Infertility rates in the United States have increased dramatically in the last 15 years and now almost one in five couples experience problems with infertility. In pre-modern Chinese society, failure to have children and especially sons was regarded as a personal disaster of great significance. Therefore, Chinese doctors placed great emphasis on the treatment of infertility, both male and female. With 2,000 years of recorded clinical experience on the Chinese medical treatment of this condition, acupuncture and herbal medicine are finally being recognized as safe, gentle and effective therapies for infertility.
Some of the benefits of Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine are:
1. Improves the function of the ovaries to produce better quality eggs: Acupuncture and Chinese medicine stimulate ovarian function allowing for the development of better quality eggs and stronger and healthier embryos.
2. Regulates the hormones to produce a larger number of follicles: Based on our clinical experience, Chinese medicine can help the ovaries produce double the number of viable follicles.
3. Increases blood flow to the uterus which helps the development of follicles: The implantation of the embryo, and increases the thickness of the uterine lining.
4. Relaxes the patient and reduces their stress: Stress hormones (such as epinephrine) interact with the hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian axis and interfere with the hormones that are responsible for normal ovulatory cycles. In addition, some hormones that are released during times of stress can cause the uterus to contract, and interact with immune cells, both of which will interfere with proper implantation. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine helps prevent uterine contractions and decreases the chance of miscarriage.
5. Reduces the side effects of the pharmaceutical drugs used in IVF: Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help the ovaries respond better to the stimulating drugs by producing more follicles and better quality eggs and significantly reducing these drug’s side effects such as nausea, abdominal bloating, and cramps.
6. Strengthens and regulates the immune system: Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can balance and strengthen the immune system resulting in better overall health and vitality.
While some patients respond quickly, Chinese medicine does not work overnight. Most patients require a series of ongoing treatments over a period of one month to a year. The recommended treatment schedule is based upon the consideration of many factors that are unique to each individual. In many cases, we recommend that the patient start acupuncture and Chinese herbs at least 3 months prior to the beginning of the IVF cycle, with the patient continuing treatment twice a week until the day of the transfer. For those patients trying for a natural pregnancy, in many cases at least 2 normal menstrual cycles should pass before trying for a natural pregnancy.