Fertility Friday: IVF Stats and Unexplained Infertility

This week has been such an interesting week, with 5 positive results last week, and 3 stunning new babies being brought into this world of ours. So it was inevitable my brain and I do some reflecting….. Oh and there was one more positive this morning, so thats 6 in the last 7 days…… All but 1 of the newly pregnant patients are over 40……. Its interesting how that number 40 changed the thought process of how I thinking about last week…. If all those pregnancies were from 19-20 year olds, no one would really bat an eye lid… One of the ladies is 43, pregnant naturally after 5 sessions, an amazing result on her part considering she was given a 2% chance of having a baby through IVF. Yes, her Doctor in Cork told her at her consult you have a 2% chance of having a baby. Your 43, your too old. I recommend donor IVF. And I think you should start sooner rather than later…. You don’t have a lot of time… And he was right, everything he told my patient was 100% accurate. EXCEPT for the percentages…. He was guessing…..

When we had our initial consult, she mentioned she was given a 2% chance. Now over the years I have heard enough of these stats to know they are honestly just guessing, now I do appreciate that they are putting in their expertise, the age of the client, their hormone levels etc. But its still just a guess. So at that stage I looked over her notes and all her information and I gave her a 43% chance of becoming pregnant over the next 3-6 months. She was floored with this number and gave me the biggest smile. ‘Really, but my doctor said 2%‘.

So would you like to know how I got the 43%…… let me explain. 🙂

So this 2% is actually a true and accurate result for this consultant, they put all their fertility numbers into a pot, all their experience of past and present fertility cases, and came up with a very educated guess. And from their eyes, from their clinical perspective, came up with a percentage result. That being 2%. And what did this do to the patient, emotionally…. At that moment, it destroyed her. It destroyed her believe in her ability to have a child. At that stage, you might as well have stood her outside the clinic and shot her. Don’t get me wrong Im a realist, my ‘now’ pregnant patient was also a realist. DID I MENTION SHES NOW PREGNANT.. She knew she was 43, she knew her chances were low. But damn it, do you have to break her completely, taking away all hope. Especially when your making at best, an educated guess…

BTW I love Western Medicine, Im such a big fan… Im probably the biggest fan of IVF clinics, and I think fertility doctors are a special breed of amazing awesomeness. They can just do some wonderful things today….. And I count a few of them as my friends… They still have no idea what I do… But we now, agree to disagree.

So onto couple number two from last week…. Their consultant gave them a ZERO chance of getting pregnant naturally. ZERO ZERO ZERO. So would you like to guess whats happened…. She is pregnant naturally….. 5 months of sessions twice a month. Thats 10 sessions of acupuncture…..

And my favourite of the week goes back a little longer, to last november, where in a previous blog I spoke about helping out the SIMS IVF clinic on one of their Mind Body Programs in Dublin, this is a preparation program prior to doing IVF. Now to be fair, the start for me personally wasn’t my finest moment, for the first 15 minutes I seemed to have some sort of mid life crisis during the presentation. This was a 1 hour long presentation which I was to do on the benefits of acupuncture and IVF, how it works and the amazing benefits of it. But apparently, even with my midlife crisis, I made an impact on the day… When I got back to the office on the following Monday I had a number of calls waiting for me from the SIMS Program, honestly, I really didn’t expect any calls from the weekend. There were 6 calls waiting there for me. I didn’t ring back immediately for some reason or another, but eventually got the courage to call the numbers, I was soooo pleasantly surprised by the calls, all seemed to really enjoy the presentation I gave, I was like, in my brain going, are you sure you were at the same presentation I was at. But I played it like a duck in water, calm on top while talking to the callers, but paddling like mad underneath the water level… All of the callers were very interested in me talking a look at their fertility files and wanting me to see if something had been missed. At the Mind Body Program, the one thing I repeated over and over and over again was, there is ‘NO SUCH THING AS UNEXPLAINED INFERTILITY’ just ‘POOR DIAGNOSIS’ – in hindsight I really should have picked a better word that ‘POOR DIAGNOSIS’, Its never my intention to rattle cages, but its such an over used diagnosis, and possible the only industry on this planet where its accepted. Can you imagine going into your mechanic with a problem with your car, and them asking for 300 euro and saying the problem wasn’t fixed….. And it was an unexplained issue, you certainly wouldn’t be a happy camper…

So I looked through the medical files of the patients and found two amazing acupuncturists in Dublin for 3 out of the 6 callers, at the time I just didn’t see the point in them coming al the way from Dublin down to me… I was happy to keep an eye on their cases and once a month we could do a Skype conference and check in with each other. Im aware of some amazing therapists in Dublin that could provide the support that was needed. However 3 of the patients INSISTED they wanted to come to Cork….. And Im like in my head saying, are you mad…. ( I hope your not reading this but thats what I was thinking. 2.5 hours driving up and down twice a month…. Let me find someone in Dublin….. ) So this was last November…. As of today, 2 out of the 3 patients are now pregnant…… Seriously, wow…. But the thing is, this had nothing to do with me. This was all about the patients, and them taking charge of their fertility. Making the decision to not lie down and roll over. They were determined to make it work. And become pregnant. They changed their lifestyles, changed their diets, increased their exercise levels, and most importantly, apparently after my mind body mid life crisis moment, BELIEVED in HOPE. Believed in me, believed in themselves and believed they could actually have a baby, they were no longer broken….. Its a question I sometimes ask of my patients, do you feel broken… As having a baby is one of the basic components of life, and when you are in the ‘Unexplained Diagnosis’ group, its easy to feel that way and lose hope. But do remember Gordons words of wisdom…….. ‘There is no such thing as unexplained infertility, just poor diagnosis..’

Finally, I almost forgot to mention, how did I come up with the 43% statistic of her becoming pregnant, well its a very technical approach, I took her age and converted it to a percentage, truly, I was also making an educated guess, just like the consultant.

Leave a Comment