.
There may be hidden reasons for “unexplained infertility”; obstacles that cause our bodies to behave as they do. Still, with a little patience and humility we can learn to decode the messages behind our symptoms. We’d certainly be foolish not to try. Otherwise we can blast our ovaries with fertility drugs, produce caravans of embryos of the highest grade, and walk home to an empty nursery believing we are victims of unexplained infertility.
Adapted from The Fertile Female by Julia Indichova
Also see our page on Unexplained Infertility Success Stories about one Fertile Heart client’s success against an unexplained infertility diagnosis.
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