Posts filed under ‘Women’s Health’

Acupuncture For Specific Fertility Issues

Acupuncture and herbs can be enormously helpful in a wide range of fertility challenges — from healthy individuals who want to increase their chances of getting pregnant to women facing a number of more serious diagnoses.  I’ve listed a few of the most common conditions I treat: please consult with your acupuncturist about your particular situation.

Unexplained Infertility: This is one of the most common things I see, and one of the most frustrating for the people going through it. The woman’s cycle appears normal, and all the (endless, grueling) testing comes out fine.

In these cases, there are usually imbalances that are relatively minor, but detectable by Chinese medical diagnosis. Treatment focuses on regulating these fine-tuned aspects of the cycle to maximize fertility, and success rates are quite high.

PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome): This is a complicated, tenacious condition that affects ovulation and also involves hormone imbalances, blood sugar changes, and weight gain.

One aspect of PCOS is that women sometimes don’t respond well to fertility drugs.  In these cases, acupuncture and herbs are often more effective in inducing ovulation and achieving a pregnancy.

It can take some time, but I have seen women heal completely from this condition with a combination of acupuncture, herbs, exercise and dietary changes. 

“Advanced Maternal Age”  Women often get told they are “too old” or that their eggs are of low quality due to age.  There are undeniably changes to our reproductive system as we get older.  Doctors tend to see these changes as fixed, and not workable.   Chinese medicine, however, does have some tools for increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs and improving their overall vitality and functioning, even when tests have shown high FSH levels or poor egg quality.

Male infertility:  this is a factor in more than half of fertility cases, and I always prefer to see both members of a couple that is trying to conceive, so that we’re maximizing fertility in every way possible.  In contrast to women’s fertility, the treatment of male infertility is usually quite straightforward, and involves strengthening certain aspects of the reproductive system.  In most cases, this is best done primarily with herbal medicine.

Recurrent Miscarriage: For women who are able to conceive, but have had trouble carrying to term, it can be beneficial to have a series of treatments before getting pregnant again.  Chinese medicine identifies several underlying patterns that can make miscarriage more likely.  Bringing the body back into balance can increase the chances of a successful pregnancy and birth.  Treatment during pregnancy is also advised, especially during the first trimester, to support the body in maintaining the pregnancy.

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June 6, 2011 at 8:23 pm Leave a comment

Fertility, Stress, and Acupuncture

It’s a commonly accepted idea that it’s harder to get pregnant when you’re under stress. It does make sense — stress is not known for improving any area of our health.

And, since struggling with fertility is itself stressful — between the waiting, wondering what’s wrong, and dealing with medical appointments and procedures — this can really put people in a bind.

One day, not for the first time, I was listening to a patient talk about how she was trying to manage her stress, but she thought she wasn’t doing a very good job, and she knew this is probably why she wasn’t getting pregnant. And suddenly, it just hit me as all wrong.

I looked at this woman and thought: people get pregnant in war zones. People get pregnant in abusive relationships where they are terrified and stuck. People get pregnant when they’re homeless, or have no idea where their next meal is coming from.

It’s not about the stress. It might be completely unfair – everything about infertility is unfair – but it’s not just about the stress.

This is what I said to my patient. She just nodded.

So where does acupuncture fit into all of this?

Acupuncture has become famous for it use in infertility treatment, and with good reason: numerous studies support its effectiveness either alone, or in increasing the success rates of medical fertility treatments.

Acupuncture works differently than Western medical interventions. Medical treatments can actually make things happen, by forcing ovulation, directly fertilizing an egg outside the body, implanting an embryo in the uterus. It’s miraculous what these procedures can do, and a real blessing to many families that we have access to them.

Acupuncture works on a different level — by treating the whole person, figuring out what is out of balance or depleted, and bringing you, and your reproductive system, back to a more optimal state of health. The idea is to create the best possible conditions for conception to take place, with or without medical intervention. And the studies show that it really helps.

The bonus: supporting your health and balance also supports you in having a healthy pregnancy, and healthy birth, and a healthy baby. And a healthy, strong mother to take care of that baby. 🙂

The other bonus? Acupuncture is really good at relieving stress.

 

 

Study Finds Stress Does Not Affect Fertility Treatment

A study in the British Medical Journal found no correlation between stress levels and pregnancy rates for women undergoing fertility treatments.

The authors reviewed fourteen research studies with 3,583 women undergoing a cycle of fertility treatment. The women were assessed before fertility treatment for anxiety and stress. The authors then compared data for women who became pregnant and those who did not.

The results show that emotional distress was not associated with whether or not a woman became pregnant.

Professor Boivin, the lead researcher, states: “these findings should reassure women that emotional distress caused by fertility problems or other life events co-occurring with treatment will not compromise their chance of becoming pregnant”.

June 6, 2011 at 8:17 pm Leave a comment


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