Women’s Health and Infertility

Women’s Health

Women’s physical and emotional health are closely related to the balances of many different hormones. Hormones are chemical substances that are released by our neuro and endocrine organs including the brain. When these vital hormones become imbalanced, women’s health and fertility will be impaired. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) views these hormone imbalances as the loss of harmony between Yin and Yang, Qi (energy), and blood. Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture are methods that help fortify Yin, Yang, Qi and blood, reduce the excess pathogens, relieve the Qi stagnation, and remove the blood blockage, leading to the re-establishment of harmony.

The following conditions and symptoms are associated with a woman’s hormonal fluctuations in a monthly menstrual cycle or aging process and can often be addressed by acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine: irregular menstruation, premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), acne, emotional instability, breast tenderness, digestive issues, menorrhagia, dysmenorrhea, migraines, fibromyalgia, infertility (endometriosisPCOSPOF), miscarriages, postpartum fatigue and depression, menopause and perimenopause, insomnia and sleep disturbances, hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, and depression.

Infertility: 

According to public data, about 2 million American couples suffer from infertility. About 60% of infertility cases are due to female conditions, while 35-40% are due to male conditions. The following are some common causes of infertility:

  • Ovary Issues: Ovulation problems, ovarian reserve function failure, poor egg quality, premature ovarian failure (POF), Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), luteal phase defect, hormonal imbalance, etc.
  • Uterine factors: endometriosis, thin endometrium, irregular period, uterus abnormal shape, etc.
  • Tubal obstruction resulting from infection, surgery, etc.
  • Male factors: low sperm count, abnormal sperm shape and size, and reduced motility.
  • Other reasons: immunological infertility, habitual miscarriage, stress, lifestyles, etc.

Contemporary medicine offers many treatments to improve the chances of getting pregnant. They include hormone treatments, fertility drugs, surgery, and assisted reproductive technology (ART). Because of the relatively high cost and low successful rate of ART, supplemented alternative methods, such as acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are becoming increasing popular. A study reported that giving acupuncture just one day shortly before and after the transfer of the embryos during In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) achieved a 42% clinical pregnancy rate compared to 26% in a control group that did not receive acupuncture. (Influence of Acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo ART. Fertility & Sterility Vol77 April 2002). A study from Magee-Women’s Hospital at the University of Pittsburg found that clinical pregnancy rates increased to 64.7% if acupuncture complemented In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) before, during, and afterwards (Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2010 Aug;16(3):154-7. The relationship between perceived stress, acupuncture, and pregnancy rates among IVF patients: a pilot study).

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) believes that a natural conception needs sufficient kidney Jing (Essence), balanced Yin, Yang, Qi (energy) and blood in organs and channels, and peaceful Shen (mind/spirit). Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can help maintain and establish a healthy and harmonic essence, Yin, Yang, Qi, blood and Shen within the entire body, improve both male and female well beings, balance hormone/endocrine/neuro system, improve eggs quality, increase blood/nourishment supply to uterus and endometrium, improve sperms count, mobility and morphology, and reduce stress/anxiety. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can also enhance natural and healthier pregnant chances, increase IUI/IVF success rates, and prevent miscarriage.

At Great Wall Acupuncture and TCM clinic, our doctors aim to enhance your whole body function so that the natural or IVF conception rates can be greatly increased in most cases. During your initial visit, we will carefully evaluate your situation and develop your personalized plan. We will step into the treatment process once you decide to pursue the treatment seriously. In general, we recommended women to undergo acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine for at least 3-6 months before considering other methods or attempting ART techniques. We may suggest two treatment a week at the first couple weeks and one treatment a week for later treatment plan. The TCM and acupuncture approach is especially important for women who are over age 35 to be able to become pregnant and have a healthier baby. For male patients, TCM and acupuncture can greatly improve body’s well beings and semen quality, which will dramatically improve the natural pregnancy chances and success rate of IUI or IVF.

Endometriosis 

Endometriosis is a chronic gynecological condition that affects 6%-10% of women of reproductive age. 40% of all infertility cases are estimated to be related to endometriosis.

Traditional Chinese Medicine attributes endometriosis infertility to two conditions: Qi stagnation and blood stagnation. Qi stagnation is related to a blocked energy flow. It is commonly caused by stress and can result in female infertility, liver Qi stagnation, pain, urinary problems, lower abdominal pain and distention, sciatica, premenstrual nipple sensitivity, irritability, depression, and headaches.

If left untreated, qi stagnation can lead to blood stagnation (or blood coagulation), when blood becomes sluggish or stuck due to stress. This type of stagnation is dull, crampy, or colicky and manifests as localized, fixed, sharp, stabbing, or lancinating pain. Blood stagnation can also be caused by traumatic injury, such as surgery. No matter the cause, stagnant blood is a cause of infertility.

At Great Wall Acupuncture, we emphasize preventative care to treat qi stagnation before it progresses into blood stagnation. Dr. We have a thorough understanding of blood stagnation from his many years of experience as a hematologist in an integrated hospital in China. Our experience demonstrates this method of treatment is effective at all stages of endometriosis.

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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) 

PCOS is another leading cause of female infertility, occurring in up to 10% of women of reproductive age.

PCOS is associated with elevated levels of androgens (male hormones found in both sexes), ovarian cysts, insulin resistant diabetes, and obesity. If untreated, it can lead to irregular menstrual cycles and infertility. TCM focuses on the treatment of insulin resistance and obesity in alleviating PCOS and improving fertility.

Studies have shown the effectiveness of TCM and acupuncture in managing diabetes and obesity. An evidenced-based study in 2009 shows that exercise and electro-acupuncture treatment reduces sympathetic nerve activity in women with PCOS, as well as testosterone levels. Importantly, reductions in waist circumference were shown. A systematic review on 234 publications between 1979 and 2009 on the effectiveness of acupuncture for insulin resistance has demonstrated that acupuncture can correct various metabolic disorders such as obesity, hyperglycemia, and hyperlipidemia, as well as altered activity of the sympathetic nervous system and insulin signal defect.

At Great Wall Acupuncture, our specialists have long-term experience in diabetes research.  Our expertise makes us your best source for infertility treatment related to PCOS, diabetes, and obesity.

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Premature Ovarian Failure (POF) 

Premature ovarian failure, or POF, is a difficult and upsetting diagnosis for most women. POF is defined as the cessation of menstrual periods before the age of 40. It occurs in women between the ages of 15 and 39. The average age of onset is 27 years, when the patient sees irregular periods that eventually stop.

In western medicine, POF is associated with hormonal imbalance, pelvic surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and severe pelvic inflammatory disease. Radiation from cancer therapy can destroy eggs and lead to the permanent loss of menstrual periods. In addition, several antitumor drugs, such as cyclophosphamide, are also associated with ovarian failure. However, no specific cause is usually found.

In TCM, POF is attributed to a severe deficiency in “Kidney.” The “kidney” in this case refers to a concept specific to TCM that bears no relation to the anatomical kidney. “Kidney” deficiency is caused by a genetic predisposition, a long term intake of contraceptive pills that suppress “kidney,” a long-term illness, excessive blood loss during labor, miscarriage, or ectopic pregnancy. “Kidney” deficiency starves the uterus and ovaries of blood flow, which decreases their functions. The result is POF and the accompanying infertility.

At Great Wall Acupuncture, we use TCM and acupuncture treat POF at its root cause by nourishing the “kidney.” As a result, estrogen levels rise, spleen Qi is strengthened, blood is tonified, and the blood supply to the uterus and ovaries increase. Together this thickens the uterine lining and rectifies hormonal imbalances, which in turn promote ovulation, create a nourishing uterus for fertilized eggs, and enhance the chances of conception.

In fact, Chinese medicine and acupuncture are increasing in popularity in helping infertility treatment by restoring deficiency of “kidney” and blood. Our specialists have clinical experience in targeting kidney deficiency by restoring blood tonicity. These experience gives us the expertise to help you to select the best strategies for your treatment.