Fertility challenges may come unexpectedly, but over 10% of US couples face difficulties with conception. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers a unique approach to treating fertility by looking at the underlying causes and treating each person individually. Integrative Acupuncture serves couples by utilizing acupuncture, herbs, massage and nutritional advice to help them achieve a pregnancy.
The providers at IAOM have received specific post graduate training both nationally and with world experts internationally, in fertility acupuncture, allowing us to offer one of Vermont’s most experienced acupuncture clinics for fertility. We are pleased to serve couples from all over central and northern Vermont to help them achieve pregnancy, both naturally/unassisted and with assistance of ART (assisted reproductive therapy) like IUI and IVF.
What Is Infertility?
Infertility is defined as the inability to achieve pregnancy after one year of unprotected intercourse. The causes of infertility are numerous for both primary infertility (no previous conceptions) and secondary (at least one previous successful conception). Western medicine lists damage to fallopian tubes, cervix abnormalities, hormonal irregularities, and sperm abnormalities as causes for infertility.
They also include “unexplained infertility”, in which all tests have returned normal and a diagnosis can not be given. This frustrating diagnosis is given to 20% of infertile couples.
How Does Western Medicine Treat Fertility?
Western doctors may recommend a blood test to see hormone levels, an endometrial biopsy to check the endometrium, an HSG (hysterosalpingography) to test the fallopian tubes and/or laproscopy to see the outside of the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. These tests enable the doctor to diagnose some irregularities that may lead to fertility challenges. After a diagnosis is concluded, their recommendations may include laproscopy, drug therapies, IUI (intrauterine insemination), IVF (in vitro fertilization), or to utilize a donated egg or sperm.
How Does Acupuncture Treat Infertility?
At Integrative Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in Vermont, we treat fertility issues frequently for both male and female. We begin treatment with a thorough health history of our patients, both gynecologic (females) and whole health. Chinese medicine is particularly interested in the health of the kidney system, which is responsible for conception. Common imbalances we see in our clinic are insufficiency of the blood of the liver, deficiency of spleen Qi, deficiency of kidney Qi, and imbalances of the yin/yang harmony.
Our diagnostic procedures of looking at a patient’s tongue and feeling a patient’s pulse quality allow us to make a diagnosis in TCM terminology for every couple. We do not have the diagnosis “unexplained infertility” in Chinese medicine, as there is always an imbalance of some sort responsible for difficulty in conception.
We use acupuncture to move excessive Qi and increase blood circulation, and rely on Chinese herbs and dietary therapy to build up deficiencies and balance hormones. Not all imbalances can be corrected with Chinese medicine. If you have received a western medical diagnosis, we can consult with you regarding acupuncture’s effectiveness in treating it.
Using Acupuncture With IVF and IUI
“Acupuncture on the day of ET (embryo transfer) significantly improves the reproductive outcome of IVF/ICSI, compared with no acupuncture.” (Fertility Sterility 2006 May;85(5):1341-6. Epub 2006 Apr 5)
Within recent years, couples have sought acupuncture to increase the effectiveness of assisted reproductive therapies. There are high quality studies available that demonstrate the use of acupuncture pre and post IVF will raise the success of pregnancy rate by 15%. At IAOM we are experienced in this protocol and allow for flexibility in appointment scheduling to help you book a pre and post IVF or IUI acupuncture treatment.
We also work with couples and individuals prior to assisted reproductive therapies. By having acupuncture in the months prior to the procedure, we are working with clearing blockages and increasing fresh blood flow to the uterus. Being as relaxed as possible for your procedure is ideal. By having acupuncture for the weeks and months prior to the procedure, stress levels are significantly reduced. If you are utilizing IUI or IVF we highly recommend including acupuncture by the licensed professionals at IAOM.
- Paulus WE, Zhang M, Strehler E, et al. “Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy.” Fertility and Sterility 2002; 77:721-724.
- Xuefen, C. “Substitution of Acupuncture for HCG in Ovulation Induction”. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 1997; 17(2): 119-121.
- Stener-Victorin, Waldenstrom, Andersson, Wikland. “Reduction of blood flow impedence in the uterine arteries of infertile women with electro-acupuncture.” Human Reproduction. 1996; 6:171-181.
- Gerhard, P. “Auricular Acupuncture in the treatment of female infertility.” Endocrinology 1992; 6: 171-181.