Kate, age 34: When I met with Kate, she was having fairly regular 31/34 day cycles with ovulation occurring between cycle day 18 and 21. She always experienced spotting starting at least 4-7 days before her period. She was concerned that this may be the reason for her difficulty getting pregnant, but all of her blood-work and testing had come back normal from her physician. I went through a complete Chinese medicine evaluation with her, and reviewed the testing she had done with her doctor. I put Kate on a treatment plan that incorporated acupuncture, supplements, herbs, diet and lifestyle changes. She began to chart her cycles and monitor her fertile signs and symptoms. After 4 months, her ovulation had became regular at cycle day 16, she had a luteal phase of 14 days, normal progesterone levels, and less spotting. Kate and her husband conceived naturally in their fifth cycle of acupuncture treatment, and now have a healthy baby boy.
Ovulatory dysfunction is a common cause of female infertility, occurring in up to 40% of infertile women, but it can mean many different types of problems.
The generic term ovulatory dysfunction applies to cycles that are irregular or anovulatory for unexplained reasons. While most women with ovulatory dysfunction do ovulate, they may ovulate outside of the normal ovulatory window or not know when they are ovulating. This can be the cause for both very short cycles (less than 21 days) or very long cycles (longer than 36 days).
When a woman is anovulatory, she can't get pregnant because there is no egg to be fertilized. If a woman has irregular ovulation, she may be timing intercourse at the wrong time of her cycle because she doesn’t know when to expect ovulation.
Irregular ovulation can indicate the reproductive hormones are not in balance throughout the different phases of the menstrual cycle. These hormonal irregularities can sometimes lead to other issues like inadequate cervical mucus, a uterine lining that is too thin or too thick for implantation, poor egg maturation, poor progesterone production, or a luteal phase defect.
Often the cause of ovulatory dysfunction is unknown, but it can be attributed to stress, hormonal imbalance, thyroid problems, high prolactin or age.
When we first meet with a patient experiencing ovulatory dysfunction, we diagnosis and pinpoint where the imbalances are stemming from in her menstrual cycle. Often an imbalance in one phase of the menstrual cycle cascades to create an overall sub-fertile cycle, and ovulatory dysfunction results. Depending on the characteristics of the cycle, we may use tools such as ovulation predictor kits, BBT charting, and monitoring of fertile signals, and we may need to do basic fertility blood-work if it has not yet been done.
Once the imbalance has been identified, we will put together a fertility treatment plan geared towards correcting the underlying imbalances to improve reproductive health and function, allowing for a healthy, fertile cycle to emerge. Once the cycle shows an improvement in fertile patterns and symptoms, pregnancy usually occurs soon after. For some types of patterns, this happens in the first few cycles of treatment, while for other patterns may take a period of months to correct.
The Fertility Clinic is a specialty reproductive acupuncture center with expertise and experience in the treatment of female and male fertility.
Erika Foy is a board certified, reproductive acupuncture specialist with a strong commitment to the quality of care and support she provides to her patients.
The Fertility Clinic at Practice Longevity
4040 N. Calhoun Rd.
Brookfield, Wi 53005
The Fertility Clinic is located in Brookfield and provides acupuncture fertility services to the greater Milwaukee area of Wisconsin.
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