Fertility acupuncture and Chinese medicine
Over the last decade there has been an increased awareness around various fertility options. So what’s the low down?
Lets take a look at the issues that create infertility.
THE MALE FACTOR (yes they feel much better in capitals don’t they)
Regardless of the causes of infertility it takes two to tango. Having a focus on just the female limits the chances of a positive outcome. Looking at ways of improving the fertility of both parties is definitely the most best way to start your family. The tough bit is some men don’t like to consider themselves as part of the problem. So ensuring proper education can help overcome the natural fears that come with this highly emotionally charged issue. Male fertility appears in some research to be the cause of up to 30% of fertility issues between couples. So fellas it’s time to look at your role in ‘the family way’.
Blocked Vas Deferens
These are the transport tubes for sperm in the male. Blockage prevents sperm being able to reach the ejaculatory duct further preventing egg fertilisation. This as is the case frequently in blocked fallopian tubes can be as a result of high inflammatory levels in the body.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine has repeatedly shown positive effects in the reduction of systemic and localised inflammation therefore enabling clearing of the vas deferens.
Sperm abnormality, quantity or quality issues
Low sperm count or abnormal sperm is the main issue when it comes to male infertility. this can be improved by lifestyle adjustments including diet and exercise.
THE FEMALE FACTOR
30 – 40% of women with fertility issues suffer with this condition. Endometriosis is a growth of hormone producing cells outside the uterine cavity or within the muscle of the uterine wall. This can be an incredibly distressing disorder creating huge mood fluctuations as well as debilitating pain prior to and during the period. Surgical intervention has high rates of success, however can create scar tissue further compounding any fertility issues and may not prevent the return of endometriosis.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
A hormonal imbalance that results in ovulation not being able to occur which directly affects the ability to fall pregnant. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine has the capacity to influence blood flow to the uterus and ovaries improving function.
The hypothalamus helps to regulate the pituitary glad and the adrenal glands. If it is not functioning effectively it can result in lower levels of Follicular Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinising Hormone (LH), which enable egg production and the release of the egg for fertilisation.
Having been in practice since 1995 it has become extremely apparent that stress has a huge impact on fertility. When we move into a high stress state the body kicks into the fight-flight or adrenal mechanism. In the process of this the body will focus on survival only and so all processes not vital for immediate survival are shut down. This includes the digestive and reproductive systems.
Premature ovarian insufficiency
This is largely considered an autoimmune condition where the bodys’ immune system attacks ovarian cells. It can also be caused by genetic predisposition to premature loss of eggs or environmental factors causing high levels of toxicity in the body.
Blocked Fallopian Tubes
The fallopian tubes are the pathway used by the egg to reach the uterus and blockages can sometimes occur. While western medical interventions have a degree of success they are can also be invasive creating potential risks. Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture have been shown to have significant effect on inflammation in the fallopian tubes that can be the major cause of blockage.
Acupuncture IVF and Fertility
Many health practitioners may recommend acupuncture as an adjunct treatment that may assist with IVF treatment. There is continuing research about how acupuncture can assist with the effectiveness of IVF treatment and you should consult your treating practitioner/s about how acupuncture may be able to help you.
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References and further reading:
- The role of acupuncture in in vitro fertilization: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Shen C, Wu M, Shu D, Zhao X, Gao Y. Gynecol Obstet Invest. 2015;79(1):1-12.
- Therapeutic effect of acupuncture on the outcomes of in vitro fertilization: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Qian Y, Xia XR, Ochin H, Huang C, Gao C, Gao L, et al. Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2016 Dec 19.
- Effectiveness of acupuncture in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome undergoing in vitro fertilisation or intracytoplasmic sperm injection: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Acupunct Med. Jo J, Lee YJ. 2017 Jan 11.
- 16 cases of severe azoospermia treated with Bu Shen Yi Jing Fang.
Liang, H., May, B. Male Infertility: Pacific Journal of Oriental medicine, 7, 40-41.
- Current evidence of acupuncture on polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Gynecol Endocrinol. 2010 Jun;26(6):473-8. doi: 10.3109/09513591003686304. Lim CE, Wong WS
- Acupuncture for immune-mediated disorders. Literature review and clinical applications.
- Clinical study on the treatment of fallopian tube obstructive infertility with acupuncture and Chinese medicine.
Ding li et al, Mod J Int Trad Chin Western Medicine17 (2014): 1828-1829 Modem Journal of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine
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