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.