Friday, February 29, 2008

Test your own fertility - empowering women with medical information !

We treat infertile patients from all over the world, and many of them are very well-informed and understand their treatment options well. However, one of the problems they face is that it's often very difficult for them to get their medical tests done. Family doctors are often not very co-operative or well-informed - and there can be long waiting lists to see a specialist in many countries. Moreover, some of these tests can cost a bomb - not because the tests are expensive, but because of the doctor's consultation charges.

Finally, there is now a much better alternative for infertile couples. In collaboration with MyMedLab, we now offer infertile couples in the USA a chance to get their blood tested for the five key reproductive hormones - FSH,LH,PRL and TSH, and estradiol. This test, usually done on Day 3 of the cycle, gives us an excellent idea of their ovarian reserve, and helps them to formulate the right treatment plan.

We feel this is an innovative way to help patients to cut down on their medical costs and saves them time and money !

This type of service is also a great way of empowering women; and is also useful for 2 other groups of women.

1. Older women, who are worried about their biological clock, and need to check their ovarian reserve. The baseline FSH level is a good index of the number of eggs left in the ovaries. A high FSH correlates well with poor ovarian function.

2. Women with irregular periods. The reason their periods are irregular is because they do not ovulate. This is called anovulation and maybe because they have PCOD ( polycystic ovarian disease) or POF ( premature ovarian failure ) . This simple blood test can help them to make the correct diagnosis !

Not only can women order their tests themselves, they can also monitor their own fertility, if they so desire. Thus , many women with poor ovarian reserve will try alternative medicine, including yoga, acupuncture and herbal medicines to try to improve their ovarian reserve. Since most doctors do not believe in the efficacy of these interventions, they are not very helpful or supportive, so that most women have no idea whether the alternative medicine is really helping them, or just wasting their time ! They can now monitor their own FSH levels every few months, so they can track their own progress; and decide their next course of action.

What's really exciting about this is that women can now carry out their own clinical research ! Groups of women can collaborate; try various interventions ( such as yoga or acupuncture or DHEA) ; and track their own FSH levels and analyse these to see whether any patterns emerge. This is putting power back where it belongs – in the hands of the patient !

If they need help is making sense of their lab results , they can enter the lab values and clinical details in our Free Second Opinion form at and I’ll help them interpret the results !

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