Treatments and further tests for unexplained infertility include IVF, specialised sperm analysis, physical and blood tests and Chinese medicine treatment, what tends to happen for couples once they’re given a diagnosis of “unexplained infertility” is:
- The initial suggestion is usually a course of clomiphene citrate (clomid) for three to six menstrual cycles to induce ovulation. Not all clinics recommend this for women over the age of 35 as clomid thins the womb lining, and a thin womb lining can stop implantation and is usually thinner in older women anyway. Clomid is generally most successful with younger women who have a normal or higher BMI.
- The second treatment option often becomes clomid in combination with intra uterine insemination (IUI). The advantage of this approach is the removal of any of the sperm/mucus incompatibility issues which account for about 20% of infertility cases.
- The third option for many couples is a number (usually 3-6) of IVF treatmentsi and the success rates vary according to clinic, procedures, couple ages and other health issues.
There’s evidence that both IVF and IUI have higher success rates when combined with Chinese herbs and/or acupuncture. Acupuncture treatment to raise fertility isn’t confined to humans as it’s widely used by vets on horses in stud farms!!ii There’s a report of traditional Chinese medical treatment being combined with IUI resulting in 65.5% of the group conceiving, compared with 39.4% of the control group who didn’t have herbal or acupuncture therapy.iii
Chinese medicine is an excellent option for couples with unexplained infertility as it offers a completely different diagnostic framework to western medicine. What’s obvious in one medicine may not even register on the other! It has a long history of improving general health and raising both male and female sexual function and research shows it increases:iv
- the number of follicles that reach the last stage of development
- the size of the dominant follicle
- the thickness of the endometrium after ovulation
- the blood flow within the corpus luteum
- progesterone levels in the luteal phase
- the blood flow to the uterus
- pregnancy rates
It also reduces:
- the levels of FSH needed to recruit follicles to new cycles
- immune function irregularities
Additional tests that go ‘above and beyond’ the standard tests can sometimes find the reason a couple aren’t conceiving, and these involve more complex analysis of
i “A randomized clinical trial to evaluate optimal treatment for unexplained infertility: the fast track and standard treatment (FASTT) trial“. Reindollar, R. H. et al. (2010) Fertility and Sterility 94 (3): 888
iv ‘Measuring the effectiveness of Chinese herbal medicine in improving female fertility.’ Trevor Wing and Elke Sedmeier. Journal of Chinese Medicine. 80. Feb. 2006. 22-28