Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Why fertility drugs may work for some and not for others
Nothing has changed this week, in terms of drawing on clinical experience for a topic for my blog. It is sometimes tricky to write from an objective point of view, when so often much of my material I write about goes against the grain. This topic is no different. I feel somewhat drawn to discussing fertility drugs, specifically clomid/serophene/clomifene or similar this week - going by not one, but several instances in the clinic where women have been prescribed it because western medicine has nothing else to serve them.
Clomid is an interesting drug. If you are unfamiliar with it, its is a prescribed fertility drug that basically encourages the body to ovulate. Whilst it does successfully induce ovulation by up to 90%, only 5 - 25% of women taking it will fall pregnant as a result. Unfortunately, the chances of miscarriage in women using the drug is higher. One of the main side effects of Clomifene is that it dries up the cervical fertile mucus, necessary to nurture, feed and transport sperm to the ovum. Without this, it is very difficult for pregnancy to result. But wait... there's more! Clomifene also thins the uterine lining, making it harder to conceive, since the fertilised egg requires a thick healthy endometrium to implant into. I suspect these two factors alone (decreased mucus and thinning of the lining) may be why pregnancy rates are so low by those taking Clomifene.
We see alot of women through their fertility journey - some taking or have previously taken clomid. Good news for them is that Acupuncture and Herbal Medicines have been shown to improve both uterine lining and cervical mucus as it works on hormone regulation and supporting body function. This is a result of increased blood flow to the reproductive organs, as well as TCM supporting the overall workings of the body. Furthermore, acupuncture has also been show to decrease miscarriage rates substantially. Clomid or not - both these factors are extremely important to address in the overall scheme of fertility.
As to why drugs work for some and not others - it entirely depends on the constitution of the patient. Some patients need less support and others need a lot! One thing remains the same however - any form of supportive treatment will benefit a patient no matter what the constitution. Its just another reason why I love TCM! (Traditional Chinese Medicine)
Of course, if I had my way with every patient, it would be to enable them to grasp the concept of making their body work properly. Encouraging body systems to work as one, certainly possible with alternative treatments, lifestyle changes & education. Sadly, this isn't always possible, but it is possible to support a women's fertility whatever stage of that journey she is at.