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Posted by Dr. Alison McAllister on Thursday, 09 April 2015

The Fertility Screening Tool You May Not Know About

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Infertility is a heart breaking condition that affects millions of people around the world or approximately 8-12% of couples.

When a couple has been trying over a year (under the age of 35) or over 6 months (over the age of 35) screening for hormonal causes is one of the first recommended steps. This is because sometimes simple adjustments to thyroid and/or progesterone can result in fertility.

Fertility testing screens for numerous problems found in those with infertility. ZRT’s Fertility Profile looks at all the sex hormones and includes the recommended panel of tests by Resolve™, the national infertility association: Estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone – evaluating ovulation, luteal phase defect, and PCOS. It looks at the adrenal hormones – evaluating DHEAS and Cortisol which allows for PCOS, blood sugar imbalances, adrenal insufficiency. It includes a complete thyroid panel including screening for hypothyroidism as hashimotos – TSH, Free T4, Free T3, and TPO antibodies. A day 3 (day 1 = first day of period) FSH and LH allows for screening for PCOS markers as well as looking at the ovarian egg reserve. This panel was designed to be one of the first things done for someone looking at why they aren’t pregnant, but is also a good test to screen men who are also part of a couple with problems.

I’ve found this first line screening to catch many things that people really hadn’t considered and that many OB/GYNs had not looked at.

I’ve seen this information help women who are already in the process of doing clomid or letrazole where no one had fully evaluated them prior to trying these medications. I’ve also seen a lot of luteal phase/anovulatory cycles, PCOS, Hashimotos and hypothyroidism in women who really didn’t have the classical symptoms – they just couldn’t get pregnant. 

As a naturopathic doctor, many people have wondered if I am against using fertility medications. The answer is no. However, I see women all the time being set up to fail these treatments. What do I mean by that? A fertility specialist will generally “allow” approximately 3 tries with oral medications before recommending IVF which is great, but very expensive.

So, of course you want to see people have success in those 3 tries. However, if a patient has Hashimotos or PCOS that is unrecognized and untreated, it makes it less likely that they will get pregnant with oral medications and/or more prone to miscarrying once pregnant. Instead, my recommendation is that women have a period of time where they are optimized for health and fertility and then use those medications or IVF knowing that their success rates are going to be much higher per cycle.

Obviously, this panel can not identify anatomical reasons for infertility and there are lots of unknowns. But I hope that you might consider this panel and be able to help a couple get pregnant. It’s one of the best feelings in the world to be a part of someone’s miracle.

 Related Resources

Watch Addressing Cases of Infertility Webinar  

Tagged in: Hormone Balance Fertility Patient Education