After many years of supporting women with fertility, I have observed that some who have been trying for sometime without success of conception (either naturally or with recurrent failed IVF embryo transfers) have eventually been tested for Natural Killer Cells (NK cells), and once the appropriate diagnosis is made and treatment is coursed, a successful pregnancy results.
What are Natural Killer Cells?
Natural Killer Cells (NK cells) are a type of white blood cell (lymphocyte), that are naturally occur in your immune system. They are found all over the body, when concerning your fertility we refer to the NK cells in the uterus with marker CD56. They are important for the early detection and elimination of foreign cells that can cause cancer or infection. High levels of uterine NK cells can cause immunological infertility.
Causes of Natural Killer Cells
- Endometriosis & Adenomyosis
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
- Fibroids & Myomas
- Vaginal Bacterial Infections & STIs
- Stress, holding tension and too much busyness
- Cancer, trauma & localised lesions
Natural Killer Cell Testing and Diagnosis
Is via a blood test with or without a uterine biopsy.
How do you know you need Natural Killer Cell testing?
- 3 recurrent miscarriages at less than 35 years
- 2 recurrent miscarriages at more than 35 years
- repeated IVF implantation failure (2 or more unsuccessful fresh IVF cycles)
- unexplained infertility, patient request and gynaecological illness can create an association
Medical philosophy of Natural Killer Cells in the Uterus
Tends to be varied and sways between doctors. Some doctors believe in this theory, especially considering more research and evidence is being presented to support their existence and effect on fertility. Often women will seek a second opinion if they have still have no result and their doctor has dismissed the possibility of NK cells as a cause of infertility.
Medical treatment of Natural Killer Cells
Will vary according to your specialist. It may include and range from progesterone, clexane, prednisone and intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) from embryo transfer or ovulation to 12 weeks as prescribed. Steroid treatment is effective although side effects and unwanted symptoms occur.
Causes of Natural Killer Cells in Chinese Medicine
When I treat NK cells in Chinese medicine, I always address the presenting pattern, underlying cause and your constitution. Patterns often seen associated with high NK cells include kidney deficiency, damp-heat, blood stasis, liver qi stagnation, kidney yang and spleen yang deficiency to spleen qi deficiency.
Chinese Medicine and Natural Killer Cells
A combined treatment of the medical protocol for NK cells with Chinese herbs and acupuncture can provide the mother with a holistic treatment and reduce the severity of side effects which range from reduced foetal growth, mood swings, bloating, digestive upsets and insomnia. Chinese herbs act to support the immunity to regulate it and prevent overdrive and support the kidney energy (adrenals) which is critical for good fertility and health during pregnancy. Ilana regularly works with IVF and fertility specialists to ensure that you get the best available holistic treatment. Studies have analysed this.
A Chinese medicine consultation aims to support the patient and their underlying imbalance through diet, lifestyle, acupuncture, cupping, moxa, Chinese herbs and mindset which Ilana believes leads the body.
If you are in need of support on your fertility journey and especially believe that NK cells are affecting you, Ilana is the experienced, caring and holistic health expert to support you. A tailored program can ensure your body is performing at its peak optimally for better conception and pregnancy.
At Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, expect the best holistic health consultation, tailored treatment and advice with 8 years experience supporting digestive health with acupuncture and Chinese herbs. Call Ilana on 0466 866 450 or send her an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.