Fertility requires balanced hormones, structurally sound reproductive organs, good health and a nutritious diet. Even so, the chances of a healthy couple conceiving each month is just 25%. Chinese medicine views fertility as a balanced reproductive system that produces fluctuations in the Yin and Yang. For the reproductive system to function at its peak there must also be balance in all body systems.
A couple is considered infertile if after one year of having unprotected sex they have not conceived. Infertility is an increasing problem, particularly in Australia where one in six couples is diagnosed as infertile. In about 10% of cases, the exact reason is unknown. In other cases, either the female or the male has a reproductive problem, or both partners are infertile.
Female infertility & sub-fertility
Female infertility accounts for about 40% of infertile cases. Infertility can be caused by functional disorders such as hormonal imbalances or structural problems like endometriosis. The most common cause of female infertility is an ovulation disorder where the egg development and release are impaired.
Age is also an important factor in infertility. One in three women over 35 years will have fertility problems. This is due to a decline in reproductive function, which is why there are much lower IVF success rates for women over 35 than for younger women. Aging also affects the uterus and increases the risk of miscarriage.
East West Fertility’s Program to Assist Female Fertility uses Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine and Nutritional therapies to assist with the issues related to infertility, to help you reach your end goal of delivering a healthy baby.
There is ongoing research into the effectiveness of these natural techniques to assist the treating practitioner with developing and implementing the best patient plan that can be used as an adjunct treatment method to address the issues and symptoms that result from the numerous health disorders associated with female infertility.
One program that has been especially popular with patients is our Pre-Conception Care Program. It is no secret that a woman looking to conceive needs to be healthy to produce good-quality eggs. The health of the reproductive system is assessed through general health check-ups and the charting of various changes throughout the menstrual cycle.
East West Fertility has seen a number of female patients suffering from:
- Anovulation (no ovulation)
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
- Amenorrhea (no periods)
- Luteal phase insufficiency
- Menstrual irregularities
- Endometrial lining problems
- Implantation disorders
- Impaired oestrogen metabolism
- Sperm antibodies (hostile cervix)
- Acquired ovarian failure (for example, as a result of chemotherapy)
- Early menopause
Our Programs are an adjunct therapy approach to promoting health and wellbeing, relieving stress and supporting patients to the possibility of a positive outcome. It is recommended to follow the adjunct Program for at least four (4) months.
East West Fertility has seen countless patients in the past who have endured miscarriage or problem pregnancies and we tailor our Programs to address the extreme stress known to occur when coping with a shattering diagnosis of infertility, recurrent miscarriage and high risk pregnancies.
Studies by Chen, Dong and Luo et al have shown that acupuncture relieves stress. The relationship between stress and infertility is thought to be through the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis (HPA), which plays a significant role in fertility. The axis regulates both our sex hormones and our stress responses, which suggests stress contributes to a range of fertility disorders such as amenorrhea, anovulation, ovulatory disorders and irregular periods.
Studies involving Chinese medicine & female infertility
Stener-Victorin et al studied the use of electro-acupuncture on 24 women suffering from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) with oligo/amenorrhoea. In cases of mild obesity, ovulatory cycles increased from 15% to 66%, suggesting acupuncture is a long-lasting effective treatment for ovulation induction. Another study Stener-Victorin led demonstrated acupuncture increases the blood flow to the reproductive organs. This means that when the diet is nutritionally sound then adequate nutrients will be supplied to the ovaries and uterus. This supports the development of good quality eggs and thickness of the endometrial lining, which are two prerequisites for embryo implantation and growth.
Gerhard & Postneek assessed the hormonal effect of ear acupuncture on 45 infertile women with oligoamenorrhea or luteal phase deficiency. Results were compared with 45 women undergoing conventional hormone therapy. The authors assert, ‘Based on our data, [auricular] acupuncture seems to offer a viable alternative for female infertility due to hormonal disorders.’ They also observed a reduced miscarriage rate in the auricular acupuncture group compared to the hormonal treatment. Lain used Chinese herbs in 60 cases of luteal phase insufficiency. The author recorded a rise in the Basal Body Temperature (BBT) and a 56% successful outcome with over half achieving pregnancy. This modest study suggests that Chinese herbs have a normalising effect on the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis.
Long term pill use may mask reproductive status
A Danish study reported at the 2014 European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) annual meeting highlighted the potential of long-term Pill use to mask reproductive status and cause the ovaries to shrink, especially for women between 19 to 29.9 years.
Fortunately, the researchers believe the effect is not permanent, and for the most part, will not affect future fertility in the majority of women. However, according to the data, one percent (1%) of women who take the pill long term will go into early menopause and the pill can mask this tendency. This study is important as 1.6 million of the 160 million women throughout the world who take the pill will experience early menopause.
If you have been a long-term pill user and within 6 months of stopping get some blood tests and are told you you have a low ovarian reserve due to low Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) and Atrial Follicular Count (AFC) you should repeat the test in 6 months to determine whether the pill was responsible and merely giving the appearance that you were heading towards an early menopause, or, if in fact you are at risk of an early menopause. If you are not at risk of an early menopause, then your AMH should increase and size of ovaries improve. If you are at risk of an early menopause then the second test should show results similar to the first one.
Whether at risk of early menopause or suffering from this effect of long-term pill use Acupuncture, can help relieve the stress that this distressing news can cause.