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Traditional Chinese Medicine and Infertility

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been developing for over 2000 years.  Guided by holistic concepts and based on clinical observation and experience, Chinese medical experts through the ages have developed a unique system of health care with its own characteristics for the prevention and treatment of disease.

In TCM the holistic concept includes integrity of the body and its relationship with the natural world.  The body is an organic whole and its functions are interconnected.  The meridian system, which allows vital energy to flow, links the body as a whole.  The TCM practitioner will treat patients with therapies from four main categories:  Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Herbal Medicine, Tuina Anmo (Chinese Massage and Qigong (energy healing). 

TCM has proven an effective alternative to addressing numerous reproductive issues including: PMS, amenorrhea, endometriosis, blocked fallopian tubes, immune system incongruities, and infertility related hormonal imbalances.  Presently, TCM in both China and America has proven to be an effective course of treatment when practiced in conjunction with standard Western medical techniques. 

Treating Infertility

There are no guarantees of fertility when opting to use TCM as there are no guarantees with Western medical options.  Patients that have functional rather than structural reason for infertility are the most successful candidates for the use of TCM techniques.  For example, a woman with damaged fallopian tubes would be experiencing structural infertility while a woman with nonfunctioning ovaries has a functional challenge with fertility.

In general, TCM treatment of fertility issues would include a regimen of acupuncture, herbal treatments and possibly physical exercise or massage.  This approach will many times increase blood flow to the uterus and stimulate ovulation in women and can help increase sperm motility in men.  Additionally, most contemporary medical treatments involve the use of numerous drugs.  The use of acupuncture and herbal regimens could effectively reduce the prescription requirements throughout the treatment course.

According to a German study published by the National Library of Medicine in April 2002 acupuncture may also increase a couple’s chance of conception when used in conjunction with traditional Western treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).  In this study, 160 participants were divided into 2 groups each receiving standard IVF procedures.  One of the groups received TCM treatments before and after implantation.  The standard in-vitro group had a 26.3 percent pregnancy rate while the TCM group showed a 42.5 percent pregnancy rate.

There are some distinct advantages to the integration of TCM when dealing with fertility challenges:

  • TCM sees a personal as an integral mind/body organism and seeks to stimulate the body’s natural healing potential by treating root causes.
  • TCM used in the treatment of infertility minimizes undesired side effects and accumulated toxicity from invasive procedures and drug therapies.
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine may be sued to strengthen and balance one’s general health so that IVF, GIFT, ZIFT, ICSI, AHT and TET procedures are more effective. The TCM patient  derives general health benefits and endocrine balancing from specific acupuncture and herbal regimes.  Pregnancy becomes easier to achieve and postpartum recuperation happens faster. 
  • The widespread use of TCM suggests that it is an effective medical health care system that can be successfully integrated with traditional Western medical techniques.

Things To Consider When Integrating Traditional Chinese Medicine Into Your Fertility Treatments

  • Timing and consistency of treatment is of primary importance. Basic foundation treatments are required to regulate the body’s systems regardless of age.  For men and women alike, it may take 3-6 months to heal individual segments of the reproductive cycle. 

In general, men and women alike can benefit from concentrated foundational treatment event if they are not trying to conceive to balance the body’s systems.

  • Age, medical history and lifestyle are important factors regardless of age. If a couple is in their 40’s and has had numerous fertility drug cycles, extensive use of birth control pills, a history of smoking, drinking drug abuse, medical reproductive issues such as endometriosis, sperm antibodies or a host of other variables, it will take longer to balance the reproductive system.

A couple should allow a minimum of 6-9 months before really expecting to evaluate results.  There is not short cut to conception but in many cases, “turning back the clock” is possible.

  • Lifestyle changes may be appropriate. Men and women alike should be in a high state of wellness from the TCM point of view.  Both should be normally active and have a relatively low stress level, positive energy and an abundant lifestyle.  The important point is that all aspects of ones life should be considered to assure you make the most of your treatment and pregnancy.
  • Correct diet and exercise habits are important for both the pre-conceptive mother and father. Based on individual assessments there may be specific physical exercises and or treatments that the TCM practitioner recommends to help generate the right environment necessary for conception.
  • The combination of conventional reproductive technologies and those associated with Traditional Chinese Medicine requires that the patient facilitate open and accurate communication between all parties. TCM therapies work differently the traditional western medicines.  The patients and practitioners need to have a full understanding of all activities to assure that each patient is achieving the optimum result from all treatments.
  • When choosing a TCM practitioner it is important to substantiate that individual is suitably qualified to do fertility work. Communication, experience and skill are requirements.  Entry level TCM practitioners will have the skill to assist with the removal of pre-exiting conditions that may be contributing to infertility.  However, if either reproductive function or biological age of the endocrine system is contributing to the condition than specific skills and experience is necessary.

Traditional Chinese Medicine identifies more than 2000 acupuncture points connected to pathways called meridians that conduct vital energy throughout the body.  Issues with fertility and other health concerns are directly associated with an imbalance of the body’s energy.  Through a holistic approach TCM works with the patient to restore and maintain each individual’s optimum state of health.  As the public becomes more aware of alternative and drug free treatment options TCM has much to offer.  Many patients experience treatments that provided long lasting and effective remedies to what have been in the past chronic conditions.

TCM treatments for infertility and other conditions is provided at the Evergreen Wellness Center.  You can contact the Evergreen Wellness Center at 316-691-8811 for an appointments or additional information. 

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