Chinese Medicine & In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

Traditional Chinese Medicine is by far the strongest alternative therapy for fertility treatments. Studies have clearly demonstrated that women undergoing acupuncture during IVF treatments have higher success in getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy. How is this accomplished exactly? The answers are still unclear. However, we know that acupuncture has the following benefits:
1. Improves blood flow to the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries
2. Regulates hormone levels
3. Decreases uterine tension and contractions
4. Promotes relaxation

There are several protocols that an expert acupuncturist can follow in administering treatments. The good news is that receiving an acupuncture treatment at least right before and after a transfer in itself has a profound effect on improving the odds of becoming pregnant. If you have limited time before your scheduled IVF date then this would be the most ideal approach. If you have a longer time frame before commencing the IVF treatments such as one to three months then a combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine tailored to your specific constitution and medical condition is the most effective approach.

Although acupuncture is still the main recognized method used for fertility, in reality, herbal medicine plays a central role in most treatments, and certainly combining the two will give the best results rather than either one alone. What role does herbal medicine play in the treatments? We know that Chinese herbal medicine can:
1. Affect hormone levels such as reduce FSH or prolactin levels
2. Promote the thickening of the uterine lining
3. Improve ovarian function
4. Nourish blood
5. Benefit digestion and energy
6. Reduce stress and anxiety
7. Improve implantation

The precise course for every individual will be determined after a complete assessment. Personal needs and comfort level is also very important as the best approach to treatment is generally the one that can be followed with the greatest compliance and ease. Most IVF clinics are completely comfortable and encourage the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine to complement the IVF procedure.

Aside from acupuncture and herbal medicine, you will also receive dietary counselling and supplement suggestions to give you the best chance of becoming pregnant and delivering a healthy baby.

Male infertility is also an important step that is in most part neglected by IVF treatments. Aside from surgical intervention western medicine does very little to address this issue. Although improvements on procedures such as ICSI can produce viable embryos, they do not influence the quality of sperm. There have been numerous studies that have demonstrated the wonderful effects of herbs in improving sperm function and quality. In treating male infertility such as low count and poor sperm quality or motility, Chinese herbal medicine with acupuncture as a supportive treatment is highly effective.

What happens during your first visit? We will sit down and discuss your entire fertility history, go through any diagnosis given by your fertility specialist and look over any data you have been collecting such as a basal body temperature chart. We will next carry out an entire health assessment including the diagnostic questions based on Traditional Chinese Medicine. We will cover your diagnosis so that you have a clear understanding of the Chinese Medicine view of your condition. As part of a comprehensive Chinese Medicine Treatment you will also receive dietary suggestions, foods or activities to avoid based on your constitution and any exercises or supplements that might be beneficial. Along with a personally tailored acupuncture and herbal medicine regiment the aim is to prepare you as much as possible for a successful IVF procedure and a healthy pregnancy.

Written by Sarkis Makarians