Infertility can be a harrowing experience for the couple or individual experiencing it. The emotional rollercoaster of the challenging fertility journey can be virtually unbearable. There are physical, psychological, and financial tolls for some that can be enormous. The journey starts so joyfully, and it can turn to frustration and disappointment for some. I know because my wife and I have been there.
In this article, we’ll look at:
- Discovering an infertility diagnosis.
- Whom does infertility affect, and what is the impact?
- How does western medicine approach infertility treatment?
- How can acupuncture and an integrative eastern approach help those trying to conceive?
Discovering an Infertility Diagnosis
Imagine this situation. A Couple or individual wants to have a baby, and they try, and some get lucky. Some keep trying without any luck. Months go by, patience wears thin, and well-meaning friends and family ask, “When will you have children?”
Eventually, awareness begins to set in that there may be a problem, and the couple seeks a professional. A series of tests get conducted. Some get an answer about why this journey is so complicated, and some do not. The latter are diagnosed with “unexplained infertility.”
Relatives keep trying to be supportive at various family events. “You just need a vacation to relax.” “My cousin’s daughter was just like you, and she saw a specialist that got her pregnant in two months. You should give them a call.” “Eat oysters.” It seems like no one understands what you are going through.
Whom Does Infertility Affect and What is the Impact?
According to the World Health Organization, Infertility is a disease of the male or female reproductive system. The definition of infertility is a failure to achieve a pregnancy after 12 months or more of unprotected sexual intercourse.
Many couples feel they are inadequate if they are having trouble conceiving. It can be easy to perceive that everyone has babies without any issues when you want to have a baby. However, globally, infertility affects approximately 1 in 8 couples. You are not alone.
Even couples at optimal ages and with optimal functioning reproductive systems only have a 20-25% chance of conceiving in any given month—only a 60% chance in 6 months. So keep trying but make sure you have all of the information about yourself that you need from western and eastern diagnostics and treatment.
How Does Western Medicine Approach Infertility Treatment?
A non-exhaustive list is:
- Tubal disorders like blocked fallopian tubes.
- Uterine conditions like endometriosis.
- Ovarian diseases like PCOS or diminished ovarian reserve.
- Hormonal disorders like pituitary cancers or hypopituitarism.
- Sperm or testicular disorders like low sperm count from various physical or lifestyle factors.
Treatments can include:
- Lifestyle modifications
- Medication and hormonal therapy
- Donor eggs or sperm
- Assisted reproductive therapies(ART) like IUI and IVF
Navigating western treatment options can be overwhelming, costly, and time-consuming. Also, these days, the risks of these treatments are much less than 20 years ago, and success rates are much higher, but there are risks of complications from these treatments that I would be remiss if I did not mention like:
- Multiple pregnancies can lead to labor and delivery problems like premature birth or gestational diabetes.
- Ovarian hyperstimulation can lead to the ovaries becoming swollen and painful.
- Infections resulting from ART or surgeries.
Incorporating western treatments might be an essential part of the equation for some but not others. However, when you’re first trying to conceive or struggling to conceive, there are excellent holistic alternatives, to begin with. These same alternatives provide incredible support from an integrative perspective should assisted reproductive therapies become a part of your family-building journey.
How can acupuncture and an integrative eastern approach help?
How does Chinese medicine look at infertility?
Chinese medicine takes a holistic approach, and we look at the whole person and try to discover the root cause of the problem. There are many reasons for infertility because we are all individuals with different genealogy, lifestyle habits, and life experiences.
So, we begin with using the art of TCM diagnosis to take a comprehensive look at the patient’s overall history. While information from the western tests gives us clues, the patient’s overall presentation points to the imbalances.
With a correct diagnosis, a Chinese medicine practitioner can apply a proper course of treatment. This course of treatment can include some or all of the following:
- Herbal medicines and nutritional supplements
- Dietary changes
- Lifestyle changes
- Specific exercises
- Stress reduction techniques
The ultimate goal of acupuncture fertility treatments is to restore the body’s natural balance. A healthy body, in balance, is optimized for the best chance of conceiving.
Integrative Medicine: The Best of Both Worlds
Your best chance to become pregnant is by using all of the tools available. Eastern and Western medicine are potent tools that can be at your disposal, and Western diagnostic tools are fantastic for seeing what blockages exist and preventing conception. Eastern medicine is excellent at treating these blockages holistically and without side effects and, in many cases, removing these obstacles.
I’ve seen women conceive naturally and only use acupuncture and eastern therapies, including those with PCOS, endometriosis, and issues with recurrent pregnancy loss (to name a few).
I’ve also seen pregnancy achieved effectively by combining western and eastern approaches. Studies show that Chinese medicine can significantly increase the chances of success when using ART technologies such as IVF or IUI.
I’ve even seen women whose Reproductive Endocrinologists said they would never get pregnant naturally and even dismissed them from IVF treatment, conceive naturally with the support of acupuncture and eastern therapies.
No matter which approach you take, incorporating acupuncture and eastern holistic therapies prepares the body and gives it the best chances for a successful conception and healthy pregnancy.
I highly recommend trying this route before engaging in the more invasive western approaches.
At the very least, if you use both eastern and western approaches, the body will be well-prepared and optimized for the best chances of success.
At the very best, you’ll conceive naturally. This scenario is especially true when you utilize an acupuncturist who takes a comprehensive and holistic approach to your care.
Of course, everyone’s lives and circumstances are different, and no treatment path fits all. It is essential to educate yourself about all of the various therapies and strategies. What this looks like to one person will look different to another.
Some women will conceive naturally, some with IVF support, some with surrogates or egg or sperm donors, others adopt or even ultimately continue without children. The important thing to know is that you and your life are perfect, and there is no wrong way to go about this journey.
When you’re trying to conceive, whether naturally or using assisted reproductive technologies such as IVF or IUI, acupuncture and Chinese medicine prepare your body for the best possible chances of getting pregnant and staying pregnant.
Of course, we’re always here to help when health concerns arise with 100% holistic care, no matter the issue. We’ve given over 18,000 treatments and counting, so we’ve seen pretty much every woman’s health and fertility issue, hormonal issue, or chronic illness out there.
We know how to awaken your body’s natural resources using a unique combination of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medications, targeted nutritional support, and mind-body medicine.
It’s easy to take the next step for in-depth support. Click here to request your free initial consultation. You are welcome to speak to us to find out if our 100% holistic healthcare services are a good fit for you.
About the Author - Michael Hurley, L.Ac.
Michael is the co-founder and acupuncturist at Cup of Life Healing Center located at 82 Washington Street Suite 2 in Keene, NH. (603) 352-3625. He specializes in Women's Health and Fertility. Michael holds a Master of Science in Traditional Oriental Medicine from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM), one of the top-rated acupuncture schools in the country. He is nationally certified with the NCCAOM and licensed by the State of New Hampshire to perform acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine. Additionally, Michael is certified in 5-Element Functional Endocrinology and Reproductive Medicine.