Female Fertility Acupuncture
A study published in the journal Fertility & Sterility, found acupuncture improves pregnancy success rate by 50% in women undergoing
in-vitro fertilization, or IVF. [Paulus W, et. Al., Influence of acupuncture on pregnancy rate in patients who undergo ART. J Fertility & Strerility, 2002 April;77(4):721-4.]
In fact, the evidence that acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine have been used to aid fertility, can be found in early medical literature dating back to year 3 AD.
Infertility affects up to 15% of Canadian couples and maybe attributed to a number of diverse factors. Infertility is defined as a"failure to achieve a successful pregnancy after 12 months of regular unprotected intercourse" (PCASRM 2008). Recent surveys suggest that between 11.5% and 15.7% of Canadian couples attempting to get pregnant are dealing with an inability to conceive, with prevalence rates increasing with advancing maternal age (Bushnik 2012). It is estimated that approximately 30% of infertility causes may be attributed to male factors and 40% to female factors. In the remainder cases, a combination of influences or an undetermined cause are deemed to be responsible (AHRC 2010).
In spite of our ability to image, measure and quantify so many aspects of the reproductive tract, a clear cause of infertility cannot be identified in a number of cases (Ledger 2009). These unexplained cases may be attributed in the future to other pathological processes that are the subject of current research including immune functioning (Siam 2011), genetic enzymatic variants (Eloualid 2012) and signaling peptides (Sadeu 2012). A role of oxidative stress in infertility has also been proposed by numerous authors (Agarwal 2005, Ruder 2009, Visioli 2011).
Causes of infertility
Infertility can be traced to either the man or woman, or a combination of both:
Causes of infertility in women may include:
Other causes of infertility in both men and women may include:
Did you know?
Please click here to learn about gynecological and menstruation disorders from TCM view.
Menstruation phases according to TCM:
According to the TCM, in addition to Kidney, Liver, Spleen, Heart and other meridians and organs, there two main meridians that govern the menstruation and pregnancy in women. These two channles or meridians are called Chong and Ren.
The Chong meridian originates in the area between the two Kidneys, and passes throught the uterus and then goes down to link with the Ren meridian below the female genitals. It then emerges in the lower abdominal area and continues along the Kidney meridian in the center of lower abdomen up to below the neck base. It follows up the throat, encircles the mouth and continues up to the forehead. A second branch flows from below the female genitals inside the spine to the lower back. A third branch flows downward to the foot where it links with the Spleen and Kidney meridians.
The Ren meridian originates in the uterus and emerges from a point below the female genitals, where it links with the Chong meridian. It then goes up along the midline of the abdomen, chest, throat and jaw and ends at a point in the lower jaw. The interior portion of the meridian winds around the mouth, connects to the Du meridian which runs on the back and stops below the eyes. Another branch of it arises from the pelvic cavity and enters the spind and ascends along the back.
This shows the close link of Chong and Ren meridians with menstruation and female fertility.
On day one of the female menstrual cycle, the Chong begins to empty, and the women start to shed their lining. As you can imagine, this phase is dominated by the movement of blood and qi. This is the best time of the cycle to regulate blood and qi in a woman who has blood stasis and qi stagnation, because your treatment coincides with the natural blood and qi movement that is occurring.
The next phase is the proliferation phase, where a woman's uterine lining grows back.
The Chong vessel (after emptying during the period) needs to be completely refilled to start building the uterine lining again and growing the follicles. This is accomplished through an overabundance of yin and bloodto fill up the Ren and Chong so that the yin and blood can perform their function of producing the lining and the follicles. The focus will be on building yin and blood during this phase. This happens from the end of the period at about day five right through to ovulation.
At ovulation, the fullness of yin turns into yang through the act of ovulation popping the dominant egg out of its follicle. This is why it is important to nourish yin and blood during the proliferation phase. Only when yinand blood are full and overflowing, can the yin be transformed into yang. This process is mirrored physiologically by the threshold levels of the estrogenic-phase hormones needing to be reached before ovulation can occur. From a TCM perspective, the egg popping out and the movement of the fallopian tubes to gather and move the embryo into the uterus for implantation is the movement of qi and blood. Hence, treatment at this time should regulate the qi and blood to encourage this natural movement taking place within a woman.
The next part of the cycle is the progestogenic yang phase of menstruation.
Here, the progesterone secreted by the corpus luteum slightly warms the uterus and dries up the cervical fluid to help provide the best nest for the embryo to develop. This is the part of the cycle during which a woman notices a slight change in her temperature if she is using a basal body-temperature chart to record her cycle changes. Not coincidentally, this warming and drying phase of menstruation is the yang part of the cycle. TCM doctors realized the importance of a warm womb long ago. In fact, there is a diagnosis labelled "cold womb" or "cold in the uterus," which is a cause of infertility. It is important to warm yang to ensure a healthy menstrual cycle.
Once again, the cycle of transformation of yin and yang renews itself by a fullness of yang being released and transformed into yin through a healthy menstrual flow. At this stage not only can you help a woman have a healthier cycle following the natural physiological changes in a woman's reproductive system, but because this cycle is so important to a woman's overall physiology, acupuncture can greatly affect her overall health, too.
Acupuncture, Herbs, Reiki
How does acupuncture work to enhance female fertility?
According to the principles of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), a person's health is determined by having a balanced flow of "Qi", the vital life force circulating throughout the body. Acupuncture and herbal medicine are the means of influencing this energy to induce a particular effect in body. In modern terms, acupuncture can affect the nervous and endocrine system.
Many modern researches have confirmed its benefit in the following areas:
Who can benefit from fertility acupuncture?
Good candidates for acupuncture and herbal medicine are people who have a functional, rather than structrural etiology for infertility. Infertility due to hormonal imbalance i.e. fluctuating FSH, immune disorders, amenorrhoea, irregular menstruation, dysmenorrhoea, dysfunctional uterine bleeding, fibroids and cysts, stress and age related factors, all fall into the category of functional infertility.
Stress can dramatically decrease fertility in both women and men. Acupuncture can increase fertility chances by reducing stress.
For those whose infertility involves structural issues, such as fallopian tube damage or severe endometriosis, a complete medical evaluation is recommended to understand the exact nature of the problem before initiating TCM treatments.
Acupuncture is done on Chong, Ren , Kidney, Spleen, Heart, Liver, Stomach meridians for female fertility patients. Some points will be selected on the lower abdomen where Uterus and Ovaries are located. Some points will be done to calm the mind and reduce stress and balance hormones.
Your initial visit is usually about 1.5 hrs and includes an evaluation based on TCM and an acupuncture treatment for fertility. Follow up visits are only one hour long.
A customized herbal medicine treatment plan, will start from your second visit. Herbs are administered as raw herbs that you take home and cook them once a week, and keep the decoction in a glass jar in the fridge and normally drink it 2-3 times a day.
You also follow a reasonable diet as well as proper exercises.
Give the treatment 6-9 months, but there are patients who can get pregnant earlier than that, since every one responds differently to the treatment and there is no set time.