Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Making medical decisions when the cause is unknown

For many infertile patients, the biggest frustration they encounter is the answer they often receive from the infertility expert - We don't know !

This is true for some of the commonest problems in reproductive medicine, such as: unexplained infertility;
recurrent pregnancy loss ; and
failed implantation after IVF.

Does this mean that infertility specialists are ignorant or badly informed ? Of course not ! It just means that medicine is a complex science, and it's often not possible to find out what the underlying problem is.

The tragedy is not that we don't know. The tragedy is that when patients are told we don't know, they get paralysed into inactivity ! Their fear is that if the doctor does not know what the problem is , how will he be able to fix it ?

The good news is that you don't often have to understand a problem in order to solve it - you can often bypass it ! Often, it's cheaper and easier to do so, rather than waste time on a diagnostic quest which is often futile !

Remember that doctors are used to making decisions when confronted with uncertainty, so there is no need for you to lose heart ! The important thing is to acknowledge the limits of medical science, and then move on.

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