By Christina Morris, L.Ac.
Infertility can be very devastating to those who have it and to their partners. It affects 10% to 15% of all couples in the United States. Seventy percent of these cases are due to female infertility. Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after one year of having regular intercourse without contraception. There are several treatment options available for infertility. This article will focus mainly on treating female infertility with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
Traditional Chinese medicine has been used for thousands of years in the treatment of infertility for both women and men. TCM treatments for infertility may include acupuncture and herbs. This form of treatment can be both safe and effective in treating infertility and can be used alone or in conjunction with other fertility treatments. Clinical studies show that Chinese medicine can be used to regulate hormones, stimulate ovulation, increase blood supply to the uterus, relax the uterus, and can aid in the correction of nutritional deficiencies that can make it difficult for a woman to sustain a pregnancy.
A German study published in the April 2002 issue of Fertility and Sterility, and also discussed on ABC News found that by adding acupuncture to the treatment protocol of in vitro fertilization (IVF), patients greatly enhanced their chances of becoming pregnant. The results indicated that in vitro fertilization without the complement of acupuncture had a success rate of 26.3% and in conjunction with acupuncture its success rate doubled to 42.5%. Additional studies are currently being conducted around the world demonstrating similar results. Some studies also investigate the precise physiologic changes that occur in the uterus and the reproductive system when using acupuncture in the treatment of infertility.
There are various causes for infertility in women. Traditional Chinese medicine identifies the cause of infertility in terms of energy imbalances in the body. When the energy is not flowing properly an imbalance will occur. Imbalances can be due to excess or deficient conditions in the body or within the organ system. Imbalances may be due to many different factors which could include, but are not limited to; an unhealthy lifestyle, poor diet or improper eating habits, lack of exercise, stress, the environment, emotional or psychological issues, toxins, or hereditary influences. Traditional Chinese medicine offers treatments according to each individual and their specific TCM diagnosis. Traditional Chinese medicine can be used alone or in conjunction with assisted reproduction therapy (ART). Acupuncture and herbs are used to nourish, support, and strengthen the body. Traditional Chinese medicine offers a safe and effective way to bring the body back into a balanced state and prepare it for conception and a healthy full term pregnancy.