Acupuncture for Fertility
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Acupuncture for unexplained infertility
Unexplained infertility is the most frequent diagnosis in women. It simply means that your doctor cannot find any medical explanation as to why you are having fertility issues. This does not mean that a problem does not exist. It means that, due to insufficient medical knowledge and limitations in current technology, the medical solution is difficult to find. However, Chinese medicine can identify the subtle fertility imbalances that may interfere with a woman’s ability to conceive. More importantly, these subtle problems can not only be fully explained, but treated successfully with acupuncture and Chinese herbs.
Chinese medicine takes a different approach toward defining infertility; it looks at the subtle manifestations and ramifications of imbalance across the entire body. Dr. Zhou, a Chinese medicine infertility specialist, has many years of experience treating reproductive and infertility issues. She often discovers subtle fertility problems by carefully examining the different stages of a woman’s menstrual cycle and evaluating every aspect of the body’s health, individual emotions and lifestyle. Underlying factors she has found that may possibly contribute to infertility from the perspective of Chinese medicine include:
If a woman does not have menstrual periods, or experiences a slight or short menstrual flow, the indication is that insufficient blood exists to nourish the uterine lining. Thus, the lining cannot support the embryo’s implantation and development. For successful implantation, the endometrium must be both thick and nourishing. Acupuncture and specific blood tonic herbs increase the production of blood and enhance its flow to the endometrial lining, allowing the body to produce more blood vessels and create more tissue. This contributes to the successful implantation and nourishment of an embryo.
It is not uncommon for patients to complain of severe menstrual cramping, large blood clots, dark brown menstrual flow and incomplete discharge, followed by spotting. In Chinese medicine, we call this “static blood.” It means that the uterine arteries are experiencing poor blood flow, which makes the uterus a toxic environment. This “static blood” also affects the quality of the endometrium and, thus, hinders implantation. Acupuncture, along with blood-regulating herbs, clears blood stasis, reduces constriction in the uterine arteries, and encourages the complete discharge of menstrual blood. As a result, new endometrial tissue becomes fresh, healthy and ready for an embryo’s implantation.
Cold Womb/Cold Uterus
“Cold womb” means that the uterine lining fails to respond to the warming hormone known as progesterone. Women with this condition usually have a slow-rising and/or early-declining Basal Body Temperature (BBT). Cold hands and feet, cramps helped by a heating pad, lower back pain, a low libido, frequent urination and early-morning loose stools are also symptoms of this condition. “Cold womb” not only causes the wrong temperature for the embryo to grow, like a seed growing in chilly weather, but congeals the blood, thereby inhibiting uterine circulation. Treatment focuses on warming the uterus, which in turn maintains progesterone at satisfactory levels. This not only helps metabolic activity, but also allows the uterus to secrete sufficient nutrients, thereby creating a highly nurturing environment in which to implant the embryo.
Functional Tube Blockage
Chinese medicine works very effectively for a functional tube blockage. This means that spasm and tension in the muscles of the fallopian tube may obstruct or tighten the tube, hindering the smooth passage of the egg or embryo. These small abnormalities affect the tubes’ function and flexibility. Tubes may still appear open, but they are not functioning properly, and the embryo may reach the uterus at an inappropriate time for implantation. Acupuncture promotes the flow of energy to relax muscle tension and encourage the tubes’ flexibility, thereby ensuring mobility and free passage for the embryo in the tube. The result is the avoidance or resolution of functional tube blockage.
Stress plays an important role in influencing fertility. Stress interrupts hormonal communication and leads to hypothalamic anovulation. It can also increase prolactin levels and prevent ovulation. Stress can cause tension in the fallopian tubes and affect the transportation of the egg, sperm or embryo. Studies indicate that electro-acupuncture stimulates the sensory nerve fibers and may inhibit the sympathetic outflow at the spinal level (Fertility and Sterility vol. 77, no. 4, April 2002). Additionally, acupuncture increases production of beta-endorphin, which is a natural chemical in the body that helps reduce anxiety and tension, improve sleep and increase resistance to stress. Thus, the patient becomes calmer and more at ease.
Prolonged or Severe Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Prolonged or severe PMS causes hormonal imbalance and low fertility. The body’s response to an imbalance in progesterone and estrogen levels may be irritability, bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, sleep disturbance and food cravings in the week before the period or even two weeks into each cycle. Chinese medicine, acupuncture and herbal medicine is known to address PMS by regulating the energy flow in the Liver meridian. This, in turn, naturally improves the body’s hormonal balance and encourages optimum function of the reproductive system.
Poor Egg Quality
We know that we can’t do anything to change the DNA of the egg itself, but we can certainly enhance follicular nourishment and development. Chinese medicine emphasizes the replenishment of Kidney Jing and Yin (reproductive essence), enhances blood flow to the ovaries and increases resistance to stress, which naturally has a positive influence on egg quality. For more information, please read Acupuncture can help reduce high FSH and improve egg quality.
Dr. Zhou recognizes that most unexplained infertility stems from dysfunction in the body and, therefore, that the goal of treatment is to help the body’s systems return to their correct functionality. In addition to carefully evaluating each patient to discover subtle signs of imbalances that affect fertility, she believes it is important to keep the treatments congruent with the phases and stages of the menstrual cycle. Dr. Zhou utilizes years of experience in applying acupuncture and specific timing in the use of herbal medicine and their required doses at the appropriate stage of follicle and endometrial development.
Having treated a great many women with unexplained infertility, Dr. Zhou strongly believes that most functional infertility can be treated successfully with the help of acupuncture in conjunction with herbal medicine. The results she has seen have been enormously encouraging.
” I believe that I would never have been able to continue have a normal life without the help of her acupuncture treatment and Chinese herbs” – Cathy W
“Acupuncture and few lifestyle changes helped us to get to where we are today… the proud parents of our precious little girl” – Robin & Clary