Many women with unexplained infertility feel cold easily and have poor circulation. Some research seems to indicate that they may have poor circulation to their ovaries and uterus too!
A number of studies suggest that poor uterine and ovarian blood flow can be an important - often undiagnosed factor - in infertility, miscarriage and IVF failure; research shows that poor blood flow my be at the root of 'unexplained infertility' too.
However, most women with a diagnosis of 'unexplained' will never be offered the diagnostic test for uterine blood flow impairment and will never be offered treatment, instead they will retain their frustrating non-specific diagnosis of 'unexplained.' Gaining access to testing may change your treatment options as concluded by the study cited below:
"Pre-treatment assessment of women with unexplained sub-fertility with 3D-PDA may prove useful as a diagnostic tool or facilitate the development of alternate, less invasive and ultimately more affordable management strategies."
A growing number of progressive reproductive endocrinologists *do* recognize the critical importance of both evaluating and optimizing ovarian and uterine blood flow especially prior to IVF/ICSI.
One of the first proponents of correcting this aspect of fertility medicine was Dr. Sher who routinely evaluates blood flow dynamics in his patients as do physicians at Colorado Center For Reproductive Medicine. These fertility clinics - with stellar success rates - screen women for blood flow impairment precisely so that they can apply treatments that work efficiently to restore good blood perfusion and increase their success rates; they go the extra mile to make sure women have the best chances of success.
Most studies on blood flow dynamics have been performed around IVF cycles however a British study - published in Human Reproduction - sought to evaluate the extent of blood flow problems in women with unexplained infertility in a natural menstrual cycle.
The researchers used three-dimensional power Doppler imaging to evaluate the endometrial (and sub-endometrial) blood flow to the uterus and endometrial development in twenty nine women with unexplained infertility and nineteen controls. Monitoring was performed on alternate days from day three of the menstrual cycle through ovulation then every forth day until menses. This form of Doppler imaging is far more sensitive than that used in previous studies.
The study demonstrated that the women with unexplained sub-fertility had blood flow patterns similar to the controls but at critical times during the mid-late follicular phase (before ovulation) and in the early luteal phase (just after ovulation) blood flow to the endometrium was significantly impaired despite similar hormone profiles and thickness of the uterus lining. The researchers concluded that:
"Endometrial and sub-endometrial vascularity are significantly reduced in women with unexplained sub-fertility during the mid-late follicular phase irrespective of estradiol or progesterone concentrations and endometrial morphometry."
A specific electro-acupuncture treatment performed by fertility specialists has been proven to significantly improve uterine blood flo and may be one of the reasons why acupuncture is often helpful to women with unexplained infertility. If you are looking for a fertility acupuncturist check the website of the American Board Of Oriental Reproductive Medicine (ABORM)for a certified practitioners near you.
Certain herbs, foods and nutritional supplements may also positively alter blood flow. Vitamin E, L-Arginine and HCG shots have been shown to increase blood flow in the corpus luteum and fish oil has been demonstrated to improve uterine blood flow.
Chinese medicine often uses powerful circulation stimulating herbs to enhance fertility especially in women who tend to feel cold. Cinnamon or ginger tea are great examples of simple and effective blood circulating herbs that you can try daily to boost your blood flow.
If you have unexplained infertility having your blood flow evaluated may help to fine-tune your diagnosis and help you to get pregnant faster.
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Endometrial and subendometrial perfusion are impaired in women with unexplained subfertility N.J. Raine-Fenning, BK Campbell, NR Kendall, JSClewes, IR Johnson. Hum. Reprod. (November 2004) 19 (11): 2605-2614. doi: 10.1093/humrep/deh459 First published online: October 1, 2004