We use the Shanghai Chinese Medicine Method to treat a range of fertility conditions. (3 to 9 Months program)
Hormone Imbalances, Amenorrhea, Decreased Ovarian Reserve, Egg Freezing Support, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Ovarian Cysts, Luteal Phase Defect (LPD), IVF Support, Male Factor Infertility, Uterine Fibroids, Immunological Factors, Endometriosis, Irregular Menses, IUI Supports, Elevated FSH, Unexplained Infertility, Recurrent Miscarriage
Diet, lack of sleep, and stress-filled lifestyles can very easily wreak havoc on our hormones in multiple ways. Stress can lead to chemical changes in our bodies, and can divert blood away from organs, included those associated with the digestive and reproductive systems. Since many hormones are dependent upon one another to remain balanced, over time, excess levels of stress can lead to imbalances in reproductive hormones, potentially affecting fertility. Acupuncture has been shown to offset the effects of stress on reproductive hormones and to increase blood flow to the reproductive organs. In conjunction with Chinese herbs, it can help your body to regain hormonal balance.
There are many reasons why you might not be getting your period. Amenorrhea can be related to over-exercising, nutritional deficiencies, PCOS, and hormonal imbalances, some of which affect the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis. Our experienced team of acupuncturists provide customized treatments and herbal formulas based on each specific case to help you ovulate and your cycles to become regular. Your practitioner may also suggest some dietary and lifestyle changes to support your treatments.
DECREASED OVARIAN RESERVE
Our ovarian reserve decreases naturally as we age but this condition can also affect younger women, either when the supply of eggs runs out ahead of schedule or the eggs don’t respond to FSH and so don’t mature. Either way, estrogen levels drop because the follicles stop releasing the hormone. When estrogen levels fall, symptoms usually associated with menopause result: no menstrual period, hot flashes, night sweats, sleep problems, mood swings, vaginal dryness, and low sex drive. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help a patient with decreased ovarian reserve by balancing hormones and helping each egg live up to its potential.
EGG FREEZING SUPPORT
Together, acupuncture and Chinese medicine create the ideal conditions for healthy egg development by maintaining the delicate balance of hormones and increasing ovarian blood flow.¹ This makes it the perfect adjunct treatment for anyone preparing to embark on the journey of egg freezing. Acupuncture sets up a healthy foundation by evening out any minor hormonal imbalances so that when it comes time to start medicated injections the body is prepared to respond efficiently. And when the process is over, acupuncture gently brings the body back to baseline activity.
POLYCYSTIC OVARIAN SYNDROME (PCOS)
PCOS is the most common anovulatory disorder and the single most common hormonal cause of infertility. Anyone with ovaries can develop PCOS, and in fact an estimated 10% of women have been diagnosed with this disorder. In PCOS, a hormonal dysfunction results in the ovaries not being able to fully mature an egg. Follicles begin to develop and build up fluid, but do not progress to the point where they release an egg. As a result, ovulation is either absent or intermittent. Because of this, some of the semi-developed follicles turn into little fluid-filled sacs known as cysts. Without the progesterone that matured follicles would make, menstruation is irregular or perhaps stops altogether. On top of that, the cysts make androgens (masculinizing hormones, although they exist in all people in different proportions), which can prevent ovulation. It can be a vicious cycle.
Ovarian cysts can cause pelvic pain and interfere with a your ability to conceive. They can occur naturally or as a side effect of some fertility treatments. Chinese herbs can help to reduce cysts and are combined with acupuncture to treat the underlying causes, whether they are related to PCOS or other structural issues or hormone imbalances.
LUTEAL PHASE DEFECT (LPD)
A luteal phase lasting less than twelve days is too short for the endometrium to develop enough to properly support a fertilized egg. This is known as luteal phase defect. It’s a common endocrine disorder, present in a significant portion of our patients having trouble conceiving and more than a third of people with repeated early pregnancy loss. Low progesterone levels in the luteal phase are also an indicator of LPD. You might have a normal twelve- to-fourteen-day luteal phase but still have progesterone levels that are too low. The result is the same: if there’s not enough progesterone, the endometrium can’t develop and function properly. Some studies have implicated LPD in poor follicle development and insufficient levels of FSH and LH.
Good clinical research has demonstrated the effectiveness of acupuncture used in conjunction with IVF, demonstrating a 50% increase in success rate with acupuncture vs. without. Acupuncture works to increase success rates of these interventions by increasing blood flow to the ovaries during the stimulation phase of IVF and by improving the effectiveness of the drugs given. It also relaxes the uterus and addresses uterine spasm after embryo transfer. Acupuncture also reduces stress, calms anxiety, and offsets side-effects of the fertility drugs.
MALE FACTOR INFERTILITY
Male factor infertility accounts for 40% of couples struggling to conceive. Fertility acupuncture has been shown, in recent studies, to help improve sperm count, motility, and morphology, as well as correcting some immune factors such as anti-sperm antibodies that can interfere with conception. Treatments that affect sperm quality in both Chinese medicine and Western medicine can take a minimum of 3-4 months, so it is best to start as soon as possible
Uterine fibroids are benign growths in the uterus and are often associated with heavy periods, cramping, bleeding, or spotting between periods, abdominal swelling, and sometimes pain during intercourse. They can also interfere with the ability to conceive. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can be effective as treatment for fibroids or as an adjunctive treatment with Western medical interventions when fibroids are advanced in size.
Chinese medicine has been shown in studies to help regulate the immune system. In cases of autoimmune disorders and immunological fertility barriers to fertility, acupuncture and specific Chinese herbs, often in combination with dietary and lifestyle changes, can help calm an overactive immune system, to support a healthy pregnancy.
Endometriosis is one of the leading causes of pelvic pain that we see at Yinova. It can seriously affect your ability to conceive and can also cause uncomfortable, heavy or irregular periods. Sometimes there are no symptoms associated with endometriosis and it is only discovered when a patient is seeking treatment for infertility. We use a combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbs aimed at improving blood circulation, clearing inflammation, relieving pain and treating the patient’s underlying condition associated with their endometriosis. Patients with this condition may also benefit from making specific dietary changes to reduce their symptoms.
Periods that come irregularly each month are very common and can make it difficult to conceive. Even if you are not trying to have a baby, Chinese medicine considers a regular menstrual rhythm to be an important sign of good health. Irregular menses can be caused by an imbalance that results in hormone fluctuations throughout the month. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs have been used for hundred of years to balance hormones, restore rhythm, and encourage a more predictable ovulation, which helps regulate the menstrual cycle.
During an IUI cycle, acupuncture can help increase conception rates by increasing the blood flow to the uterus and ovaries, improving the effectiveness of any medications used, and by assisting in the development of follicles and the uterine lining. Acupuncture also helps to address uterine spasm around the time of potential implantation and can treat any side effects that arise from the fertility drugs.
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is a hormone released from the pituitary gland that tells the ovaries to start preparing an egg to ovulate each cycle. As you approach menopause, the hormones regulating the menstrual cycle begin to change. As we age, it can become elevated and higher levels are associated with decreased fertility. FSH levels fluctuate each cycle and can respond very well to acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Most fertility clinics require FSH to be within a certain range in order to proceed with reproductive treatments, so regulating this hormone can be very important for fertility and the success of treatments like IVF.
A diagnosis of unexplained infertility can be one of the most difficult to receive. One of the many strengths of Chinese medicine is an emphasis menstrual cycle health and its ability to make subtle changes to the cycle that can improve fertility, even when no issues can be found with medical testing.
There are many causes of recurrent miscarriage, some of which can be addressed with acupuncture and Chinese herbs. Our experienced acupuncturists can help determine potential imbalances leading to early pregnancy loss, and will refer to leading physicians for testing and concurrent medical treatment when appropriate. Studies have shown acupuncture can prevent some types of miscarriage, so we recommend newly pregnant people to continue acupuncture treatments into early pregnany.