Why use Chinese medicine to treat infertility?
Chinese medicine (acupuncture and herbal medicine) are very effective treatments for infertility, both as a primary treatment or as an adjunct treatment to Western medicine depending on what issues one is experiencing in terms of fertility.
Chinese medicine and acupuncture are holistic in the sense that the practitioner takes into consideration all of a patient’s signs and symptoms, and then works to establish health and wellbeing in order to facilitate optimal fertility. The nice thing about this is that patients actually feel healthier as they receive treatment. This is a great way to start out a pregnancy.
How do you treat infertility with Chinese medicine?
Various strategies can be employed to facilitate fertility, conception and a healthy pregnancy. For example, if a patient has been trying to get pregnant for several months, and nothing is “wrong” per se, then the practitioner will work to make the menstrual cycle regular and the patient as healthy as possible in order to increase the chances of getting pregnant naturally.
Analyzing a BBT chart is very useful for this process. We always ask our patients to keep this type of chart. We use it to determine if all the hormones are in balance and if ovulation is occurring. A BBT chart will also tell us if the two phases of the menstrual cycle, before and after ovulation (the follicular phase and the luteal phase), are normal and healthy. And don’t worry; a skilled acupuncturist specializing in fertility should always be able to analyze the BBT chart for you. You do not have to figure out what it means on your own. Some common problems with menstrual cycle that we see often are a short luteal phase or a short follicular phase. It is also common to see lack of ovulation or a problem with the timing of ovulation.
One of the keys to fertility is that everything has to line up in perfect harmony for conception and pregnancy to occur. Even one small problem can throw a wrench in the works.
When we correct imbalances this way – specifically, harmonizing the menstrual cycle – many women can then avoid bio-medical treatments for infertility, which are expensive, time consuming and can result in twins and triplets. Bio-medical fertility treatments can also cause unwanted side effects. So if one can avoid it, so much the better.
If the difficulty getting pregnant stems from something beyond a typical imbalance, such as age-related infertility, premature menopause, fibroids or endometriosis, Chinese medicine can still help. We encourage women to use Chinese medicine in conjunction with bio-medical treatments. Chinese medicine can also be used to counteract the side effects of fertility treatments using drugs such as Clomid, Lupron, Follistim, Gonal F and Menipur. These drugs can cause headaches, mood swings, hot flashes, thin endometrial lining, and implantation problems.
Other issues affecting fertility
Another issue we keep an eye on is pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS). The symptoms associated with PMS are a sign that the hormones are out of balance. This imbalance to which PMS alludes can easily be corrected through acupuncture, herbal therapy, supplements and dietary therapy.
Other fertility issues that can be addressed by acupuncture and herbal therapy include fibroids, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and primary or secondary amenorrhea.
Adele has been treating gynecological and fertility issues for over 14 years, and has addressed all of these issues to good success in her clinic. Adele has built a team of practitioners in her practice to offer full service to gynecology and infertility patients.
Chinese medicine and In-vitro Fertilization (IVF)
Acupuncture has been scientifically proven to increase the chances of success in IVF treatments, and for this, it is best to start treatments before an IVF cycle. In fact, Adele recommends starting treatment 2 to 3 months in advance of IVF. However, if you have already started IVF, Adele still encourages you to start acupuncture right away. We recommend to women already undergoing IVF when they start receiving acupuncture to, at the very least, receive treatment on the day of transfer and to have treatments subsequent to transfer to aid in implantation.
This is also true for women undergoing a transfer from an egg donor to encourage implantation. In some cases, the bio-medical treatment can be avoided altogether, but this depends on a lot of different factors. Each case is individual and needs to be assessed individually. Only then can the practitioner and patient can formulate a treatment plan together.
Recurring miscarriage and failure to implant with IVF can also be addressed. I have a lot of experience with these issues. I often recommend patients to also see a reproductive immunologist if this problem is recurrent. Again all of this can be discussed during an initial consultation, and an individualized treatment plan can be determined at that time.
The bottom line
All of these problems can be analyzed by the acupuncture practitioner and corrected. We have found at Adele Reising Acupuncture, with a skilled practitioner, most of these problems can be resolved within 3 months. Pregnancy often occurs within 3 to 6 months after starting weekly treatments. This is especially true for patients who are 37 or younger.
Adele Reising, L.Ac. is a practitioner of Chinese herbal therapy and acupuncture since 1997. She received advanced clinical training in the field of gynecology and infertility at the Xi Yuan Yi Yuan Hospital in Beijing, China during a 6 month internship in 1998 following her completion of her Master’s degree in Traditional Oriental Medicine at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in New York in 1997. She has taught graduate and post-graduate courses on the specialization of gynecology and infertility for several years.