As natural as it may seem, the making of a baby is a complex endeavor. The whole process is like an orchestra with numerous instruments playing a wide array of notes. When it goes well, all parts blend together like a symphony. However, if an instrument is out of tune, or the timing is off by a beat, the system breaks down and adjustments have to be made.
All gynecological disorders and a number of non-gynecological disorders can cause varying degrees of infertility. Chinese medicine can help heal many of those disorders. It can restore the body’s natural rhythms and enhance fertility. Functional medicine is also extremely useful with its ability to see inside the body through lab testing and identify what needs to be fixed and how. This dynamic duo can help fine-tune the body so the symphony of fertility can resume.
Conditions that can be helped with a combo of Chinese and Functional medicine include: hormonal imbalances, irregular menstrual cycles, amenorrhea, anovulation, luteal phase defect, uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, recurrent miscarriage, endometriosis, premature ovarian failure, advanced maternal age, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Unexplained infertility can also be treated successfully. In general, Chinese medicine and Functional medicine are highly effective at bringing the body back to balance.
Chinese medicine includes acupuncture, herbs, nutrition, lifestyle counseling and other therapies. Acupuncture is by far the best known component, and numerous scientific studies have proven its effectiveness. Among its many benefits, acupuncture is one of the best ways to reduce stress and tension. In fact, research has shown that stress has a detrimental effect on pregnancy outcomes. Acupuncture has been shown to have a positive effect on the central nervous system, as well as the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Acupuncture can balance and regulate the hormones that are needed for a well-tuned menstrual cycle, often allowing an irregular cycle to return to normal, enhancing development of the follicles, and promoting ovulation. Acupuncture can increase blood flow to the pelvic area, which allows nutrients and oxygen to flow in, and toxins and waste products to flow out. This improves the functioning of the ovaries and helps create better quality eggs that result in strong, healthy embryos.
Acupuncture can also help the fallopian tubes remain vital and open by creating a more harmonious blood flow to the pelvic area. And, acupuncture also helps to optimize the thickness of the uterine lining, which is important for successful implantation and bringing a pregnancy to full term. In fact, acupuncture is often used in pregnancy to help prevent miscarriage.
One of my greatest joys is helping women conceive naturally. However, it should be noted that sometimes it is necessary to add Western medicine to the process. Please see my article entitled “Acupuncture & IVF” under Articles. Call or email me to book a free 30 minute consultation at my Santa Monica office. I would be happy to speak with anyone who is currently struggling with fertility issues, or anyone who would like to prepare her body for getting pregnant in the future.
Male infertility is more common than most people realize. In fact, infertility rates are now fairly equal between the sexes. According to the National Infertility Association, also known as RESOLVE, 30% of infertility can be attributed to male factors, and 30% can be attributed to female factors. Research also indicates that 10-20% of cases are caused by a combination of problems in both partners, and the remaining 20% are unexplained.
Male infertility can be due to an insufficient number of sperm (low sperm count), ill-shaped sperm (poor morphology), or sperm that do not move well (low motility). Infertility may also be due to blockages in the testes that prevent the production and delivery of sperm. Other factors that can compromise the sperm include past illnesses, injuries, or chronic health problems. Lifestyle choices, such as bicycle riding, sitting in hot tubs, or smoking marijuana can lower the quantity and quality of the sperm. Prescription drugs, such as anti-hypertensives and anti-inflammatories, can reduce sperm counts, and exposure to toxins and pollutants can lower sperm quality. Even when pregnancy does occur, conceptions from men with sperm abnormalities produce higher rates of miscarriage.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help improve the quantity and quality of sperm, thereby improving pregnancy rates and creating better quality embryos. Both Chinese medicine and Functional medicine can optimize a man’s overall health, which is crucial for both hormone and sperm production. Since it takes around 74 days for sperm production and maturation to occur, a man would benefit from at least two and a half months of treatment.
Many research studies have shown that acupuncture significantly improves fertility levels in women. However, fewer studies have been done on male infertility. A 2005 study published in the prestigious medical journal Fertility and Sterility found that men who received acupuncture treatments twice a week over a five-week period had significant increases in the number and percentage of normal sperm, improved motility levels, and reductions in structural defects. This suggests that acupuncture can have a positive effect on sperm production and quality.
Call or email me to book a free 30 minute consultation at my Santa Monica office. I would be happy to speak with anyone who is currently struggling with fertility issues, or anyone who would like to prepare for the future.
Having acupuncture treatments during pregnancy is one of the best things a woman can do for herself and her baby. Research findings in medical and nursing journals declare acupuncture to be a safe and effective treatment for pregnancy. It is helpful for common symptoms such as morning sickness, constipation, heartburn, poor digestion, hemorrhoids, fatigue, body aches, pelvic pain, rib pain, back pain, sciatica, edema, sinusitis, insomnia, colds, headaches, migraines, excess heat, hypertension, and delayed labor.
Acupuncture can also help emotions such as worry, anxiety, and depression, and is highly valued for its ability to reduce stress. A study published in the scientific journal Clinical Endocrinology in 2007 reported that babies feel their mother’s stress in the womb. The researcher, which measured cortisol (the stress hormone) in the mother’s blood and in the amniotic fluid around the baby, showed that when the mother’s stress level increased, so did the baby’s.
Most importantly, acupuncture is extremely helpful in preventing miscarriage. I always recommend weekly acupuncture treatments – especially during the first trimester – as the miscarriage rates are highest during that time. However, women can benefit greatly from acupuncture in the second and third trimesters as well, for all the reasons listed above.
Acupuncture treatments during the final weeks of pregnancy are very helpful in preparing a woman for childbirth. Often referred to as “pre-birth acupuncture” or “ripening,” these treatments can yield many benefits, such as preventing the need for induced delivery. A 2006 observational study in the Medical Acupuncture Journal reported that midwives in New Zealand observed that “women receiving pre-birth acupuncture consistently experienced efficient labors, reporting a reduction in the length of labor and medical intervention, specifically the use of epidurals, medical instructions, and Cesarean deliveries.”