Unexplained infertility represents the most frequent diagnosis in women. It simply means that your doctor cannot find any medical explanation for why you are having fertility issues. This does not mean that there is not a problem. It means that, due to insufficient medical knowledge and current technology, the medical solution is difficult to find. However, Chinese Medicine is able to 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 also treated successfully, with acupuncture and Chinese herbs.
Chinese Medicine takes a different approach to defining infertility and looks at the subtle manifestations and ramifications of imbalance across the entire body. Dr. Zhou, a Chinese Medicine infertility specialist, has many years experience in the treatment of 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, it indicates that there is not enough blood to nourish the uterine lining, which then cannot support the implantation and development of the embryo. 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 and thus contribute to the successful implantation and nourishment of an embryo.
It is not uncommon to see patients who 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 poor blood flow through the uterine arteries, which causes the uterus itself to become a toxic environment. This "static blood" also impacts 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 to become implanted.
"Cold womb"means that the uterine lining fails to respond to the warming hormone, progesterone. Women with this condition usually have slow rising and/or early declining BBT (Basal Body Temperature). Cold hands and feet, cramps helped by a heating pad, lower back pain, low libido, frequent urination and early morning loose stools are also symptomatic of this condition. “Cold womb” not only causes the wrong temperature for the embryo to grow, like a seed growing in chilly weather, but also congeals the blood inhibiting uterine circulation. The focus of treatment is to warm 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, and thereby creates a highly nurturing environment in which to implant the embryo.
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, and make it harder to allow smooth passage of the egg or embryo. These small abnormalities damage the function and flexibility of the tubes. 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 good flexibility of the tubes ensuring mobility and free passage for the embryo in the tube. Thus functional tube blockage will be avoided or resolved.
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 our body that helps reduce anxiety and tension, improve sleep and increase resistance to stress. So the patient becomes calmer and more at ease.
Prolonged or severe PMS causes hormonal imbalance and low fertility. The response in the body 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 premenstrual syndrome 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.
We know there is nothing we can do 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 the blood flow to the ovaries, and increases the resistance to stress, which naturally exerts 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 is caused by dysfunction in the body and, therefore, the goal of treatment is to help the body's systems return to correct functionality. In addition to carefully evaluating each patient, discovering subtle signs of imbalances that impact on fertility, she believes that 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, and the results she has seen have been enormously encouraging.