Difficulty falling pregnant is becoming more widespread in modern society. This is largely due to a lot of couples putting off having kids until their mid 30’s instead of starting in their early 20’s. Most couples if they can’t fall pregnant naturally go down the road of IVF, but even this method isn’t a guarantee. IVF after all is more just a way of improving the odds than an actual therapy. Many journal articles have been published showing the benefits of combining Chinese Medicine and IVF, greatly improving the success rate. This needs to be discussed in 2 separate parts, those couples wanting to use Acupuncture to fall pregnant naturally, and those using it in conjunction with IVF. In Chinese Medicine the 3 primary organs involved in fertility for both men and women are the Kidneys, Spleen and Liver. The Kidneys are the source of our essence which in turn relates to the eggs in females and sperm in males. The Liver Qi plays a role as it regulates the cycles and helps provide movement, and the Spleen largely provides the nourishment. Deficiencies or blockages in any of these systems can result in difficulty falling pregnant. Largely in women I find its a result of stagnation of their Liver Qi and malnourishment of their Kidneys which results in most cases of infertility. In men it is often diet or lifestyle related which results in poor sperm quality.
Acupuncture to Fall Pregnant Naturally
Key signs of female fertility in Chinese Medicine are a regular menstrual cycle, that is not painful or abnormal in regards to bleeding or length, and ovulation mucous around mid-cycle. Women are considered “blood creatures”, a period is a surplus of blood which has been stored for falling pregnant, if she doesn’t fall pregnant then it is flushed out and regenerated. Similarly the ovulation mucous is a surplus of fluids derived from blood showing that her uterus is strong and healthy and that an egg is ready. If there are abnormalities in either of these areas, then this can lead to disharmonies that can cause the Kidneys to become weak and not produce a good quality egg, or the uterus unable to hold on to the egg for implantation. Acupuncture is used to remove the blockages and try and first regulate the menstrual cycle. This not only means that things are flowing smoothly, but makes predicting ovulation easier, which increases your chances of falling pregnant as you can properly time when to have intercourse. Acupuncture is also used at the same time to strengthen the Kidney Qi to ensure the eggs being released are of good quality.
Acupuncture in Conjunction with IVF
In conjunction with IVF, the methodology is similar, to strengthen the Kidneys and ensure the uterus is healthy to receive the egg. I also use acupuncture to help balance any unpleasant side effects patients experience from either the medications or procedures performed on them as part of the IVF cycle. One common issue is that most patients decide to try Acupuncture after a few failed IVF cycles. Though the diagnostic information can aid in my diagnosis, its been my experience that each IVF cycle tends to weaken the body further, especially if not enough time to recover has been taken between cycles. The big benefit of Acupuncture with IVF is how it improves the eggs. IVF is all about quantity, the Acupuncture is all about quality. The one thing I see in clinic time and time again, is the the number of eggs will decrease but the quality increases, which is partly how it helps improve the likely hood of falling pregnant. This process requires some time though, so ideally it is good to have 6-8 weeks off when starting to have Acupuncture, so we can best prepare you for your next cycle.
Please be aware these numbers are a guide only, as each case needs to be assessed individually. A course of treatment for fertility is roughly 3 months with Acupuncture being done once to twice a week over this period. 3 months is needed as a minimum as you need a few menstrual cycles to chart ovulation, as well as give enough time for the Acupuncture to try and normalise an irregular cycle. Also 90 days is the time frame from an egg being developed to it being ready for ovulation. Its during this 90 day period that we are able to try and improve egg quality. Hence the true benefits of the treatment won’t be fully seen until we reach the 3 month mark and beyond. Dietary and lifestyle alterations will be discussed during the consultation.