A Digression: Coenzyme Q10

November 3, 2009

I have to thank a very good friend of mine for bringing to my attention the issue around coenzyme Q10. First of all, I admit I don’t know much about it although I did a brief search. Secondly, I just wanted to use this as a ‘case study’ as to why couples on the infertility treatment train get so exasperated.

My friend is a very smart gal; she is not a doctor but she’s able to discern marketing sites from medical sites and she does her research. Several months ago, she came across some information that led her to believe that CoQ10 could help improve her egg quality. There is a study being done on women with primary infertility aged 38 – 43 at the Toronto-based TCART clinic and she spoke with one of the doctors there. I am not sure if the study is complete at this writing but if it is, I will post the results. In the meantime, this doctor said that he believes it might help female infertility.

In a very simplistic explanation, without going into DNA, the theory is this: as our eggs age, they cannot produce the requisite amount of energy for proper egg maturation, embryo development and implantation. There is some belief that CoQ10 might help increase energy production thereby allowing the chromosomes to separate better, increasing embryo quality and also pregnancy rates.

Now back to the present, when my friend goes to see her (and my former) fertility specialist at another centre, Dr. G. At this appointment, Dr. G. switches tack from three months ago, when she criticized my friend for asking about CoQ10 to now urging her to take it.  My friend feels like she is being put through the wringer for challenging Dr. G’s views on various medications and vitamins. There is a definite lack of respect for fertility patients in the sense that in this field, I have not yet met a doctor that has offered choice. It is the old-school way of handling patients: doctor knows best. Clearly, this is an evolving field. Doctors really don’t know and they should not make judgments based on patient preference. Rather, specialists in the field should agree that they don’t know everything and, as this is a purely elective process, just be frank with their patients about what’s new, the side effects (hello! anyone talk about side effects, ever?!), the studies, and why they are recommending a certain protocol and then — wait for it — sit back and let the patient decide.