What infertility conditions can you successfully treat using Functional Nutrition, Acupuncture and Herbs?
- Thin Uterine Lining – A thin uterine lining can cause difficulty when it comes time for the egg to implant itself. Acupuncture has actually been proven to help increase blood flow to the uterine wall, which helps immensely with the process of implantation. Click here to read how Acupuncture can help increase blood flow to the uterus and help with implantation.
- Poor Egg Quality -Poor egg quality is a very common diagnosis for infertility, but while it sounds very dire, the truth is that egg quality can be improved through acupuncture and other modalities. Poor egg quality is often a symptom of other imbalances that must be addressed. This can be especially pertinent if you have a regular menstrual cycle. Click here to read about improving poor egg quality.
- Recurring Miscarriages – Chinese Medicine has 2000 years of written history of miscarriage prevention. Miscarriages from chromosomal defects can be corrected with a 3-6 month course of treatment before TTC again. Miscarriages due to progesterone deficiency often show up as menstrual irregularities and are often corrected with acupuncture and herbs. Click here to read about recurring miscarriages and what can be done to prevent future occurrences.
- Elevated FSH – Sometimes this is identified as low ovarian reserve. Similarly to poor egg quality from a Chinese Medicine perspective we aren’t concerned about the diagnosis. FSH is not a problem, but more of a symptom of a problem. If there is a regular menstrual cycle this can often be corrected.
- PCOS, Amenorrhea or Anovulatory cycles – First we need to bring the cycle into balance. As long as there has been non-medicated cycles with regularity Chinese medicine can often correct these hormonal imbalances. The Western approach for infertility because of PCOS is to use Clomid or gonadatropins (Follistim, Gonadal-F) to stimulate follicle development, however for some women this can cause more imbalances. However Chinese medicine is a much better approach because women with untreated PCOS have a much higher risk of miscarriage. Chinese medicine can help correct the hormonal imbalance of high androgen production that goes along with PCOS which then allows Western ART methods to be used more safely. Click here to read about Chinese Medicine and PCOS.
- Luteal Phase Defect – Luteal phase defect (LPD) also known as Corpus Luteum defect is a controversial subject but one that does seem to appear occasionally. If a woman knows the day they ovulate and then their period starts less than 12 days later that may be termed an LPD. The idea is that the corpus luteum is not maintaining progesterone levels adequately therefore menstruation begins prematurely not allowing proper implantation. Acupuncture, Nutrition and Herbal Therapy are all effective methods for increasing progesterone levels, lengthening the luteal phase and increasing chances of implantation. This is typically an easy clinical fix.
- Unexplained Infertility – One very frustrating prognosis when it comes to infertility is when it is simply deemed “unexplained.” When a woman has regular cycles and a man has a“normal” sperm analysis, there often lacks an explanation as to why they are having difficulty conceiving. In Chinese Medicine, the word “unexplained” is never used, and diagnoses exist that are often not detected through common tests used in Western Medicine. The use of Acupuncture, herbs, and nutrition unequivocally enhances outcomes in these cases.
How does Acupuncture improve fertility for women?
- Acupuncture may impact fertility, ovulation, and menstrual regularity by triggering neurotransmitters which in turn increase GnRH.
- Acupuncture may stimulate blood flow by inhibiting central sympathetic nerve activity
- Acupuncture may stimulate production of endogenous opioids, which may inhibit the central nervous system’s outflow and the biological stress response.
Source: Cochrane et al, 2014 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3962314/
What percentage of infertility cases are because of poor sperm quality?
It is generally accepted among Reproduction Endocrinoogists (REis) that up to 50% of infertility cases involve ‘male factor’. About 30-35% of infertility cases are due to male factor (the same number that are due to female factor). Another 15-20% of cases involve both male and female factors.
How can male factor still be the cause if my husbands sperm parameters are normal?
The tests that are used for ‘sperm testing’ are not specific enough to determine the actual quality of the sperm. It is sort of like determining the weather based on cloud cover.
There is more to sperm than just motility, viscosity, morphology, count etc. One example is DNA Fragmentation which can have a significant impact on fertility:
High sperm DNA fragmentation does not appear to affect fertilisation or the first or second embryo cleavage stages. So there blastocysts can grow.
High sperm DNA fragmentation can affect embryo cleavage once the paternal genome is switched on which can lead to miscarriage. DNA fragmentation levels are closely correlated with IUI, IVF and ICSI miscarriage and pregnancy rates
DNA fragmentation is significantly higher in subfertile men.
High sperm DNA fragmentation is also found in men with normal semen parameters
What conditions require Western ART Fertility Intervention?
- Pelvic adhesions – In the event of endometrial adhesion on the tubes, polyps, and hydrosalpinx, surgery is sometimes required. Even when surgery is necessary, however, it does not address the root cause of the pelvic adhesions, which is often an inflammatory metabolic imbalance. This is why it is very important to not only take care of the pelvic adhesions that may currently be present, but also keep up with a regimen of herbs, acupuncture, and proper nutrition in order to correct root imbalances and prevent new adhesions from forming
- Advanced Maternal Age – The concept of advanced maternal age is both a mixture of myth and fact. While it is true that there is a time at which a woman can no longer conceive, there is no reason to make a cut-off point in the late thirties. Even if a woman is in her 40’s and would like to conceive, treatment with herbs, acupuncture and nutrition will often help increase the ease at which this can happen with IVF and her own eggs, as opposed to using a donor which can be costly.
- Late Menarche w/Lack of Natural Cycles & Amenorrhea – If a woman cannot have a cycle without birth control it is best to use Western ART technology. However Chinese Medicine and nutritional intervention should be used to support IVF.
- Other less common conditions: Severe fibroids impinging the uterus or ovaries; Congenital abnormalities such as a bicornuate uterus; Antiphospholipid antibodies; Repeated chromosomal abnormalities not responding to complementary medicine require specialized IVF; Women with a history of thrombophilias should use both Western care for monitoring and complementary care for treatment;
I heard research showed Acupuncture helps pre and post IVF transfer. Should I come to your office to get a treatment?
Probably not, unless maybe if you live near my office and you have already had a bunch of acupuncture treatments with me. You are referring to this well known study that showed acupuncture before and after an IVF transfer dramatically increases the success rate. However this was done at the IVF clinics and women didn’t have to drive anywhere. In addition several followup studies failed to reproduce the successful results. There are many possible reasons for the failed research results. But safe to say I would not experience your very first acupuncture treatment on the day of an IUI or IVF. (which is what women did in the failed followup studies). If you have an acupuncturist you work with and find it helps you relax and it is easy to get to their office then doing a session before and after may be beneficial. Otherwise do something else mellow that you enjoy and take off of work that day!
Can Environmental Factors Play a Role in Infertility?
Absolutely. Our Environment is what turns on and off our genes. Our environment is the food we eat, the air we breathe, the thoughts we think, the exercise we partake in, the sun we sit in etc. The role the environment (software) plays in our gene (hardware) expression is known as the Epigenome. Most diseases can be linked to environmental influence. Environmental factors can also play a role in infertility. Here is a great website regarding environmental issues and fertility: http://www.chem-tox.com/infertility/.
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