Treatables > Infertility

Treating infertility with TCM

The benefits of acupuncture and TCM in treatment for the infertile couple can be found in early Chinese medical literature dating back to the 11 AD.
In Chinese tradition, having children are considered continuing the root of the family, therefore treating infertility became a very important part in TCM.

Majority infertile couples, according to western medical test, are nothing wrong with their health, their fallopian tubes are open, their hormone level is normal. While from traditional Chinese medicine point of view, people could have imbalance body which does not show in western medical test, but will cause infertility problems. The major imbalance body symptoms that directly related to the infertility are kidney deficient, liver Qi congestion and Dampness (spleen deficiency). TCM treatments for infertility are concentrated on these issues.

Kidney deficient

In TCM, kidney is not just an organ; it means the whole psycho and physical relationship of kidney function and its meridian pathways. Kidney deficiency is result of either genetic influences, or lifetime habits and illnesses. All chronic imbalances affect the kidney meridian, common kidney deficiency symptoms are: lack of menstruation, prolonged menstrual cycles with pale menstrual discharge, low back pain, frequent urination, low sex drive, later first period (16y, 17y); emotionally, infertile patients often show a lot of fear, their tongue looks pale, their pulses often deep and weak; sometimes abortion or miscarriage may also cause kidney deficiency.

Case1: 41 years old female, already has a 3 year old boy; recent years, period became very light and last only two days; her vagina was very dry, she had frequent urination; her tongue looked pale, her pulse was deep. In order to get pregnant again, she already had 4 circle medications with IUI, but did not work. When she came to our clinic, she had already filled another prescription, and was preparing for the fifth IUI. On initial consultation, Dr. Xie suggested that she stop medication and IUI for several months, and try acupuncture treatment. After two months, she was pregnant.

Liver Qi congestion

Emotional frustration is the main cause of the liver Qi congestion, such as having a job he or she doesn't enjoy, often working long hours, and unhappy family life. Physical symptoms of liver Qi congestion include irregular periods, cramp, dark colored bleeding, clots, breast tender before period, headache, PMS, angry and upset easily. Such patient often shows a tight pulse and red tongue. Liver Qi stagnation affects the blood flow in the pelvic cavity. Using acupuncture treatment, in conjunction with herbal medicine at the right time in the menstrual cycle will very likely clear the congestion.

Case2: A 34 years old Japanese female, looked so unhappy when she first visited our clinic, her husband was the only son in the family, they expected to have a baby so badly, that gave her a lot of pressure, she can't sleep well, her breast got very sour before the period came, her tongue looked very red, and her pulse was very tight. Her situation was a typical liver Qi congestion, therefore the treatment was focused on the liver and heart meridian. She was also told not having spice food, chocolate and deep fried food during the period of treatment. After five months acupuncture and herbal medicine treatment, she was pregnant.

Dampness (spleen deficiency)

Spleen is the organ which responsible for digestive system of a human body, if a woman has spleen deficiency; she could have problems with production of blood and Qi, and could also accumulating dampness in her systems. Patient with dampness often has symptoms like over weight, missing period, lot of discharge, dizzy, tightness in chest, diarrhea. Patient's tongue looks coated, pulse is weak, and often shows some kind of depression.

Case3: A 39 years old female, has been married for 12 years, everything was fine according to the conventional medical test. Her first period started when she was 16, she had chronic low back pain, and it worsened when she had her period, her stomach got upset easily, she also has anemia, and always feel cold. Her tongue looked pale and coated, her pulse was weak. She had kidney and spleen deficiency according to TCM diagnosis. After initial visit to our clinic, she decided to try acupuncture and herbal medicine treatment, postpone her already scheduled IVF. After 2 month acupuncture and herbal medicine treatment she was pregnant.

Acupuncture treatment enhancing
the Assisted Reproductive Techniques

Although modern medicine is getting very sophisticated in its treatment of infertility, the majority of the treatments do not succeed.
According to TCM, there are 2 main reasons for this lack of success.
First, Western medicine ignores the importance of the woman's constitution which is not just general health, but body balance as well. Patient will say, I do not have any health problems, I excise regularly, I eat healthy, and I am a vegetarian; that does not mean their constitution is good. For example, vegetable is not good for people who are Yang deficiency, eating salads (cold nature food) for years is not the best diet for a person who has generally a low basal body temperature. Sometimes eating meat such as lamb (warming food) can help nourishing a "cold" barren uterus.
Chinese medicine has the tools to diagnose constitutional deficiencies and treat them successfully. A proper combination of acupuncture and diet will provide good preparation for the woman prior to getting pregnant. This will ensure her a safe and healthy pregnancy, a healthy baby and a quick recovery.
Second, Inability of Western medicine to recognize the body and mind are connected.
Emotion affects the body balance, while physical imbalance affects the person's emotion. If a woman try to get pregnant unsuccessfully for a period of time, she is very easy to get frustrate, which makes getting pregnant more difficult. Acupuncture could help reducing the stress and relaxing the uterus of patients.

Acupuncture and TCM helps Assisted Reproductive Techniques in many ways, such as minimizes undesired side effects and accumulated toxicity from invasive procedures and drug therapies, known and unknown; strengthen and balance one's general health so that IVF, GIFT, IUI, ICSI and other procedures are more effective. Infertile patient derives general health benefits and endocrine system balancing from specific acupuncture and herbal medicine. Pregnancy becomes easier to achieve and postpartum recuperation happens fast.

Recent medical research showed the advantages of using acupuncture in Assisted Reproductive Techniques. Two teams of researchers in Germany and China have found that adding acupuncture to the treatment regimen of women using assisted reproductive techniques to have a child can dramatically improve the women's chance of getting pregnant. Their findings was published in the April issue of Fertility and Sterility and widely reported in the popular press.
Women's uterus typically undergoes several contractions while an embryo is being transferred, which reduces the chance of successful implantation significantly, acupuncture could help relax the uterus during the procedure.

Case1: a 40 years old female musician with a very stress and busy life, had three times failed IVF, was trying fourth time. The acupuncture treatment she received aimed not only for uterus but also for her stress. She was pregnant with her fourth IVF.

Case2: a 38 years old single female, tried six circles of IUI, didn't work. She was over weighted, got tired easily and had hard time to concentrate. Her bowl movement either constipated or diarrhea. After one month acupuncture and herbal medicine treatment, she got pregnant with the following IUI.

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