Unlike Western medicine, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), focuses on the body as a whole, focusing on the interactions between the body, spirit and mind. TCM seeks to discover the underlying cause of health problems, as opposed to attempting solely to treat the symptoms of disease. TCM and acupuncture for fertility is of particular importance for men and women who are attempting to conceive yet experience high levels of stress on a daily basis. This is because high levels of stress are not conducive to conception. TCM and acupuncture for fertility can aid relaxation and assist the body in functioning more efficiently.
The majority of couples attempting to conceive look towards TCM and acupuncture for fertility once they have failed to conceive after having regular sexual intercourse over a period of one year or greater. After this time, it is assumed that there is a problem with fertility levels and this is when a couple should consult a TCM practitioner, a fertility expert or both. Acupuncture for fertility involves tapping into the energy channels of the body through the insertion of fine needles into the external layer of the skin. These energy channels, referred to as meridians, may be unobstructed by the positioning of the acupuncture needles. Restoring the balance and flow of energy through these channels has proved to ease psychological and physical pain. Acupuncture needles are strategically placed to ensure optimum energy restoration.
The benefits of TCM and acupuncture for fertility in women include: improvement of the ability of the uterine lining to accept a fertilized egg, increased blood circulation to the uterus, reduction of the stress hormones associated with fertility issues, increased conception rates in the presence of absence of assisted reproductive technology (ART), increased rates of live births, and decreased ectopic pregnancy rates. The benefits of TCM and acupuncture for fertility in men include: improved quality and quantity of semen, stress reduction, improved sperm motility, and improved overall well-being. Paul Magarelli, an infertility physician based at the Reproductive Medicine and Fertility Center in Colorado Springs, and Diane Cridennda, an acupuncturist based at East Winds, also in Colorado Springs, conducted a study into the efficacy of TCM and acupuncture for fertility in May 2007. The female participants in the study received a minimum of nine acupuncture treatments over a period of two months prior to embryo transfer.
Lorne Brown of the Acubalance Wellness Centre in British Columbia analyzed the data presented by Magarelli and Cridennda's study. It was found that TCM and acupuncture does not negatively interfere with fertility or in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment, the process in which an egg cell is fertilized by a sperm cell outside of the body. Furthermore, TCM and acupuncture can improve live birth rates from IVF treatment and reduce the chances of ectopic pregnancies following IVF. While acupuncture did not affect the quality of the egg cell, it was found to improve the factors affecting egg cell implantation. Acupuncture is thought to have produced these results by regulating the levels of hormones within the body, most notably the hormones cortisol and prolactin. It is advisable for women and men to begin TCM and acupuncture for fertility therapy many months prior to attempting to conceive. This will give them the best possible chances of successfully conceiving a child.