Natural Killer cell activity may be important to your fertility

About 3 years ago I wrote about an autoimmune issue that could explain some “unexplained” fertility issues and when addressed could help some couples become pregnant.

This is also coming to the forefront when dealing with not only unexplained fertility issues, but recurrent miscarriage and in IVF why some good embryos just don’t seem to implant.

Here is the old tip with updated information from me about what you can do to see if this is an issue that has been overlooked for you.

Aug 2005, updated june 08
What the scientists at a New York Medical centre have found, though only on a small scale and larger studies need to be performed, is that if you think you are fertilising and not holding you may be experiencing an autoimmune issue.

Natural Killer cells are cells in our bodies that we need to get rid of structures that could otherwise cause problems in the body, i.e. tumors, cancers, etc. However when these NKC are at increased levels in the uterine lining or endometrium,(and there is controversy over what increased is because they numbers differ significantly in different parts of the cycle) they might be actually mistaking the embryo for a foreign body and attacking it, not allowing it to implant. However more needs to be learned about the NKC in the uterine lining because it does appear to be different than the NKC in other parts of the body, and therefore what actually happens is unknown and maybe much more complex or simplified than what researchers now surmise.

If however elevated levels of NKC do create issues for fertility it may still be hard to understand why your own body may be attacking the fertilised egg. Remember though that the immune system’s response is meant to get rid of all foreign invaders in your system to keep you healthy. If your body looks at the fertilised egg as a foreign invader then it may try to get rid of it. In some cases because the fetus wouldn’t have survived or it has a chromosomal defect the body will get rid of the pregnancy for this reason.

Elevated Natural Killer Cells in the endometrial lining may be an issue for you if you have had recurrent miscarriages or many missed conceptions (fertilisations that just don’t seem to take), or several IVF attempts where you seem to produce good quality embryos but they just don’t attach.

To test this, more recently physicians are doing biopsies of the endometrial lining to assess NKC activity. If elevated then medicine can be administered either with an artificial cycle or right when a natural pregnancy is detected to suppress the activity of the NKC long enough for the embryo to implant. I have found that not all doctors know about this but most are willing to look into it and find out how they can test it if they don’t do it already. So talk to your fertility specialist about this issue if you have had several IVF cycles with good embryos but no implantation, recurrent miscarriages or long cycles where your temps are elevated past the normal 14 day luteal phase but then drop out and you begin menstruating 16, 17, 18 days post ovulation.

If the tests turn out to be positive, as I referred to earlier medically they can do some things to address the issue, but naturally you may be able to assist as well. Progesterone has been considered nature’s own immunosuppressent. Meaning if there is enough progesterone available there ‘the NKC activity may not be an issue. Siiteri PK, Febres F, Clemens LE, Chang RJ, Gondos B, Stites D 1977 Progesterone and maintenance of pregnancy: is progesterone nature’s immunosuppressant? Ann NY Acad Sci 286:384–397[Medline] This would then bring us back to the thyroid and adrenals since T3 a thyroid hormone and cortisol, your stress hormone, directly impact progesterone production.

Studies have shown that fish oil is beneficial to help address autoimmune issues. We recommend fish oil that has gone thru the procedure to remove as much mercury as possible. FOr more info abuot these fish oils, you can contact us at info@sharkeyshealingcentre.com.au.

Vitamin E is also an excellent choice but should always be taken in synergy with other supplements to create the best effect for the body.

There are many very effective herbs that can be used to support optimal autoimmune system function as well as support progesterone production. Lifestyle changes that can be done such as utilising natural cleaning products at home which can minimise your exposure to toxins which have been shown to negatively impact the immune system. As a matter of fact Dr. Judy Ford from Adelaide performed a study that showed increased exposure to chemical toxins at home through cleaning products can negatively effect fertility. Natural cleaning products can be found at your local grocery.

The New York study showed some positive results when the immune system was treated with many women sustaining their pregnancies full term. Its important to remember that this was a small scale study and further testing should be done to confirm the findings, but for now improving the health of your immune system will not only improve your fertility, but your overall health and well being.

Discuss this information with your doctor and if they do not want to do the testing it’s important to find a physician who is willing to work with you. One doctor told our patient that testing this was impossible, but fortunately most doctors are intrigued when they hear about different information that can be potentialy beneficial to their paitents and are willing to research the informatin for you to see how they can help you.

Fertility tips are (C) copyright of Stacey Roberts and Positive Image publishing. This material is not to be distributed or reproduced in any fashion without expressed written consent of Stacey Roberts

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