About 8% to 12% of the global population of childbearing age faces infertility problems. In the UK, with the pushing back of the childbearing age, environmental and stress factors, the number of infertility patients is increasing, accounting for 15% of the population of childbearing age, i.e. one infertility patient in every seven couples. In 2011, 60,000 couples in the UK sought IVF treatment, nine times more than 20 years ago when IVF began to take off.
The World Health Organisation estimates that 10% of couples suffer from infertility. Infertility is defined as a couple’s failure to conceive after 2 years without contraception. A woman’s chance of conceiving within six months after the age of 25 is 75%, at age 30 it is 47%, over 30 it is 38%, nearer 40 it is 25% and above 40 only 22%. Men, however, do not have such a clear downward curve.
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In recent years, researchers have become increasingly interested in traditional Chinese medicine, which has been handed down for thousands of years. They have been conducting more and more research into many authentic Chinese medical practices, including acupuncture and the mechanisms of healing and relieving illnesses, with an increasing number of relevant scientific findings.
Causes of infertility
Causes of female infertility include ovulation disorders, endometriosis, uterine hypoplasia, vaginal atresia, inflammation of the fallopian tubes, thickening of the uterine wall, inflammation of the endometrium, retroflexion of the uterus, vaginal disorders, ovarian cysts in the uterus, endocrine disorders, irregular menstruation, inflammation of the pelvic cavity, obstruction of the fallopian tubes, sequelae of gynaecological surgery, fibroids, excessive leucorrhoea and weakness.
In addition, imbalance in the endocrine balance of hypothalamus-anterior pituitary-ovary, tumours in the pituitary gland, mental stress and anxiety can also inhibit ovulation. Chronic diseases, thyroid disorders, diabetes, adrenal disorders, and immune reactions with anti-sperm antibodies in the female body may also lead to infertility and habitual abortion.
Male infertility causes are sperm quality, abnormal sperm count, morphology, immune abnormalities, impotence, varicocele, sexual dysfunction, urethritis and other factors. One in ten couples with infertility cannot find the cause and maybe living in a psychological state of tension, stress and emotional dysregulation.
Reasons for IVF failure include an insufficient thickness of the endometrium and immune rejection. The fertilised egg has to be placed into the mother without rejection by the immune system to be successful for pregnancy and growth. Clinical studies have shown that herbal medicine and acupuncture can increase blood flow to improve ovarian function and improve egg quality and quantity.
Some studies have shown that combining acupuncture and in vitro fertilization can be an effective infertility treatment.
Several studies have demonstrated that using a combination of acupuncture and in vitro fertilization does positively treat infertility. At a recent American Society for Reproductive Medicine meeting, a study was presented by the Southern Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine and fertility acupuncture London.
It reported that half of the 114 women who underwent in vitro fertilisation treatment also received acupuncture therapy. More than half of the women who combined acupuncture and IVF treatments ended up pregnant, compared to 36 per cent of women who did not receive acupuncture treatments. The miscarriage rate for women who received acupuncture was only 8%, compared to 20% for women who did not receive acupuncture.
In addition, a 2002 German study showed that women treated with acupuncture had a 42% success rate when undergoing in vitro fertilisation, compared to 26% for women who did not receive such treatment.
Acupuncture can optimise the ability to conceive: improving menstrual symptoms and increasing the likelihood of natural conception. It can also regulate sleep, relieve stress, and reduce pain and other symptoms associated with endometriosis, PCOS, and irregular periods.
Fertility and Sterility( 2002;78:1149-1153) state that the ancient practice of acupuncture helps reduce stress, increase blood flow to the reproductive organs, and facilitate regular ovulation, all of which can help women conceive. Raymond Chang, a professor at Cornell University, states that acupuncture is undoubtedly one of the best-proven options for women trying to conceive using several different methods.
Another study showed that women who used acupuncture alone without other fertility treatments were just as likely to get pregnant as those taking fertility drugs, suggesting that acupuncture can be used alone to treat infertility.
The IVF technique involves fertilizing the egg outside the body and implanting the embryo into the uterus. A 25-minute acupuncture session is performed before and after the embryo’s implantation at specific acupuncture points that are interconnected by the spleen, stomach and kidney meridians, allowing the uterus to relax and improve blood flow to the area, which increases the chances of conception. Three months before IVF, the body should be toned and treated holistically with acupuncture and herbal medicine to stabilize the endocrine system and improve the chances of conception and reduce the likelihood of miscarriage.
Acupuncture and herbs are used to treat the patient according to her signs and menstrual cycle variations.
Principles of Acupuncture for Infertility.
- Acupuncture regulates pituitary-hypothalamus nerve function to balance FSH levels.
- Use Moxibustion on the uterine points to stimulate normal follicle growth.
On days 5 to 11 of the menstrual cycle, treatment is dedicated to helping the ovaries produce healthy eggs. The herbal formula Ova-essential/JXB (Essence and Blood) nourishes the essence and nourishes the blood. Acupuncture points Guan Yuan (Ren4), Su Shan Li (ST36) and San Yin Jiao (SP6) have been shown to regulate the body’s sex hormone levels, promote egg development and improve egg quality.
From day 12 to day 13, treatment focuses on promoting ovulation and tubal peristalsis in the ovaries. Acupuncture at Zi Gong point (Zi Gong point), San Yin Jiao (SP6) and Li Gou point (Liv5) can promote ovulation. The herbal formula Chai Hu Shu Gan Tang will help to relieve abdominal pain during ovulation in women.