How Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine Fit Perfectly Into Your Fertility Puzzle

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How Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine Fit Perfectly Into Your Fertility Puzzle

Chinese medicine (TCM) is in the news a lot because it has had great success in helping women and couples who have been unable to get pregnant.  Acupuncture and herbal medicine have been used to help women get pregnant into their 40’s, with or without IVF.  Sometimes women come to us having tried IVF 3 or 4 times with no success, and then find success using TCM to support their IVF process.  Whichever method you are using to try to get pregnant, there are a lot of strengths that acupuncture and herbal medicine bring to the fertility puzzle.

TCM diagnoses individual women based on their individual constitutions, not their age.  Yes, age is always a factor in fertility.   However, from the TCM perspective, one 42 year old may have a strong pulse and a sturdy constitution, while another 42 year old may show signs of weak Kidney Yin, Yang, or Essence.  These two women do not fit in the same category based on their age alone.  We treat the imbalances of the person sitting in front of us, not the category a chart puts them in.

TCM treats both women and men.  We all know it takes two to tango.  Whether the sperm is coming from your male partner or your donor friend, if that sperm isn’t up to the challenge, then all the treatment for the woman is for naught.  Even if you are going through an IVF cycle with ICSI (intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection) you want the sperm to be the best quality it can be.   Some men have a hard time coming along for treatments for themselves, but TCM can make real changes to the sperm quality that can dramatically change fertility outcomes.

TCM supports the natural fertility process.   While IVF is a major breakthrough that has changed the way our society thinks about fertility, it is a strategy for getting pregnant that basically circumnavigates the body and its functions.  TCM’s approach is to nourish the body’s actual fertility mechanism with gentle herbal medicine and acupuncture, rather than synthetic hormones.  That isn’t to say that one is better than the other, but it’s important to understand that they are different.  One big difference is that, because TCM’s approach works with the body’s natural functions, improving fertility with TCM takes time – often 3-6 months is the norm.  This can be difficult for people who are feeling the pressure of age, or who have tried IVF a few times already, but this time period is often needed to improve the natural function of the body.   Whether you’re going with IVF or trying to conceive at home, we can often actually help the body to create better quality eggs, encourage ovulation, nourish the endometrial lining, and warm the uterus.

Acupuncture may help improve implantation rates.   At this point, numerous studies have shown that getting acupuncture around fertilization (or embryo transfer in the case of IVF) can significantly improve the rate of implantation in the endometrial lining.  Many IVF clinics even offer acupuncture at the time of embryo transfer to improve implantation. Fertilization and implantation happen at the point when the Yin processes of growing the egg meet the Yang processes of moving the egg down the fallopian tubes and implanting into the uterine lining.  Acupuncture helps the Qi to flow more smoothly during that process so that the reproductive system can do what it was made to do.

Acupuncture helps to relieve stress.  Dealing with issues of fertility can be very stressful!  Trying to get pregnant for a long period of time can put a lot of strain on individuals, couples and relationships.   Going through the IVF process especially, where the woman is given one hormone after the other, can be very straining both physically and emotionally.   Stress interferes with our body’s functioning in all kinds of ways, including influencing the regular hormonal balance of the body and affecting fertility.    Acupuncture can help to relieve that stress so that the body can function better, your hormones can be more balanced, and your little embryo can settle in to a calm environment.

There are many acupuncturists who specialize in fertility, and who are able to work with you whichever approach you decide to take.   Once you are pregnant, there are many ways that acupuncture can support your pregnancy as well!

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