Fertility Enhancement and Chinese medicine
by Ann Zimmerman, LAc.
Many women get pregnant easily and many do not. Research estimates that 1 in 6 couples in the US struggle with getting pregnant. Optimizing the likelihood of getting pregnant and staying pregnant is an area where the tools of Chinese medicine have something special to offer. Rather than looking at fertility challenges as simply a problem with ovaries, or a specific hormone, Chinese medicine approaches fertility as a women’s natural state of balance. Compromised fertility results from imbalances within the network of organs, hormones, and energy systems of the body.
It is very common these days to combine Western and Eastern fertility treatments. Women and men often look toward Western medicine first believing that there must be something really wrong with them and sometimes there is. The bigger the barrier to getting pregnant the more successful Western treatment tends to be: for example with blocked fallopian tubes, prolific endometriosis, or very compromised sperm the diagnostics and surgeries offered can greatly enhance the outcome. In cases if ovulation issues or symptomatic menstrual cycles fertility drugs can make drastic impact. The assisted reproductive technologies of IUI(intrauterine insemination) and IVF(in vitro fertilization) can be the answer for couples with greatly compromised sperm, same sex couples, or simply successful when nothing else works for no known reason. The cost and side effects of these treatments are significant, rarely covered by insurance, and plain stressful.
However, most women and men do not fall into this category of having a major fertility deviation from normal. They may simply just be slightly out of balance with lifestyle. This is where Chinese medicine shines and is considerably more cost effective, less invasive, and less stressful than other options. Often I see couples after they have ruled out major problems, had no success with Western fertility treatments, or they simply know they need to be healthier to conceive. Perhaps, they are going thru major stress in their lives, have irregular menstruation, or are struggling to recover from past trauma around conceiving.
Thus when I see a fertility patient I will investigate many aspects of a person’s health history and habits to determine which organs and meridians are out of balance and then prescribe treatment that often includes acupuncture, herbs, exercise/ diet changes, and lifestyle changes.
Benefits of acupuncture and Chinese herbs include:
1. improve uterine lining/optimize menstruation
2. increased blood flow to the uterus and fallopian tubes
3. regulation/balancing of hormone cycles
4. Regulate ovulation
5. Improvement in quality of a women’s fertile mucous
6. Enhance egg and sperm development/quality
7. Promote embryo implantation
8. Promote a viable pregnancy
9. Prevent recurrent miscarriage
10. Reduce side effects and stress of Western fertility treatment
11. Improve success rates of IUI and IVF cycles
12. Improved sperm quality and quantity
Creating a inviting uterine environment is crucial to an embryo implanting and developing into a healthy baby. In addition to acupuncture and herbs lifestyle changes may be suggested with diet, exercise, sleep, or changing the pace of life.
The reproductive years can be one life’s most stressful or joyful times. Making uses of the resources that are available from both Chinese and Western medicine can help this journey feel more easy to navigate. I am honored to help women and men find their way thru this often challenging time and to network them with other providers, assist IUI or IVF cycles, or simply provide a healing place to relax in between trying and not trying to conceive.