Did you know that it took 34 years for the U.S. Surgeon General to report on the dangers of smoking after the first correlation was established between cigarettes and lung cancer?
Thirty-four years! That is the entirety of my lifetime right there. That’s like finding out that cigarettes could be bad when Space Invaders came out, but waiting until the iPhone 5 to “officially” inform all those people who were smoking them. That’s nuts! And it should remind us that change takes time, especially when it comes to rocking an establishment.
If you’re not a science person, that’s OK. You don’t need to like science to understand the main point of this page, and this website. Here it is:
If you’ve been to a fertility specialist for infertility, miscarriage or IVF, chances are they specialize in Reproductive Endocrinology, Genetics, or Maternal-Fetal Medicine. But Reproductive Immunology is its own field and is still viewed as “experimental” by many doctors and insurance companies. In fact, not even the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recognizes the merits of Reproductive Immunology.
So how does this affect YOU?
For the woman who has struggled with infertility, miscarriage, or repeated failure with current treatments like in vitro fertilization, it may actually be very important that she knows this difference exists. If most fertility specialists are not giving credence to reproductive immunology, I believe they are treating women with outdated advice, then handing them a ticket to a dead-end. Space Invaders.
If you’ve been to a specialist who has left you with no answers, perhaps this blog can help you. Your doctor might have told you that they have followed every protocol and tested you for everything there is to test, and that there isn’t really anything they can do to stop you from miscarrying/being infertile/failing at IVF repeatedly. They might dismiss your case as “unexplainable” or “unlucky.” That’s what happened to me, and I later found out that it wasn’t the end of the road. I just had to find the right doctor to help me – one who wasn’t using ACOG protocols that were 11 years old.
What IS Reproductive Immunology?
Basically, reproductive immunology is the study of how the immune system affects fertility and pregnancy. There are several different ways that the mother’s immune system can malfunction and begin to work against her reproductive system. A reproductive immunologist tests for a wide range of factors not normally addressed by other reproductive specialists, then treats the woman with any number of drugs or therapies in order to correct the problems. (See the page titled “Resources” for a list of doctors and other information.)
Now, some readers might be thinking, “Well, my doctors already tested me for immune problems and ruled them out.” That’s exactly what I said in the summer of 2011, after I miscarried for the third time. My fertility specialists DID test me for immune issues. Then they told me that nothing was wrong, and they sent me away empty-handed. Unfortunately for the unknowing patient like me, ACOG guidelines recommend only a handful of immune tests that merely scrape the surface. But a Reproductive Immunologist performs many more. See if any of these tests look familiar to you:
- FOX P3 (CD4+/CD25+/Fox P3)
- RIP (modified)
- TH1/TH2 Cytokine Ratio
- NK Assay
- HLA Panel
- CBC with differential
- T-cell Subset
- KIR Receptor
These are the blood tests that Dr. Braverman, a reproductive immunologist based in New York, ordered for me in August 2012. I still couldn’t tell you what most of them mean, but he found a few key pieces of information that he’s using to come up with his immune treatment plan for me. You can read a complete list of reproductive immunology tests here.
Infertility and repeated pregnancy loss can be very sad, lonely roads to walk. I created this website because I was concerned that too many women might be stuck on that road like I was. And how are my fellow females going to know they can get off that road if no one tells them?! So, I shoved my previous specialist’s naysaying in a sack, and “Repro-Renegade” was born. I hope that one day I can show the naysayers the advances that other doctors are making by taking a more proactive approach to fertility. I hope that I’ll be healed so that we can add more children to our family. I hope I can be just one voice standing up for something I believe in, helping others move forward, too. I firmly believe that every human has good they can do by sharing their life with others. This site is one place I can share mine.
photo credit: jollyboy