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The Role of Luck in Infertility

By Tracey Minella

March 17th, 2014 at 11:44 am


credit: Gualberto107/

Shamrocks are the symbol for the luck of the Irish. And a four-leaf clover is the luckiest. But if you’re reading this, chances are you are suffering from infertility. And feeling quite unlucky.

The connection between luck and fertility goes way back. Can you remember a time before you’d give your right arm to get pregnant? I’m talking waaay back when a pregnancy would have been an unwelcome surprise. Maybe, like Rizzo in Grease, you too dodged a bullet. A false alarm. You felt lucky.

Then your situation changed and you were ready to start a family. You stopped birth control and wondered how quickly you’d conceive. What did you figure? Maybe a month or two?  If you were lucky.

But it didn’t happen for you. Your family and friends got pregnant easily though. They were lucky.

This “luck” obsession follows you everywhere. Even into the IVF clinic. So you sit in the waiting room with all the other so-called unlucky ones. And you notice some of the same faces during morning blood work and sonos. You are cycle-mates with these women. You know some of you will succeed and some will not this cycle. Maybe you even silently torture yourself… playing a game in your head trying to figure out the odds. Who looks older or less healthy? Oh, that one with the stroller will obviously succeed. Wait, did that older woman say she’s using donor eggs? (Like I said…it’s torture.) And you wonder …who will be the lucky ones?

In the spirit of the luck of the Irish, I offer you this hope:

Though you may enter the IVF clinic feeling unlucky, every single patient who comes in is in a position for their luck to change. You are taking the steps to change your luck simply by being there.

So remember that as you sit waiting. (And if you have lucky charms with you, hey that couldn’t hurt either.)

Some patients’ luck changes after a simple office procedure, hormonal therapy, or surgery. Others may find luck with IUIs or IVF.  IVF success rates continue to rise due to skilled doctors and better technology, but there will always be some element of luck involved. How else can you explain the picture perfect, highest-graded, double embryo transfer not resulting in a pregnancy or the less promising, lower-graded, single embryo transfer scoring a solid positive beta?

There’s an expression for good luck in infertility circles…it’s called “baby dust”. And people all over the blogosphere wish “baby dust” on those trying to conceive. Since I personally loathe that expression…and everyone deserves alittle luck of the Irish today…I will send out my own Irish fertility blessing to all ye lassies:

May there be a baby in that pot at the end of your rainbow. Well, not instead of the gold—more like nestled on top of it. Lord knows you deserve the gold, too. (Besides, a baby in an empty pot is just creepy.)

Oh, and may the rain stop soon so you can find it.

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What lucky charms or lucky traditions do you have or do on your fertility journey?


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Acupuncture: What’s the Point?

By David Kreiner MD

March 11th, 2014 at 8:22 pm


image courtesy of stuart miles/free digital

I have previously mentioned the conundrum facing a Western-trained physician embarking on the study of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  It is part of our nature after a lifetime of scientific training to explain natural phenomena such as health and illness in ways that have been documented with physical evidence. 

The basic physiology on which TCM is constructed has no corresponding physical support that can be seen or measured…a requirement that scientific thinkers rely on to reassure ourselves about the validity and rationale of a proposed theory or treatment.

Instead, it feels to me as I study TCM that I am memorizing random “facts” with corresponding syndromes and treatments.  For now, I must push myself to continue my studies unconcerned that these basics I am committing to memory are not supported by any physical evidence other than the stories of successful therapies.  It is premature for me to pass judgment for as they say, “the proof is in the pudding”. 

In fact, as a practicing reproductive endocrinologist I have seen patients with poor ovarian function or previous failed pregnancies succeed in their child-building endeavors after acupuncture intervention is added as an adjunct to their fertility treatments. 

For this reason, I persevere to learn as much as possible because despite my own admission that TCM is difficult for me to accept as “scientific truths” I believe that it offers potential advantage to my patients as they go through their Western fertility therapies.

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How important to you is the science…or measurable physical evidence…behind an infertility therapy? Can you take a leap of faith and hope “the proof is in the pudding”?

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