West Meets East (Medicine)

Western medicine

Tomorrow I have my second appointment with my fertility doctor. When I saw her three weeks ago, the plan was for me to get day 3 numbers checked, and if it looks like we don’t need to rush things, then I need to lose thirty pounds, then after I’ve lost weight, she wants me to start with Clomid and progesterone. If my numbers look like there’s no time to wait, she wants me to start on Clomid and progesterone right away.

First, the weight – Yes I need to lose weight, but I’ve never been thin and my body won’t go lower than a certain weight no matter what I do. So while I am apprehensive that she’s so focused on my weight, I want to do whatever I have to do to get treatment. I also need to lose weight before I can go through IVF so this is something I have been working on for some time anyway.

Second – Clomid? Just Clomid? I realize that I have proven that I am ovulating and that I can get pregnant, but I am concerned that she wants to start with pretty much the tamest treatment there is when women with my AMH (<.03) are routinely told they have to start IVF straight away, sometimes with donor eggs, and that they have a less than 10%, 5%, or 1% chance of conceiving naturally and carrying to term. I think my track record has also proven that I very likely have poor egg quality. My fertility doctor, Dr. M, said that if I do have egg quality issues then we will need IVF with embryo genetic testing. That sounds like something I would like to do but how do we know if I have poor egg quality if we don’t know that already? Because I am concerned with my egg quality, I’m not upset about waiting until we try to conceive again, because I’ve only been taking DHEA for four weeks and it takes three months to improve egg quality.

Third – my day 3 numbers – I am thinking that tomorrow I am going to find out that because I had an ovarian cyst this cycle, that is why my estradiol is high and that maybe my FSH was suppressed, so I will need to go back for another day 3 check anyway.

I definitely get the idea that my doctor, and perhaps my clinic, is more interested in research than in getting women pregnant. I don’t have a choice in where I go, though. I work at a university and I have insurance through the university that is free but only allows us to use the university health center and doctors within the university affiliated hospital system. Since it’s a top national research hospital you’d think it’s the best, but I’m not sure infertility is one of their strengths. It covers fertility treatments, though, from basic services to IVF. My husband’s insurance is a typical high deductible plan and I don’t know what it covers but it seemed like an easy choice.

What I didn’t realize, however, is that my job also provides Aetna insurance (that is not free but not high deductible) that also has the same fertility coverage. If we are not successful with my doctor this year, I may switch in the next open enrollment.


Eastern medicine

Today I had my second appointment with my traditional Chinese medicine doctor. She is giving me weekly acupuncture and prescribed Chinese herbs. She gave me herbs to lose weight/clear phlegm, but is focusing my treatment on increasing my eggs and egg quality. Today I showed her what vitamins I am taking and she approved, which is a relief, because I finally found one I like and I don’t want to switch again.

I don’t know if these things are going to work. I’ve read mixed results for women with DOR, but of course there are mixed results from western fertility treatments, too. My husband is completely faithful that this will be what works for us, though. He’s from India, and his brother’s wife is from China, and all three of them are confident that the herbs and acupuncture are going to help. They all grew up using both eastern and western medicine. I also trust their opinions because my husband has a degree in engineering, my BIL is a programmer, and SIL is a chemist. They are all make decisions based on facts and data and their faith in this makes me feel a lot better about spending so much money every month on acupuncture. Seriously I feel a lot of guilt over the price, especially since I’m already spending a ton on supplements.


Alternative therapies

Another thing I’ve been trying is castor oil packs. I am confused about these because they are supposed to increase blood flow to the reproductive area, which is a good thing, right? But I read online from one doctor (who wasn’t experienced with castor oil packs), that they might not be good for diminished ovarian reserve.

I also started doing guided fertility meditation this week, or at least I am trying to. I fell asleep the first time I tried to do it. Even if the guided meditation doesn’t heal my ovaries and eggs, I figure the daily meditation will reduce my stress hormones and improve my overall health.

Lastly, I am going to try essential oils for fertility. I bought a blend of different oils, with clary sage, and other stuff I can’t remember. I read that you should put massage the oil into your lower abdomen. I think it can’t hurt but I don’t know if it will do anything. One of the women in my DOR Facebook group thinks it may have helped her conceive, though, and her numbers were similar to mine.




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