Chinese Medicine & Fertility
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are used to boost both egg and sperm quality. Our practitioners have helped hundreds of women and men conceive naturally with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. Who do we treat?
Couples who have chosen to take a natural approach to trying to conceive. In our clinic, we achieve high success rates with this approach - even for women of advanced maternal age.
Couples who have not been diagnosed with infertility - but who hope to conceive more quickly - and are starting to try to get pregnant.
Couples who want to integrate Chinese medicine with Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) (IUI, IVF, ICSI) to increase the success rate of conception. We still recommend a three month prep with acupuncture and herbs for the best egg quality and sperm quality. Oftentimes, patients are able to avoid ART altogether and conceive naturally with a course of three to six months of acupuncture. If they choose to go the ART route their results are significantly improved.
Women who hope to conceive using a sperm donor and ART. They come in to regulate their cycle and boost egg quality with acupuncture and Chinese herbs.
Treatment Plans for Female and Male Infertility
Each case is treated individually; no two cases are the same. Data shows that a combination of acupuncture treatments administered twice a week along with herbs is the most effective way to approach fertility issues. Patients are generally treated for at least 3 to 6 months. It takes about three months for a follicle to mature. A woman’s body chooses one dominant follicle* three months before ovulation. This is why patients usually need a minimum of three months in order to become pregnant. As stated earlier, each woman’s treatment plan will vary, depending on what types of symptoms and Western diagnoses they have. After conception, acupuncture is given weekly throughout the first trimester (see Early Pregnancy below). Herbs are an integral part of most patients’ treatments. Learn more about Chinese herbal medicine here.
*A follicle is a structure within the ovary in which the egg develops before ovulation.
The following conditions can be treated with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM):
explained and unexplained infertility
amenorrhea and dysmenorrhea
thin endometrial lining
high FSH level (follicle-stimulating hormone)
poor egg quality
luteal phase defect
premature ovarian failure
Here are a few research articles about how Chinese medicine can improve female infertility:
Reduction of blood flow impedance in the uterine arteries of infertile women with electro-acupuncture
Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy
We also work with men to increase sperm count and improve morphology and motility. Although each case is treated individually, we typically see patients once a week for 1 to 3 months. Men are usually prescribed Chinese herbs for at least three months - this is the length of time it takes new, healthy sperm to develop. Fertility treatment plans usually include dietary and lifestyle changes as well.
Check out this research about how Chinese medicine benefits male infertility:
Quantitative evaluation of spermatozoa ultrastructure after acupuncture treatment for idiopathic male infertility
TCM for Pregnant Patients: Early Pregnancy /
It is important, once conception occurs, for most women to have acupuncture at least weekly during the first trimester to secure the pregnancy and prevent miscarriage. Acupuncture prevents miscarriage by keeping progesterone levels steady and by also supplying adequate blood flow to the developing fetus. During pregnancy women sometimes experience nausea, acid reflux, swelling, pain, digestive issues, low energy and high blood pressure. These symptoms can be remedied with treatment as well.
Treatment Before Labor
At the end of pregnancy, at 37 weeks, we treat women once a week until their due date to in order to prepare them for labor. Treatments help keep babies in the proper position for birth and make for shorter and smoother labors. One study included 56 women who were 39.5 to 41 weeks pregnant. (Forty weeks is full term.) Half of the women got three acupuncture sessions, while the other half did not. Seventy percent of the women who got acupuncture went into labor on their own, compared to 50% who received standard care. The women who got acupuncture were also less likely to deliver by cesarean section -- 39% compared to 17%. Click here for the abstract to this study. In addition to the four points which were used in this study, we also customize the treatment to match each patient's individual constitution.
Where can I find more information about Chinese medicine and infertility?
We have copies of these in our office and are happy to lend them out to any patients or potential patients.
The Infertility Cure by Randine Lewis
Making Babies by Sami S. David, MD & Jill Blakeway, L.Ac.