For many couples who are struggling to conceive, the causes of infertility are unknown. This diagnosis can bring about a lot of confusion, as although all standard fertility tests are showing as normal, they still struggle to conceive. In Chinese medicine we would perceive this as potentially showing sub-fertility: everything is doing what it should, the hormone parameters are in normal ranges, the endometrium is looking healthy, the Fallopian tubes are clear, the sperms are in normal range, yet still there is no viable pregnancy.
The combined results of seven clinical trials showed that combining IVF embryo transfer with acupuncture led to a 65% increase in successful implantation, and and a 91% increase in the likelihood of a live birth.
Anna will guide you through a full consultation, looking at diet and lifestyle to support and prepare your body for pregnancy.
This is primarily due to the detrimental influences of modern lifestyle: the effects of sub-nutritional diet and/or poor eating habits (no breakfast, sandwich in front of the computer, eating large meals too late in the evening), not to mention the culture of overwork, long commutes and the constant overexposure to electromagnetic influence – laptops over the groin, mobile phones in trouser pockets, long days spent in front of the computer, wifi everywhere. Then of course there may be issues around excess alcohol and smoking. For all these reasons, and more, we are seeing ever decreasing sperm parameters.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can offer a great deal towards helping you improve your sperm parameters, not least for using the constitutional diagnosis to help guideline dietary and lifestyle advice to help countermand the detrimental influences of daily life.
In the same way that Chinese Medicine may be helpful for menstrual regulation, it may potentially have a positive effect on the male uro-genital tract.
Stress can be a major factor on the male reproductive hormones; over a sustained period of time, stress can have significant impacts on our sexual function and our fertility.
In TCM we use the Western sperm analysis to help determine the direction of the treatment. We look at the concentration (sperm count), the motility (how well they are moving), the morphology (how they are shaped), as well as the volume, pH and the viscosity. In combination with the underlying constitutional diagnosis, we aim to formulate a treatment plan to improve parameters.
In TCM, a robust regular menstrual cycle optimises fertility. A balanced cycle with a steady follicular phase as the ovum grows, matched with an even length luteal phase is what we are aiming for. The Lead up to a period should be without PMT, and when flow starts it should be without pain. A healthy flow should not be too heavy or too scanty and without clots. Acupuncture treatment is given at key times during the menstrual cycle, depending on your particular needs, to address the disharmonies present and ensure a smooth harmonious cycle.
When treating menstrual issues, Anna will normally ask you to use a BBT (Basal Body Temperature) charting. We use the pattern of the temperature changes to help us determine the diagnosis and to decipher which phase of the cycle needs attention. This information will ultimately determine your treatment plan.
We will use the TCM diagnostic criteria of history, looking at the character of your periods since puberty, including your contraceptive and conception history, as well as any assisted treatment you may be having/had, all taken in the context of your medical history.
Then in combination with your signs and symptoms (in particular, how your period is behaving now), and in combination with our Chinese diagnostics of pulse and tongue and palpation, we will determine how to treat you to improve ovulation.
Some women find that when they come off of birth control, in particular the hormone control methods (pill, patch, injection, hormone coil) and in some cases after the unmedicated coil is removed, that their periods may change in character, that they may become irregular or in some cases do not resume at all.
Sometimes the hormonal influence of birth control can adjust the Hypothalmic-Pituitary-Ovarian (HPO) axis, which is the feedback loop system that controls the release of your LH, FSH, oestrogens and progesterons, thus when the birth control is stopped the period does not easily resume.
Many women have found TCM to be helpful in reinstating the menstrual cycle, and it may be especially helpful when there is annovulation subsequent to using hormonal birth control.
Some women have primary annovulation (no periods ever) which will usually have been managed through pharmaceutical hormone treatment to create a functioning period. Primary annovulation will require assisted conception to provide the hormonal stimulation the body is not doing for itself. In these cases we highly recommend our Pre-conception treatments to adjunct your IVF treatment.
If you have heard about acupuncture but aren’t sure whether it’s the right sort of treatment for you, contact Anna directly on 07540353137 to discuss your individual needs.