When you miss your regular period, and have been trying to conceive, a positive sign on a home pregnancy test can be a long awaited affirmation. However the excitement can become a devastating loss, if the pregnancy is not viable.
Miscarriage occurs in 15-25% of known pregnancies, and about 1% of women suffer from repeat miscarriages. Recent evidence suggests acupuncture and Chinese medicine may be an important treatment to improve fertility by preventing miscarriage.
The most common cause of miscarriage is age. As the mother’s age increases, so does the risk of genetic abnormalities leading to an unsustainable pregnancy. More research now also suggests the father’s age and overall health could also play a role.
In simplest terms, a miscarriage is a pregnancy involuntarily ended before the 20th week of pregnancy or if the unborn baby’s weight is below 500g or 1.1 pounds. It is classified in many ways: threatened miscarriage, inevitable miscarriage, incomplete miscarriage, complete miscarriage and recurrent miscarriage.
Threatened miscarriage is vaginal bleeding with or without cramping, but the opening to the uterus is closed and not compromised. In this situation, there is generally no passage of tissue, only blood or pink discharge.
An inevitable miscarriage presents with bleeding, cramping and passage of uterine tissue as the uterus opens. A miscarriage is imminent.
An incomplete miscarriage is represented by an incomplete discharge of pregnancy products. The fetal and uterine tissue is partially or completely retained. This can lead to severe infection.
A complete miscarriage is self-explanatory. All pregnancy tissue is completely expelled by the body.Is it only age?
While age is a considerably influential factor, there are several other reasons for a spontaneous loss.
Fetal genetic abnormalities
Nearly 50 to 75% of all losses are due to chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus.
An abnormally shaped uterus, thin uterine lining, the presence or polyps, uterine fibroids, or adhesions can make it difficult for successful implantation or adequate blood flow to the gestational sac.
Autoimmune disorders such as lupus, anti-cardiolipin antibody (ACA), anti-phospholipid antibody (APA), anti-thyroid antibodies (ATA), and antinuclear antibodies (ANA), anti-sperm antibodies (ASA), increased natural killer cells and elevated levels of homocysteine. Elevated homocysteine can lead to blood clots.
Hormonal imbalances can include progesterone deficiency, untreated or poorly managed metabolic diseases such as hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, uncontrolled diabetes, and polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Bacterial Vaginosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, mycoplasma, ureaplasma, Toxoplasma gondii, Listeria monocytogenes, and Campylobacter species.
This is a broad section. It includes lifestyle behaviors and environmental exposures. Smoking more than 10 cigarettes a day is strongly associated with recurrent miscarriage. Drinking two or more alcoholic beverages a day, or consuming 300 g or more of caffeine daily, are also implicated. Lifestyle behaviors, smoking cessation, and behavior modification are often prescribed. Environmentally speaking associated with directly or indirectly causing miscarriage are: dry cleaning agents; solvents such as acetone, xylene, tricholorethylene; heavy metals like mercury and lead; benzo(a)pyrene (BaP); chemicals like ethylene oxide, chlorpyrifos (Durban), butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA); and Poly Vinyl Chlorid (PVC) plastics.
There is limited, but growing evidence that sperm may be a contributing factor to miscarriage.
Family building was of central importance in Chinese culture dating back to the ancients. As such, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine is used to treat new mothers facing a miscarriage. If there is a genetic abnormality, there is nothing that can be done. While this does not make the experience any easier, nature recognizes the delivery of a healthy baby is not possible in this case. Our job as acupuncturists is not to intervene in this situation. Instead, we redirect the treatment focus to supporting the body through its natural process and prepare you for the next opportunity for pregnancy. We can offer help however when the situation arises in a threatened miscarriage due to the mother’s physiology and complement the western treatment.
The key to prevent miscarriage from a Chinese medicine perspective is preparation prior to conception. Taking the time to ensure the body is working at its most optimal state is essential. Treatment is focused on correcting issues caused by aging, hormone imbalances, overactive immune responses, or clearing a blockage due to adhesions or polyps. The fertile potential of each egg is increased, and the uterus and fallopian tubes become more hospitable environment for sperm. Fertilization of the egg, maturation into a robust embryo, and implantation of the healthy embryo are all supported by Chinese medicine.
Acupuncture for miscarriage
Acupuncture and TCM can normalize hormones, improve blood flow to the uterus and fetus, enhance the uterine lining, moderate the immune response and reduce stress to facilitate better carrying chances.
TCM believes that Kidney and Heart and Spleen play an important role in maintaining pregnancy. So certain acupuncture points on these channels, which are safe during pregnancy, are selected to raise the Qi and help body to hold the fetus better.
Central to the treatment plan. In general, treatment to prevent miscarriage includes weekly acupuncture for the first 4-5 months to support better implantation, and carrying chances. Depending upon your TCM diagnosis and current biomedical treatment, weekly acupuncture, diet and lifestyle modification, and dietary supplementation tailored to your needs are always part of the treatment plan. If appropriate, Chinese herbal therapy may also be suggested.
Acupuncture, Herbs, Reiki