Clinical Trials

I was so hoping I’d hear from my doc today with the results of my AMH test.  Maybe they will wait until Friday to call me so my weekend can be ruined.  I think at this point I’m rather be in denial than know that my ovarian reserve is actually low.  But, if this process has taught me anything, it’s to never assume everything is fine.

In my last post regarding the answers my doctor provided during my consult, I mentioned his view on supplements, acupuncture, and other methods thought to help increase odds of IVF cycle success.  I think this topic in and of itself is touchy for many, so please know I don’t mean to offend anyone. We obviously all have our opinions, values, and life experiences which support our actions.

To date I have not invested in any supplements, nor I have seen a specialist for acupuncture treatments.  I try to stay active by exercising regularly, but this is really more for overall health and wellness, not just simply to facilitate a pregnancy.  On Monday when I asked my doctor if there was anything I could be doing in the meantime, before our next cycle officially starts, I didn’t specifically mention anything, he brought it upon himself to list these topics.  I can only assume they are topics he is used to discussing with patients, but again, I’m assuming.

My doctor’s advice was, in a nutshell, not to spend my time or money on these items.  He did make a point to say they aren’t going to hurt me, but his real focus was on saying they weren’t going to necessarily help me either, pointing out that no studies have proven a correlation between their use and IVF success.  So, allow me to explain this…

My clinic is part of a University teaching hospital.  Faculty and staff, including all of the REs I see there, are required to perform research.  This is something you don’t always see in private practice.  For example, my husband is a Urologist at the hospital where I’ve been seeking treatment, therefore he also has been forced to incorporate research into his career.  He personally has little interest in research, and I highly doubt he will continue doing such once he’s finished at the University and working in his own practice, but for the time being, he is forced.  So, over the past five years my husband has had quite a few papers published in a variety of medical journals, some far more prestigious than others.  Keeping that in mind is important, because not all research is created equal.  Most any physician, or really anyone, can study something, write a paper, submit it to lots of journals, and chances are a few of those journals will publish it.  No seriously, Eric has completed lots of so so research he wants to trash, but he’s been forced to submit it, and next month another of his works will appear on the cover of something, I forget which one now.

Okay, this is becoming long with no real point yet!  My point is, not all research is created equal.  For example, Eric could easily do a quick inventory of all my fellow bloggers, take their IVF success rates and attempt to correlate it with a list of factors, say those taking a certain supplement.  He could probably get the results published, but would you trust it?  Such a paper would be called a study, which is the vast majority of anything you’ll find on the internet.  Studies aren’t proof, they aren’t regulated…  I’m not saying they can’t and don’t disclose valuable information though.  Some do, but I have to assume a lot don’t.  Real proof comes from clinical trials, which are expensive, timely, highly regulated, and so much more, as they more often lead to FDA approved ‘things’ for lack of a better term.  Again, I’m not saying something has to be FDA approved to be worthwhile, just trying to explain the difference here.

In getting back to my doctor’s comment, I have to assume he was referring to clinical trials, of which I haven’t been able to find any supporting acupuncture or supplements, etc.  I assume that a line has to be drawn somewhere as to what a physician is willing to recommend.  Our resources (time and money for the most part) are limited, therefore I assume it’s in our doctor’s best interest to only recommend proven solutions.

On a more personal note, I’m honestly not sure how I feel about ‘unconventional’ infertility remedies.  I often feel stuck between a rock and a hard place.  I’ve tried to keep an open mind as I read many of your blogs.  But then there is Eric in the back of my head telling me not to waste our money.  I can’t fault him though, he’s been trained to think as such.  Not saying it’s right or wrong, it’s just how they are trained, they crave proof, which does strike me as odd since they call it practicing medicine!

So, will I try any of these methods during our next IVF cycle?  Honestly, probably not, but not because I’m 100% against them.  I’m trying more and more to watch what I put into my body, and while I’m far from perfect, I guess I just don’t see the point in ordering something off the internet and trusting its makers.  It reminds me of all the times I’ve wanted to buy something, Eric looks at the ingredients and says, yeah, it’s just ‘fill in the blank with something pointless like water’, don’t bother.  Fancy names sometimes though!  As for acupuncture, I have heard a lot of good things from fellow bloggers, but finding the time might be the issue.  I feel stressed enough with finding time for all the IVF monitoring appointments.  I’m not sure I need more stress of finding more time off work.

To close, I truly hope I haven’t offended anyone.  If you have had positive experiences with any specific products, I’d love to hear more about them.  I’m always open to learning 🙂

14 thoughts on “Clinical Trials

  1. I used vitex to balance my hormones and got pregnant within a month of using it. It definitely makes my husband happy because it balances my mood and I’m not angry or irritable anymore. It’s not a hormone and is natural I like that I don’t have to stop taking it,, I can take It through periods and after and while pregnant. It worked out for me. Also it’s not expensive.

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    1. I was curious about this, so I made my husband look it up. He found one paper written, but he had to request a copy of it, so as soon as I have it, I’ll post it!

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  2. I like everything you are saying. When I teach my Comp 2 classes and we talk about argument, I always press my students to find actual evidence and not just rely on anecdotal claims.

    I am still waiting to find out if what I saw this morning was real or not. I’ll find out in my beta on Friday. But I do know that this cycle (and last), I have branched off a bit into the unconventional by listening to meditations. Mostly, they help me relax and the visualizations are good because I am so pessimistic and down on myself. I see a chiropractor to align myself and feel that this helps me stay strong and focused and what not. However, if I had cancer, I would absolutely seek an oncologist.

    I think sometimes, like maybe with acupuncture, people believe it will work for them and that simple idea of believing it will work makes something happen. I would say I’m a believer in the combo of traditional versus nontraditional but I’m sure I would feel different if I came from a medical background. I think whatever works is cool as long as it works.

    As far as supplements go, I only take a prenatal and fish oil (the really pure stuff).

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    1. I do believe that our sense of state, meaning how stressed, relaxed, etc. we are, has a lot to do with our health, as different hormones are released when we are in each of these states. That said, I think it’s great you’re found meditations that can help you! This goes for acupuncture too, if it calms and de-stresses us, I say, more power to it! I think you’re right too, positive thinking goes a long way when it comes to health. As far as chiropractors though, I better not say too much on this topic, as you’ll probably not like my thoughts 🙂

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  3. Thank you very much for writing about this topic.
    First, I agree, it is completely controversial with many different opinions.
    Second, although we are dealing with RPL, our RE gave us very similar advice – there is no clinic studies to prove any naturopath treatments or supplements or acupuncture will do anything, According to our doctor, all studies completed actually indicate higher success rates with the RE protocols. He doesn’t personally believe in any of it, but if we want to try it he did caution against taking anything “too weird”. I have no idea what that means.
    Third, I did acupuncture for nearly 3 months. We still had a miscarriage. So, I’ve decided to spend my money on other things, as my personal experience provided absolutely no benefit.
    Fourth, my husband and I are both full supporters of scientific study (although not doctors) and like Eric and yourself, at this point we just aren’t willing to buy into it. I believe living well by exercising and eating well is the best approach to life regardless of RPL. And, like you I am petrified of taking supplements made who knows where with who knows what. So, for now, I’m relying on healthy living and technical medical advice. Who, knows, maybe one day I’ll get a bit more desperate?

    Anyways, again, thank you for sharing and touching on such a touchy subject. 🙂

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    1. You’re very welcome, and yes, maybe someday I’ll get more desperate too! I have a paper my husband found I want to post about, a fertility blend supplement. Kind of interesting… I’ll post as soon as he receives the full copy he requested from the journal!

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  4. Thank you SO much for this post. You are so right. This is true of many fields beyond medicine too, of course. When I was a PhD student, I could easily publish one of my lame brain diarrhea moments in a blog, but my field’s prestigious journals require peer review, a long review process, etc. That said, my husband had a low count discovered during testing pre-IUI, and he started taking those men’s fertility vitamins – all three from FertilAid for men – and his numbers went up slowly but surely. For the first IUI, we had to sign the yucky waiver saying we realize this is probably not going to work, but for the second, we had almost 10million. His motility was still pretty bad though. We are now a couple days from transfer for our first IVF cycle, and his numbers were FABULOUS! Anyway, I totally agree with you – that’s what I’m trying to say. And while these vitamins did work for us, our RE was pretty noncommittal about them, and said they wouldn’t hurt but wouldn’t necessarily help either. Thanks for bringing a little sanity to the internet, Stefanie 🙂

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    1. You’re very welcome! I was really hoping everyone wouldn’t attack me for posting such… I’m really thrilled that you did find something that helped your situation. I think as time processes and more studies and ultimately trials are completed on supplements, we’ve have more trusted options. I mean, years ago IVF wasn’t trusted, and here we are!

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  5. Well, to each their own. I strongly believe in lifestyle, diet, and supplementation–I don’t need studies to prove it because I’ve lived the results and seen transformations in other people. And a lot of notable clinics (CCRM) insist upon protocols that modify lifestyle and diet, and include supplements and acupuncture. So, my belief is that people in Western medicine that cling to clinical trials and eschew Holistic medicine are…how do I say this nicely…narrow minded.
    The odds are that eventually you WILL get pregnant regardless, as you have not been diagnosed with DOR or anything. Would supplements or acupuncture help? Maybe. Will they hurt? No.
    XOXO

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    1. I get we won’t all agree about everything, and what fun would that be anyway!? Ultimately though, I’m not narrow minded, just a different way of thinking.

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      1. I didn’t mean that (narrow minded) personally, I was broadly referring to Western medicine in general. But yeah, diversity is important and “there’s more than one way to skin a cat”. I have cultivated my perspective based on my own experiences, just as we all should. XO

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