Infertility from a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treatment of infertility began long before the advent of modern technologies like IVF. There were no blood tests to measure oestrogen and progesterone levels, no ultrasounds to determine development of follicles, no ovulation tests. Instead, diagnosis and treatment were based on detailed observation of external signs and symptoms, tongue and pulse, diet and lifestyle.
In modern practice, integrating both Eastern and Western methods can improve outcomes.
IVF TREATMENT SCHEDULE
This treatment schedule is based on clinical trials, which have shown a significant increase in pregnancy rates.
1 – 2 treatments per week for 4 – 6 weeks prior to egg collection.
1 treatment 2 days after egg collection.
1 treatment as close as possible to embryo transfer.
1 treatment as soon as possible after transfer.
- Frozen cycles follow the same schedule -
Once a pregnancy occurs, TCM can lessen the chance of a miscarriage.
By regulating the immune system it reduces the risk of rejection and has a beneficial effect on blood circulation to the uterus and placenta, thereby increasing organ function.
An IVF pregnancy is a charged emotional time. Regular acupuncture will reduce anxiety and allow you to enjoy the pregnancy.
PREGNANCY TREATMENT SCHEDULE
1 treatment weekly until 12 weeks.
1 treatment at 20 weeks and at 30 weeks.
1 treatment weekly from 36 weeks.
Research has shown that use of TCM as a whole system (including acupuncture, herbs, moxibustion) as well as dietary and lifestyle advice, significantly increases the incidence of live birth in conjunction with IVF.
Even better results can be anticipated if we prepare the body for IVF by beginning treatment at least three months before IVF and continue throughout all the stages of the procedure.
If you have already had a number of IVF cycles without conceiving, we recommend taking a break for a few weeks and having regular treatments to balance and strengthen your hormones and reproductive energy.
Sometimes acupuncture and TCM alone are sufficient for conception to occur, especially if you fall into the category of “unexplained infertility.”
Acupuncture treatments to increase fertility are rhythmically aligned with the menstrual cycle. During the period, treatment regulates flow and alleviates any pain. In the follicular phase it regulates hormones, and boosts development of endometrium and follicles. Midcycle treatment will induce ovulation. During the luteal phase treatment is again focused on regulating hormones.
Throughout the entire cycle there is an important focus on reducing stress.
THE MAN'S ROLE IN IVF
It’s easy to overlook the man in this process but excellent quality sperm morphology and motility show strong Qi (or life force), which is essential for the growing baby.
Acupuncture and herbs have been proven to increase sperm production and quality. Normal development of sperm takes 74 – 120 days so it is important to have treatment 3 – 6 months prior to sperm donation and on the day of donation.