For both men and women, the ability to reproduce is dependent on a healthy body. Your fertility can suffer if you have poor dietary habits, do not exercise, stress excessively and do not take the appropriate supplements or herbal medication to assist you during this journey.
Infertility is mostly diagnosed after the couple involved has been trying unsuccessfully to fall pregnant for a period of a year. Patients over 35 years should consult a practitioner after 6 months if they are not pregnant.
A study in In 2002, a German study showed that acupuncture before and after IVF increased successful outcomes by 50% in the treatment group, compared to the control group that only received IVF.
Conception is a fragile miracle that can be affected by any one of a thousand factors. Wow – so many factors to consider to fall pregnant. If there are: physical obstructions of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or uterus, if any hormones are slightly out of balance, if the menstrual cycle is out of phase, if the egg doesn’t release at the proper time, if she doesn’t produce enough estrogen to thicken her cervical mucous to allow sperm to enter her uterus, if her uterine lining is too thin or too thick by even a mm, if cellular adhesion molecules aren’t present, if the endometrial glands don’t respond to the progesterone – if any one of these problems are present, she has a significantly reduced chance of conceiving that month. And all of these factors are affected not just by a woman’s reproductive organs and hormones but also by her general state of health, levels of stress, exercise habits and diet.
Benefits of acupuncture and fertility:
- Regulating the menstrual cycle
- Reducing stress by decreasing the activity of the sympathetic nervous system. High stress levels are associated with reduced chances of conceiving
- Improving blood circulation to the pelvic organs, including the ovaries and uterus, allowing the reproductive organs to work to their full potential
- Increasing blood circulation to the uterus ensures optimal endometrial thickness
- Helping to trigger ovulation in some women with ovulatory dysfunction
- Helping women with PCOS, endometriosis, dysmenorrhea, pelvic inflammation
- Improving sperm count, motility and structural abnormalities
The recognised causes of female infertility (in order of decreasing incidence) are:
- hormonal factors and ovulatory dysfunction
- fallopian tube abnormalities
- uterine and cervical factors and
- unexplained infertitiliy
Most of these problems can be treated naturally, or at least improved upon with TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), diet and lifestyle, supplementation, acupuncture and herbs.
Fertility affects 1 in 6 patients.
30 – 40 % of patients with endometriosis are unable to conceive.
According to some statistics, a women’s fertility peaks in her early twenties and start to decline as early as 27. By the time a women is 35 her chances of conceiving are reduced by 50%, and this reduces further to 20% at the age of forty. While these statistics may be valid, there are ways a woman of almost any age can increase her chances of conception.
Aging, years of poor diet, unhealthy lifestyle and stress deplete the reproductive system of both men and women. Women’s bodies become ill prepared to accept the burden of conceiving and carrying a healthy child to term. Month after month hopes rise, only to fall again with the onset of menstruation.
Research shows that even young women using IVF techniques have only a 20 – 30% chance of conceiving (at a cost of tens of thousands rands per attempt).
Male infertility refers to the inability of a male to achieve conception in a fertile female. This accounts for 40 – 50% of infertility. 10 – 20% of all men have sperm counts below the World Health Organization cut-off level. 1 – 2% of all males are completely infertile and produce no sperm at all.
Other common causes of infertility
Pre-existing endometriosis – most common symptom is pain with menses, but the absence of pain does not exclude endometriosis. Clotty, dark menses can also indicate endometriosis.
Under-active thyroid gland (hypothyroid) – the “normal” blood reference ranges for the thyroid panel test are not necessarily conclusive in assessing thyroid health, interpretation of the thyroid hormones relative to other factors are key to provide an accurate picture. Please ensure that you email or bring in a copy of all your previous blood works. Hypothyroidism can contribute to a relative excess of estrogen.
Nutritional deficiency – deficiencies in key nutrients can affect enzyme and hormone pathways within the body.
Inappropriate body fat – a higher BMI can reduce your chances of fertility.
Environmental estrogens – sources from vegetables (pesticides), meats (non organic) and dairy.
Birth control pills – if you have been on birth control pills for a period of time it is advisable to complete a 10 day Health detox focusing on removing xenoestrogens.
Douching – despite its frequent recommendation as a treatment for vaginosis, douching disrupts mucosal and pH balance of the vaginal environment.
Use of addictive substances
Depression and stress
Acupuncture treatment protocols – females
Treatments every 2 weeks. This will improve the menstrual cycle, reduce PMS symptoms, reduce period pain and prepare the body for conception.
It is best to schedule one of the treatments one day prior to predicted ovulation.
Blood tests would be repeated every 3 months.
Once a week treatment. Best to have 3 months treatment before IVF. Once medication is started then 2 x weekly treatments. Day before egg retrieval and day before implantation.
Acupuncture treatment protocols – males
Once a week treatment – this will address stress and increase sperm count.
Preparation for pregnancy should begin several months prior to conception. If both partners begin a preconception healthcare programme including fertility acupuncture, nutrition 3 – 4 months prior to conception, it is possible to have impact on the health of both the egg and sperm and reproductive outcomes. Our 3 month male fertility acupuncture and sperm improvement programme is recommended because the continuous process by which stem cells develop into mature spermatozoa takes around 3 months. Spermatogenesis (or sperm development) is a three month process!