Infertility and Acupuncture
When you are having Fertility Issues one of two main causes needs to be considered:
1. Structural Problems — Things like blocked Fallopian tubes, damaged tubes from an ectopic pregnancy, uterine fibroids or polyps are all considered “structural problems”. Structural problems like these are the reasons that IVF methods were originally used. While IVF may still be necessary in these instances, acupuncture and Chinese Medicine have been shown to address these issues without ever having to resort to IVF. In other cases acupuncture and Chinese Medicine have been used in coordination with IVF to increase the chances of success in an IVF cycle. Increasing your success rate means fewer rounds of IVF before success is reached which is better for your body and your wallet.
2. Hormonal Imbalances and or Nutritional Deficiencies — Are the culprits behind “unexplained infertility.” I believe strongly that, IVF and medications like Clomid (which can further disrupt the delicate reproductive system) should not be the first options to considered when you’ve been trying to conceive (TCC) for one year or more with no success. The following issues should be investigated and address before pharmaceuticals or IVF or ever considered.
One of the most important issues in fertility health is a healthy, well-functioning thyroid. Many people discover only after trying to conceive naturally for more than a year without success or after having multiple miscarriages, that they have a thyroid problem. Keep in mind that even if the basic thyroid test (test for TSH levels in the blood) comes back normal there can still be other issues effecting the thyroid that warrant further testing.
One simple way to determine if your thyroid is contributing to your infertility issue is to start CF charting. This can give you a basic indication of a thyroid issue or a sub clinic thyroid weakness, but again to determine if there are other more complex thyroid issues you will need further testing.
Another thing to consider is the liver. Your liver plays an intricate role in the conversion of one Thyroid hormone to another therefore liver health is a factor to be considered. In Chinese Medicine there are specific signs and symptoms which indicate to the doctor of fertility acupuncture, the energetic health of the liver. Note I said energetic health. In Chinese Medicine having an imbalance in the liver does not mean that the liver is structurally compromised, necessarily, it means that the energetic function of the liver is affected. The causes can be nutritional, environmental and or emotional. Physical and emotional stressors do affect the function of your organs and need to be considered.
Another consideration is something I call the Three Legged Stool Syndrome (TLSS). I was first introduced to the three legged stool concept while studying with Dr. Janet Lang, a pioneer in, if not the mother of, the field of restorative endocrinology. TLSS is the relationship between the thyroid the adrenals and the ovaries. If one of these glands is dysfunctional due to nutritional deficiency, disease or Hippocampus-Pituitary (HP)Axis issues it can negatively affect one of the other legs of the stool (basic example- if the thyroid is weak it effects the ovaries ability to function properly.)
1. Your thyroid may be contributing to your fertility problems.
2. Having a normal TSH test result does not rule out thyroid involvement.
3. The thyroid issue could be rooted in sluggish liver function.
4. The HP axis feedback loop could be affecting the thyroid function.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome –PCOS
While nutrition takes a front seat in all of the treatment plans I create, nowhere is it more crucial than in the treatment of PCOS. After many years of seeing this condition in my clinic and after studying a great deal of literature on the topic; it is clear to me that the rise in PCOS is directly related to excessive carb/sugar consumption, combined with lack of exercise and exposure to toxins (particularly but not limited to plastics) in our environment. While your ability to control the environment is limited, your ability to eat food that will not support PCOS and to increase exercise is very real.
If you have an irregular period or amenorrhea you may have PCOS. The diagnosis of PCOS can be determined with a basic blood test. You do not have to have the typical signs (excess body hair, weight gain around the middle of the body, thinning head hair) to have PCOS. I have had numerous patients who had none of the typical signs but were not ovulating because of hormonal imbalances consistent with the hormone imbalances seen in PCOS.
Some women believe that they inherited the condition so it is beyond their control. The truth is what they really inherited were the genes that cause PCOS. These genes where turned on at some point in the woman’s family history but that does not mean that they cannot be turned off or that the expression of these genes cannot be modified with nutrition, herbal medicine and acupuncture for infertility to counter balance their expression.
A painful condition that can be difficult to diagnosis without laparoscopic surgery; however patterns on your Chinese Fertility (CF) chart can be a very effective tool in the initial diagnosing of endometriosis as a potential cause of your fertility issues.
Endometriosis falls into both core causes of fertility problems
1. Structural blockage and
2. Hormonal imbalance.
As in all fertility cases nutrition is always a major factor in my treatment plans;however, in the case of endometriosis, regular acupuncture treatments and herbal medicines are crucial to help open up the pathways that may be blocked and to help re-balance your hormones, keeping the endometrial tissue in check.
Reproductive hormones (RH) have to be in the right ratio with each other and released at the appropriate time in a women’s cycle. If your RH are not surging in the correct amounts, relative to each other, and at the correct timing in your cycle, your fertility can be compromised. Once again, with the use of CF charting and appropriate testing, infertility acupuncture can determine if your RH are balanced and in correct rhythm with each other.