Infertility can be one of the most disheartening diagnoses to receive. At Garden City Acupuncture, we are committed to being with you every step of the way, working with you throughout the treatment process to personalize your care. Our approach to combined Eastern and Western medicine has produced wonderful results in the majority of our patients. We pride ourselves on expertise in the field for both men and women, which allows us to develop the best treatment possible, while working hand-in-hand with your obstetrician-gynecologist and/or fertility specialist. We believe in ensuring that you are at your best health and optimal state of relaxation to allow your body to achieve fertility.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can be very effective for treating many types of amenorrhea, including exercise-induced amenorrhea, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), hormonal insufficiencies and imbalances in the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis. We provide customized treatments and herbal formulas based on each patient’s needs to help regulate her cycle. We may also suggest some dietary and lifestyle changes.
DECREASED OVARIAN RESERVE
The ovarian reserve naturally decreases as women age; however, for some women, this decrease happens prematurely. For other women, the right time to attempt to conceive has come later in life, and a decrease in this reserve can pose a problem with fertility. In both cases, recent studies demonstrate that acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help women who have been diagnosed with a decreased ovarian reserve to achieve pregnancy.
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is a hormone released from the pituitary gland that stimulates ovaries to start preparing an egg to ovulate each cycle. The hormones regulating the menstrual cycle begin to change as women approach menopause. As women age, FSH can become elevated, and higher levels are associated with decreased fertility. FSH levels fluctuate each cycle and can respond very well to treatments with acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Most fertility clinics require FSH to be within a certain range in order to proceed with reproductive treatments, so regulating this hormone can be very important for fertility and the success of fertility treatments, such as IVF.
Endometriosis is one of the leading causes of dysmenorrhea. It can cause uncomfortable, heavy or irregular periods, and may also significantly affect a woman’s ability to conceive. We use a combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbs aimed at regulating hormone production, improving blood circulation, reducing inflammation and relieving pain.
Acupuncture has been shown in studies to help regulate the immune system. In cases of infertility related to autoimmune and inflammatory disorders, acupuncture can be used alone or in combination with Chinese herbs, along with dietary and lifestyle changes, to help calm an overactive immune system to support a healthy pregnancy.
Irregular menstrual cycles can be a sign of hormonal imbalance. Many women experience periods that come irregularly each month, which can make it more difficult to conceive. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help to restore regular menstrual cycles by regulating normal hormone production, encouraging a more predictable ovulation and menstrual cycle.
IVF AND IUI SUPPORT
Clinical research has demonstrated the efficacy of acupuncture used in conjunction with IVF; in patients undergoing IVF treatment, up to a 50% increase in success rates has been shown with the addition of adjunctive acupuncture therapy. Additionally, acupuncture works to increase success rates of both IVF and IUI by increasing blood flow to the ovaries during the stimulation phase of IVF, and improving the effectiveness of the drugs prescribed. It also relaxes the uterus and can reduce uterine spasm after embryo transfer. Acupuncture also reduces stress, calms anxiety and reduces fertility medication side effects.
LUTEAL PHASE DEFECT
When the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle (the phase between ovulation and either menses or pregnancy) is shorter than 10 days, it is diagnosed as luteal phase defect. This condition is a result of low levels of progesterone that is produced by the ovaries. Women with luteal phase defect often experience difficulty conceiving; acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help support ovarian function, improve progesterone levels and lengthen the luteal phase.
MALE FACTOR INFERTILITY
Male factor infertility accounts for 40% of couples struggling to conceive. Many research studies have shown that acupuncture can help to improve sperm count, motility and morphology of the sperms, as well as correct some immunologic factors, such as anti-sperm antibodies, that can interfere with conception. Treatments that affect sperm quality in both Chinese medicine and acupuncture can take a minimum of three months, so it is best to start treatment as soon as possible.
Ovarian cysts can interfere with a woman’s ability to conceive. They can occur naturally or as a side effect of some fertility treatments. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help resolve both conditions.
POLYCYSTIC OVARIAN SYNDROME (PCOS)
PCOS is becoming an increasingly prevalent cause of infertility. Women with PCOS experience amenorrhea or irregular menstrual cycles, and do not ovulate on a regular schedule. We are seeing an increasing number of patients with PCOS at our office and have found acupuncture and Chinese herbs to be very effective at stimulating ovulation and regulating menstrual cycles in patients. Recent research studies have shown these treatments to be as effective as the fertility drug Clomid in patients with PCOS.
Acupuncture can be an effective treatment for recurrent miscarriage. There are many causes of recurrent miscarriage, some of which can be addressed with acupuncture and Chinese herbs. We can help determine potential imbalances leading to early pregnancy loss, and will refer to leading physicians for testing and concurrent medical treatment when appropriate. Studies have shown acupuncture to prevent some types of miscarriage, so we recommend our newly pregnant ladies to continue acupuncture treatments into their pregnancies.
STRESS-RELATED HORMONE IMBALANCE
Poor diet, lack of sleep and stress-filled lifestyles can cause hormonal imbalance. Stress can lead to chemical changes in our bodies that can affect multiple organ system functions. Since many hormones are dependent upon one another to remain balanced, over time, excess levels of stress can lead to imbalances in reproductive hormones, potentially affecting fertility. Acupuncture has been shown to help restore hormonal balance in the entire body.
Uterine fibroids are benign growths in the uterus and are often associated with heavy periods, cramping, bleeding or spotting between periods, abdominal swelling and sometimes pain during intercourse. They can also interfere with the ability to conceive. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can be effective as a treatment for fibroids alone or in conjunction with Western medical interventions when fibroids are advanced in size.
A diagnosis of unexplained infertility can be one of the most frustrating and difficult to receive. One of the many strengths of acupuncture and Chinese medicine is the ability to make subtle changes to balance the hormone production that can improve fertility, even when no abnormalities can be detected with medical testing. Because we see a high volume of infertility patients, we are accustomed to working with the full spectrum of patients, from those just beginning to try to conceive to those with multiple miscarriages or several failed IVF cycles.