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Medical vs. holistic treatment: part discussion/part vent

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
I'm just curious to get other people's perceptions and feelings. It just seems interesting to me that with all the focus at MDC on natural living, all the getting away from vaxes, from hospitals, etc., that the same doesn't seem to hold true when it comes to treating infertility. It seems that even here, when it comes to infertility, the emphasis is on seeing a good RE. I was just wondering why that is? Or is it just my imagination? No judgment here, as I have used an RE in the past as well as OB/GYN's--I was just curious.

Now the vent. Like I said, dh and I have sought medical treatment for infertility in the past. Until I found MDC, I didn't put stock in alternative treatment AT ALL. But my feelings have changed a lot in the past little while, and now we are making plans to use a very experienced naturopath who specializes in treating infertility. I've been exploring this for several years, and I'm really not rushing into it nor am I desperate. Though I "met" this practicioner online, I have met his wife and one of his clients IRL, and I have two friends who are really good friends of his IRL. I've emailed him with questions quite a bit and always received a well-thought-out answer. I guess what I'm saying is that I've done my homework here. I'm not grasping at straws to have a baby. I don't know a lot about naturopathy, but I really believe this man can help us.

So, last week I went to the dr for my annual exam and needed to ask him to order a semenalysis for dh, which the naturopath requires. The dr is a new one for me and happens to be a RE. I knew I would have to tell him about the naturopath, and I knew he would be skeptical. Let's just say it was awful! He was loud and obnoxious (all under the guise of "protecting" me from getting hurt and getting all my money swindled away from me by this "quack"). He even swore during our consultation several times, which I thought was rather unprofessional. All the arguments he used made no sense when I got home and really thought about them, but at the time, I was overwhelmed by the strength of his protests and really didn't know what to say. I looked like a dork and didn't stand up for myself very well.

He told me that alternative treatments had no validity because they often can't be replicated in controlled studies. That's one of the things that appeals to me--the idea that a program will be developed precisely for my unique, individual body. My assertions that I "feel right" about this of course were totally silly to him. I did not tell him what the naturopath's statistics were (75% success rate to conceive and carry pg to term over the last four years with clients on a six-cycles program), but he assumed that they would be inflated. After discussing this with the naturopath, I am convinced that they are not inflated at all. The doctor told me a story about two medical doctors who inflated their statistics and lost credibility in the medical field, and the whole time I was thinking, "So then, it's obvious to me that medical doctors can lie just as much as naturopaths!"

Now, of course, I am not letting some doctor who just met me determine how I will resolve my infertility. But I need to cooperate with him for a little while to get this test done for dh. He is the only RE in my town, and we need the semenalysis done fairly soon so we can consult w/ the naturopath. I'm just not sure how to handle this. At this point, I am planning to go along and have a couple of tests done for a workup, but I don't like the idea that I am leading him to believe that he can talk me into being his patient when I have no intention of being his patient.

The worst was when he told me that all he'd have to do would be to give me a little clomid and a shot of hcg and then "I can FORCE your body to ovulate exactly when *I* WANT it to". And I'm thinking, "You just don't get it. It's this idea of force that's the whole reason I want a more holistic practioner. I want to heal my body, not slam it into compliance."

Anyway, I am curious what others would do when having to work with someone that they don't intend to keep working with and really don't like just to get something they need. And the rest was just to let off the little remaining bit of steam left over since last week!
post #2 of 30

Re: Medical vs. holistic treatment: part discussion/part vent

Originally posted by Laurel
"I can FORCE your body to ovulate exactly when *I* WANT it to".
Yuck yuck yuck! I'm so sorry you had to hear that! It's like OBs who FORCE your body to go into labor when THEY want it to. I can see where that sort of treatment can be useful for couples who want to go to that point, but to not respect your path is so degrading. What a God trip he's on!
post #3 of 30
It just seems interesting to me that with all the focus at MDC on natural living, all the getting away from vaxes, from hospitals, etc., that the same doesn't seem to hold true when it comes to treating infertility. It seems that even here, when it comes to infertility, the emphasis is on seeing a good RE. I was just wondering why that is? Or is it just my imagination? No judgment here, as I have used an RE in the past as well as OB/GYN's--I was just curious.
Laurel~ I don't know about other people, but there seemed to be a desparation that developed in me after ttc for well over a year that overrode my convictions towards natural living and my dislike of western medicine enough to let me pursue any option that would help me to fulfill my need to have a child. Or at least to temporarily think I would pursue any option... Right now I seem to be clearing out of that foggy thinking again.

About your experience with that awful RE, what a jerk! It sounds like he is really threatened by a practitioner who would try something other than what he knows/does. He must have been totally flipped out/threatened to resort to slandering another physician. I can't imagine having to go back to someone who was so disrespectful towards you and your values. Can your dh's general practitioner order a SA? (my dh's said he could) Are there tests that he is going to perform on you? It seems crazy to me that he would offer you a treatment (clomid & hcg) before he has done a full workup on you. It is just horrible that if you have to go to a RE that he is the only one around. Sorry that you had such an awful experience

I remember you talking about that np doctor a few months ago- I'm really interested in hearing about your upcoming experience with him. If dh and I don't conceive in the next year I'll be looking for assistance again and I don't know if I want to return to the clomid-givers.
post #4 of 30
I'd never see that guy again. But also, I don't necessarily tell every doc everything I'm doing. I think I'm the best judge of what's best for me. I'm educated, I can read medical journals. big deal! For one thing, everyone is unique. You are the best judge of your course of treatment. For some, totally natural, for other a combo, for others more high tech. It depends on the issue. A zero sperm count or very scarred tubes, or a genetic problem might never fix naturally. You might need high tech to discover the probable issue, then you can decide how best to treat it *for you* which might be alternative in nature, no matter what your RE wants. I would never advocate pursuing anything (including clomid, which some docs hand out like candy) without researching it.I even read up on the dye used for an HSG! For many women here, who tend to be older, it can be incredibly important to figure out what's going on soon, both holistically and medically, since many of us are nearer the end of our natural fertility. The more time you have, the more options of all kinds.

I would also not use high tech without a specialist. Many ob's are greedy for the money it brings and dabble in it with very little expertise. (less than me!) So, I'd go straight to an RE for evaluation rather than thinking I'm getting high tech, when I'm getting a guy who read some journal articles and attended a lecture - unless it was on ob I had a very very good relationship with and communicated well with over what he or she knew and what they didn't. Was open to my views and opinions. (I diagnosed my own genetic disorder. When I was proven true, it definitely changed my ob's and midwives minds.) On fertility boards I ran into many many women who lost some critical time pretty fruitlessly with poor guidance from inexperienced OBs.

Natural methods are not fixing my genetics. But I also would not have gone high tech without the support of my acupuncture. I think what you'll find is that many of us don't think either route is inherently superior to the other - it depends on your issue. And even people who want high tech may run into ethical issues that bother them...educating yourself is the very best path. And that includes all other options...treatments, childfree living, adoption, etc.

If he doesn't get you that semenanalysis stat - (personally I would call his nurse/office manger and see if you can get it done that way.) Even make a followup appt. You can always cancel it later and get the results faxed to you. Check, your regular ob or family practitioner might be able to order an SA through an outside lab. If you think the naturopath can help you , why not try it? If you think it's the best path, go for it.
post #5 of 30
Thread Starter 
Interesting responses so far! And some are things I really hadn't thought of. My two cents is that it's hard to find a holistic practicioner that really knows infertility. Even the naturopath we've chosen has admitted this to me. (Actually, he told me that there are very few practioners he would trust with his health at all.) Some of this natural medicine is so subjective in the way that it's practiced--I think that leaves a lot of room for error. I don't know. I went to a lady here in my town a couple of months ago who claims to practice naturopathic medicine although she is not a ND. She used muscle-testing to tell me that one of my ovaries was twisted funny and that my uterus was retroverted (which it is--I already knew that), and then therapeutic massage to supposedly put everything back into position. I had no idea what to make of this, and then the naturopath that we will be working with (who lives in a different country) basically said that he felt it was all bogus. She wasn't intending to deceive, but he just felt that it would be highly unlikely that a simple massage could do the things she claimed it could. He doesn't use muscle-testing either, although he is trained in it. That's one thing I like about him--he seems to look very critically at all the techniques out there and choose very carefully which he will use. Sure enough, at my pelvic last week, my uterus is still retroverted!

I just think it's hard to know where to start with natural treatments, and it's hard to find someone who truly knows what they are doing.

Clarity, I know exactly what you mean about OB's having less expertise than you. Boy have I been there! The difference is that with them, I could read and learn enough to know when they were off track. With natural medicine, I feel like I just don't have the knowledge to protect myself from things like that.

I am curious about your genetic disorder, unless it is too personal to share. I have late onset congenital adrenal hyperplasia, which no fertility doctor has ever taken seriously except, oddly enough, the one I just saw last week. :

I am open to the idea of using the RE to help in the workup--I just have no desire to go on fertility drugs. I would probably adopt again before I'd do that or anything high-tech. I can't really explain it, and I don't think there is anything wrong for those who choose it, but 5 months of clomid was enough for me.

I feel like I'm in a good place. I have a one-year-old who is adopted, so I'm not feeling too much pressure to have a baby, and I like that because I think it's helping me to make wise decisions that aren't based on desperation.

Keep the thoughts coming!
post #6 of 30
I vaguely remember a position that said after 2-3 months clomid is not very effective...so I'd be with you. That's more than enough!

Interestingly, I have not decided who future children are arriving...I have a lot of options from adoption, surrogacy, egg donation, gender selection, or natural. I have an mostly x-linked genetic disorder unique to my own family. Absurdly excess amniotic fluid, rupture and delivery between 20-24 weeks. Doc believe there is also a profound neurological issue with affected pregnancies. Historically, fatal to affected pregnancies. Though the cause of death is uncertain. (like, could we hold out a few weeks and deliver a live preemie? possibly. uncertain what else might be wrong... Overall, 50% of boy pregnancies and 10% or girl pregnancies approximately.) Now I'm in a genetic study for multiple losses in pregnancy that believe many women with losses have a similar flaw...a genetic flaw on one x, but normal people's body cells are split...having one or the x active about 50% of the time...in my, some cells are looks at the "bad" x 94% of the time.

Did I mention I was also using reiki, massage, and a Native american medicine man, too? Supportive to me, although not changing the outcomes. But also, like religion, I find blind faith difficult...so some things are easy for me to grasp others are more of a stretch. But usually I end up thinking that might be possible, if not likely. I also find that most natural things can't hurt me, so why not give them a good faith attempt? Massage techniques could very well reposition things. But I wouldn't spend 2 years waiting for that to work if it were me. I would also not spend enormous amounts of money without caution. The spiritual discouragement of effort without success is something to consider. Fertility issues are hard, however you treat them.
post #7 of 30
I wanted to offer some thoughts if you don't mind! (and I am babbling, no sleep last night)

I used meds to conceive Goo, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

I feel strongly that if there is a medical problem, one should treat it. If you had diabites (sp) you can treat that with medicines or with diet and meds or in some cases, just diet alone. But you are still treating it. Unfortunately, fertility and women's fertility specifically is greatly unappreciated. I think it is wise to go see a specialist (RE) first to try to determine if there is a physical cause.

For example, for me, we checked my hormone levels (all ok) if my tubes were clear and if my uterus was clear (ok), if I was ovulating (yup!) and if I had enough progesterone post ovulation to sustain a pregnancy(yeppers).

Ok- so at this point, we had the information that my body was acting properly, DH's body was acting properly and we just weren't conceiving. So we chose to take the medical route to increase our odds by increasing the number of eggs and by doing insemination.

It's good to go to see if you are ovulating (it sounds like you aren't) and to check on your dh's count. You may want the cycle day 3 blood work to check on your ovarian age and other hormones that might be out of whack.

However, let's look at your case. You have a psycho doctor who wants to force your body to do something. Not what you want to do. I understand. I would avoid this doctor. I would see if there are any urologists in your area who can have a SA done for your husband. Many urologists will do this test or at least sign orders for one.

I see nothing wrong with seeking alternative treatment if you are strongly against the medical. A great deal of the fertility treatments fail for no reproducable reason (no pun intended). Why did DH and I have unexplained infertility? Why couldn't we have a child for 2 years? Who knows?

I personally feel that my body is sensitive to minute hormonal changes and that I needed the extra FSH (meds) to get my body going. BTW, I don't find the injections I took very unnatural because they were simply suppliments to my body's natural hormones...the FSH is something my body produces, we simply added more into my system. The trigger shot of hCG is adding a hormone similar to the LH and that was again a suppliment. The insemination was bypassing a possible problem area (the cervical mucus) and we still made it a close experience....

Anyway, those are my thoughts. Let me just reiterate that you should dump that doc! To swear in front of a patient is terrible and you should report him to the medical board for that alone!

BTW- using clomid for more than 6 months can cause harm to the body and create benign ovarian cysts. Clomid should ALWAYS be administered with aan u/s mnitoring to protect the health of the patient.
post #8 of 30
Thread Starter 
post #9 of 30
Thread Starter 
Oops again!
post #10 of 30
Thread Starter 
Just thought I should probably clarify what my past treatment experience has been. Dh has had three prior SA's--the first showed low count and motility, the second two were normal. He just needs to have another because the last was more than three years ago and the naturopath requires a more recent one. He had a physical a couple of weeks ago and the dr told him that my dr would need to order the SA.

We started ttc in 1995 and didn't do anything medically for 3 1/2 years because of money issues. Then I went to an OB who did the clomid thing (with NO testing whatsoever--typical!). I'd read everything I could get my hands on by that point and knew that clomid for that long was pointless. I also think that clomid dried up all my cm, again making the whole 5 months doubly pointless. So, when he wouldn't listen to me, we switched to an RE. I had all the typical bloodwork done and an HSG. Hormone levels were all normal and my tubes are open. Prior to treatment, I had very irregular cycles and by my charting I knew I wasn't O'ing. Since then (for almost 4 years!) I've had almost completely regular cycles. I did O on clomid. Also, my cycles were very regular before I got married.

At the point we were seeing an RE, we were also looking into adoption, and we made the decision to adopt, so we did no further treatment beyond a very basic workup.

So.... so far, unexplained inf. Like I said, I have the mild form of congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Well, I was diagnosed w/ it about 10 years ago, but abnormal testosterone levels didn't show up on the RE's bloodwork 4 years ago, so who knows? One thing I've been interested in is information I've been reading about adrenal support in some of the naturally oriented literature.

I'm not against a medical approach at all. I have used this route in the past. I don't have any problems with fertility drugs but just don't want to deal w/ the side effects. I would consider an IUI, but the thought of IVF makes me want to run as fast as I can. Again, I have no moral or ethical issues, but it just sounds like a horrible experience to endure. I like that my naturopath wants to incorporate all past diagnoses and test results into his diagnosis and he seems interested in working with the medical results instead of against them. He uses iridology in his diagnosis also, and then treats with herbs and diet. Since my problems seem to be hormonal and not structural, this makes sense. I guess the most appealing thing to me about his approach is that we will be looking at the whole body, and not just my reproductive system, and I feel like even if I don't conceive I will be all-around healthier.

Oh, I should mention that we have not yet committed to this program and won't until we have an in-person consultation, which will be next month. I pretty much know it's want I want to do, but I like to be thorough.

Anyway, I have really appreciated everyone's responses and I like the balanced views you have all expressed. I am sorry I am so long winded. I have no place else to explore all this! Thanks!
post #11 of 30
Ok- T
he congenital adrenal hyperplasia could be the culprit. Right there, you have a hormone issue that can interupt the ovulation cycle.

I get the sense that you are feeling like you need to defend your position on going to a naturalist. Please don't. It sounds like this is a good approach. I know you are battling this within yourself.

Side effects from the extra hormones can be difficult. I can understand that!
post #12 of 30
I agree, we all support you! With an imbalance like that I think there's not reason not to try the naturopath...that's the kind of thing I would certainly try. Later, if it does not respond, you can talk about ways to medicate it if you want.
post #13 of 30
Laurel, I wish you the best of luck. Having never gone through this it sounds so frustrating and heartbreaking, but to have a doctor treat you like that RE did must multiply things 100%. I'm so sorry you had to deal with him.

I can't help but think that there must be another doctor who would be able to order a semenanalysis.

I hope that you have good luck with the naturopath. Please keep us update, and I wish you wonderful success.
post #14 of 30
Thread Starter 
You guys are right, I am feeling defensive, and I'm not sure why.: It's not you guys... Maybe it's just that this is such a huge step, I'm venturing into an untraveled area, and it's been so long since I've ttc'd. I'm kind of scared, no matter what type I treatment I decide to do.

Thanks for the support!
post #15 of 30
Funny, Laurel is feeling defensive about her choice to go with a naturopath, and I'm sitting here reading and feeling a bit defensive about my choice to see an RE and take meds and do IUI! I suppose it's just natural for us to feel a little defensive about our choices, knowing that others have strong opinions that differ greatly from ours. Such is life.

I am a very natural mommy. Very AP. Organic, whole food eater, cloth diapers, baby wearing mommy. But the fact is, I believe I wouldn't be a mommy at all had I not gone the RE route. Believe me, we tried the natural route as that is very much my preference. For three years. It wasn't until I took injectible fertility meds with IUI and progesterone supplements that we conceived our precious baby girl that is the love of my life.

Now, did that lead us to go directly back to the RE to ttc #2? Nope. I convinced myself that the natural route would work this time. Nope. So, here we are, reluctantly taking meds again and doing IUI's. As a matter of fact, I am awaiting a phone call at this very moment for the RE to tell me whether or not I am pregnant right now (pretty sure I'm not).

It's a tough, tough, deeply personal crisis and ensuing decision as to how to treat it, and we all have to come to an acceptance with our own choices. We all know that, of course.

All that being said, anyone know of any outstanding naturopaths specializing in infertility in southern California???
post #16 of 30
I had to resort to more medical intervention to conceive and birth my child than I ever imagined, but do not regret it for one second. If not for my wonderful RE, as well as ob-gyn, my boy would not be here today. Never did I imagine that this would be necessary, but there was no way for me to have a child without IVF and many drugs that I would never believe I would have consented to inject in my body until I was faced with the possibility of not ever having a child.

I have met many women hesitant to go this route, and I do believe there are some minor causes of infertility that can be treated holistically. I do know however, that there are some things that nothing but major intervention can overcome, and that is where you must decide how badly you want to become pregnant is to you. I also know of women who have waited too long, trying every alternative treatment and then being told years later that they should have sought treatment earlier, as they are now just biologically too old.

Now that I have my child, I have returned to my natural, vegetarian holistic life. I am just thankful for modern medicine to allow me to experience pregnancy.

That said, there is an excellent book "Inconceivable" by Julia Indichova. She overcame fertility issues when big shot RE's told her it was impossible. Hopefully this will be able to help you. All I suggest, is that you should give yourself a limited amount of time to try naturally, and if it doesn't happen and you still want to be pregnant, get medical help before it is too late for you.
post #17 of 30
I wonder if you might have better luck getting your OB to order the SA for your husband. I think a lot of REs run their practice on a factory model--much more so than any other medical specialty I've ever encountered. They have a handful of standard protocols, and they want you to fit into one of them, period.

I, like Laurel, went to a RE but never did too much treatment past the workup, and went on to adopt. It's funny, because I'm not at all into alternative medicine, beyond your occasional common herbal stuff. The fertility protocols turned me off totally. I coun't bring myself to do it. But I also had a very horrible RE who hated answering any questions, especially from females. His nurse practitioner told me once that he really didn't like having to deal with women very much! Hello, I would have thought he'd have figured out that women might be an occupational hazard before he finished med school.

Anyway, all I'm saying is that I do think that some REs are either very threatened or just won't spend time with questions or alternative approaches, and maybe a garden variety OB might be easier.
post #18 of 30
Thread Starter 

I got to meet the naturopath, finally!

Dh and I were able to actually have an in-person consultation with the naturopath we are considering, and it has done wonders for my peace level.

This was an informal, free consultation as we are not yet ready to start his program.

He will give each of us a thorough examination, including analysis of our entire bodies, and iris analysis. He said we would each have to answer a 100-question questionaire detailing various symptoms we may have or have had. From his own examinations and our answers, he will create an individualized program of herbs and diet for each of us, and this program will be tweaked each month as needed.

He said he could not yet make a definitive diagnosis because he would need more info, but from what I described to him, he would be very suspicious of a thyroid problem. I have long suspected this but haven't been able to get medical tests to corroborate my gut feelings. He said he has a different standard than a medical doctor would have. He said there are definite adrenal problems, which I already knew from being diagnosed w/ congenital adrenal hyperplasia--and because the adrenals produce stress hormones, my problems with anxiety are also related. I asked him his opinion of the old-wives-tale saying that infertile women could get pg if they would just relax. He said that for most women, he doesn't put any stock in this, but for me, because of my adrenal problems, he felt that yes, stress in my life would affect ovulation and conception.

So, those are the highlights. I'm feeling really good about this, and once we can pay off some debts, I'm feeling sure that this will be our next step.
post #19 of 30
Oh, Lisa, I am so excited for you! I have read a little about that naturopath, and the idea is taking root in my head to pay him a visit some day down the road too. So, I am really interested in how things go for you! It sounds very promising already! Good luck with the fund-raising.
post #20 of 30
Good luck, Lisa. Keep us posted on how things are going for you.
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