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Chinese Medicine and Infertility

The Tai Chi, also known as the Yin/Yang symbol, is the foundation of Chinese medicine theory. Every aspect of our health can be seen in terms of Yin and Yang, two equal, opposite and complementary elements. Generally Yin substances are cooling, calming, moistening, nourishing, and softening. Conversely, Yang substances are warming, energizing, drying, metabolizing, and firming.

In terms of fertility, the dark half, Yin, is representative of certain qualities of the menstrual cycle like blood, cervical fluid, the ovum, and the follicular phase. Imbalances of Yin may result in poor quality eggs, lack of cervical mucus, higher FSH levels or PCOS.

The light half, Yang, is representative of the Yang qualities and functions like egg discharge during ovulation, basal body temperature rise, menstrual flow and the luteal phase. Imbalances of Yang might manifest as inability to ovulate, lack of temperature rise, lack of sex drive, recurrent miscarriage, or abnormal uterine bleeding.

Acupuncture stimulates blood flow to the reproductive organs, helps to regulate hormones and encourages implantation. The increased blood flow can help to build a thicker, more nourishing uterine lining for the embryo. In Chinese medical theory, acupuncture is used to affect various functions of the body. Acupuncture points are chosen to open the channels of energy required for conception to take place; remove stagnation of Qi and blood, and calm the mind and heart.
These are some positive changes that can be observed:

  • Elimination or reduction of PMS symptoms.
  • Regularly timed menstruation (~28 day cycles).
  • Adequate cervical fluid at the appropriate time.
  • Timely ovulation and basal body temperature rise.
  • Other changes you may notice are an increased sense of well-being, reduced irritability, and better temperature regulation.
Chinese medicine has a long history, over 2,000 years, of successfully treating infertility. The philosophy of Chinese medicine allows one to understand the complex and beautiful intricacies of the human body as a whole. Chinese medicine offers a fresh perspective on your health with gentle and effective treatment options that optimize your body’s potential to conceive with or without artificial interventions. Get to know your body through the lens of Chinese medicine. Correct imbalances through gentle acupuncture, medicinal herbs, and diet and lifestyle changes customized to you.

Acupuncture and In-Vitro Fertilization

Various studies have discovered the value of acupuncture in combination with In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). The outcomes show that pregnancy rates are significantly higher when acupuncture is performed with IVF than when IVF is performed alone (42.5% vs. 26.3%).123
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can complement IVF in several ways.

Option 1:
Optimally, three to six months of acupuncture and Chinese herbal treatment prepare the body for conception and child bearing. Then, acupuncture is continued through the IVF process. The aim of this treatment protocol is to regulate the menses, enhance egg quality, increase uterine lining, regulate the hormones, and reduce stress. Men should also be evaluated and treated with acupuncture and herbs if necessary during this time. This option is the most beneficial since it fine tunes both partners using the best of both Oriental and Western medicine.

Option 2:
Women may also choose to prepare their bodies for conception by receiving acupuncture only for the two months leading up to the IVF procedure, and then scheduling a visit just before and just after the embryo transfer. This involves visiting an acupuncturist regularly, approximately one or two times per week, depending on the reproductive history, and current situation of the patient. The benefits of these treatments are to reduce stress, stimulate blood flow to the reproductive organs, reduce side effects of medications (headaches, hot flashes, mood swings), and finally to encourage implantation.

Option 3:
Improved IVF results may still be achieved with acupuncture treatments done before and after the embryo transfer only.4
Treatment is flexible and will be customized to fit the needs of every couple.

Fertil. & Steril. vol. 77 No.4 April 02; 2. Med. Acup., Spr/Sum. 2000 vol.12/No.2; 3. Fertil. & Steril. 06, Dieterle, et. al; 4. Fertil. & Steril. 06, Westergaard, et. Al; 5. Acup. & Electro-Therapeutics Int. J. Vol. 22. 1997 pp97-108 1997