Chinese Medicine has a history of treating fertility and virility related issues for thousands of years. Infertility was looked upon as an imbalance in the body, not a chronic uncorrectable issue. Different lifestyle factors contribute to the degradation of the ability to conceive, and acupuncture along with herbal medicine, can restore the balance helping to improve the chances of having a child. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that what is called infertility is a correctable collection of symptoms and not a disease.
Acupuncture by itself or in conjunction with IVF, IUI, and other western fertility treatments, improves the take home baby rate and should not be overlooked as an important part of increasing fertility, whether a couple is seeing a Reproductive Endocrinologist or not. For the greatest effect, acupuncture and herbal medicine should be applied at least 3-6 months prior to Western interventions if they are to be used.
A typical treatment plan with a woman undergoing IVF is outlined below:
3-6 months prior to the procedure
1-2 treatments weekly – Acupuncture and herbs are taken to correct imbalances in the woman’s body. This also helps to increase blood flow into the uterus, regulate the menstrual cycle and improve egg quality. The father can also be treated to boost his virility if he has or hasn’t been diagnosed with sperm abnormalities. Some couples with unexplained infertility conceive naturally during this time
Pre-Retrieval – 2 weeks prior
2 treatments weekly – increase the frequency of acupuncture and stop herbs. Acupuncture continues to boost uterine blood flow and thicken the lining of the uterus.
Acupuncture is administered as frequently as possible to thicken the uterine lining in preparation for embryo implantation.
Day of Transfer
Acupuncture is performed immediately prior to and after the transfer in accordance with the Paulus protocol which has been shown in studies to increase the rates of successful implantation 30%. The protocol is given in the office of the fertility specialist if possible.
Post-Transfer – 1st trimester
Acupuncture is continued after the transfer however the focus is on relaxing the uterus and preventing miscarriage which is called “calming the fetus” in Chinese Medicine. This is very important during the first trimester.
While the 1st trimester is the most important, acupuncture is still continued on a bi-weekly basis to calm the mother and assist with any symptoms such as nausea, back pain and stress.
Acupuncture is effective prior to labor to rotate an inverted fetus and to induce labor if a pregnancy is running past-term.
Congratulations! You did the hard work and have a new addition to your family. I am always here if you run into hiccups. If you experience insufficient lactation, back pain, a colicky child or other problems I’m only a phone call away.