October 21, 2013 / by Dr. Han
Couples who are ready to start a family consider having a child to be one of the most meaningful and fulfilling aspects of their lives. Sadly, however, about a quarter of the US population has problems conceiving. Conception problems can be quite stressful and frustrating and usually lead to financial and emotional stress.
A person is considered infertile when he/she tries to conceive without success for about a year. Even if the body is built to procreate, complications in producing an offspring abound. Interestingly, statistics show that the causes of infertility are more or less equally shared between the sexes. Males account for 40% of all cases for infertility. Infertility problems like slow sperm, oddly shaped sperm, inadequate amounts of sperm and other issues are some of the factors of male infertility.
Women, on the other hand, share about 50% of total infertility cases. The female reproductive system is more complicated than the male’s reproductive system. Some of the problems that can plague the female reproductive system include blocked fallopian tubes, poor ovarian reserve and hormone imbalances. These all chip in to the inability of the couple to conceive. Occasionally some partners (male and female) may find out that they both have infertility problems. This is the reason why medical professionals recommend both partners to engage themselves in treatment. Infertility due to unknown causes plagues the remaining 10-20% of people suffering from infertility. These are termed idiopathic cases which simply mean the cause of infertility is a mystery. Idiopathic causes are the most difficult types of infertility to diagnose and more often than not affect relatively healthy couples.
Selecting Your Options
If a couple is certain that they need help, they need to consult with a fertility specialist or medical doctor for diagnostic tests to identify the cause of their infertility. The outcome of the tests will assist the specialist to decide what treatment approach is most effective for the couple. The more common treatments for infertility include ZIFT, GIFT, IUI, ICSI and IVF. Many of these treatments necessitate females to receive hormones in order to enhance and regulate the function of ovulation and implantation. These infertility techniques can be effective enough to achieve successful conception but they entail a financial and time commitment that a lot of couples are not prepared to do.
The financial cost of these therapies forces many couples to try natural alternative treatments to aid them at conception. Some of these alternatives can be utilized as a mainline infertility treatment or be used as adjunct therapy for IVF and other medical therapies. Traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture are two of the most popular natural therapies used for infertility treatment.
Research about Acupuncture
How does acupuncture work? Practitioners of acupuncture can answer that question in two possible ways. One answer is grounded on the belief of life energy the Chinese call Qi or Chi and the pathways this life energy travels on called meridians. The second answer utilizes the Western medical approach which may seem more understandable and more acceptable to medical professionals in Western society.
The Connection of Acupuncture to the Brain
There are several reactions that happen in both the body and brain when an acupuncture point is treated. Newly revealed data have shown that changes in the brain happen when acupuncture stimulates certain areas in the body. When used for treating infertility, acupuncture seems to help produce and activate endorphins which cause an impact on the FSH and LH hormones (gonadotropins) according to scientists. These hormones regulate and affect the functioning of the ovaries and the testes; the better the function of the reproductive organs, the higher the likelihood of conception. Furthermore, this stimulation seems to better blood circulation to the uterus thus producing positive conditions for implantation. Acupuncture also has shown to help regulate hormone production which implies an ideal implantation, regular menstrual cycle and ovulation and a better likelihood for conception.
Infertility can also be caused by stress. Personal problems, financial stress and stress from work can all play a role in hormonal irregularities and thus can impact a person’s fertility. Some women under stressful situations have been known to skip a period. The body “communicates and assists” you in a way that seem to say that “in order to help you, we need to the focus off of your menstrual period and help you concentrate on your main problem.”
Besides the benefits of acupuncture in treating infertility, this natural treatment is also famous in helping reducing stress in the mind and body.
Chinese Herbal Medicine
Besides acupuncture, TCM recommends Chinese herbal medicine in helping treat infertility. The correct prescription and application of Chinese herbs can aid in regulating the menstrual cycle. A lot of herbs are also quite potent at enhancing male fertility and address male sexual problems like low sperm count and erectile dysfunction. Chinese medicinal herbs should only be prescribed by licensed herbalists trained in the art of traditional Chinese herbal medicine.
Acupuncture and IVF
The bulk of recent research in acupuncture and ivf is in the realm of assisted reproductive techniques such as In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART). The March 2008 edition of the British Medical Journal state that acupuncture combined with embryo transfer enhances the chance of pregnancy and live birth among women getting IVF.
Integrated Medicine – The Future of Fertility Treatment
Presently, assisted fertility procedures like IVF have shown to be relatively successful in promoting fertility and conception. These procedures, however, neglect to mention certain areas that play key roles that can impact a person’s fertility. These areas include stress management, dietary choices, sleep, and emotional health among others. A lot of medical doctors and fertility specialists fortunately, are beginning to be aware of the efficacy of acupuncture and are now offering acupuncture fertility services to couples who are considering a more integrated approach to their infertility. Visit a licensed acupuncturist or TCM practitioner if you are interested in treating your infertility with natural, safe and effective therapies such as acupuncture.