While endometriosis is better understood in terms of its cause(s) and which natural treatments are most effective, both it and unexplained infertility can be mysterious fertility health issues. If you have either, we know you understand!
I recently reviewed research about a technique called lipiodol flushing that offers good news for women with these fertility issues that may be worth learning more about. It turns out lipiodol flushing may significantly improve fertility, facilitate a return to fertility and improve pregnancy rates, specifically for women with endometriosis (with open fallopian tubes) and women with unexplained infertility.
What is Lipiodol Flushing?
Lipiodol flushing is a procedure similar to hysterosalpingogram (HSG). A catheter is inserted into the cervix, lipiodol (medical grade, iodized poppyseed oil) is then injected into the uterus and fallopian tubes with guidance from an X-ray (a flush procedure can use a water-soluble medium, but lipiodol is the preferred material). Lipiodol flushing is performed at a doctor’s office generally on or before day 12 of the cycle, after menstrual bleeding has stopped.
How Does Lipiodol Flushing Support Fertility?
Lipiodol flushing is believed to help an embryo stick to the endometrium, increasing chances for successful implantation. The doctor who pioneered the technique, Dr. Neil Johnson, proposes the oil may regulate genes involved in cell signals and immune function, which prevent a woman’s body from rejecting an embryo.
What Does The Research Show?
In one study of 73 women with endometriosis and unexplained infertility, 38% of those who received lipiodol flushing became pregnant within 6 months (compared to 16% of women in a control group). Although more research needs to be done, these tests show similar success rates as traditional IVF procedures!
This is promising, especially considering a few of the patients had been trying unsuccessfully to conceive for a few years. Other big benefits of lipiodol flushing include:
- it’s minimally invasive
- costs much less than IVF
- can be performed in a simple outpatient procedure
Lipiodol Flushing Isn’t For Everyone…
Research shows lipiodol flushing isn’t helpful for women with fallopian tube health issues or who have an allergy to iodine. In rare cases, lipiodol flushing may cause side effects like inflammation. Still, it may be a much more affordable, less invasive fertility-enhancing option for women with unexplained fertility or endometriosis (with open tubes).
Lipiodol flushing has yet to take off in the U.S., but it’s used in New Zealand. To learn more about whether this technique could help you or someone you love, here is a good resource to check out: http://www.repromed.co.nz/Treatments/Lipiodol.html
Further, women struggling with endometriosis and unexplained fertility achieve good results with natural therapies by following a Fertility Cleanse, using supportive herbs and supplements, and a daily stress management plan.
- Johnson, N.P. (2005). A review of the use of lipiodol flushing for unexplained infertility. Treat Endocrinol 4 (4): 233–43. Retrieved from: http://link.springer.com/article/10.2165%2F00024677-200504040-00004
- Roberts, S. (2011, Jan.) Fertility Help. Have A Baby Blog Spot. Retrieved from: http://haveababy.blogspot.com/2011/01/lipiodol-flush-may-help-you-increase.html
- Johnson, N.P., et al. (2004, July) The FLUSH Trial—Flushing with Lipiodol for Unexplained (and endometriosis-related) Subfertility by Hysterosalpingography: a randomized trial. Human Reproduction, 19 (9): 2043-2051. Retrieved from:
- Goodenough, P. (2008, July) Medical Trial Finds Effective Alternative to IVF. CSN News. Retrieved from: http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/medical-trial-finds-effective-alternative-ivf
- Grunwell, R.l (2008, May) Good Oil on Childbirth. NZ Herald. Retrieved from: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/health/news/article.cfm?c_id=204&objectid=10507765