Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can be used to help couples conceive, helping both female and male fertility issues. It can also help complement IVF treatment and assist with the potential success of an IVF journey.
So read on and see how TCM may be able to help you.
Chinese Medicine practioners believe many female reproduction problems can be resolved if the menstrual cycle is smooth, regular and symptom free. Therefore, the main focus of Traditional Chinese Medicine treatment is to regulate hormones so the changes that happen in a woman’s body throughout her cycle do not distract from the ripening and releasing of her eggs, and the thickening and receptivity of her uterus lining.
By improving egg quality and strengthening the lining of the womb, Chinese Medicine can increase a woman’s chance of successful implantation. This is particularly important for older patients.
The effects of Chinese Medicine results in reduced levels of circulating FSH (follicle stimulating hormone). Many fertility specialists regard this condition as untreatable and advise women to consider using donor eggs. Experience has shown that when these women follow a course of Traditional Chinese Medicine, their FSH levels may fall, improving their chances of success in an assisted conception treatment cycle using their own eggs.
If you have polycystic ovaries you have prolonged menstrual cycles and may fail to ovulate regularly. In effect, the ovary is storing fluid which gradually becomes thicker and forms nodules or cysts. These cysts block the eggs in the ovary (so it cannot be released for conception) while forming a barrier to blood and nutrients (so the remaining eggs are malnourished).
Chinese Medicine treats PCO by dissolving the cysts, draining the fluids from the abdomen and letting the healthy nutrient-rich blood circulate through the ovaries.
Endometriosis / Ectopic pregnancy / Blocked fallopian tubes
Traditional Chinese Medicine regards endometriosis as blood that has moved out its normal circuit and has become trapped, forming deposits in the lower abdomen. These deposits obstruct circulation through the tubes and abdomen, which may damage fallopian tubes and cause ectopic pregnancy. In cases like this, healthy blood cannot circulate well in the lower abdomen.
Treatment aims to re-establish the circulation in the lower abdomen and clear away obstructions. Chinese Herbal Medicines are used to break up the masses and dissolve the obstructions and acupuncture is used to help push the circulation through the abdomen. This brings nourishment and fluid to the tissues as well as preventing further endometriosis.
Peri-menopausal / Unexplained infertility / Recurrent miscarriages
Elevated FSH often appears in older women, but it is not unusual for younger women to also have this problem. In these cases, their ovaries are struggling to support the egg follicle’s growth.
Chinese Medicine regards this as a deficiency and prescribes Chinese Herbal tonics to improve nourishment to ovary and follicle. When your eggs grow more readily, your body will have the resources it needs to support the growth of a baby to term.
Whether unexplained infertility or recurrent miscarriage, the single issue Traditional Chinese Medicine focuses on is the egg quality, Traditional Chinese Medicine can promote the reproductive system, which benefits the egg quality, encouraging fertilisation and a healthy pregnancy.
Chinese herbs have been shown to significantly improve the production of healthy sperm by strengthening the functions of the male reproductive organs.
In many cases, the couple go on to conceive naturally, having produced more sperm, better quality sperm or more strong-swimming sperm. Some couples, despite improved sperm, opt to resume ART – often they can opt for less invasive and less expensive procedures such as IUI.
A recent study by the University of Kent, UK, clearly demonstrated that taking Chinese herbs significantly reduced chromosomal abnormalities in the sperm of infertile men. So by taking Chinese Herbs not only will your path to pregnancy be easier but your children will be healthier too.
Chinese Medicine & IVF treatment
By improving the quality of your eggs and sperm, improving the flow of blood through your reproductive system and balancing your hormones, Chinese Medicine can give you the best chance of achieving and maintaining a healthy pregnancy. As a result, the assisted cycles you have will be more effective.
Natural medicine takes time – most couples will see and feel the benefits of treatment in the first month and continue to improve through a 3rd or 4th month. To get the most from treatment it is recommended you start several cycles before you embark on assisted fertility treatment.
Acupuncture & IVF Support
Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners have long believed that acupuncture can help improve the success of assisted fertility treatments. Now several studies have measured the effect of adding acupuncture to an IVF protocol. Overall, the studies show acupuncture improves a woman’s chances of pregnancy by 65 per cent.
Many patients are now turning to acupuncture for help during their IVF treatment. Two acupuncture sessions are recommended to assist couples undergoing an IVF program.
Session 1 is given on the 2nd or 3rd day after egg retrieval (pick up/harvest/collection). This treatment reduces any trauma in the uterus after the egg collection surgery. It relaxes the uterus and cervix to prepare for embryo transfer. If there has been bleeding after surgery it stops excessive clotting and allows blood to keep thickening in uterus lining. This treatment also transitions your body from the egg-maturing phase to pregnancy-preparing phase. This first session is designed to prepare your body to receive your fertilised egg.
Session 2 is given as soon as possible after embryo transfer to increase the blood flow in your uterus to make it softer, moister and richer. All this creates a more receptive uterine lining and facilitates implantation.
Contact your local Chinese Medicine Practitioner for more information.